Downtown comes alive during third ‘Art Crawl’

Abbi Overfelt Editor

October 11, 2013

LAURINBURG — Drivers through downtown Laurinburg on Friday night, if they had their windows down, were greeted with an array of sounds — voices that echoed through the streets, guitars, keyboards and saxophones that bounced notes off the surrounding buildings and car horns that beeped a hello to familiar faces.

If their windows were up, there was still plenty to see.

The Art Crawl, the third of its kind, was in full swing.

Folks strolled Main Street where shops and restaurants, some with their doors open to welcome in the crowds and the first bite of fall air, offered sales or displays from local artists — some who showed off their skills as onlookers watched.

Jeanette Herlocker, of Laurinburg, was stationed in Quick Copy, along with several prints and original paintings done by her brother Ted McCormick.

Among them were scenes of flowers, wildlife, and portraiture copied from old family photographs.

Herlocker said McCormick had always loved to draw, but had recently stepped his art up a notch.

“I finally said ‘this is ridiculous, you have got to start selling this stuff,’” she said.

Also with works on display in QuickCopy were Patty Smith and her daughter Carol Porter, who create ‘barn quilts,’ some large enough to grace a barn front and others designed to hang on a kitchen wall. Smith began painting the quilt pattern when arthritis robbed her of the ability to stitch it.

On down the street, Dr. Kelvin Raybon, oncologist at Scotland Cancer Center, had set up shop with band mate and son Eli, as a small crowd of family and passers-by gathered to hear them play songs from a request list taped to Eli’s microphone stand. Much to one bystander’s disappointment, “Freebird,” the 14-minute Lynyrd Skynyrd concert finale and most requested song in the history of music, was not on the list.

Kelvin’s wife Tina filmed the performance on a small camcorder while daughter Emma watched. It was the first time her son Eli had performed with his father and not with a group of friends in a rock band.

“It’s exciting to see new exhibits that haven’t been here before,” said Jennifer McRae, executive director of the Storytelling & Arts Center of the Southeast, which served as the host of the Art Crawl. “It’s nice to see all the activity downtown and people out and about on a Friday night.”

Music from Day and Knight Jazz wafted into the building as 18-year-old Jonathan Hall asked advice from fellow artist Mark Conroy, who was showing several works, some new and some he had done several years ago. A carpenter by trade, many were displayed in frames he had created himself.

“He just needs to incorporate some shading, add some depth to his works,” he said of Hall’s book of drawings. “A lot of inspiration goes a long way.”

Conroy was inspired long ago to create a mixed-media piece depicting a scene from a state park in West Virginia. The mixed media approach, he said, is unique but one from which he hardly strays.

“I started in high school, and my art teacher said ‘I’ve never heard of that before but if it works for you, go for it,’ and I did,” he said.

Deb Guess, newly-named the assistant director of the Storytelling & Arts Center, had a table set up nearby with pieces of jewelry, created from sheets of metal and designed for movement.

“I like the industrial, mechanical things … but also things that would appeal to people who wear diamonds and pearls,” she said. “I don’t want my pearls to look like anyone else’s pearls.”

At the front of the center, Carol Lee had showcased an assortment of shabby chic aprons assembled from pieces of vintage linens, some that were “rescued” from Helping Hand or other local thrift stores and others that were given to her.

“It’s been interesting, the things people give me, saying ‘Please just take this off my hands,’” she said.

People strolling downtown made their way into Shirttails, Hi-Lites, Scotland Drug and Dazzling Diva to browse sales advertised on the sidewalk, while others picked up a dessert from Sweet Expressions at the Gill House. At Harley’s Tuxedo and Gifts, squares of reclaimed tartans from decades-old band uniforms had been flying off the shelf. The squares are being sold as a fundraiser for the Scotland High School marching band.

“We, all of us who put this together, had originally designed it to be sort of a ‘Terrible Towel,’” said Harley Norris, the shop’s owner, “but 90 percent of the people who bought one were either mature adults who were in the band, or mature adults who bought it for their children who were in the band,” he said.

Norris had himself bought one for his brother, who was in the band 30 years ago. The best thing about the fundraiser, he said, was that it was “pure profit” — the material had just been sitting in storage, collecting dust.

At Art by Design, Olivia Dowdy Brown sat at a table where she hammered out jewelry made of copper, metal, and pottery. Her person was a living display of the jewelry she had made, some with soft textures woven in.

Crawford Fitch, owner of the shop, watched while helping himself to a small spread of snacks, as local artists who had vacated their posts drifted in to browse his store.

“Anything that brings people downtown is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.