The Art Hop readies for its 16th year

September is that magical time of year when colleges go back to class and the Art Hop unfolds on the Burlington landscape, filling houses, galleries, warehouses and businesses with local artists – both amateur and professional – in every type of medium. Bob Bolyard of The South End Arts and Business Association (SEABA) sat down with The Cynic to fill us in on the who, what, where, when, why and how of the Art Hop.

How was the Art hop started?

Bob Bolyard: It’s actually pretty interesting how Art Hop started. It was a group of neighbors in the South End, were sitting around one night and one said, ‘oh I see you’re a painter,’ and so the man says, ‘oh yeah, but no one sees it. Just you and my family.’ The first neighbor said, ‘Well I’m a painter too, and what we ought to do is put our stuff in our garage and walk around and look at each other’s work.’ The next year, the neighbors on the next street wanted to join on. That was in 1992 and this is now its 16th year.

Who puts together Art Hop now?

BB: The South End Arts and Business Association is the governing body of the Art Hop. There are two full-time employÂees including me and then one person who works part-time. We can’t survive without volunteers.

Where is Art Hop held?

BB: From Main street all the way down to Flynn Avenue, with bands and parties at different locations. We have art showÂings in a doctor’s office, a deli, in old galleries and studios and empty warehouses.

What type of artists show their work?

BB: We have 600 some artists showing in 100 different places. Of these 600 artists there are some who have been showing for years, some are nationally and interÂnationally known. Then there’s someone who has been painting in their bedroom for the last thirty years and no one has been able to see their work and now they’ve finally worked up the nerve to do it and other people get to see their work. Last year I went to one event and outside a woman was crying so I went up and asked her if she was alright. She said, ‘Yes, I’m fine. I’ve just never gotten to show my work before.’ It’s empowerment.

Is there a particular type of art that isn’t accepted?

BB: We are totally egalitarian. If you send your application in with your money, you’re in.

Are there any exhibits people should check out?

BB: There are some great things. We have Rick Norcross who was the rock critic for a Tampa bay paper. He took pictures of all the rock concerts between ’69 and ’74 and he has all his original pictures along with the reviews that were with them. Still, there are 600 artists in 100 places so you can’t see it in one weekend. That’s why we’ve made this event last the whole month so you can see a lot of good art.

How does Art Hop help Burlington and the surrounding communities?

BB: Businesses see it as a great way to bring attention to themselves, it’s also a great way to build up the South End. Many years ago, during the Industrial era, there were mills, factories and many of them shutdown in the ’70s and ’80s and sat empty. As Art Hop started growing and using those empty spaces people were walking in saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t know this was available!’ So they started buying them or leasing them or renting them and then all of a sudden people started moving down to the South End and really started making it vibrant. This has now become a problem in some sense because now we’re running out of spaces.

Why should UVM’s student body come out for the Art Hop?

BB: You are citizens of Burlington, of our community. You’re a partner; get to know us so we can get to know you. Don’t let us only know the assholes who walk down Main street at 2:00 in the morning. Those aren’t the only students that there are, but they’re the only ones who get noticed. Come down and let us get to know you, be a part of it don’t just watch it; you’ll learn a lot and in a fun way.

The SEABA Art Hop celebration kicks off September 5th and 6th. The exhibits will run for the rest of the month of September.