Arts abound in downtown Monroe

by Eren Tataragasi

The art walk features dozens of area artists in various downtown locations. Photo courtesy of City of Monroe

MONROE – The streets of historic downtown Monroe will come alive this weekend with an art crawl, antique car show, historic walking tour and 5K road race.

The main event, the art walk, held Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., is the brainchild of mother and daughter team Joyce Rentschler and Andrea Price. The duo has put the event on for five years, in the spring and fall, with the help of the Union Community Arts Council and City of Monroe.

Inspired by friend and artist Bill Colt, Price said she wanted to start a gallery crawl in Monroe, but she wanted to try something a little different.

“I talked to property owners downtown and offered to showcase their vacant buildings by transforming them into gallery spaces,” Price said. “There are so many interesting buildings downtown and this helps people see what the old, historic buildings can be.”

“They’re awesomely beautiful inside,” Rentschler said.

Plus having hundreds of people walking around downtown Monroe, it makes it seem livelier, like you’re in a different place altogether, Price said.

But not only do Price and Rentschler want to highlight the area’s buildings, they want to showcase the many artists living and working in Union County.

“There are a lot of talented people in Union County and Monroe,” Price said.

“People tend to think if it’s in their backyard it’s not that great, because they just don’t realize (how much talent there is),” Rentschler added.
And this year, the pair wants to showcase kids’ works as well.

A kids section will feature a sidewalk chalk competition, a truck logo design competition, and a mural that children can paint, that Price hopes to hang and show off at future art walks.

“This was kind of my pet project this year,” Price said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to get kids involved before, but hopefully we can get a good turnout, and next year add a kids gallery featuring their own artwork.”

In addition to the kids section, this year’s art walk has more artists than before. When Price, a yoga instructor, and Rentschler, a nurse, first began the art crawl, they had to cold-call area artists and convince them to submit their work. Now the artists call them.

“We have a really good mix this time and I’m very excited about it,” Rentschler said.

And she’s not the only one.

“The Monroe Art Walk is becoming more popular each year,” said Barbara Faulk, executive director of the arts council. “It’s exciting to attend such a vibrant event where artists and the community can come together.”

In addition to the art show, the antique car show is Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. on Main Street and will feature Union County race cars. There’s also an historic walking tour downtown Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., beginning at the courthouse. And on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there’s an Earth Day festival and 5K run.

The Earth Day celebration is being put on by the Down to Earth Day committee and will include exhibits, various booths and food vendors. The event is designed to educate the community about eco-friendly, healthy and sustainable practices that benefit the individual and their surroundings, and recognize the importance of the environment.

“We’re really encouraged and want to show off our downtown, and we think this is a great way to get people down there to show off all it has to offer,” said Pete Hovanec, communications and tourism officer for the city, about the weekend’s events. “We’ve got a lot going on this weekend.”

For more information on the art walk, visit www.historicdowntownmonroe .org or call 704-966-9891. For more information on the Earth Day event, contact Mady Vari at 704-282-5797 or

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