One of our favorite aspects about Kalamazoo is its art scene. Unfortunately, being able to go out and safely enjoy the arts in person is difficult currently.
Normally, the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo (ACGK) hosts Art Hop on the first Friday of each month. These free events exhibit a variety of pieces at different businesses and gallery locations throughout downtown Kalamazoo. Recognizing that they needed to find an alternative approach, the ACGK created Virtual Art Hop.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for artists to show their work and create a space for people to experience art in a slightly different way,” Executive Director Kristen Chesak said. “We know nothing replaces the experience of being able to talk to the artists and see their work in real time, but this was the best alternative.”
With three Virtual Art Hops already under its belt, the ACGK has found a process that allows for a diverse scope of artistic expression.
“When we hosted our first Virtual Art Hop in April, roughly 40 artists posted their pieces to our Facebook page and we reshared the work,” Chesak explained. “Facebook lends itself as a great platform to not only share the work but create a dialogue as well.
"In May, we had a few curated artists who sent their work ahead of time, which allowed us to take the time to ensure we understood the art and could promote it properly. In June, we decided to go completely curated so that we could spend even more time paying attention to the artists and what their needs are.”
So far, the feedback from the participants has been positive. With as many as 4,000 people visiting an event space during a traditional Art Hop, the ACGK expects to continue Virtual Art Hop throughout the summer.
For July, ACGK will host an Art Hop Spotlight Series that features recorded, in-person interviews with artists on July 10, 17, and 24 from 5-6 p.m. on Facebook, starting with Yolonda Lavender of Soul Artistry. This will give audiences the opportunity to delve deeper into the artists’ processes and understand how that manifests in their work.
ACGK still plans on providing a few in-person experiences for audiences this summer. Although safety precautions and limitations have to be considered, Chesak says the organization is working to create safe spaces for outdoor events as additional COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“We do plan on still having six of our Concerts in the Park, beginning in July,” Chesak explained. “We are feeling pretty confident that the outdoor space can effectively provide social distancing while still allowing people to enjoy the concert.”
This news is music to our ears, but in the meantime, we are thankful for this virtual outlet. Missed out on any of the past Virtual Art Hops? You can access these pieces via the ACGK’s website! You can also find a complete list of online and in-person art events in the area on the ACGK Arts Calendar.