After two years, the Springfield Art Association’s “Paint the Street” event returned to downtown on Saturday, with professional and amateur painters grabbing brushes and doing some art on the streets of downtown.
Started in 2013 as a way to raise money to improve SAA’s studios on Fourth Street and expand programming, the event has grown into something of a street party with food, music and fun. People had the chance to choose a 6×6 square on portions of Washington Street between Fourth and Seventh Streets and use water-resistant Tempura paint to create works that stand out and wow.
Hosting an event like this downtown is also a way for people like SAA Director of Engagement and Operations Charlotte Kane to introduce people to the organization and get them involved in the kind of art they love.
“It’s a very diverse group of people coming out that we didn’t know knew what artistic association was,” Kane said. “It creates a really good sense of community and shows that people want to get out and move around. They want to be downtown (and) they want to be creative. It’s inspiring.”
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Many people longed to be downtown, finally having the chance to scratch it after two years in which the normal event had to be changed for various reasons.
In 2020, COVID-19 forced the event to be held remotely, with those who registered receiving supplies to paint their driveways. Last year, Kane and company intended to return downtown, but Mother Nature got in the way.
“We kept getting rained on,” Kane said. “We tried postponing it (and) changing it to ‘Paint the Parking Lot,’ (but) it kept storming in every time we went out to plan it.”
Attendees enjoyed partly sunny skies on Saturday as they grabbed their paintbrushes and created whatever they could imagine – tastefully.
“What they choose to paint is entirely up to them,” said Tom George, second vice chairman of the SAA board. “Obviously (there are) caveats of ‘Don’t be insensitive and rude’. It’s supposed to be a family event.”
The palette of different creations varied from person to person, and those of all ages and levels of experience had the opportunity to put their literal mark on the city center.
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One such person was Brooke Underwood, a 12-year-old student from Glenwood Middle School who put an image of Longg, a character from the TV show “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir,” in her place. Brooke has autism and finds that art allows her to express herself in a liberating and engaging way.
“If I make something up, I draw it and it looks really real,” Brooke said. “I want to be a person who helps create anime in movies, so if I start trying to do other anime characters, I can improve myself and I can help create other characters.”
Her mother, Sally, noted that Brooke attends SAA classes and camps and said art gives her the ability to connect with people in her own unique way.
“She’s awesome – that’s her talent,” Sally said. “Art is the way she expresses herself.”
This kind of expression was in the spotlight on Saturday, even for those for whom painting is not the first artistic option. George, for example, is interested in ceramics, while Kane enjoys performing and visual arts. However, the day and the event turned out to be a perfect celebration of all kinds of art from all kinds of people.
“It scares a lot of people to paint and I think a lot of people want to come here and try,” Kane said. “Even if you’re not ready to go out and paint, a lot of people want to see what other people have painted. We really try to hit those two points – art education and being hands-on (and ) if you do ‘I don’t want to do that, at least appreciate art and realize that art is for everyone.’