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As downtown Searcy businesses continue to seek ways to draw people to their neighborhood, The Local Artists Experience offers a fun way for them to convene.
This Friday, Robbins-Sanford Grand Hall plays host to a night of live music and local food vendors and artists. And admission is free.
Shannon Sagers, venue director for Robbins-Sanford Hall, said, “The idea behind The Local Artists Experience is to not only show off all the amazing talent that we have here in Searcy but also to build and rebuild relationships throughout our community… We think it is important to show our support to one another and to bring our community together by hosting free events so we can all have the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and add a little fun to our lives.”
Since its restoration in 2009, the historic Robbins-Sanford has been used for many different events and gatherings, such as the Gratitude Gathering, New Year’s Beats and Eats, and other Searcy events. The former mercantile, which was built in 1908, will offer a beautifully renovated backdrop for a night of live music, local artists, vendor booths and food.
“We have had an outpouring of support from local artists and musicians,” Sagers said. “The community itself has been very supportive in advertising, word of mouth, on social media pages and seem to be all in and excited for a fun night.”
Featured artists include Allison Camferdam, Zachary Carlisle, Maggie Lake, Kendra Neill, Pam Siler, Angela Turney and Ashley Wilkinson. They will have booths with prints, paintings, handmade clothing and crafts for sale. Face painting will also be offered, and Turney will be painting in real time.
Camferdam is an abstract artist who resides with her husband, two children and two dogs in Searcy. She received a formal art education from the University of the Ozarks. She paints with acrylics and watercolors with an emphasis on color and texture. A portion of all her proceeds go to the Child Safety Center of White County, where she is an active member of the board.
“A friend told me about the event, and I thought it would be a good way to promote my artwork,” she said. “I will be selling acrylic and watercolor paintings, mostly abstracts.”
Lake is a former high school art teacher in Searcy. She was asked to participate in the event by Abigail Wornock, a current intern with Robbins-Sanford and a former student. “I have been eager to participate in an event like this for some time now but have not had the energy or opportunity to do so,” Lake said. “I am honored she thought of me for this event.”
With a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Harding University, Lake spent six years teaching high school art and pursuing personal creation in oil paint and textiles. She will be selling handcrafted clothing from repurposed materials. “I have been sewing since I was a kid and making clothing for myself for many years now,” she said. “It has been a goal of mine to create and sell to others, and this is the best starting opportunity I could ask for. I will also have a few paintings for sale. I know there is talent and passion for art in Searcy, yet there are not many public showings of it. Events like the Local Artists Experience will encourage and support current artists, as well as inspire others to pursue their own creative passions.”
Performers Silas Carpenter, Josey Myers, Brian Smart, Brad White and Jacob Yarbrough offer a diverse style of music from soft lyrical to instrumental.
“For every event, we try to include different local businesses to collaborate and experience more with different styles of food, drinks and treats,” Sagers said. “We are so excited to share this fun event with Imago Dei, Sassy Sweets and Paiz Taqueria y Mas.”
Matt Kiefer, who co-founded Imago Dei with John Moore, said events like this “go a long way for fostering true community.” They will bring their espresso machine to serve their signature lattes and other favorites. “There is a potential for our lemonade to make an appearance as well,” he said.
Kiefer and Moore also roast coffee at The Wolf Coffee Company, which is located downtown. “Ever since we started roasting coffee at The Wolf Coffee Company, John and I have tried to make all our decisions with the purpose of making a positive impact in our community as a guiding light,” Kiefer said. “We set our roastery up downtown for this exact reason and try to participate in local events as much as possible. The Artists Experience is exactly the type of event we get excited about for our downtown area and part of what makes living in our community special.
“From suburban sprawl to online shopping to big box retailers and franchises, we’ve stopped relying on our neighbors to meet our needs and share life experiences. Events like this allow us to take a moment and move back in the right direction. Economically speaking, it provides activity for our downtown, drawing people to what is, arguably, Searcy’s greatest asset.”
The Local Artists Experience is open from 6 to 9 p.m. at 118 N. Spring St.
Cover image is of Jimmy Hendricks by Angela Turney.
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