LUMBERTON — As the music of a string quartet drifted through the air, artists displayed their work and friends, some old and some new, socialized in the shade during Arts on Elm on Saturday.
The event, sponsored by the Robeson County Arts Council, is in its second year and growing. Clusters of people gathered to look at art and listen to music from mid-morning until the early afternoon, and they were rewarded with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.
Music was the biggest addition this year with two stages, one for youth, featuring Purple Door Productions, and one at the First Presbyterian Church on Chestnut Street, featuring music from classical to the blues.
“This is a double treat,” said Sabina Agostini, who has recently moved to Fairmont from Oklahoma. “I love a street scene like this. Here, you get art and the beautiful homes.”
Don and Doris Reynolds from Florence, S.C., were buying some pottery from Jim Tripp.
“We heard about this event because a friend of our daughter’s lives just up the street,” Doris said. “There are beautiful homes here.”
Angela Sumner, director of the Lumberton Visitors Bureau, said the bureau contributed printed material in support of the event.
“I picked up two plates to give as wedding presents,” she said.
Greensboro artist Jennifer McIntyre, who was selling small, abstract paintings, has family connections. With her, were her mother, Gloria, and brother, Mark, all from Fairmont.
Noel DeCinti fell in love with a painting of a dog at the Robeson County Humane Society exhibit.
“He’s just like my dog Pearl,” DiCinti said. “He’s 14 and full of energy.”
Millicent and Arlan Nealy of Lumberton are redecorating after their home was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Matthew. They bought a painting of a hummingbird feeding on a flower.
“When I was recovering from surgery, a hummingbird would come to my window every day,” Arlan said. “This is a reminder.”
The Humane Society and the Robeson County Master Gardeners were two of several nonprofitss exhibiting, said Mary Ann Masters, president of the Arts Council and event coordinator.
“Exhibiting more no-profit groups is something we can expand on next year,” Masters said. “I hope to grow this event every year.”
Masters has already formed a partnership for next year with Lumberton’s Downtown Development Association.
“The addition of music this year added a whole new dimension to the event,” Masters said. “We have more artists this year, but just watching people socializing is really nice.”
The arts can be an economic driver for a city, Masters said. Arts on Elm is modeled after a similar event in Lake City, S.C., called Art Fields. Arts has reinvigorated that city, she said.
Masters credits Lumberton residents Linda Hedgpeth and Helen Odom for the idea for the Lumberton event. Hedgpeth lives on Elm Street, and hosted artists in her front yard.
“We have a lot of people to thank, including the City of Lumberton, Robeson County commissioners, First Presbyterian Church and the visitors bureau,” Masters said.
“We also have the homeowners to thank for their willingness to host the event,” she said. “They are all very gracious and agree instantly to participate when I ask.”
Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-416-5649.