Art, dessert crawl features local artist pop-up galleries


Cameron Cook/The Daily Northwestern

A woman looks at art at the Sauce Walk. The art and dessert crawl, held Thursday night, featured local artists and businesses.

Clare Proctor, Reporter

Almost 40 businesses on the Main-Dempster Mile hosted pop-up galleries featuring local artists for an art and dessert crawl Thursday night.

Katherine Gotsick, executive director of the Main-Dempster Mile, said the inaugural Sauce Walk paired participating businesses with artists from Evanston, Chicago and the North Shore. The walk was a “little-sister event” to the Main-Dempster Mile Wine Walk, which takes place in the fall, she said. Profits from the Sauce Walk will go toward the business district’s public art fund, and will specifically support a mural the district plans to install on Chicago Avenue in the fall, Gotsick said.

One of the stops on the walk — the Autobarn Alfa Romeo and Fiat of Evanston, 1034 Chicago Ave. — showcased the work of six muralists in consideration for the project, Gotsick said. Patrons could vote for their favorite muralist, and she said the results will be taken into account when making a final selection for the mural.

In addition to serving an economic interest, Gotsick said the Sauce Walk aligns with the Main-Dempster Mile’s mission to support small businesses as well.

“What I love about it is that people walk into shops that they’ve never walked into before, and they go, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea you were here,’” she said. “I love the opportunity to have people walk into shops and just see how cool they are. If they get a chance to look at some art and eat some good food in the meantime, that’s all the better.”

Jaime Leonardi, co-owner of Stumble & Relish at 1312 Chicago Ave., said having a dessert offered while looking at art ensures that “all of your senses are being utilized.”

Stumble & Relish hosted two local artists during the Sauce Walk — Risa Posner, a stylist and painter, and Ben Blount, a letterpress artist. Leonardi, who selected these artists herself, said featuring local artists at small businesses was a “good marriage of local resources.”

“People in Evanston know it’s a creative community,” she said. “I don’t think they realize how many different artists there are.”

The idea for the event came from a partnership with Northwestern’s campusCatalyst program, a student group and Business Institutions class where students consult for nonprofit organizations, Gotsick said. Students recommended the Sauce Walk as a potential fundraiser for the district’s public art fund, she said.

Evanston resident and artist Kristen Neveu — who typically produces mixed-media paintings — showcased her work at Secret Treasures Antiques & Collectibles, 605 Dempster St. When the owners asked her to set up her art in their shop, she said it was a “perfect fit.”

“I’ve known (the owners) for five or six years because I’ve kind of been a collector of antiques or knickknacks myself,” she said. “My daughter works there part-time sometimes. It’s a community-related store, and it’s down the street from where I live.”

Neveu said the pop-up galleries of the Sauce Walk made artwork more accessible to the public because the work was featured in “everyday” locations, not just art galleries.

The Sauce Walk showcased the “eclectic” art culture existing in Evanston by featuring a variety of different artists, Leonardi said.

“You don’t have to go to Chicago,” Leonardi said. “You can, but you have so many people that are right in your community, right on your (doorstep).”

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