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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Gifford Lane Art Stroll is celebrating 20 years

This year's poster art created by Andrea Lopez

Now that the large arts festivals are through for the year, it's time for everybody's favorite, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll, which will be celebrating its 20th year on Sunday, March 4.

From noon to 5 pm, art, music and fun will fill the tree-lined street in Center Grove for the usual neighborhood outing. For those five hours, the usually quiet street turns into a venue for all things art. "Art lives here," says Trina Collins, founder of the event and current artistic director.

The Art Stroll features the work of 70 artists, most are Grovites. Their art is displayed along the lane on fences, easels, clotheslines, and ladders — even in trees.  

People describe it as “the Grove the way the Grove once was.”  One organizer says, “The people that come to this little festival are themselves the main attraction. It’s happy, communal, and relaxed. It’s about who we are. Tons of conversation, boisterous laughter, live music that takes you back to a sweeter time, and always there’s dancing in the street.”

It’s a freewheeling art marketplace with plenty of good-natured bargaining. Artists come to sell; people come to buy. It’s all here: sculpture, portraits, landscapes, jewelry, tile mosaics, large abstract paintings, nudes, mixed media, photography, found art objects, and what can only be called “whimsies” with no category name. In short, it is just the sort of stuff you would want to see in your home.  All afternoon you’ll see people proudly marching up the lane with art acquisitions tucked under their arm.
Trina Collins lives on the block and each year opens up her Grove cottage so the public can hang out, or sit down on the quiet back porch, or sample (sometimes repeatedly) the now famous Cucumber Punch. “Artists come to Gifford Lane to sell, and -   it’s no secret — we all sell a lot of work here. The whole thing has a big generous spirit; it’s all kind of a people party.”  

Live music is always a big part of the Stroll. This year, featured as the band for the tenth straight year, are the Solar Dogs. 

This year, in their first appearance on Gifford Lane, Rivet Nation will bring their own Steampunk flair to the show. In addition to drama scenes from Frankenstein as well as their own take on Shakespeare, the group will feature the musical delights of artists Paul Pennyfeather, Ascot, and Corset. As in past years, the Coconut Grove Juggler’s Exchange will thread their magical way through the crowd like pied pipers leading a train of children.

As it has done for two decades, at the end of the day each year, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll will give away all of its money including a percentage of each artist’s sales to two Coconut Grove charities: the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center in the Village West. After 20 years, tens-of-thousands of dollars have now been donated. 

“The Gifford Lane Art Stroll is the cream of the crop. The old Grove at its best.  Laid back and fun! Music, art, special punch, a trip back in time. What more could you ask?  It is my favorite art show. Actually, it’s the only one I do because I love it. Anyone who wants a beautiful, happy afternoon should come; you will never forget it!" says Karen Deilke, participating artist.

This year again, there will be the popular and reliable “free monitored Bike Valet” down at the end of the lane provided by Bike Coconut Grove on the swale along the tennis court fence at Gifford and Oak Avenue.

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