May 14—NORMAN — After a 14-month hiatus due to COVID-19, 2nd Friday Art Walk is returning to downtown Norman this weekend, prompting some businesses on Main Street to prepare throughout the week.
The monthly art celebration of 11 years is the result of a combined effort from artists, arts organizations and businesses, in partnership with the Norman Arts Council. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Norman, the community flocks to the free event to check out galleries, shops, studios, restaurants and bars on Main Street.
Artifactory co-owner Amy Baldwin said the art walk is a tradition that has become a part of the Norman brand.
"It's always the highlight of the month for anyone downtown, and it's just extremely festive," Baldwin said.
Prior to the COVID-related hiatus, Baldwin said the artwalk never canceled; she recalled a Friday some years ago the University of Oklahoma's graduation was cancelled due to severe weather chances, but the artwalk still took place.
Artifactory changed suites over a year ago, and Baldwin said the business is excited to take part in the event from its new space.
Baldwin said those who haven't been to her shop since their move over a year ago will see a transformation, including a variety of vintage items.
"We have an overhang patio that's built in from the original building in 1930, and it's protected from the elements, although the weather is supposed to be amazing Friday anyway," Baldwin said.
Artifactory will have four art vendors set up on the patio, each of them bringing a different style of art to showcase.
Medeah Kitsmiller, an Edmond artist specializing in abstract paintings with mixed media; Jerry Firebaugh, who makes jewelry out of coins; Kelly Hosty, a custom greeting card creator and Leslie Arnold, a custom cookie creator, will be featured at Artifactory this weekend.
Due to the length of the hiatus, she said there is a large number of the University of Oklahoma student body that has yet to experience what the art walk has to offer.
She hopes that the return of the art walk on commencement weekend will mean students and their families come to experience the Main Street festivities.
Natasha Rice, co-owner of Sandalwood and Sage, said the shop is excited for the return of 2nd Friday Art Walk, but due to health concerns of her team, they will not participate this weekend. She hopes to have Sandalwood and Sage join in this summer, she said.
"We normally do participate in all of the art walks, but we're just not ready to jump in yet," Rice said.
Rice said she plans to go to the art walk to see how it's looking this time around, as it will be a different experience than she is used to.
"We never get to do that, so I think for us, it'll be fun to walk around in a more limited way," Rice said. "I don't think we're ready to go into places that are really busy because we're a little bit older, so I think we'll just kind of maybe participate by enjoying it a little bit this time around and then fully participate in June."
David Boeck, associate professor of architecture at OU, said renderings from students in his graduate studio will be displayed at 225 E. Main St. during the art event.
The renderings were created for a project in which students created a mixed-use intergenerational housing project on a Gray Street city parking lot.
Boeck said one of the project's goals is to have different generations in the space while allowing for flexibility and privacy needs.
"One of the things we talked about [in class] is a lot of times, seniors will tutor young kids, so it allows different people that live there to meet with each other and do things like a potluck in a community room," Boeck said.
STASH owner Rebecca Bean said everyone on her team is eager to showcase their new finds from the southwest region of the country after they attended the Tucson Gem Show last month.
Bean said the store's featured artist is Ruth Ann Loveland, who is not only well-known within the Norman community, but is regionally collected.
Loveland, an OU graduate, creates mixed media two-dimensional work with techniques including printmaking, encaustic and collecting/processing natural pigments from clay deposits.
Bean said the 2nd Friday Art Walk has been the main catalyst for her store's growth in the community.
"It has and continues to bring us so many faithful, wonderful supporters that have seen us grow over the years, so there is almost like an emotional quality to the return — to welcome the public back in this way is really meaningful to us, and it gives us a lot of hope," Bean said.
For more information about 2nd Friday Art Walk, including safety precautions in place for this weekend, visit www.2ndfridaynorman.com.
Jeff Elkins covers business, living and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.