Old Town hops for art

COMMUNITY • BY MORGAN FECTO

Inside Shampoo, Inc, a hair salon on Carroll Avenue, the white walls and seafoam chairs urge patrons to sit back and relax. But at Art Hop last Sunday, Allison Baker’s vibrant oil paintings and handmade jewelry gave the salon a punch of color, exciting passersby.

“You were wearing them yesterday” said a customer, holding a pair of Baker’s vintage bottle-cap earrings at a table outside the salon. “I have to have them.”

The customer then popped the earrings into her purse, too eager to wait for Baker to wrap them in a box.

Takoma Park residents and novices alike attended the fourth annual Art Hop last Saturday and Sunday, and viewed locally made arts and crafts, ranging from cityscape photography to cuddly “sock primates.”

“It’s a great weekend to be here in Takoma,” said Art Hop patron Brian Heilman. “It makes me happy to live in this neighborhood”

Children made chalk creations on the sidewalk, families ate gelato, and the community embraced the beautiful and unique art. Some even admired the work as the artist created it.

Picassito

“I love to paint in the street,” said Jojo Fekaw, who made his paintings outside of Capital City Cheesecake on Sunday. “There’s a different type of energy.”

Fekaw applied a base coat of spray paint to his hand-stretched canvas, made from recycled wood he found at the dump, and said that his cubist style comes from the ancient sculptures of his tribe in Cameroon.

“It’s my job to add more beauty into the community,” said Fekaw. “Some even ID me as ‘Pacassito,’ or the little Picasso.”

Meaghan Murphy, a co-owner of Capital City Cheesecake, said that Fekaw’s street painting went perfectly with Art Hop.

“Once you put artists outside there’s no way to miss beautiful artwork,” said Murphy, who drew more customers into her café due to Art Hop

Murphy is one of 35 businesses owners in Takoma Park to display artwork from 60 local artists over the weekend, said Kate Rhudy.

Rhudy, who coordinated the event with Laura Barclay and the Old Takoma Business Association, said that this Art Hop featured twice the amount of artists as last year’s.

“It’s a way for artists, who might otherwise not have exposure in the community, to get their art out,” said Rhudy. “And for people to have art in their backyard.”

Rhudy said that a public kick-off party last Friday at Trohv, a home goods store, mass emailing through local listservs, and endless flyers lead to the boom in participation and attendance this year.

“This year there’s the trolley, there’re more artists involved, and the weather is astoundingly beautiful,” said Bobbi Kittner, a founder of the event who owns Kittner Studio with her husband Sam Kittner.

Kittner said she enjoyed participating in Art Hop this year instead of “running around like a madwoman” as with previous years when she was in charge.

Art Hop brought a lot of people into Kittner Studio, said Kittner, but she was not the only artist to attract attention.

Creatures

“Takoma Park seems to be my kind of people,” said Jane Hartman, a glass artist. “They like the unusual creature kind of stuff.”

Hartman’s “geeky creatures,” including an angler fish with an actual light bulb for a lure, hung in the window of Bread & Chocolate, and brought some whimsy to the French bistro backdrop.

Jennifer Alexander’s multicolored “sock primates” were also in stark contrast with their background of paint rollers and trays at Ace Hardware.

“They’re not sock monkeys because they don’t have tails,” said Alexander, laughing. “They are kid bait, even for adults, the young at heart.”

Farmer in the art

The crowd for Art Hop meshed with shoppers of the Takoma Park Farmers Market, giving the neighborhood event an even greater sense of community.

“Sometimes we feel like other events hurt the market,” said Eric Plaksin of Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville, Va. “And that’s not the case today.”

Plaksin manned his booth at the farmers market Sunday, but also hung around at Shampoo, Inc., although he was only present as the subject of one of Baker’s oil paintings.

“I’ve seen almost every family there is because I’m either doing art or I’m teaching piano,” said Baker. She stopped mid-sentence to answer a customer’s question about a small painting she did after a trip to her home state of Wisconsin.

Murphy said of Art Hop, “You put your heart and soul into something and magic happens.”

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About the Author

Morgan Fecto
Morgan Fecto is a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at UMD. She currently manages the "We Are Takoma" event series with the City of Takoma Park. Follow her on Twitter @MorganFecto.