For several years now, Greenville residents have enjoyed the blossoming of our downtown nightlife scene with the advent of First Fridays and the establishment and growth of other special events. From car shows to concerts, horse parades to comedy shows, and outdoor movies to haunted tours, there’s more going on on Broadway now than ever before.
Most of these events take place on evenings, but Main Street Greenville director Amber Garrett doesn’t want to see our downtown district’s cultural growth limited to Friday nights. Beginning June 11, Broadway visitors will be treated to Street Art Saturdays on the second Saturday of each summer month, an outdoor series that will feature multiple musical performances and visual art demonstrations around the downtown.
Amber had this to say about the inspiration for Street Art Saturdays:
“Main Street Greenville created First Friday events to bring people downtown to enjoy shopping, dining, music, and other activities during the evening hours. The success of our First Friday events has sparked a new idea for our organization: Street Art Saturdays! Our hope is that Saturday mornings and early afternoons throughout the warmer months will be a time when our entire community will come together downtown for art, fun, fresh & local produce & goods, and a ton of unexpected creative flair!”
In addition to being inspired by the success of the First Friday events, Main Street Greenville’s creative team were also inspired by the former Streetmosphere program in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Street Art Saturdays will take place at the same time as Greenville’s downtown farmers market, a weekly market that has grown greatly since its birth in 1998. Local farmers, gardeners, and other artisans set up in front of the court house on the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street and offer a variety of baked goods, crafts, herbs, seedlings and flowers, candles, and the freshest produce in town.
The schedule for the June 11 inaugural Street Art Saturday will feature half a dozen artists and musicians, including a truly unique Muncie, Indiana band called The Indigos, who will be performing on E. Fifth Street next to The Coffee Pot. I asked the band’s lead male vocalist Matt Mellen to describe the group, and he had this to say:
“The Indigos are a 10 piece funky rock band with full horn section and multiple vocalists. We combine music from all eras, such as dance, disco, & funk from the ’70s, classic rock/metal from the ’80s, alternative rock from the ’90s, and a pop flair from this millennium. A truly unique sound that one has to hear to experience, but in the simplest of terms, The Indigos are purple and LOUD.”
The band is in the process of recording their first full-length album, Indigo Army, which they hope to release in early 2017. “We are so excited to play in Greenville for Street Art Saturdays because it is new and different,” said Mellen when we spoke. “The Indigos are all about breaking out of their shells, going on adventures, and going against the norm. We love playing new events all over because it gives us a chance to see new cultures and meet amazing new people.”
On a (somewhat) quieter note, Street Art Saturday visitors will also get to hear from singer-songwriter Ryan Fine, who will be playing in front of Sweet Annie’s Cabin on Broadway. Ryan is a student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and he plays piano, sings, and writes his own music, though much of what he’ll be performing at this event will be recognizable pop favorites. “I really enjoy playing jazz and pop music! I’ll be playing a lot of popular music like The Beatles, Billy Joel, and jazz standards,” Ryan told me when I asked him about what we could expect to hear from him next Saturday. June is a big month for Ryan, as his first album, Alone With Dreamers, will be released on June 18th.
Live, outdoor music will be an exciting addition to these Saturday afternoons, but music won’t be the only art being performed. Main Street Greenville will also host visual artists working on original pieces of art on downtown sidewalks.
“I specialize in acrylic paintings, mostly of landscapes and landmarks in southwestern Ohio, where I have lived and worked all my life,” says fine artist Logan Rogers, who will performing in front of Bach to Rock on Broadway during Street Art Saturday. “In my artwork, I try to express the profound sense of place that I find in the land and the buildings where generations of people have spent their lives, and to capture a single moment in each setting’s history.”
When I asked Logan what he’ll be creating for spectators on Broadway, he said, “I’ll probably be developing a work in progress while I’m painting in downtown Greenville, unless I happen to be in view of a really visually striking building or buildings, in which case I’ll probably paint ‘Plein air alla prima,’ which is art-speak for a painting done on the spot in one sitting. I’ll come prepared for either or both. I love getting out and talking to people, and painting in new settings. Greenville is a really historic, appealing town, as well as a really friendly community. I like to paint in an environment where people can connect me with the building being painted, and can share the history of the setting. I get out and paint at events and in different locations as often as I can. I really enjoy the energy that comes from being around people.”
Another visual artist participating will be Jes McMillan from The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton, an art center that offers classes on this unique visual format for people of all ages. Jes will displaying stained glass mosaic art, which she explains is a more rare art form in the Midwest than it is on the East Coast. “I learned the art of mosaic at age 16 in my high school art class. I have been creating mosaics for over 17 years. I have learned to use my art form to lead the community in the creation of large-scale collaborative murals, which has become my main focus with the opening of The Mosaic Institute,” said Jes when we spoke. “I always enjoy the opportunity to share Mosaic with others. It is a unique art form with a long and glorious history.” Jes will be displaying her artwork in front of Hanes Law Office on Broadway.
Perhaps the most unique art demonstration visitors will experience next Saturday will be Sterling Gregory’s rock stacking. This niche art form has taken off in recent years, and Sterling’s work is truly impressive. Sterling explained it best when I spoke to him for this article:
“Rock balancing is a unique art form in many ways. It allows one to be sucked into the present moment and create with nature. The impermanent aspect of life is reflected in the work. It provides a person engaged in the act to obtain many insights about themselves and the world around them. I see it as a form of active meditation. It costs nothing but moments of time. People can expect to see something that will question their notion of impossible and [they will] witness impermanence.”
“I began drawing in a way that required no concept, no plan and no attachment to a product,” Sterling continued, explaining how his art evolved during his 20s. “Something about that approach provided a very fulfilling sense of reality for me. Ultimately, that process paved the way for being open to collaborating with nature. What I look forward to most about performing in Greenville for Street Art Saturdays is the opportunity to share what I love about life in a unique way with others. I have demonstrated the art of rock balancing before. I enjoy that this experience will be a great chance to engage with a community that has given me a very warm welcome and loads of encouragement.”
Sterling will be demonstrating this ephemeral and fascinating art form in front of Doug’s Arcade on Broadway.
Street Art Saturday will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, and will run till around 1 p.m. If you live in Greenville or the surrounding communities, make plans to head downtown and check out this event, and keep a look out for more info on similar events coming in July and August.