A progressive block party | SierraSun.com

A progressive block party

With such rich history, gorgeous landscape and immensely talented individuals, it's easy to see why Truckee is such a draw to so many.

Last weekend the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association held an eclectic block party in honor of celebrating the local culture, which is comprised of a lot of art and soul.

The downtown artwalk invited locals and visitors to hit the streets of downtown Truckee, entering shops along the way to experience an art demonstration, sip delicious wines and craft brews, or enjoy yummy snacks from local hot spots.

"We've participated every year," said Amy Norman, manager of Bar of America.

"I really like Art and Soul because a lot of the events around here are really focused on alcohol, but this one has the artists up front, it really showcases their work," she said.

One of those artists is Greg Zirbel, a local and the creator of Neat Tweets, which are historical landmark replica bird houses he makes by hand using reclaimed materials found locally.

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"I started back in '92 using salvaged wood and now I use materials from all over Truckee. This is a great event, I love this; people stopping by to see all of the art," he said.

There were 35 locations involved in the downtown artwalk and guests over 21 who were participating were handed a goody bag with a sampling glass, coupons to redeem at various locations on the tour, and a handy map outlining all participating businesses.

Each stop on the tour featured music, food, artist demonstrations, wine, beer or cider, and guests had the opportunity to speak with local shop owners and even step into businesses they hadn't previously visited.

"The story behind the artist's work is as important as the work itself; it's so good to get people downtown, in the shops, interacting with the artists and experiencing these locations," said Nancy Holliday, a photographer with works currently hanging on the walls of Knack.

The artist impression was unanimous; events like these allow them the opportunity to get their work in front of people who appreciate them. Exposure is crucial in an artist's world and it's special that the town places such high priority on the creativity that is churning in this town.

Taking appreciation of art to an entirely new level was the call to inclusivity found during Art & Soul. Artists were setup in shops and along the sidewalk with materials for guests to make their own jewelry, create pottery, contribute to a community mural and even learn to fuse glass.

Each of the artists showcased their gifts while also giving the gift of first experience to people who walked past. Storeowners were able to greet the people who love their products, and locals were able to mingle with their friends and family in the community while also enjoying gourmet appetizers and delicious wine and beer.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.