Bringing Back the Arts: Skelton aims to make art a staple in Westfield

Downtown Westfield Association Executive Director Teresa Skelton has been in charge of the Westfield Arts Alliance since the beginning of this year. The WAA meets in the DWA building, 211 S. Union St. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

Downtown Westfield Association Executive Director Teresa Skelton has been in charge of the Westfield Arts Alliance since the beginning of this year. The WAA meets in the DWA building, 211 S. Union St. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

By Anna Skinner

Teresa Skelton has a passion for events, and when that fuses with her love of the arts, it heralds an interesting future for the Westfield Arts Alliance, an organization established in 2013 under the larger umbrella of the Downtown Westfield Association. Skelton serves as the executive director for the DWA.

The WAA is responsible for much of the public art throughout Westfield, such as the Red Man statue near Main and Union streets, and the large mural on the north side of Union Flowers and Gifts. Lately, however, the WAA has veered toward performance art.

Downtown Westfield Association Executive Director Teresa Skelton, left, and Linda Lutes, a member of the Westfield Arts Alliance, discuss Lutes’ fused glass artwork. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

Downtown Westfield Association Executive Director Teresa Skelton, left, and Linda Lutes, a member of the Westfield Arts Alliance, discuss Lutes’ fused glass artwork. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

“My passion is for events and certainly all about downtown Westfield. I’ve lived five different places on the same street (in Westfield),” Skelton said. “I’m very passionate about Westfield, particularly downtown, and I love seeing the changes and evolution taking place. The arts alliance, in particular, I sort of inherited that because of my theatre background. I’ve got a passion for it all kinds of arts, and I like to see that being on the forefront. I think that’s an area we lack in our downtown. We don’t have a lot of public arts displays.”

One of Skelton’s initiatives this year is the inaugural Bottle and Books, a poetry reading at the Rail Epicurean Market in February. Visitors listened to original readings and notable works from the past.

“Bottle and Books was something I felt very passionate about,” Skelton said. “They had discussions on poetry before me. I thought, ‘That’s a good winter thing,’ and I did it in February. I would like this group to take on those things a little bit more. I like us to have resolutions to the ideas that come forth. I think this group needs to be empowered. I think that would be really good, so there’s a presence and responsibility of this group that they take ownership in these projects. I’d like to see more of those kind of things.”

Recently, the Heart and Soul Clinic approached the WAA and pitched an idea for the group to judge the creations of a new logo sent in from the community. WAA member and artist Linda Lutes suggested reaching out to local schools

“The only reason I knew what (WAA) could become (reality) is as an art teacher in Carmel, I know what the arts do for us in Carmel, so that’s what I would like to see this become more of,” Lutes said. “I would like to see more outreach into the community. I participated in the poetry reading, and I loved that. It was so awesome. It’s just another outlet.”

Lutes creates dichroic, or fused, glass. She has been doing so for approximately 12 years. Other members of the WAA include artists such as John Sampson, president of the Westfield Playhouse, Erin O’Rear, owner of The Wandering Peacock in downtown Westfield, and others. Not all members are artists, but all have a passion for the arts.

“I’m working with some people on spots for public arts displays I think would work,” Skelton said of the organization’s plans for the future. “Stuff that says, ‘Hey, we are here.’ I think it’s great we have Grand Park. I love it, and I’m glad it’s here. It’s great for our community, but I want to also promote our downtown. Now, I would like to see the arts and culture have a presence.”

For more, visit the Westfield Arts Alliance Facebook page.

Westfield Arts Alliance members

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Sharon Rice

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Erin O’Rear

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Mic Mead

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Katherine Kemp

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Andrew Bouse

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Jack Russell

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Linda Lutes