By Emily Townsend and Eeva Sharp
Dressed in full princess regalia, Nicole Prevatte, age 4, showed-off her frosting handiwork to K College students at the Edible Book Fest, a featured event at this month’s Art Hop. The Edible Book Fest is a part of national movement in which artists use food to celebrate great books. The young food-artist explained to sophomore Chandler Smith that the butter-cream cake shaped like a large rabbit head was made for her favorite bedtime story, “The Buttermilk Bunny.”
Art Hop is a monthly Kalamazoo artistic showcase hearkening back to 1995. The Art Council of Greater Kalamazoo and local independent businesses present artists. “As you go from business to business you get to see lots of different parts of the community,” said K College Career Counselor Jackie Srodes.
She and fellow CCPD staff members, Pam Sotherland and Terri Reich, are regular Art Hop attendees. They were part of a large crowd that gathered to watch two teams of local glass blowers compete in a timed glass-blowing competition in the Park Trade Center, one of the many sites of Art Hop. Events also happen on the Burdick Street mall and at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, among other locations.
Art Hop is located all around town including the Burdick Street mall, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and The Park Trade Center.
Park Trade is a converted binder factory, now housing artists and the majority of art hop events. Building details like industrial scales and painted brick gallery patricians create a fusion of Kalamazoo’s manufacturing past and burgeoning art-scene present.
Jon Reeves, local artist and K Professor of Theatre Arts, balances a hectic lifestyle, directing K’s spring production of “Tommy,” teaching stagecraft and managing the scene shop. At Friday’s Art Hop, Reeves could be seen forging metal into the shape of a snake in his fire-heated studio. Surrounded by the tools of his trade, his frank humor and nonchalant metal molding drew in a curious crowd.
Across the way, in the basement corner of Park Trade, senior Briana Reeves presented her Art SIP, “Through Our Windows.” Surrounded by friends and family, she said, “People seem to think it’s a little hippy, but I think they still appreciate it.” Senior Hannah Guilford said she loved Reeves’s piece, but was quick to admit her bias, as she was a participant in the SIP.
Guilford has been an Art Hop regular since her freshman year. “When I first heard about Art Hop, I was like art, wine, and food? That’s really awesome,” Guilford said. “There are so many beautiful people in one place.”
Further explorations of Park Trades revealed two K’10 alums sharing an artist studio space. Both were selling pieces of their Art SIPs and conceded they got a lot of mileage out of their college work.
Down the hall, strains of music could be heard. Kalamazoo artists, patrons and students were gathered around a freight elevator occupied by a three-piece blue grass band.
Amy Ferguson, Art Hop participant, reflected on the mood of Friday’s Art Hop: “In the spring months, everyone gets really excited. This afternoon, I could feel the excitement.”