Shoppers invited to create the ‘art’ in the heart

HANFORD — Art in the Heart, Hanford’s monthly art hop event returns tonight and one artist suggests that patrons don’t merely observe the art — they make some of it, too.

From 6-8 p.m. tonight, art and commerce merge at various spots in downtown Hanford, as artists and musicians perform and show their art at shops, which will remain open into the evening.  

Artist Michelle Stevens of Coat of Many Colors will be at the Soaking Tub, 227 N. Irwin St., hosting a painting party.

These parties, usually held at cafes and other places around the county and in Fresno, see a group of hobbyist or just curious would-be painters work on a subject chosen by Stevens.

”They put their own twists on it. And that’s what I love about it is that it’s so unique that we’re all doing the same thing but all the paintings are so different,” Stevens said.

Stevens also hosts the painting parties at private events like bridal showers, birthday parties and family events.

Seats at the art hop class are $5, which buys painters an 8×10-inch canvas and access to paints, brushes and supplies.  

The paintings usually take 30-45 minutes on average at the Heart of Hanford’s monthly art hops, which Stevens frequents, and are more free-form, not always adhering to a strict subject.

“They do their own thing at art hop because they’re all pretty artistic anyway,” Stevens said.

Something that makes her classes unique, Stevens said, is her practice of offering painters a template of whatever the event’s subject is — whether it be a lake or an angel or sunflowers. The cardboard template allows for painters to work on a piece that can be a mix of templated and abstract.

“It saves so much time and it helps people not be intimidated because sometimes people think, ‘oh I can’t draw.’ So it takes the stress level out. They can draw it and we can spend more time on painting techniques,” she said.

Originally from New Hampshire, Stevens has lived in Lemoore for about four years and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in art therapy from West Hills College, where she is president of the art club.

After graduation, the artist hopes to open her own studio, which will serve as a spot where she can use art therapy as a healing mechanism for people with specific needs like those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

The artist is also in talks with the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce to host an art show and gala later this summer.   

Other artists spread around the 12 downtown locations that participate in the art hop include singer/songwriter Timothy Mattos and photographer Joshua J. Cordero, who will be at DJ’s Collectible Shoppe and genre fiction author Garrett Jones, who will be featured at the Rock N Roll Deli. The band Daze Baby will perform at Crossroads Appliance Store with artist Tristan Luke.

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