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A Lucrative Assortment

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Wed., 9/5 through Sun., 9/9
All across downtown Wilmington

BLAST OFF: The works of Addie Wuensch, similar to her piece ‘Equality and Beauty, will be on display at Bottega Gallery during ARTblast. Courtesy photo

As a bartender at a Mayfaire pub, the guests I encounter run the gamut. There’s the in-tune local who’s eager to discuss the latest act out of ILM’s music scene. I often meet out-of-towners, with whom I share the week’s copy of encore—visitors are always excited to flip through the pages and discover what sets our area apart from the rest. Of course, a jaded resident will inevitably plop upon an empty barstool, incessantly ranting, “There’s nothing to do in Wilmington.”

Nothing to do, eh? “Haven’t you heard of Projekte Gallery or Nutt Street Comedy Room?” I prod.

For those who seem devastatingly bored with our illustrious city, this week I will suggest they mosey to ARTblast, a five-day festival celebrating arts of all kinds, which will take place in downtown locales starting Wed., Sept. 5th. Surely there will be something for everyone, from dance to live music, as founder Chris Andrews built ARTblast to represent almost everything Wilmington has to offer.

“It was actually recommended to me by Donn Ansell, who, unfortunately, just passed away,” Andrews shares. “Donn was such a huge supporter of the art community, so he [suggested] expanding on the ArtWalk Street Festival to include all mediums and multiple venues.”

The ArtWalk Street Festival, now in its 10th year, showcases paintings, photographs, jewelry, sculptures and more from regional artists in booths along Front Street. Though it brings the arts to one place—our historic downtown streets—it doesn’t bring people into all the local artistic haunts which exist year-round.

“I loved the idea of it as a way to highlight not only the talent that exists within our region but also the multiple venues that house and promote these various mediums, from galleries to theatres,” Andrews explains. “But I think the real importance here is about fellowship: different groups and individuals working together to create one statement, without putting any one personal agenda ahead of anyone else’s. The word ‘community’ comes to mind.”

Folks may recognize Andrews’ name from his other endeavors: He was once the president of the Downtown Business Association, and he is the driving force behind Cool Wilmington, a concert, festival and event production company. Cool Wilmington produces such projects as Rims on the River, the Wine and Beer Walk, and downtown’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival. “It’s always been my goal to use events to bring people into the downtown area to visit and to take notice of all the other things downtown has to offer,” he says. “It’s a wonderful backdrop.”

ARTblast began in 2010, but Andrews took a year off due to a personal health issue. Now, even though it is a relatively young venture, ARTblast is gaining momentum and garnering excitement from those who missed the artful event.

Though exact numbers aren’t available in regards to ARTblast’s financial impact on downtown ILM, Andrews estimates the influence is grand. “Based on the information from the hotels that I work with, many of the businesses that are polled afterwards, and just the sheer number of people that patronize the ArtWalk (and visit not only the area’s restaurants but retail stores as well), I’d have to say, conservatively, one million dollars in business over five days is easily spent,” he says.

That million-dollar ballpark figure is spread from Thalian Hall to Bellamy Mansion, as well as to non-historic locales—such as live rock to be enjoyed at The Whiskey and improv comedy at Browncoat Theatre.

Notably, a major proponent of ARTblast is DANCEblast, which will take place at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center on Sat., Sept. 8th, and is headed by Tracey Varga of Forward Motion Dance Company. There will be seven performances, including a classical ballet piece from Wilmington School of Ballet. Contemporary works choreographed by Varga and Kate Neely, including dancers from Forward Motion and The Dance Cooperative, will be shown. There will be belly and Mediterranean dancing from Kelly Hawes, and Company “T” dancers will offer tap.

“There is a modern jazz piece entitled ‘Apollo XI’ [to be] performed by students of DREAMS of Wilmington and The Dance Cooperative to music by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, including excerpts from the original recording of Apollo XI in 1969,” Varga details. “There [will be] a dance entitled ‘Innocence’ set to music by Rosemary Clooney, too. It is important for me to present a variety of dance genres for the audience to enjoy and to help educate the community about dance in the Wilmington area.”

For full details about all 2012 ARTblast events, visit

• Camera Class with Jamie Moncrief – Wed., 9/5, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Bellamy Mansion, 503 Market St.; 251-3700 •; $35
• ARTblast Juried Art Exhibition – Fri., 9/7, 7 p.m. Projekte Gallery, 523 S. 3rd St.; 508-8982 –; FREE
• ArtWalk Street Festival – Sat., 9/8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Downtown ILM along Front St.; FREE
• Recycled Media Community Art Project – Sat., 9/8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bailey Theater Park, 14 N. Front St. •; FREE
• Hannah Block Art Exhibit – Sat., 9/8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. H.B. Community Arts Center, 120 S. 2nd St. 341-7860;; FREE
• Art Show Opening (with live music) Sat., 9/8, 7 p.m. • Artfuel, 2165 Wrightsville Ave.; 343-5233;; FREE

• DANCEblast – Sat., 9/8; doors 7:30 p.m., show 8 p.m. H.B. Community Arts Center, 120 S. 2nd St. • 341-7860;; $5

• Cinematique: “The Queen of Versailles” – Wed., 9/5, 7:30 p.m. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St.; 632-2285 •; $8
• “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Sun., 9/9, 7 p.m. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St.; 399-3669; $6;

• Axiom (plus wine tasting) Wed., 9/5, 7 p.m. • Bottega Wine and Art Bar 208 N. Front St.; 763-3737; FREE
• Rockie Fresh • Thurs., 9/6, 9 p.m. • Meet and Greet, 7 p.m. • Soapbox, 255 N. Front St.; 251-8500 • $10/adv., $12/day of;
• Tiny Boxes, Chasing Edison • Fri., 9/7, 8 p.m.; $5 cover—Deja Fuze • Sat., 9/8, 9 p.m.; $5 cover—Cindercat • Sun., 9/9, 10 p.m.; $5 cover The Whiskey, 1 S. Front St.; 763-3088
• Sunday Jazz Gospel Brunch • Sun., 9/9, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. • TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St.; 399-3669; $18/adult, $12/kids under 12 y.o.;

• TNL Sketch Comedy Episode • Thurs., 9/6, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. —Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast • Fri., 9/7, 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Browncoat Theatre, 111 Grace St.; 341-0001;
• Comedian Todd Glass • Fri., 9/7 and Sat., 9/8 • Showings both nights at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. • Nutt St. Comedy Room, 255 N. Front St. • 251-7881;; $12-15
• “The Most Happy Fella” • Fri., 9/7 and Sat., 9/8; 8 p.m. • Sun., 9/9; 3 p.m. • Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St.; 632-2285;; $25
• Comedy Dinner Theatre • Fri., 9/7; 6:30 p.m. $32-38 —“Super Saturday Fun Time” • Sat., 9/8; 11 a.m.; $11-12—“Murder at the Bellamy Mansion” • Sat., 9/8; 6:30 p.m.; $32-38
TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St.; 399-3669;
• Open Mic Comedy Night • Sun., 9/9; 8 p.m. • Bottega Wine and Art Bar 208 N. Front St.; 763-3737; FREE

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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