Merchants and Artists Walk: Something for everyone

It may seem cliche to say ReStore Marietta’s Merchants and Artist Walks have something for everyone, but it was true for the Wheeler family on Friday.

“We usually come at least twice a year,” said Denise Wheeler, 40, of Devola. “I love seeing all the displays of the artwork.”

“I just like the walking,” said her 9-year-old daughter Meghan.

Wheeler’s 11-year-old son Derek is interested in the Civil War, which led the family to stop in front of the Gallery on Front Street, where Marietta resident Dianne Vezza was selling copies of her latest book, “Letters Home: George Butler Turner and the 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry.”

“I like talking to people about and interesting them in the Civil War,” said Vezza of why she sets up at the walks, held by ReStore on the second Friday of May through August and again in November.

Other artists displaying their wares Friday included painters, photographers, musicians and chainsaw sculptor David Ferguson of Parkersburg.

“It’s a great way to spend a few hours on a Friday night – even if you’re working,” said Ferguson as he took a break from carving a bear.

Ferguson is a veteran of many walks but some of the artists were there, paired with downtown merchants, for the first time.

“There’s a ton of foot traffic down here,” said Jonathan Rollison, 27, of Marietta.

He and his wife, Emily, set up their venture, Revived Glass Roadshow, in front of the Heart to Art Galleria’s new location at 165 Front St, where Emily is the manager. The Rollisons displayed bird feeders and table torches made from wine and other bottles and wind chimes made from wine glasses.

“It’s fun just to get out, especially on a nice night like this one,” Emily Rollison said.

Meanwhile, Mike and Mollie Haught of Barlow were making their first trip to the walk as exhibitors instead of spectators. Mike, 71, is a fourth-generation woodworker who had toys, small chairs and a pie safe, made of solid oak with nickel-plated panels, set up in front of H. Rietz and Co. Antiques at 282 Front St.

“I like stuff on the streets. I like meeting people, I can talk to people,” Mike Haught said.

He plans to come back for the July and August walks as well.

“I’d like to do this all summer if I can,” Haught said.

The event not only provides a venue for artists to display their work, but also is intended to draw people to downtown businesses. And it works, said Sarah Dye, owner of Top Drawer

“I’ve been here 16 years. I still have people say, ‘This is the first time I’ve been here,'” she said.

Kathleen Belville, of Aurora, has shopped in Marietta before while visiting her husband, Mike, who is staying in the area during the week for work. But coming to the walk Friday revealed a whole new aspect of the Pioneer City to her.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s amazing how many people come out. … Everybody knows everyone. They’re shaking hands and kissing and hugging.”