Merced Art Hop celebrates official status as a nonprofit

Nadia Smith, 8, of Merced works on a piece of art at a painting station on Bob Hart Square during the Art Hop in downtown Merced on Saturday.
Nadia Smith, 8, of Merced works on a piece of art at a painting station on Bob Hart Square during the Art Hop in downtown Merced on Saturday. cwinterfeldt@mercedsun-star.com

There was more to celebrate at Saturday’s Art Hop than just fine artwork.

Organizers were also celebrating the good news that their quarterly event received its official nonprofit status.

Event coordinator Kimberly Zamora said the status will give Merced artists the opportunity to showcase their artwork in more ways. “It’s not just for the (Art Hop) event,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to have a place where artists can have studio space to work on art and have classes.”

Nearly 80 participants, including students from Merced High and UC Merced, displayed a collection of art inside business storefronts and backrooms along Main Street.

Star Priddy, owner of Sittin’ Priddy, a wedding and floral design business, said she opened up to the downtown area because she wanted to take part in events such as Art Hop. “Those are my customers,” the first-time participant said. “The downtown neighborhood are the more artistic type people. ... And I do more artistic type designs.”

Priddy featured two talents inside her shop: a wedding photographer and Nicolaine Ortuno, a 24-year-old painter who also draws.

Ortuno, a resident of Atwater, participated in the Art Hop for the first time in hopes of being recognized. “I really want a place to display my art,” she said. “So every time I draw something, I can just display it in a shop.”

During the event, art-hopper Rowena Carlsgaard and her daughter Emma admired a red-painted elephant inside the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. Rowena, 61, was spending time with Emma, 31, who was visiting from San Francisco. “I always like coming back and seeing what’s different,” Emma said. “It’s nice to have something revolving around community”

Outside the Merced Multicultural Arts Center was Janine Echabarne, a volunteer, who was managing a craft table. “We want people to get the idea that they can make very simple prints with things that they have at home,” she said.

The concept was to show people of all ages they could create artwork similar to the professional exhibits inside the center. “It’s a process of experimentation and trying things,” she said. “This might be someone’s first experience with making a print and it might lead them to really start studying print making.”

A few blocks from the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, a live fashion show was put on by House of Zig and Zag, a “vintage-retro inspired new and used clothing” store on Canal Street.

Owner Corey Strauss said he wanted to incorporate his clothing designs into an intimate setting. “We wanted to make it different and edgy,” he said.

Pat Hay Correia, a fashion enthusiast in her 50s, said she didn’t expect to see a live fashion show during her first time at the Art Hop. “This is very creative,” she said. “I think it’s very innovative and very modern. I’m not a person for being progressive – I want to keep Merced like it used to be – but I think this is a great idea.”