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Stilt walkers bearing quilts aim to slow down traffic at August ArtWalk in Easthampton



Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2015
EASTHAMPTON — Traffic on Union Street during the August ArtWalk event will be slowed down by an unusual urban planning measure: a parade of stilt walkers carrying quilts.

“Elevate Art: Quilts on Stilts with a Slow Stitch Sit-Along” is one of two traffic calming projects being deployed for Easthampton’s Aug. 8 ArtWalk, which begins at 5 p.m.

Traffic calming is an urban planning strategy that typically involves road changes like speed bumps, wider sidewalks or narrower lanes. Both the textbook definition and ArtWalk’s creative execution have the same aim: to improve pedestrian safety and create a sense of place for people to exist alongside cars.

The quilts on stilts project was created by city resident Audrey Hyvonen, who is an avid silt walker and owner of Big Top Quilts. Two performers, each mounted on three-foot-stilts, will parade around Union Street displaying a number of quilts, all while dozens of others lining the streets perform their own slow art: quilting, knitting, whittling or drawing.

“I have at least two people bringing spinning wheels,” Hyvonen said. “The purpose, or excitement of it, is that as a group we value a slower pace, and that’s important to us.”

The parade will be centered around the area of Railroad and Liberty streets. The stilt walkers will walk on sidewalks, the bike path and across the street using crosswalks.

“We don’t intend to stop the flow of traffic, but to interrupt the traffic as a pedestrian does when they cross the street,” Hyvonen said.

The stilt performers will display quilts brought by people from around the Valley, some of which were created by them, others purchased or inherited, Hyvonen said. She encourages attendees to come watch the parade of quilts while practicing their own art.

“It doesn’t have to be textile work,” she said. “It can be drawing, it can be whittling. I call it handwork — something that can be done in your lap.”

Easthampton City Arts+, which organizes the community’s monthly ArtWalks, chose the project after issuing a call for proposals, which solicited ideas for slowing the flow of traffic on one of the city’s busier streets.

“Union Street has always been a great entrance, because it connects Main and Cottage streets,” said ECA+ coordinator Burns Maxey. “Union Street has some infrastructure issues that we wouldn’t necessarily tackle as an arts organization.”

Each month, ArtWalk visitors stream throughout the city, many on foot, traveling between the cultural gathering spots.

“We looked at a few crosswalks that were high-traffic crosswalks and have a high rate of accidents,” Maxey said. “We’re just looking at focusing on them and making sure people understand that pedestrians are there.”

A second traffic calming measure — a performance titled “Easthampton’s Welcoming Committee” — will be centered near the intersection of Main and Union streets.

Artist StarHeart (Suz Evans) hasn’t given much away about the nature of the performance, though Maxey said Evans will be “giving out something to entice people to come back to Easthampton.”

“There’s some surprise here. This artist is bringing forth a creative performance within a crosswalk, giving people a chance to pass on occasion so it’s not blocking traffic,” Maxey said. “The idea is that so many people cross through our streets, especially the (Route) 141 corridor, and don’t realize all the wonderful things we have in Easthampton to enjoy.”

Shows and installations scheduled for the Aug. 8 ArtWalk include “ABSTRACT SUMMER,” a showing of Luke Cavagnac’s paintings at Invisible Fountain and an open house of Vortex Dance Studio, both in Eastworks; a fermented soda tasting at the Haberdashery on Union Street; music by Jason Goebel and fiber art by Jamie Lynn Williams at Bliss Cafe and a performance by Well Tempered Ukes at White Square Books, both on Cottage Street.

Other ArtWalk events include artist Amy Johnquest painting the utility box outside the Municipal Building, a display of painter Molly McLoughlin’s paintings at Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream and a showing of Mona Shriber’s work at the ECA+ gallery, and a dedication of the “01027” bike rack on Main Street at 4:30 p.m.

For more information and a complete listing of events, visit www.easthamptoncityarts.com/artwalk.

EASTHAMPTON — Traffic on Union Street during the August ArtWalk event will be slowed down by an unusual urban planning measure: a parade of stilt walkers carrying quilts.

“Elevate Art: Quilts on Stilts with a Slow Stitch Sit-Along” is one of two traffic calming projects being deployed for Easthampton’s Aug. 8 ArtWalk, which begins at 5 p.m.

Traffic calming is an urban planning strategy that typically involves road changes like speed bumps, wider sidewalks or narrower lanes. Both the textbook definition and ArtWalk’s creative execution have the same aim: to improve pedestrian safety and create a sense of place for people to exist alongside cars.

The quilts on stilts project was created by city resident Audrey Hyvonen, who is an avid silt walker and owner of Big Top Quilts.

Two performers, each mounted on 3-foot-stilts, will parade around Union Street displaying a number of quilts, all while dozens of others lining the streets perform their own slow art: quilting, knitting, whittling or drawing.

“I have at least two people bringing spinning wheels,” Hyvonen said. “The purpose, or excitement of it, is that as a group we value a slower pace, and that’s important to us.”

The parade will be centered around the area of Railroad and Liberty streets. The stilt walkers will walk on sidewalks, the bike path and across the street using crosswalks.

“We don’t intend to stop the flow of traffic, but to interrupt the traffic as a pedestrian does when they cross the street,” Hyvonen said.

The stilt performers will display quilts brought by people from around the Valley, some of which were created by them, others purchased or inherited, Hyvonen said. She encourages attendees to come watch the parade of quilts while practicing their own art.

“It doesn’t have to be textile work,” she said. “It can be drawing, it can be whittling. I call it handwork — something that can be done in your lap.”

Easthampton City Arts+, which organizes the community’s monthly ArtWalks, chose the project after issuing a call for proposals, which solicited ideas for slowing the flow of traffic on one of the city’s busier streets.

“Union Street has always been a great entrance, because it connects Main and Cottage streets,” said ECA+ coordinator Burns Maxey. “Union Street has some infrastructure issues that we wouldn’t necessarily tackle as an arts organization.”

Each month, ArtWalk visitors stream throughout the city, many on foot, traveling between the cultural gathering spots.

“We looked at a few crosswalks that were high-traffic crosswalks and have a high rate of accidents,” Maxey said. “We’re just looking at focusing on them and making sure people understand that pedestrians are there.”

A second traffic calming measure — a performance titled “Easthampton’s Welcoming Committee” — will be centered near the intersection of Main and Union streets.

Artist StarHeart (Suz Evans) hasn’t given much away about the nature of the performance, though Maxey said Evans will be “giving out something to entice people to come back to Easthampton.”

“There’s some surprise here. This artist is bringing forth a creative performance within a crosswalk, giving people a chance to pass on occasion so it’s not blocking traffic,” Maxey said. “The idea is that so many people cross through our streets, especially the (Route) 141 corridor, and don’t realize all the wonderful things we have in Easthampton to enjoy.”

Shows and installations scheduled for the Aug. 8 ArtWalk include “ABSTRACT SUMMER,” a showing of Luke Cavagnac’s paintings at Invisible Fountain and an open house of Vortex Dance Studio, both in Eastworks; a fermented soda tasting at the Haberdashery on Union Street; music by Jason Goebel and fiber art by Jamie Lynn Williams at Bliss Cafe and a performance by Well Tempered Ukes at White Square Books, both on Cottage Street.

Other ArtWalk events include artist Amy Johnquest painting the utility box outside the Municipal Building, a display of painter Molly McLoughlin’s paintings at Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream and a showing of Mona Shriber’s work at the ECA+ gallery, and a dedication of the “01027” bike rack on Main Street at 4:30 p.m.

Visit www.easthamptoncityarts.com/artwalk for a complete listing of events.