One year after it moved online because of COVID-19, Kalamazoo’s monthly Art Hop went non-virtual on Friday.
The event was held outside, on the Kalamazoo Mall and in Bates Alley to allow for social distancing. The focus was on visual art rather than music – artists showed drawings, paintings and jewelry in tents.
The Mall wasn’t packed like it was on St. Patrick’s Day. But a steady throng of people stopped to see the art and visit shops. Jean Sterling of Kalamazoo says before COVID, she and her friends never missed an Art Hop.
“We were like mailmen. Rain, snow, sleet, didn’t matter. We were here when it was 105 degrees, we were here when it was 20 below. I just like to be out and about with the people and the artists and see the shops, and so excited to actually do an in-person one for the first time in a year."
Michigan has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases. But Karla Stanley of Kalamazoo wasn’t worried.
“I’ve had both my vaccinations, so I feel pretty safe, and everybody we’ve seen has been wearing masks and it's nice that it’s all outside,” Stanley said.
Artist Jonathan Wijnberg of Kalamazoo showed his paintings at the Art Hop. He specializes in landscapes from around the region.
“I’ve been laying low because of COVID, but I’m happy to be back at in-person events. I like getting my work out in front of the public, I like getting new work out in front of the public on a regular basis,” he said.
While this was not the first Art Hop for most of the artists downtown, it was for Sydney Hansen. She’s a 12-year-old abstract painter, also from Kalamazoo.
“It does feel a little weird because I have to wear my mask and like when people come in wearing their masks, and so it does feel a little weird. It probably feels a lot different this year than it probably has in past years. But I’ve had pretty much a lot of fun,” she said.
The next Art Hop is expected to be in-person as well. The Arts Council has scheduled it for May 7.