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Fiber Optics

Inaugural Fiber Arts Show
to feature unusual talent

It will serve as kickoff event for
Madison Main St.’s Fourth Fridays

Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(April 2012) – The kickoff for Madison Main Street Program’s 2012 series of events will begin in April with the return of the popular Fourth Friday Art Jam and Shop Hop and the introduction of a new competition that organizers hope will soon become an annual tradition.
During the fourth Friday of each month, downtown Madison businesses are encouraged to stay open later, with many keeping their doors open until 8 p.m. Main Street Program members also hire local musicians, frequently guitar or saxophone players, to be positioned up and down Main Street adding to the festive air.

Quilt

Past years’ events have included artisans setting up in front of businesses, and some stores will bring in special guests for demonstrations. Main Street Program President and Art Club Treasurer Bob Ems describes the Fourth Friday events as “kind of like a downtown open house.”
In coordination with the April Fourth Friday program, the Madison Art Club will play host to its Fabulous Fiber competition for fiber arts. “We’ve toyed with the notion of having a quilt show,” says Ems, noting the popularity of quilts in the area.
However, Art Club members realized that there were already several quilt shows in the region and wanted to do something a little different. So they decided to expand the show to include other aspects of fiber arts and have devised a class list of six categories for their show. In addition to quilts, competitors are also invited to enter yarn works, needlework, wearable art, and rugs/tapestries. There will also be a special miscellaneous class for those works that do not fit into the other categories. The entry fee is $15 and $50 prizes will be awarded in the different categories.
“A lot of people tell us they really like the idea,” notes Ems and organizers hope that this interest will translate into several entries. While the competition will be limited to works that entrants have produced themselves, collectors are also encouraged to contact the gallery about the possibility of displaying their special items such as antique or family quilts.
Community members are invited to stop by the opening reception on April 27 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. The show will also be available for viewing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28; and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 29. The reception will also offer a bit of a preview of the coffee shop that is soon to open in the art gallery. Ems hopes that the shop will “encourage people to hang out” and foster “a more relaxed environment” where people come in, grab a coffee and “wander around and look at the art.”
This idea of getting people out and enjoying downtown is central to the mission of Main Street.
Program Director Beth Black explains that the organization serves as a branch of the National Trust and encourages revitalization of downtown and the preservation of its historic buildings. The organization recognizes the practicalities of preservation and Black points out that increased traffic and revenue at downtown stores is an integral part to keeping the buildings and storefronts in good shape.
By supporting programs that get people out and about downtown, it “gives the business owners the financial opportunity to keep their buildings restored,” she said.
One of the ways that Main Street Program members hope to encourage an awareness of downtown businesses and encourage traffic at area shops is through a new “Buy Local” advertising campaign. Black said she hopes that the billboards, print and radio ads and videos will encourage residents to think of heading downtown rather than traveling to other cities for shopping and entertainment.
Ems believes that the Madison Main Street Program is important to the community “because the economic viability of downtown is absolutely vital to Madison.”
He explains that, “The reason people locate businesses here or expand businesses here is because of the quality of life – that’s the only reason we’re competitive. Quality of life hinges on historic district and historic downtown.”

• For a Fabulous Fiber entry form or to get more details on the contest, stop by Art on Main at 309 W. Main St., Madison. Or call (812) 255-2923. Entries must be received no later than April 24.

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