Arts on Sunday Series back in Downtown Winston-Salem

by Pat Berryhill

Photos by Doug Rice

Arts on Sunday has been a tradition in the downtown Winston-Salem Arts District for 10 years now. Harry Knabb, the Chairman of the Board for AFAS (Art for Art’s Sake), reminisced about the first event. “I believe it was seven artists we had on the sidewalk our first year. Now, we have about 65, on average, that line up and down both sides of the street.” John Jackson, the Director of Arts on Sunday for the past eight years, said there have been as many as “90 artists (before at) Arts on Sunday, lining the streets with all genres from photography to jewelry, canvas art to metal work, and anything that is personally handmade. We only allow artists that design and make their own work.”Art isn’t all there is to the event. Music is a big part of what draws people to the district, which is normally quiet on Sundays. “Music was involved from the beginning with Blues-a-Palooza being the one constant that happens in both May and in October,” says Knabb. Jackson adds, “We started very small using a eight-piece stage that we carried from the Millennium Center down to a gravel lot where we placed tents on top to protect the musicians that performed the live music we showcased each week. We have now grown to the point that we use the city stage which is self -sufficient to not only showcase our artists but protects them from the elements.”With the first Sunday rained out, Blues-a-paloosa will have to wait until October. This Sunday’s event focuses on Mother’s Day with every mother receiving a rose and the music taking a softer turn with the Allison King Band, Big Ron Hunter and Robby Carr. Some 1500-2000 people are usually in attendance, but with both ends of Trade Street closed off and people parking and walking into the event from all directions, it is hard to gauge exact numbers. The May 15 music will center on community and bring in RJ Reynolds High School A Capella and Jazz Bands. October’s schedule and billing is to be released at a later date.

The galleries and restaurants are usually open. However, there will be a booth with hotdogs and hamburgers, as well as an ice cream vendor as a less expensive alternative for families and students. The artists come from all different backgrounds. There are those with degrees in the arts and those self-taught. Harmony Dimmig is one of the younger artists affiliated with the association. At age 20, she has been an AFAS member for a year and a half and this will be her second time participating in Arts on Sunday. “I have been preparing for the May series since November of last year, right after the October series ended. I am proud of the work I have done and how far I have come. My art is a way to express myself and I am looking forward to seeing if the fruits of my labor pay off. I am really excited. I don’t think I would have ever ventured out beyond creating art as a pastime if it hadn’t been for the opportunities I have gotten through AFAS.” There are big changes coming for AFAS with the installation of the new building and I was curious how it would impact the event in years to come. Jackson was adamant in stressing the mission “is to build, educate and celebrate community through art. AFAS or I could not do this without tremendous support from the community and the dedication of our volunteers and our board. With the new building going up we hope to expand the arts district and help bring better community awareness to the arts district and AFAS!” It was unclear if the event would move its location in the future, but the commitment to the district implies that whether it stays on Trade or moves to a new area, it will remain close enough to make a difference. As far as this year’s events go, rest assured. Whatever your taste in art, you are sure to find something that appeals to you at Arts on Sunday. The local work is crafted with numerous influences and with a wide enough price range to suit just about any budget. Even if you have no budget to spare, the music and sunshine is free.