Ames Art Walk makes its return after year-long hiatus

Gabryel Rudloff with her mother at her stand

Omar Waheed

Between the scorching heat, fine art and people there to support the local talent, Ames’ Art Walk made a boisterous return after a year off.

After a year off due to the pandemic, the Art Walk returns Monday to downtown Ames to give local artists a chance to show off their works. From first-timers to repeat visitors, artists were excited to display their wares and potentially sell them, along with patrons who were happy to go to a public event for the first time in a while.

“I think it’s a great way to feature a lot of artists and bring attention to people who are small and trying to grow,” said Lauren Gifford, a recent graduate from Iowa State. “Ames has such a great community, so it’s nice to be able to connect artists with all the community members.”

Gifford, who has painted multiple murals across Ames, including a mural in the Student Innovation Center and the large mural on the side of Quilting Connection on Kellogg and Main, experienced her first Ames Art Walk where she hoped to get her work out there and bring attention to it in beautification around the city.

Taking place on the hottest day of the week so far, the event took advantage of the shade the buildings downtown provided. Along with artists faring their work on streets, some Ames businesses gladly hosted artists in their shops.

“I’m all about saving the art, and this gives artists a platform to sell their art here and have the community see them,” said Siriaco “Siricasso” Garcia, an artist at the event.

Garcia was posted outside of the Octagon Gallery where he displayed his glass panel acrylic paintings along with T-shirts from his self-named brand, Siricasso, while also painting a brand-new piece live for anyone to see.

Another artist, Tanvi Rastogi, was set up in the shop called Dog-Eared Books. Being able to escape the heat and show her art in a bustling place, Rastogi wasn’t necessarily there to sell it but to expose her works to any and all who wanted to see.

“I think the Art Walk is a really important thing because it can help young people like myself or people who just love to make art show other people their art and get their art known,” said Ethan Marino, a first-time artist at the Art Walk. “… At this age sometimes, you feel like your art isn’t seen at all.”

Marino showed off a bunch of sketches he made throughout the years inside of Emerhoff’s Footstore.

The event also drew out other new young artists like Gabryel Rudloff, who was joined by her mother, and they both found themselves experiencing the Art Walk for the first time after hastily getting ready a mere week before. Rudloff, who is 11, sold stickers to help start a college fund and earn some spending money by showing off her talent.

From the perspective of the visitors, the Art Walk offered a chance to gather in mass after a long stretch of social distancing and experience some of the liveliness Ames has to offer.

“My favorite part so far is being a part of a crowd, actually,” Brett Steelman said. “The pandemic very much annihilated that possibility understandably, so being down here and walking on the sidewalks makes it feel like a city now, and that’s what Ames should feel like.”

Finally returning to some level of normalcy as the pandemic is winding down, artists and Ames residents alike were ecstatic to get back on the streets and see what the city artists have to offer.