On a bright and warm Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people crowded Trade Street to see an assortment of artistic creations, from Barbie dolls painted like zombies to handmade jewelry and ceramics.
About 100 artists set up tents on Trade Street from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19, to display and sell their work as a part of the Arts on Sunday Festival Series, a weekly event in October sponsored by the Arts for Art’s Sake Group, a volunteer nonprofit dedicated to building community through art.
Harry Knabb, the President of the AFAS Group and one of the founders of Arts on Sunday, said the event first started as a way for emerging artists to gain exposure and to make Winston-Salem a “magnet” for arts innovation.
“Arts on Sunday is all about the artists,” Knabb said. “We don’t charge any booth fees or commissions in order to create a platform for people to share their passion with the community.”
At its inception in March of 2007, Arts on Sunday featured only nine artists and few attendees, according to Knabb.
Now, attendees at Arts on Sunday can see a variety of different works handcrafted by artists from all over North Carolina.
John Elliott and Anne-Marie Hyatt drove from Raleigh to exhibit their paintings of bug-like robots, which they said are inspired by 19th-century scientific insect illustrations and the steampunk style, which often features steam-powered machinery.
“The gallery community on Trade Street is great,” Elliott said. “Events like this only help make the arts scene more active and colorful.”
Arts on Sunday is not just for adults, though. A sign labeled “Kid’s Corner” rested on the corner of Trade Street and Seventh Street, surrounded by games and materials for kids to create their own art.
Not all the artists lining the streets were professionals, Jordan Kelley and Rayelle Pfleuger, two students at RJ Reynolds High School, saw Arts on Sunday as a chance to showcase their drawings, jewelry and plush creations.
“I usually try to get tables at art conventions, but those are expensive,” Kelley said. “The fact that the event is free is great for new artists looking to share their pieces and to learn from other artists from all over North Carolina.”
The Oct. 19 event also featured a mix of music, including blues by Gary Sibley aka Daniel Rassum, folk music by Shiloh Hill, and jazz by Abebi Stafford.
The Arts on Sunday Series will continue through October, with a different theme every week. The Sunday, Oct. 26th, festival will feature a costume contest as well as entertainment provided by musical groups from RJ Reynolds Magnet School.
As the festival quieted down Sunday afternoon and artists began taking down their tents, Knabb recalled the story of a young artist who attended the festival five years ago and sold a piece of his own art for the first time.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face,” Knabb said, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s moments like that that make the whole effort worthwhile.”