Let’s take an art walk: Grass Valley Downtown Association hosts Second Saturday event to support local businesses, artists
Special to Prospector
The mission of the Grass Valley Downtown Association (GVDA) is to represent the “general membership with a unified voice in economic development and historical preservation of downtown Grass Valley and our community.” The role changed a bit last March when mandatory shutdowns left business owners scrambling to understand and follow new rules and mandates, turning to the GVDA for assistance.
Executive Director Marni Marshall took on the added responsibility, working tirelessly with merchants to help them navigate their way through the ever-changing regulations and restrictions imposed over the past 13 months, as well as offering help and education around grants, PPP, safety protocols and other information vital to business owners who (for the most part) worked to stay in compliance and open for business.
The organization stepped up quickly and worked with city officials to (at least temporarily) close Mill Street and set up tables, tents, aesthetically pleasing flower boxes and creative decorations throughout the year to keep the public interested in shopping and eating downtown.
Marshall said the work of the GVDA has not stopped. “We’ve had several rounds of sidewalk sales, and merchant showcases and shop local campaigns,” said Marshall. “We’ve been finding creative ways to support our local merchants and assist them through this pandemic.”
While the GVDA is best known for the many events organized throughout the year including a Car Show, Thursday Night Market, Safe Trick or Treat and Cornish Christmas, safety restrictions forced the cancellation of each of those events last year. Long held traditions were put on hold and new, creative projects took hold.
MORE ON ART WORKS GALLERY
To read more about Art Works Gallery community art fundraiser to support youth arts programs at The Center for the Arts, see the story on pages 3 and 4.
This year, Marshall and the board members are working creatively to bring people downtown with COVID-safe activities such as monthly art tours. Teaming up with Brynn Farwell from the Center for the Arts, Marshall said she expects Second Saturdays to grow and grow.
“Since she (Farwell) has such a base of artists through The Center at the (Granucci Art) Gallery and Open Studios tour, and because of my relationships with downtown businesses, we thought it would be a really good match to build something that is also easy to remember.”
The Second Saturday Artwalk in March coincided with another art project dreamed up by the GVDA, and Chamber of Commerce boards, to recreate an uplifting temporary mural project where members of the community painted boards that businesses sponsored.
“They could be attached to planter boxes and that could also help bring life and livelihood and something for people to do that could be socially distant and that people could look at any time — day or night — so it’s a project that has a wide range of possibilities to bring in more artists, more merchants, and to enhance it with music and publicity as months go by,” explained Marshall.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Second Saturday Artwalk
WHERE: Downtown Grass Valley
WHEN: Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHO: Grass Valley Downtown Association, Artworks Gallery
The LiveLoveArt project is a series of painted butterflies and other art boards displayed around downtown where visitors are encouraged to step in and take photographs and create memories for themselves and their families. While that display will only be up through the end of the month, Second Saturday will continue to grow throughout the year. Marshall said they are just getting started.
“The first one was small, but we know that more people are already signed up and it will just get bigger and better. We had to do the first one for people to get an idea of what it would look like.”
An online art map has been completed by the GVDA, which includes notes on the painted concrete barriers, the permanent murals on building walls, along with art that is hung in cafes and tasting rooms and galleries. Marshall said she thought that would be a good way for people to be able to check in on the history they are seeing as well.
“We wanted to feature all of it,” said Marshall. “It also includes the Art in Storefronts project. We worked on that to put art in vacant buildings, so the whole town is imbued with art and we want people to be able to come and really appreciate it because some of it is temporary and will go away.” Marshall also mentioned the temporary art boards can be repeated with different artists and different themes.
The map of the Second Saturday Artwalk, the “liveloveart” project and more can be found by going to http://www.downtowngrassvalley.com and clicking on events.
The hope, of course, is to get people to come downtown to browse and to buy from local merchants. “Many of the artists are involved in many of the venues, so it’s just going to build and feel really good,” Marshall said. “There will be artist demonstrations at the ArtWorks Gallery and so much art for people to enjoy. We are having music. We are working with Music in the Mountains to bring some of their musicians to downtown. There is a lot to see.”
Marshall said it’s been a challenging year but there have been silver linings.
“We’ve had more collaboration with all of our partners and more communication, more creativity and I feel like we have really done everything we could to assist our businesses and help build resilience for the future,” said Marshall. “We are supplying atmosphere and experiences and with everybody on board, it just makes it more joyful. With everything happening, there is just going to be more and more goodwill and love for our sweet little town.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
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