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A ‘Support the Arts Moment’ in Katonah

by Mary Alice Franklin, ArtsNews Editor

Music in the Air is a listing of free and affordable (under $20) outdoor cultural events taking place in Westchester County between July and September. Click here for more Music in the Air offerings.

Photos from previous Katonah Art Stroll events (photos courtesy of Katonah Chamber of Commerce)

The main strip in downtown Katonah is approximately a half-mile long. In the corners, passageways and outlets of that pedestrian-friendly saunter are small businesses that boast a mom-and-pop charm absent at most big-box retailers. The area is chock- full of art galleries: CB Gallery, Oak & Oil, the studio of painter Samantha Kaplan and more.

On the fourth Saturday of each month through October, these galleries and local businesses stay open late, until 8pm, for the Katonah Art Walk (formerly called Katonah Art Stroll), presented by the town’s Chamber of Commerce (KCC). What ensues is an evening that whole-heartedly embraces the arts.

Just blocks away, Katonah Museum of Art kicks off each monthly event with an hour of free admission. As visitors then walk that downtown half-mile, they encounter live music on the streets, artist receptions, outdoor exhibitions and open shops.

Oak & Oil, for instance, will exhibit the work of encaustic artist Richard Coico in July. Coico will give a live demonstration and discuss his work during part of the event. In August, the gallery will display a selection of works by several different artists.

However, it isn’t only the art galleries that showcase local art. Melissa Dilmaghani, KCC’s events committee chair, says that there is “real sense of collaboration and inspiration” in the planning of the event. Other stores find ways of incorporating artistic activities. The owner of Katonah Wine & Liquor happens to also be an artist, so he’ll display his work in his store during upcoming Art Walks. Artists or musicians are sometimes stationed near other retail stores that don’t normally sell or display artwork but still wish to be part of the event. In fact, there are 20 stops listed on the Katonah Art Walk’s summer map.

Photos from previous Katonah Art Stroll events (photos courtesy of Katonah Chamber of Commerce)

“It is a real ‘support the arts’ moment in that sense,” says Dilmaghani.

A pop-up exhibition by The Ground Glass will be displayed on the fence by the town’s train station in July and August. This is part of the organization’s “Road Show” series. Ground Glass President Patrick Cicalo explains: “We started this outdoor concept when the pandemic closed galleries and prevented our regularly scheduled exhibits.” The group will also have a one-day outdoor pop-up show with food, drinks and live music in July, hosted by the store Old New House.

Dilmaghani says that KCC is committed to including as many aspects of the arts as possible: “It feels like a different experience each time…Now we are working with a renowned local dancer to pull off a downtown dance performance in August.”

Meanwhile, within the town’s gazebo will be additional music performances – New Jazz Underground in July; jazz vocalist Kristina Koller in August – and more pop-up art displays.

Explains Dilmaghani: “The Chamber’s Art Committee decided that a rebrand and refresh of the event [from Katonah Art Stroll] would be a nice way to put the 2020 closing [of the event] behind us and only look ahead with a fresh take on it all.”

A version of this article first appeared in the July-August issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.