Arts come alive on brick streets

The second annual Brick Street Arts Bash was held Saturday on the brick pavement of the 200 block of Putnum Street in Marietta between the Peoples Bank Theatre and the Mid Ohio Valley Players Theatre with a main temporary stage set up for the day on the street itself. The family-friendly event promoting the arts offered the community an opportunity to get outside and soak up the arts and also enjoy the sunshine after a long winter.

With near perfect weather, the Brick Street Arts Bash block party featured free family-friendly hands-on activities for all ages, live entertainment, dance performances, kids karaoke, art exhibits, demonstrations and, of course, delicious food.

The event was made possible by Marietta College, Peoples Bank Theatre, ArtsBridge and the Ohio Arts Council.

Last year, the Marietta College Music Department organized the event. This year, Marietta College senior theater major Morgan Thompson stepped up to the plate and did an impressive job organizing the event as her senior capstone project.

“I’ve been working with Peoples Bank Theatre all semester long,” said Thompson. “We actually started in December of last year to get this all put together. Today, the weather’s beautiful and it’s happening.”

“This event was proposed to me last semester about artistic direction and stage management in theater,” explained Thompson. “I’ve taken a liking to it although I also love to act. I’m in the ‘Annie’ production tonight as part of this festival which will be at the Peoples Bank Theatre which is sold out. I’m getting to do both of the things I love to do today, right before I graduate.”

This year’s idea to appeal to the families of the community with many hand-on activities, live entertainment and demonstrations between the theaters appeared to be a recipe for success. The Brick Street Arts Bash is a free event with the exception of the sold out “Annie! The Musical” Marietta College theater production at Peoples Bank Theatre Saturday evening.

ArtsBridge was heavily involved as they offered a large selection of hands-on art activities for kids.

“I think this is great! We’re getting lots kids involved and it’s a celebration of the arts,” said Jane Irvine, ArtsBridge Executive Director. “We’re keeping the kids busy and they’re having a great time.”

Carrie Stutler and her son Lincoln Stutler, 1, of Marietta enjoyed creating a hat together at the activity table.

“This event is wonderful,” stated Stutler. “We love it. It’s great to be out in the sunshine, the music is good and I love the art stuff. This is great.”

Helping at the activity table was Marietta City Council member Cindy Oxender, also a Peoples Bank Theatre volunteer.

“There’s been a nice, steady crowd,” said Oxender. “There’s a variety of children’s activities to enjoy that are pretty creative and there is no cost. ArtsBridge has been a great partner with Peoples Bank Theatre. This Arts Bash is great for young families.”

A non-stop slate of entertainment continued throughout the afternoon which included High Schools that Rock, Magician Kerry Blair, a stage combat demonstration, Floodstage (Marietta College A Cappella), Sadie Johnson & Mitch Mazaher, Marietta Dance Academy, Kaplan the Magician, and Kids Karaoke with Amanda Stevens.

Magician Kerry Blair was happy to be performing.

“It’s nice to be in front of the hometown crowd,” said Blair. “The Brick Street Arts Bash is a really good event and you couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Adding a classic touch was “Violins at the St. Clair Building” which had four different violin players performing throughout the afternoon.

One of the violinists, Eli Vessels, 9, of Marietta is a third grader at Washington Elementary.

“I’ve been playing the violin since I was six,” shared Vessels. “I’ve played in front of people before, but this is the first time on the street. ‘Skip to my Lou’ is my favorite song to play.”

Eli’s mother, Susan Vessels, said Eli’s violin instructor is Douglas Earley at Third Street Music.

Ava Bartlett, 11, of Williamstown smiled as she had her hands in the clay giving the potters wheel a spin.

It was the first activity that Ava tried and she liked it. “I will probably try this again sometime,” admitted Bartlett.

Vance Hewitt of the Parkersburg Art Center enjoyed giving pottery demonstrations on the potters wheel.

“This is great. We need art in the community,” expressed Hewitt. “This is one way to get the kids interested in art. We can show them what they can do with their hands rather than play video games.

The Parkersburg Art Center’s potters group called ‘Clay Studios’ likes making their wares and bringing them to events like this to sell and to encourage other people to get involved.

DOUG LOYER Special to the Times The second annual Brick Street Arts Bash took place Saturday on the 200 block of Putnam Street in Marietta.

“We’re delighted with the turnout. The hands-on, kid-friendly activities were really our focus this year,” said Chuck Swaney, Peoples Bank Theatre manager. “The idea is that these kids that are coming to attend are the next generation in music, theater, arts and dance. For some it might be the first time they come to a theater or see a stage show. We are trying to encourage that.”