Ciao nightmares, hello art on Elm

By Kaitlin Ramby

Art on Elm, an annual event that features local artists, aims to bring people in the Waco community together to promote local Waco artists and businesses. The event will be held Saturday by Neighbor Works Waco. The event will display local artists’ work and feature live music from local musicians.

People can venture to Elm Street, walk around, look at artists’ creations and inspect booths from both local craft and food vendors. There are also kids’ activities such as crafts and bounce houses. Art on Elm will be at the corner of Elm Avenue and Dallas Street and starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“These kinds of events enrich both the individuals involved and the community as a whole,” said Dallas junior Josh Stone, a featured musician at last year’s event. “After I played, one of the local artists walked up and handed me a painting he had made earlier that day — for free. How cool is that? It’s exchanges like these that events like Art on Elm can bring. These are the kinds of things that work to grow a community.”

In addition to fostering the community, Art on Elm presents an opportunity for people to become familiar with the east side of Waco, said Honey Jenkins, director of marketing, communication and I.T. at Neighbor Works Waco.

“Our overarching goal for the event is to bring out local business owners who will potentially open up shops and build that part of the city up,” Jenkins said, “We would really like to see that part of the community become a sort of art hub with little coffee shops and art galleries.”

Jenkins said this will be an event where people can experience Waco’s local art scene, and will be an opportunity for Neighbor Works to raise awareness about that part of town. Elm Street is located on the opposite side of the suspension bridge to where downtown Waco is located.

This region was a pivotal area in the development of the city of Waco, according to the Elm Avenue Improvement Plan, although in recent years it has deteriorated. However, because Elm provides easy access to downtown and has plenty of space for potential activity, there is potential for possible growth for that area, according to the Elm Avenue Improvement Plan by the city of Waco. Neighbor Works’ goal is for Elm to eventually become the cultural and artistic heart of Waco, Jenkins said.

Art on Elm will be an event where people come and leave as they please. It’s appealing for college students because of all the young artists and musicians who will be attending, said Waco senior Katherine Adkins, a featured artist this year. “I thought (Art on Elm) would be a fun way to meet other artists and art-lovers,” Adkins said. “It’s good practice for submitting to shows and preparing art for display. I’m also interested in anything that promotes the visual arts in Waco.”

Jenkins said Elm Street is an area of Waco most are unfamiliar with and don’t experience very often.

“I think it will be an awesome showcase of local talent,” Round Rock junior Cimarron Parker said. “I didn’t attend Art on Elm last year, but from everything I’ve heard about it I’m really looking forward to going to it this year.”

Jenkins said those who want to experience local culture and check out a less-visited part of Waco will thoroughly enjoy the event, as it could potentially become a staple event to the Waco community and bring businesses to the East side of town.