By: Nick Perkins
It was overcast and chilly when ART 321 and the Casper Artist’s Guild presented the first Casper Art Walk of the 2018 season, but Mother Nature could not stop the community from coming downtown to see all the incredible sights and sounds that the Art Walk had to offer. The Art Walk enveloped much of the downtown area, but it seemed like it was within The District that the perfect combination of art, music, food and drink came together.
Crescent Moon Coffee Shop, one of Casper’s newest ground houses, featured Kirstin Bott, owner and operator of Frosted Tops, LLC during the Art Walk. Nothing goes better with coffee than cake, it can be argued, and Crescent Moon had both aplenty on this night.
“We’ve been in business about four years and we’ve been participating in the Art Walk for the last few,” said Bott, in between servicing the ever-growing line of hungry customers at her table. “I think the Art Walk is awesome. It’s an opportunity for the community to gather together and really rally around small businesses and support each other.”
That is one of the major things the Casper Art Walk is trying to accomplish- bringing businesses and the community together. The Art Walk also provides an opportunity for artists to display their work to an even wider audience, through different gallery shows, meet and greets, artist dinners and more. Scarlow’s Gallery is just one of the many art galleries featured in the Art Walk. It also happens to be one of the coolest.
Featuring artists such as Jim Kopp, E.K. Wimmer, Barbara Kuxhausen and more, Scarlow’s Gallery exists to display the work of artists who have a story to tell. Claire Marlow, owner and curator of Scarlow’s Gallery said it has been open for nearly four years, and in that time, they have featured artists from all over the spectrum- painters, sculptors, photographers and more.
“My main goal is to just bring in culture that people haven’t seen,” Marlow said. “We’ve featured a lot of local artists, which is fabulous. Casper doesn’t get a lot of fresh stuff, so we just try to bring in stuff they’ve never seen.”
An artist that Casper has definitely never seen before, but will undoubtedly see more of in the future, is Neal Breton.
Breton is a pop art-inspired artist who focuses on colors that really speak to the viewer. He is one of the featured artists this month at Scarlow’s Gallery, and his work needs to be seen to be believed. When Breton speaks of his art, he does so with the enthusiasm of a child who is presenting the coolest thing he has ever seen at Show and Tell. His enthusiasm is contagious, and his art takes one back to a happier, simpler time when all it took to make you smile was a picture of a little girl holding a flower.
These are sort of half a love letter to California and half a love letter to color,” Breton said of his work. “What I’m trying to accomplish here is having little moments trapped. And those little trapped moments are for you to enjoy. I want to make things that make people happy and make people at peace.”
Making people happy is exactly what Breton does, and he really exemplifies just what it is that the Art Walk is trying to do. It’s trying to make people happy. It’s showcasing artists and musicians and chefs and sommeliers, all of whom have a story to tell and a canvas to work on. The Art Walk is that canvas.
Betsy Bower, a local artist who has had her work featured all across Downtown Casper, believes that the Art Walk is incredibly important to artists and galleries alike.
“The Art Walk is something that really brought culture into downtown and I think that’s one of the biggest things that has helped [artists], because there are galleries that you can walk to,” Bower said. “It’s like everybody is coming out of the woodwork to show their art. It’s like everybody had a secret hobby that I didn’t know about and now they have a place to display it, so I think it just keeps getting better.”
“It’s encouraging,” Bower continued. “I think there are a lot of artists that are growing and being nurtured by [the Art Walk].”
It’s not just painters and sculptors that are being featured in the Art Walk, however. Musicians, as well, are given the opportunity to perform and tell their stories. Bands such as Mastermind of Monkey, Jeff Stanley and The Gang, Jason Ford and more all had the opportunity to play various venues throughout The District. Places like The Gaslight Social, Racca’s Pizzeria, Yellowstone Garage and Urban Bottle are not usually what one thinks of when picturing venues for musicians to play at. But that’s the great thing about the Art Walk- everybody wants to display artists!
Lauren Griffith is one of the owners of Urban Bottle, and she said the stage that the Art Walk presents, for both artists and businesses alike, cannot be overstated.
“It’s amazing,” she said of the community coming together during the Art Walk. “It drums up so much business and we get so many more people that haven’t been in here before. We love to promote local musicians. It’s just been so much fun to see all these people that wouldn’t normally go downtown to just come and frequent all of these spots all over downtown.”
The list of participating businesses and artists for the Art Walk extends far beyond The District and truly encompasses almost every business in Downtown Casper. This is incredible. It means that all of us, from writers to artists to musicians to restaurant owners to business owners to art gallery managers and more all have a single vision of what Downtown Casper be.
That vision might look a little bit different, depending on who you ask, but one idea, one hope, one dream remains the same- that Downtown Casper will continue to flourish.
James Andrews, owner the Smoked ‘N Tender food truck said that his wish is “to see droves of people walking through these streets, hitting food trucks, restaurants, all the shops and having it be a place where people come from different towns to come see Downtown Casper.”
His wish is shared by almost everybody in the Downtown District and it is one that all of us can make come true. The best part is that we, the public, have the easiest job of all.
All we have to do is show up.
Featured Scarlow’s artist Neal Breton said that Casper “is lot like the town that I’m living in right now, which is kind of a burgeoning town; it’s learning about culture and it’s learning about art and what better way to do that than by bringing everyone together and to identify a community? What I think [Casper is] doing is great. It will always take a lot of work and it will never be fully realized, but as long as people start to participate, and they’re turned on and they’re interested about art, and they’re interested in participating in that, then it will be huge!”
“Art is a universal thing; it’s a universal language,” Breton stated.
Art is a universal language, and because of The Casper Art Walk, it is a language that all of Downtown Casper is starting to speak.