Last night, Wilton Manors held a party.
It wasn't strictly a "Wilton Manors Party" it was more like a bunch of parties strung together all at once, all along the Drive. This is the basis for the Island City Art Walk. It's not an official event held under one official banner.
Each individual store that decides to participate has artists with their works on display at their store to show off the art. Some shops are always hosting artists, others drop in and out as time allows.
It's a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and wander through some shops that normally you would not be able to go to.
Ok so that's basically the gist of how I see things as a resident and sometimes participant.
What happened with me was a bit different, at least as far as my own experience shows. I'm not a bartender, I have never played one on TV. I have tried to get a friend up to Wilton Manors so he could get to see it and those plans fell apart early last week so we went to the Wilton Manors Main Street offices to "help out".
Kevin delivered some cheese, chips and salsa from GFS Marketplace, another member delivered some wine and ice, and we set things out for the coming throng. We were ready.
As time went on, Kevin, Krishan and I were playing host to a steady stream of people. I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Vice Mayor Tom Green and a number of others as I was standing behind the bar and as time went on, we got our first lull in the traffic. Krishan excused himself as things were quite under control for a bit of time out on the town.
As parties go, they always have a lifespan. Start out slow, build to a peak, then fade out slowly until the last one is kicked off the couch or told that since they crashed there all night it is their responsibility to make breakfast for everyone.
Make mine a sausage and cheese omelette, please.
Just as the party begun to build, a full 15 minutes into it, Kevin's phone rang. He ran out to take a "quick call" and I was pouring wine and serving cheese. I'm looking back at it and have to say it was "different in a good way". I was able to basically host a party on my own introducing people to the artist, and telling them where we are on the Two Lane Initiative for Wilton Drive as far as I knew.
That quick call was 45 minutes long, so I was on my own for a while. On the other hand, it was a chance to visit with some friends in the neighborhood that I only partly knew and get caught up. Funny how time will stretch and compress when you're having fun.
The salsa was a hit, GFS had some good stuff, and the leftovers will go into the salsa chicken that is today's dinner. I think we're going to have that chicken on top of chips with a layer of cheese chunks. Funny how versatile "snack food" can be. The recipe is simple - add to a crockpot 8 frozen chicken breasts and enough salsa to coat and then press cook. Shred when done with two forks. We used chicken from GFS that we picked up last weekend at the Fort Lauderdale store so this meal is all from them.
Considering what I experienced, I would say that the people who came in are expecting some changes in the city. There was heavy interest in what the Two Lane Initiative was all about and what it's status was. Basically, we have applied for a grant, and we are waiting to see if the grant application is going to be approved. In the meantime, the City has a committee made of community members who meet to formulate plans to proceed. Many questions also were being asked about the businesses that were closing on the drive in this difficult economic downturn.
We are basically waiting to see where we're going, and the people who I spoke with were very happy to hear that it hasn't died.
Once Kevin's 45 minute call was over, Krishan immediately appeared and I was off duty. I got to enjoy the party by greeting guests from a chair while helping them find the artist and answering still more questions about what went on with the Art Walk and with the Two Lane Initiative and important things like where is the nearest ATM.
Both artists who exhibited their works at Wilton Manors Main Street were well received and were both saying that they'd like to come back. I would say that the Exhibits as well as the Art Walk was a success.
The experience was a fun one, I did enjoy playing bartender but I'll have to remember next time - softer shoes!