ArtWalk reveals local artistic talent

Greg Lamont throws a pot at the 18th annual ArtWalk in downtown Ames on June 1, 2012. The ArtWalk is a good example of an the event that the Ames Cultural District puts on. 

Anna Bellegante

The 18th annual Main Street Cultural District ArtWalk kicked off Friday to celebrate the rich artistic culture of downtown Ames.

“Limberjack” puppets danced to Celtic tunes while children wondered at wooden and clay bowls created right before their eyes. Even Willy Wonka made a special guest appearance. One word could sum up the evening — magic.

A few of the people behind the magic include Jo Myers-Walker, painter; Greg Lamont, potter; and Rob Wallace, woodturner.

Myers-Walker, of Gilbert, Iowa, has been developing her craft for over 30 years and is no stranger to the ArtWalk. She appreciates the exposure and enjoys sharing new work with the community. This year’s display featured various watercolor paintings and fabric kits. Each fabric kit includes a pillow painted by Myers-Walker and the materials needed for a fun do-it-yourself project.

As a former instructor of several art and design classes at Iowa State, Myers-Walker continues to teach at her studio and encourages her students to participate in art shows. Her latest project, though, has shifted from teaching the art of painting to teaching the art of storytelling. Myers-Walker is working with children on how to speak on the radio for a youth radio show set to debut on KHOI in August.

“[Community radio] gives everyone a voice — even children,” Myers-Walker said.

Children were rendered speechless, however, as they marveled at demonstrations like those done by Lamont and Wallace.

Lamont, of Ames, has been practicing the art of pottery for almost 40 years. In 2001, Lamont helped organize Creative Artists’ Studio of Ames to provide artists with affordable studio space. The organization initially catered to those working with clay but has since branched out to include other art forms.

Lamont has participated in the ArtWalk for 10 years. He sees the ArtWalk as an opportunity to network and show what he can do. When the weather is nice, Lamont brings his potter’s wheel and forms clay into a structure in a matter of minutes. Lamont specializes in creating functional pottery, such as teapots or mugs, which can actually be used for its specific purpose.

In fact, anyone who has ever been to Stomping Grounds on Welch Avenue has already encountered Lamont’s work, as he creates the mugs for the cafe. Lamont hopes that people recognize each of his pieces as an individual work of art.

“Even when you buy something as humble as a coffee pot, you are getting a very unique product, and there probably isn’t another one exactly like it in the world,” Lamont said.

Like Lamont with his potter’s wheel, Wallace was also able to awe the crowd with his woodturning skills. Wallace, associate professor in ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State, loves promoting woodturning not just for his personal artwork but for the craft itself.

Wallace was first introduced to woodturning in his seventh grade shop class but has been honing his artistic woodturning abilities over the last eight years. He uses mostly locally salvaged wood for his work, including lumber from the ISU campus for the TreeCycle program.

Wallace describes the challenge in woodturning to make the piece as aesthetically pleasing as possible while still accentuating the “natural inherent beauty of the wood itself.”

Wallace’s art is represented in four galleries in Iowa, two of which are located in Ames. Wallace said he likes supporting and being part of the artistic community in Ames. He has participated in the ArtWalk for a number of years and loves demonstrating the process of woodturning for people of all ages.

“The actual process of woodturning … is somewhat mesmerizing, seeing the shape change in front of your eyes as wood spins,” Wallace said. “It’s also exciting getting the involvement of some of the kids and their responses because it really is something you don’t see every day.”

Organizing plans for the 2013 ArtWalk have already begun. With diverse demonstrations and activities ranging from face painting to wine tasting, this event provides entertainment for people of various ages and interests.