Children painted, musicians played and models graced the catwalk Saturday during the quarterly Merced Art Hop.
There were many ways to celebrate self expression during the event, which has become a mainstay of downtown Merced. Fashion shows, interactive exhibits, live music, short films and paintings were all part of the event, which drew between 1,500 and 2,000 revelers.
“I think it’s an awesome gathering of some culture in Merced,” said David Daniels of Merced.
The 22-year-old said he’s been to a few past art hops and it’s always a good experience. He said he was happy to see participatory artwork.
There was painting and clay art for young and old to test out their skills. A downtown storefront window was also plastered with sticky note paper, where visitors could answer questions posted by organizers.
Terry Jimenez, 59, of Winton brought a handful of her godchildren to downtown. The little ones pinched clay during one of the activities for children, and shouted out their planned designs, whether that be a sun or a snowman.
Jimenez said she always intends to visit Art Hop but it seems to slip by. She said she was glad to stay nearby for an event. “We want to do things in Merced, and so we’re here,” she said.
Art Hop organizers received nonprofit status earlier this year, making them eligible for grant money. One organizer, Kimberly Zamora, has said the new status “will change the dynamics of our organization.”
Grant money would expand the budget for Art Hop, and could mean bigger art installations, scholarships for artists and marketing for the event, to name a few ideas. So far, Art Hop has survived on donations, sponsorships and fundraising.
Early in the night, Zamora said turnout seemed better than expected for Saturday’s event. The hot weather can keep attendance low.
Art Hop is not just for the art-watchers, it’s also for the art-makers. Jack Luna of Atwater stood in Bob Hart Square and demonstrated a traditional art form from central Mexico – Huichol bead art. The 39-year-old said he learned it from his mother, who is from the Mexican state of Nayarit.
He placed beads one at a time on a horse-shaped statue. When complete, he said, something like 10,000 beads would cover the horse.
Another artist, Dob Francise of Merced, gave painting demonstrations to anybody who would watch. He said it’s important to encourage people to make and see art.
“Art changes people forever,” the 53-year-old said. “Whether you like it or don’t like it, once you see it, it changes you.”
The final Art Hop of the 2014 is scheduled for Oct. 18.