the art hop

The Soda Plant, Hop central

Soda Plant, at the heart of the Hop

For two days every September, Burlington’s South end is transformed into an all-out walking mall with music and art and good smells (BBQs, bonfires) permeating the late summer/early autumn air.

It’s South End Art Hop time again, as the area’s many studios open their doors to show off new works and offer workshops in everything from tortilla making to glassblowing, tilecutting, painting, and clay slab sculpture assembly.

The Hop runs all along Pine Street (here’s the map), from Flynn Avenue at the southern end to roughly Main Street on the northern border. In a short block or two of that stretch you can visit Speaking Volumes, the eclectic used books/art/vinyl shop that’s one of the city’s coolest local shops (and one of my new favorite places to just walk around and look at all the interesting stuff it houses). Or, you could stop by Conant Metal and Light, and appreciate the imagination that turns brass lamp parts into futuristic phaser guns and telescopes – not to mention the craft and vision of the lamps themselves, many made from reclaimed metal parts.

Another good stop: Recycle North. What’s not to love about a place whose staff takes advantage of occasional surpluses by making things to sell at the operation’s Building Supply center? RN also has two retail thrift stores and an outreach program to provide vouchers to families in need, to allow them to shop in the stores as well even if financial circumstances would otherwise prevent it. Really really good stuff happening here.

The Soda Plant artist collective is more or less ground zero for the neighborhood’s artistic big bang, and maybe of the Art Hop itself. It might even be tempting to stop there, thinking you’ve seen it all – but your experience will definitely be incomplete without stops at the Flynn Avenue warehouse studios and the Howard Street studios. Both offer equally diverse ranges of artists and media.

In the Recycle North parking lot last night

In the Recycle North parking lot last night

If you want to take it another step beyond observing, the Art Hop’s Saturday classes and workshops are a highlight of the festival. It’s hard to imagine not finding at least one that strikes an artistic chord, with (as a sample survey) woodworking, massage, and glass mosaic workshops, and there’s even a ‘how to’ class in the art of graffiti. (Be prepared for the extensive limited liability waiver you may have to read/sign before that one. I don’t know if there is one. But maybe there should be).

Art Hop comes once a year. Be part of it if you can. Winter’s coming and it’s the special outdoor social occasions like this we’ll be remembering once the doors close and the flakes start to fly.

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