Sanford Art Walk treats all the senses

Apr. 28, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

All five senses were in gear Saturday evening as people sniffed at wines, perused the work of local artists, ruffled through sales racks, snacked on hors d'oeuvres and struck up conversations with friends and strangers alike in downtown Sanford.

The festivities were part of the sixth-annual Art Walk, an interactive fundraiser for Temple Theatre in which people paid for a glass that they then carried to any of 13 businesses downtown that each had a wine for tasting and a piece of art up for a silent auction, shopping and enjoying the dueling tunes of the Temple Teens and a Durham-based jazz band, Q and the Kings, along the way.

The was also a sixth sense, one of community, that several people mentioned felt stronger than during a normal jaunt downtown, which Temple Theatre Artistic Director Peggy Taphorn said was one of the reasons the event began in the first place.

"We started this to help us and the (downtown) businesses," Taphorn said. "Plus, when I moved here, I didn't know many people, so this was a great way to get to know some of our business owners and others."

Dana Atkins, whose Added Accents boutique was featuring a painting by Sydney Somoza as well as a pinot grigio — although Atkins had a beer in hand, leaving the wine for the walkers — said she loves the idea of an Art Walk and wishes it happened more often.

Gail Sillaman and Denise Hayes, two locals on their first stop of their first Art Walk, admired Atkins' inventory while sampling the Italian pinot. Sillaman said she has lived in Sanford for years but that this was the first time she had come to the Art Walk. She said she heard about it through Taphorn's plugs before shows at Temple Theatre, and although she couldn't convince her husband to come out, she was having a blast.

"I can't believe I didn't know about this before," she said.

One person who's very familiar with the event is Karen Tatum, who had a painting up for auction in addition to about 50 other pieces on sale in the Artist's Loft above the Shops of Steele Street, as she is the featured artist for April. The auction began at about 7:30 Saturday night in the same building, in the ArtStudio, and Tatum said she loves the Art Walk for the opportunities it gives her and other local artists.

A fellow Sanford artist, Sally Ward, said she has had pieces up for auction ever since she retired and began painting about four years ago. Ward said she was pleasantly surprised not just by how many artists there are in the area, but by how friendly and knowledgeable they all are.

"I think we have a really great arts community for a town of our size," she said.

Ward's husband, Terrell Wright, said he likewise enjoyed coming to the event, although he said he would like to see more young people out and about, and not just those playing music for the crowd. He did like the proximity of downtown to home.

"We walked here from our house about a mile away, so we don't have to worry about the wine and driving," he said.

For people who didn't have that option and also wanted to sample all or some of the 13 types of wine — all of which were donated by Howard and Patty Bokhoven — organizers did set up a shuttle service through the Woolford House, a local group that helps at-risk children.

And although organizers didn't have an exact number of how many people had signed up, one helper estimated early in the night that more than 100 people had already come and paid for a glass, and more trickled in to the fundraiser as the night went on. In addition to the wine tasting passes and the artwork from 23 locals ranging from paintings to photographs, pottery and even luxury pens, Temple Theatre also raffled off a season pass and painting. For at least one of those artists whose work was up for auction, the event is a yearly highlight.

"This is as good as any event in Sanford," Ward said. "I really think so."