Artists will showcase their works in 18 local, small businesses along Centre Street in downtown Merchantville. Organizer Nicole Eiland says it’s an invitation to appreciate art in a nontraditional setting.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 6, 2022
From 6 to 9 p.m. tonight, 18 local businesses throughout downtown Merchantville invite visitors to stop by and behold their local community from a fresh perspective.
The third Merchantville Art Walk, a juried art show and walking tour of the borough business district, connects fans of fine art with the people who create those works at storefronts along Centre Street.
Organizer Nicole Eiland of The Station Café said the event is intended to showcase the local business community as well as uphold an appreciation for art in a nontraditional setting.
“When you go to a museum, it’s a little bit intimidating, but here you feel closer to the art,” she said. “The artist is there; you can meet everyone, and because it’s in a business, it doesn’t feel so stuffy.”
In addition to curating the showcase, Eiland, who is herself a fine artist and art teacher, paired the featured artists to businesses with which she believes they can find some symmetry. (At five locations, these pairings will be complemented by live music as well.)
“In general, I think any kind of art is an important part of society,” she said. “I try to teach creativity, always. The more you get exposed to it, the more you can open up to your own ideas.
“That’s why we do an arts center,” Eiland said. “I just want to bring art in this world closer to the public, and take away that hesitation to walk towards it. That’s really what I want.”
At Aradia’s Treasure Metaphysical Shop on 19 North Centre Street, owner Deborah Brenda-Canady said Thursday that she was eager to welcome artist Catie Doherty to her storefront.
“It brings a very joyful kind of event to town, which is very nice,” Brenda-Canady said.
“It’s inspiring that Nicole puts this together for us.”
Brenda-Canady, who opened her shop back in 2016, said she believes events like the Art Walk are critical to welcoming new visitors to town, whether or not it translates to more sales.
“We hope that the artists are really able to advance their careers,” she said.
“If we get a little extra business, that’s great, but that’s not the main thrust. We were established to be of service to the community, and that’s what we do.”
In general, Brenda-Canady said she thinks the town demographics are trending younger, “and that’s a great thing.”
“They bring vibrance to the community,” she said.
Merchantville Mayor Ted Brennan has spoken about rebranding the borough around an arts-and-culture downtown, and for Carolyn Busa of PEAK Secondhand, the Art Walk represents the kinds of events that fit that model.
Busa, who also works as a writer, actress, and stand-up comedian, said her second act as a vintage clothing boutique owner offers different opportunities to be expressive and creative.
“It’s a fun, new part of this journey for me, which is why I wanted to open a business in a small town: to create more community,” Busa said.
“You get to socialize in a different way.”
At PEAK Secondhand, Busa welcomes mosaic artist Merle Dillon, whom she said has been fun to collaborate with.
“We’re both vibing the same way,” she said.
“We’re excited to pump each other up and really have fun with it.
“I really like it because the building I’m in has that [antique] style, and it fits with her artwork.”
The Merchantville Art Walk invites visitors and residents to stroll down Centre Street from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 6. For more information, visit the show event page.
- Aradia’s Treasure Metaphysical Shop, Catie Doherty
- Brotherly Love Creations, Maria Velazquez
- Essence Fitness Studio, Danette Strader
- Eclipse Brewing, Tom Guggino & Friends
- Eilandarts Center/The Station Coffee, “Emergent Nature,” featuring Ellen Rosenholtz, Jeremy Guay, Fiona Barnacle and Alyse C. Bernstein Jeff Rabin, Music by Sweet Spot
- Flowers Your Way, Barbara McDonnell
- Garden State Properties – Merchantville Real Estate, Sharon Ann Smith, Music by Shabby Wings
- Gaskill-Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Services, LLC, Beth Fisher, Music by Robert Pallies
- House of Rowan – South Jersey Boudoir Photographer + Lingerie Boutique, Jennifer Braverman
- Merchantville Antiques, Laura Storck
- Borough of Merchantville Borough Hall, Kerry Mentzer
- Movement 4 Wellness, LLC, Ted Warchal
- Nicole Nurthen Photography, Anthony Johnson, Music by Rachel Rosemarie
- PEAK Secondhand, Merle Dillon
- The Hunter Gallery, Todd Johnson
- TheraSport Physical Therapy, Joan Wheeler, Music by Norm Taylor Quartet
- Twisted Middle Sister Thrift, Jules Vuotto
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