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2nd Friday Art Hops and The Flea at Evaporator Works are bringing Hudson’s creativity to the forefront

By Kristen Mott

PHOTO | Karen Koch Paper mache bowls made by Karen Koch of Life Needs Art Studio in Hudson

PHOTO | Karen Koch
Paper mache bowls made by Karen Koch of Life Needs Art Studio in Hudson

With its brick roads, tree-lined streets and charming storefronts, Hudson has become known as a small, quaint city. But recently, it also has become known for its growing art scene.

Visitors will find a handful of galleries and studios to explore, from Hudson Fine Art and Framing, Bellabor Art Jewelry, Life Needs Art and Mary Catherine Haneline Studio on Historic Main Street, to MOD: matter of design and Liston’s Fine Art in the First and Main shopping area.

Although the art scene has grown rapidly in recent years, the art culture has long been an undercurrent in the community.

“People are really wanting to express themselves more. The art community is building,” says Shannon Casey, owner of Shannon Casey Studio in Hudson. “It’s fun to see these empty spaces turn into places that are either doing art or receptive to art.”

When Casey opened her studio two-and-a-half years ago on First and Main, an art hop was held once a year in October. Due to the limited number of galleries and studios in the community, art events weren’t held regularly.

Casey decided to change that. She began meeting with fellow artists and storeowners in January 2014 to discuss ways to raise awareness of the growing art community in Hudson. The outcome of one of those informal meetings was the idea to host a monthly art hop.

“We decided we needed to have something that’s ongoing so people know we’re here and they can count on it,” Casey says. “They do art hops in places like Canton, Akron and Peninsula. We thought, let’s try second Fridays in Hudson.”

The first 2nd Friday Art Hop was held in July 2014. About eight galleries and merchants participated. Now in its second year, the art hops, which are held from 5 to 8 p.m. April through September, have increased to about 21 participants.

“We started them because we wanted it to be about awareness,” Casey says. “We wanted people to know that there was an art scene in Hudson. It’s still evolving, but there are artists and they’re living and breathing and working in Hudson. Since then the art hops have just been gaining momentum.”

In addition to involving merchants, the art hops this year also feature hands-on activities. During the April art hop, guests had the chance to create suncatcher-like ornaments. The ornaments were then assembled into a chandelier that’s now hanging in the front window of Hudson Fine Art and Framing. Proceeds from the ornaments helped benefit the Leukemia and Lymphona Society.

“This year we decided to spend some time and really think about creating this six-month series. The art hops are now a chance for people to contribute and do art as well. Most of us teach, so we want to promote the arts,” Casey says.

The art community in Hudson also is garnering attention thanks to The Flea at the Evaporator Works, a 4-acre historically registered property in Hudson. The flea, which is held the last Saturday of the month from May to September, was developed by Randy Baun, who co-owns The Green Roots Collection with Patrick Randall.

PHOTO | Karen Koch Life Needs Art studio on Historic Main Street in Hudson

PHOTO | Karen Koch
Life Needs Art studio on Historic Main Street in Hudson

Last January, Baun and Randall moved their store from First and Main to the Evaporator Works building, an industrial complex where the tool used to convert maple sap into syrup was invented. That summer, the first flea was held.

“We started the flea to build peoples’ awareness that there was a revitalization of Evaporator Works, with a focus on independently owned shops and boutiques,” Baun says. “It was a great way to attract people and not only offer something new for residents in surrounding areas but build awareness of Evaporator Works as a destination.”

Now in its second year, the laid-back Flea features about 50 vendors, food trucks and live music in two venues. The flea sells predominantly furniture – specifically furniture that has been upcycled or recycled – but this year handmade items from local merchants also will be sold.

“Our store is focused on environmentally friendly clothing, and we started to expand into non-clothing home goods with keeping that recycled and upcycled vibe to the store. We expanded the flea to keep that same environmentally friendly, green-oriented feel,” Baun says.

Baun credits the art hops for playing an important role in the evolution of the art community in Hudson.

“I don’t recall there really being much of an art scene at all until a few years ago. When I attended the art hop last year, I was shocked,” Baun says. “There were 20-something working art studios in Hudson that I was absolutely not aware of, and all the artists had great talent.

“Since then, it’s become another point of pride in the community. I think that all the citizens have been surprised there are so many artists here.”

About 25 studios and merchants in Hudson have already requested to be a part of the June art hop. Casey’s hope for the 2nd Friday Art Hops, as well as the art community in Hudson, is to see it continue to evolve.

“It’s exciting and fun to be a part of it,” Casey says. “To have these art days in Hudson once a month, I think it’s amazing. It just keeps growing.

“Early on we decided that if we banded together we could network and support each other as artists. We’ve organized ourselves and found ways to approach merchants in a way that we’re going to bring in more people. Creating this cohesive art hop helps us all.” CV