Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 17, 2014

Party for the senses

Arts on the Avenue brings a full slate to downtown

TAHLEQUAH — All of the senses could have been satisfied at the Cherokee Capitol Square this past weekend, as music, art, food, and drink mixed it up during Arts on the Avenue.

The event kicked off at noon Friday, with the River City Players taking the stage, and ran until 5 p.m. Saturday. Over 40 artists had set up tents and tables around the historic Cherokee Capitol building. The artists, who had to apply for selection to be part of Tahlequah’s only fine arts show, offered jewelry, pottery, traditional baskets, photographs, paintings, woodwork, musical instruments and more.

John Kennington, a photographer from Bixby, was back for his fourth year, and said the event gave him a good excuse to come to Tahlequah.

“The people are really nice and artist-friendly,” said Kennington. “I enjoy seeing the good local artists, and the square is a great location for an art show.”

An area was set up both days for kids of all ages to express their creativity. The Kids Creative Art Tent was sponsored by Chapel Books and Fine Collectibles and staffed by volunteers from the Cherokee Arts Center. Materials were available for everyone to paint on a large canvas or on trash barrels.

Other activities included making cornhusk dolls, paper rattles, frescos, tie-dyed T-shirts and soapstone pendants.

Hannah Mitchell of Tahlequah watched as her daughters, Becky and Grace, polished their pendants, with help from artist Monica Brown.

“It’s fun to get out and see all of the different types of art,” said Mitchell. “My children really like art, and this gives us ideas and inspiration.”

The soapstone pieces were brought by artist Jim Roaix. They were leftover chunks he collected while sculpting. He had tools available for up to 20 people at a time to be able to sculpt and smooth the pieces. Close to 200 people took advantage of this activity throughout the weekend.

“I love doing this and seeing the looks on the kids faces of ‘Look what I did!’” said Roaix. “Arts on the Avenue has gotten better every year.”

This year marked the event’s sixth year. It was the second year that Wines on the Avenue, hosted by Tahlequah Main Street Association, was held on Friday evening of AOTA.

Over 300 participants in Wines on the Avenue paid $20 for a commemorative wine glass, a coupon book, a chance to win $250, and the opportunity to visit over 20 downtown locations to sample wines.

Craig Clifford, Tahlequah Main Street Association board member for the past three years, helped in the booth near the wine and beer garden, checking IDs and selling WOTA tickets.

“Since 5-7 p.m., the line didn’t stop, and a couple of people had to help keep the line moving,” said Clifford.

“People who look at art also appreciate things like wine, beer, and food. And it’s all here!”

Inside the wine and beer garden, which was a fenced-off section of West Delaware Street, there was a wine-tasting stop and bar set up from The Branch. People could sit in the section to enjoy their drinks, live music, or something from one of the food trucks parked nearby.

Les and Karen Ritz were smiling as they sipped wine and listened to Pat Moss play guitar and sing. They live near the river, about 15 miles outside of Tahlequah, and said  they don’t come into town often. They had looked at art earlier and had seen quite a few things they’d like to have.

“We come out to support the community,” said Les Ritz, a retired Northeastern State University employee.

“Few little towns have a main street any more. I’m happy Tahlequah is doing events like this.”

sgourd@tahlequahdailypress.com

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