TAUNTON — Downtown Art Jam is about to return to downtown Taunton.
Last year, Downtown Art Jam, or Art Jam Taunton, was a two-day event held in August. This time around, in an effort to beat the summer heat, the second annual Downtown Art Jam is a one-day affair set for Saturday, May 21, from 1-6 p.m.
Eileen Kelleher, program director for the Taunton Town Center Foundation, says the event was sparked by the suggestion of an art walk and community event to promote art in Taunton. Last year’s inaugural event, a first low-budget effort, was a big success with around 500 visitors, who lined the streets and sidewalks with colorful chalk art that added a little cheer to the downtown for a few weeks.
This year the plan is more chalk art, more art demonstrations and exhibits, two permanent art installations. Also, food, beer, music, vendors… and more art.
How Art Jam was born
“It kind of turned into what we now call Art Jam,” Kelleher said, thinking back to the start of what Taunton residents can look forward to as an annual event.
“Ryan Jones, who is the artist and owner of Real art studios, he came up with the name, because he thought it kind of reflected the different mix of art that we welcome to the event. Music, hands on art. You know, this year we’re doing a bit of a performing arts integration with Applause Academy. And they plan to be even more involved next year.
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“So the goal is just to have a multi-faceted community event and promote art. The Downtown Taunton Foundation always wants to bring people downtown. And our art galleries, Trescott Street and Real Art Studios love to promote art, and so that’s what we do.
In partnership with a number of local groups and businesses, including the Regional Arts Center, which will feature musical artists on their outdoor stage throughout the day, Art Jam Taunton 2022 will be held on the Taunton Green and surrounding town center sites and streets. The event is free.
Sidewalk chalk art is back
Experiencing art is the driving theme of Art Jam Taunton, and Kelleher says there will be plenty of opportunities to view art, both finished and in-progress works, and for artists of all ages and abilities to create and share art with the community.
One of the most popular and prominent features of the 2021 event was sidewalk chalk art. Kelleher says art supplies in the form of sidewalk chalk and chalk spray will be distributed throughout downtown and visitors are encouraged to color and create wherever they find it.
“I think what blew my mind the most last year was how passionate people were about sidewalk chalk and spray chalk projects,” Kelleher said. “All ages, everyone, from small, small children to older people.
“They just couldn’t believe they could just pick up the chalk, grab a spray can and start drawing and spraying. There was art on the sidewalks all around downtown for weeks.
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The two participating downtown art galleries, Trescott Street Gallery and Real Art Studios, will host art exhibits and activities, with this year’s new Art Jam Scavenger Hunt starting at Real Art Studios and following a comic book theme created by Jones.
Additionally, Trescott Street Gallery will feature an exhibition titled “Memories of Portugal and Other Beautiful Places” and will feature the work of Taunton artist and Art Jam 2021 street art contestant Sandy Pavao Pinarreta. Real Art Studio’s Art Jam 2022 group exhibition features an original painting by “The Godfather of Graffiti”, Richard “Seen” Mirando. and the work of local artists such as Jones, Damien Belloti, Anthony Abi Saad, Kevin Hickey, Koma Tk and Maggie Jones. And more local artwork is housed and displayed at the District Center.
Permanent wall installations
And some lasting works of art will be created at Art Jam Taunton 2022.
At Boys and Girls Club of TauntonCollaborative Canvases intends to complete four large canvases with a coordinated group vision and exhibit the finished works at Trescott Street Gallery at a later date.
Additionally, two of three new permanent wall installations made with the support of the Downtown Taunton Foundation and the Taunton Business Improvement District will be unveiled as part of Art Jam Taunton 2022.
Norton muralist and educator Jacob “Makerjake” Ginga is currently working on a mural on a storage container in the Trescott Street car park. Additionally, artist and owner of Studio 27 Flowers, Greta Ferreira, plans to create a black and white floral-style mural on the alley wall of Merchant’s Lane.
A third permanent wall installation is planned for the Rob Roy Building at the corner of Main Street and School Street. This project should see the light of day this summer.
Baron Lofts Plaza and the District Center are the venues for adult music and drinks.
Baron Lofts will host a beer garden with scheduled performances by Ilene Springer, Rachel Parsons, “Cape Cod Mike” McHugh and AK Cody. The District Center will serve drinks at the bar with performances by Lauren King, Providence Rather Nice and rock, funk, soul and jazz band Slapback to close out the day.
Kelleher says food will be available from a handful of vendors and food trucks, but visitors will also be encouraged to check out downtown restaurants and cafes.
“We’ve seen a lot of our surrounding communities like New Bedford and Fall River do a lot of public art murals and sculptures, and we haven’t really had that kind of art scene flourish in Taunton, until now” , Kelleher mentioned.
“And so we try to trigger that. We try to get people to think about art, to feel art, to experience art. And that’s kind of where we come from.