Waverly Art Walk '21 brings back joy of creativity and humanity

Artists held on to their tents to counteract the blowing winds during the 16th annual Art Walk in Waverly. The joyful event reunited art lovers and artists after a year-long hiatus due to the coronavirus.

It’s been two years in the making, but when the Art Walk finally returned to Waverly on Saturday, it was with sunshine, enthusiasm and high winds.

It was fitting that the first art event held in Kohlmann Park since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, brimmed with human and nature-propelled energy, as if the collision of creativity and togetherness against the scenic backdrop of the Cedar River had reignited the vibe of a community steeped in drawn-out, year-long isolation.

It was a reunion of sorts by all accounts.

In a nutshell, the event brought back what had been missed so sorely during the pandemic — a blend of humanity and hubris.

Friends who had not seen each other for months walked side by side, catching up on everything they had forgone.

Vendors, who lost the opportunity to present their work last May because the event was canceled in compliance with guidance from the health authorities, were glad to see art-lovers stroll by and stop by their tents to chat.

Even though this was the 16th annual Art Walk for Waverly, for Barb Dilly, of Shell Rock, it was a first.

A well-known artist whose murals decorate buildings in Waverly and in her native Shell Rock, Dilly said an ad in the Waverly paper piqued her interest in the event, so she decided to check it out.

“As an artist, I wanted to support fellow artists as well,” she said.

Dilly, a retired anthropology professor, bought a custom-made knife and a cutting board from Plink Cutlery. The artist, Clint Peterson, creates custom knife handles, chopping blocks, and other configurations for hunting, fishing, and cooking.

One of the returning staple artists, Paul Imholte, the main musical entertainer of the walk, was happy to be back in Waverly for the show.

It was his second open-door performance for the ‘21 festival season, quite the change of pace from the pandemic doldrums, when most of his scheduled performances went away.

Imholte used the downtime to record new music for what he called “the greatest project of all time, a three-CD set of 40 different pieces, titled “The Lost 40.”

As a working musician, Imholte was glad to be strumming his guitar, banjo and mandolin in Waverly and entertaining the public and his fellow artists.

But at one point, the wind knocked off his hammered dulcimer, and the rare instrument is now in need of repair.

“The Chamber of Commerce began letting people go due to the high winds,” he told Waverly Newspapers afterwards. “I wasn’t hurt, and things can be repaired.”

More than 30 artists were pre-selected based on their quality of work and originality prior to the annual event. The walk is co-sponsored by Waverly Leisure Services and the Waverly Chamber of Commerce.

Dennis and Diane Peterka, former art teachers, served as art judges. (See adjacent feature.)

David Leeper, a long time Art Walk participant and artist from Cedar Rapids, showcased his various metal sculptures, including works of dragons and birds.

“We love starting the art show season with the Waverly Art Walk,” he said in a press release announcing the event. “It is always a great show with great artists and well attended by the community. We had a challenging 2020 and are thrilled to begin a creative and safe 2021 in Waverly.”