The south end hops through another year

Crowds packed the sidewalks of Pine Street on Friday night as artists opened their doors to Burlington. The annual South End Art Hop was made up of 57 viewing sites that set the stage for a night of exposure and intrigue.

An eclectic mix of Vermonters (and otherwise) roamed the South End, taking the opportunity to check out what local artists have been doing since last September. Soccer moms brushed elbows with hipster youth, taking in the sights and sounds of everything from jazz trios to a rollerblade painting demonstration of the human experience. Regardless of what kind of art you’re into, or if you’re into art at all, the South End Art Hop stands out as an event that draws people together from all walks of B-town life.

UVMers usually trek to the South End in search of Recycle North furniture and to the bus station for Greyhounds to New York and Boston. But what we don’t always see is the thriving art and business community of the area, hidden behind the largely unmarked and expansive smattering of warehouses and crumbling brick facades.

Currently, one of the largest concentrations of entrepreneurs and artist’s studios in the greater Burlington area call the South End home. To help get the word out about the happenings in the South End, SEABA (South End Arts & Business Association) was formed in the late 80s. The annual Art Hop is their invitation to the public to come out and appreciate the hidden wonders littering the back alleys of the neighborhood.

The Lamp Store burned bright as a homemade paper lantern in the form of Art Hop’s logo directed the throng inside. The Lamp Store is filled with antique and handcrafted lighting fixtures. With a Santa’s workshop feel, young and old walked carefully with eyes squinted, through the glittering pieces.

Liz Segal, owner of the Lamp Store, looks forward to the Art Hop all year long for much needed exposure and some help in paying what must be her staggering electric bill. Her store is open everyday, but rarely sees so many visitors as on this weekend in September.

Segal encouraged UVM students to join the Burlington community in the festivities. “This event guts the artist’s studio,” she said. “We’re seeing alternative art; it’s a chance to get out there and see fun, funky stuff.”

The Glass Studio was one of the hottest sites of the night. With a honeycomb overhang as their canopy, a jazz duet drew hordes over to the venue. Set behind Speeder and Earl’s, the studio felt like the center of the night as people passed in both directions through the windy alley. Inside, high voltage bulbs illuminated the art. Hannah Pants, a local Vermont artist, hung her art in a back corner while her sister, Bridget Hampt, looked on proudly as a group of onlookers argued over who should get to take home a marker drawing of a high-top sneaker.

A graduate of UVM, Hampt loves the community feel of the Art Hop, but wishes more UVM students had heard of its goings on. “This is a great way to see what locals are doing, this is raw, young, unfiltered art,” she said. “Every medium is on this block, people are here to pursue their dreams, and we get to watch.”

The Green Door Studio, just around the corner, showcased a UVM student’s ongoing project. The Combat Paper Project, headed by UVM seniors Drem Matott and Drew Cameron was showcased at site 16-B. The project invited veterans to transform uniforms worn in combat to be broken down and turned into paper. The paper serves as a canvas for prints, poetry and as a step towards dealing with the veterans dehumanizing experiences in war.

The 57 sites that lined Pine Street offered a unique opportunity to get out and see the direction in which art in Burlington is moving. While Burlington residents are enthusiastic about the Art Hop and encourage everyÂone to come out, many are wary of bringing too many college students into the mix. Mara Coven, a Burlington resident, described the Art Hop as a Halloween for adults.

“We can come out and see what’s happening in the art community. There are a zillion different things going on, some of it’s awful, some of it’s great, but who cares? It’s just fun,” she said.

If you missed the Art Hop this year, mark your calendars for the next one. The weekend event is a form of experiential learning as well as an opportunity to help bridge the gap between the Burlington community and the UVM campus.