Towns that are most alive have an active artist community — at least that’s what Linda Gebhart, president of the Hampton Arts Network, believes. One way that Hampton emphasizes its vibrant art community is through the annual Hampton Arts Network’s Art Walk.
The days between Friday, Sept. 14, and Saturday, Sept. 22, mark the ninth year of this tradition of small local businesses and local artists working hand in hand promoting one another.
“Hampton has no gallery so the art walk is kind of a way for businesses to help us out by displaying our artwork in their windows and within their shops. Some businesses allow us to have a demo or put on a class, so one hand helps the other,” said Gebhart.
This idea of artists and small-business owners working together is what first sparked the idea for this art walk, as well as the neighboring communities and their artistic presence, Gebhart said.
“Newburyport, Portsmouth, Exeter and Rye, all of those areas have art walks. … Why can’t Hampton have that? That’s the question we had nine years ago, so let’s put Hampton on the map and show them that there are a lot of artists that live right here in town,” she said. “Let’s have a visible presence in the town that we live in.”
Another goal of the annual art walk, according to Gebhart, is to allow Hampton to be known as more than just a beach town, as well as to give people an excuse to delve into areas of the town that they otherwise never have had the inclination to explore.
“It encourages people to stroll around the shops of downtown Hampton for a week. We have printed maps so it gets people into shops that people might have never thought about visiting before,” said Gebhart.
One of the highlights for this year’s art walk is the opportunity to display artwork created by the Summer Enrichment Program, a free camp provided to children that grants them the opportunity to explore different forms of art with aid from members and volunteers from the Hampton Arts Network. The art created by the enrichment program over the summer will be on display at Kennebunk Savings Bank throughout the week.
“It’s about inspiring young people. I don’t believe that young people have enough opportunities to explore art nowadays. Kids need to be tactile … with acrylic paint, with watercolor paint, those are tactile things and they’re not something on a screen,” said Gebhart. “I think it’s important that kids don’t lose that connection, that they can actually make something with their hands.”
Gebhart shared a story about a woman who came into the wine shop where she was putting on a demonstration last year; the woman was in town leaf peeping. Her husband was at The Old Salt taking a nap, and the woman, Gebhart said, was so impressed with the wine at the shop that she decided to wake her husband up and bring him back with her to buy a bottle of wine and take it back to their room.
“That’s just one little story that wouldn’t have happened if the art walk wasn’t taking place and if we didn’t put our banner on the Old Salt fence,” said Gebhart. “It’s just one story like that that makes you think that an event like this is all worthwhile.”
— Andrew Clay
Schedule of events
You can check out artwork throughout the days of the event, but there are a few extra activities happening as well.
Friday, Sept. 14
Opening Reception for Summer Enrichment Program students from 5 to 6 p.m. at Kennebunk Savings Bank, 24 Winnacunnet Road. Free. Wine tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. at Baron Forrester, 446 Lafayette Road, Free. Flower arranging class 7 p.m. also at Baron Forrester. RSVP to Julie 603-926-4049. $10.
Saturday, Sept. 15
Full English Tea with food at Baron Forrester, $10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; add a Tarot reading for an additional $15. RSVP to Julie 603-926-4049.
Monday, Sept. 17
Art Demo by artist Mary V. Tauscher: “Encaustic” Art. Encaustic is a process of “painting” with a hot wax medium. Learn more about this fascinating art form dating back centuries, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Marelli’s Market, 465 Lafayette Road. Free.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
Kids’ Drop in Crafts evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lane Library for ages 7-12, lead by HAN members. Free.
Wednesday, Sept. 19
Mosaic class by artist Linda Gebhart at Kennebunk Savings Bank external meeting room from 6 to 8 p.m. at 24 Winnacunnet Road. Fee is $10 to make a mosaic birdbath. Register with Linda at email@example.com.
Friday, Sept. 21
Wine tasting from 5 to 6 p.m. at Baron Forrester, 446 Lafayette Road. Free.
*Featured photo courtesy of Linda Gebhart, Hampton Arts Network President