Jennifer Heigerd isn’t in Kansas anymore. Four years ago the Hays, Kan., resident took a position as an art instructor at East Central College and moved to Washington. She brought an idea along with her.

Why not organize an art walk in Downtown Washington? The four walks held annually in Hays had been enormously popular, the rural community’s streets full of people. The downtown area of Washington would serve as a perfect venue, Jennifer thought.

There was only one downside to her brainchild, an idea Jennifer humbly doesn’t like to claim as her own. Being new to town, she didn’t know many people, so she enlisted the help of a group of local artists. They collaborated and two years ago kicked off the first Washington Art Walk, a spring and fall stroll through downtown shops to view and purchase paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics and other pieces created by local artists who meet to plan the show.

This weekend the event will once again be held, on Friday, April 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If attendees work up an appetite, restaurants will be open as well.

To begin the walk, Jennifer suggests people start at the Gary R. Lucy Gallery. It’s a good central location, and art walkers can pick up a flier there listing the various artists and the mediums they will feature. From the gallery, people can progress down Main Street or walk south on Elm Street to visit the shops where artists will be showing their work, Jennifer added.

Two of the places, The Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame and 7 W. Main, next to Joe’s Bakery and Deli, will feature the work of East Central College students, mostly second-year students vying for a good grade in what could be termed a “senior project.”

Participating in the Art Walk involves much more for these students than just showing their work. There’s a great deal of planning involved. The student-artists were assigned to come up with a theme for both of the locations, a fairly broad one, Jennifer said, that would allow a number of ECC students to exhibit their work within its parameters.

At the Photojournalism Hall of Fame the theme will be “Growing Up,” a theme not restricted to simply going from child to adulthood, but art that expresses how growing up as a boy is different than a girl and how varied socioeconomic levels affect maturation. Three-dimensional art will be on display at the Hall of Fame, sculptures, Jennifer explained.

At 7 W. Main, the students’ theme will be “The Art of Emotion,” the power that art has to create feelings, Jennifer said. There, attendees can view two-dimensional work, paintings, drawings and photography. Student artwork will be available for purchase but that’s not the main purpose of having the students participate.

The event offers them invaluable experience in choosing pieces that fit within each of the themes while making sure that the art communicates the desired theme to visitors. The Art Walk also offers the students the opportunity to “hang a show,” which may prove challenging in regard to space and lighting, and to talk about their work, which will increase their confidence in meeting the public. The students are sure to learn a lot from the more seasoned artists taking part in the walk too.

The event is a win-win for all involved. There will be plenty of art on display, nice people to visit with, and shopping for merchandize in the stores. It’s a great perk for our area, another marvelous event brought to town by a newbie with an idea who’s now proud and happy to call Washington home.