A Walk in the ParkNov 01, 2017 ● By Dru Bickham
The idea for the Frisco Arts Walk came to the now executive director of Frisco Arts, Tammy Meinershagen, more than two years ago. At the time, Mrs. Meinershagen had been a volunteer for the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to making the arts accessible and approachable to the community of Frisco. “I came up with the idea for the Frisco Arts Walk largely because I wanted to show more people the hidden gem that is the Texas Sculpture Garden,” she explains. Though not exactly “hidden,” at the corner of Texas State Highway 121 and Gaylord Drive, it is true that many people in and around Frisco do not even know this incredible exhibit exists. Boasting more than 200 sculptures, all created by prominent Texas artists and curated by Patricia Meadows of the Meadows School of Music and the Meadows Foundation, the Texas Sculpture Garden is certainly something for Frisco to be proud of. Hosting an event here has been an excellent choice for the past two years, as it has given attendees the chance to see and appreciate what has been in their backyard all along.
Mrs. Meinershagen met Craig Hall, chairman of the HALL Group and the creator of the Texas Sculpture Garden, in 2013, when she first encountered his passion for sharing the arts. “It is a huge commitment to gather a collection like this and, instead of putting it in a museum and charging a fee for people to visit, making it free and available for everyone to be inspired by,” she says about Mr. Hall’s commitment to the community and to the arts. This passion of Mr. Hall’s aligns so well with the mission of Frisco Arts as an organization — to advance the arts by promoting arts advocacy and engagement in Frisco — that the Arts Walk came together quite seamlessly.
After the first Frisco Arts Walk, Mrs. Meinershagen was named executive director of Frisco Arts and began planning immediately for this year’s event, which she hoped to make into an even greater success.
This year, Mrs. Meinershagen and the rest of the Frisco Arts committee worked exciting new elements into the lineup for the seven-hour soiree. Most impressive of these was the inclusion of the University of North Texas (UNT) Jazz Lab Bands as performers for the afternoon. The jazz program at UNT is nearly unmatchable, claiming numerous Grammy nominations, and this year it is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Frisco Arts secured them, not only as an afternoon-long performance, but also as a partner for the entire event. At 3 p.m., women and men jazz vocalists performed, crooning on the stage to the smooth sounds of a standup bass and swinging beat. From 4-6 p.m., the legendary Three O’clock, Two O’clock and One O’clock Jazz Lab Bands performed, capturing the ears and interest of the audience until the day ended.
Another new partner for this year’s Frisco Arts Walk was Steinway Piano, which lent a Grand Piano for the afternoon for live performances on the “red carpet.” Both professionals and music students signed up for 10-15-minute performance slots in the early afternoon and let their talents speak for themselves. Among these performers were Frisco native piano prodigy Perren-Luc Theissen, a 13-year-old who is already well-known in his art form, and Nikki Naghavi, a junior at Frisco Centennial High School, concert master of the Texas State Orchestra and the number one violinist in the state of Texas. These performances allowed attendees to see musicians of their city and appreciate their talent. It is for this reason the visual artists were stationed throughout the park, openly practicing their art form as the day went on. “I love being able to connect the community with their artists,” Mrs. Meinershagen says. “It makes the whole experience that much more interesting, to know the person behind the work. It adds a whole new dimension of connecting to the art, making you appreciate it, but also making you want to know more.” She admits that this is the core goal of the Frisco Arts Walk, for people to be bitten by the “arts bug,” whatever medium of art that may be.
Mrs. Meinershagen was also inspired to create this immersive experience for her community because of her desire to capture the artistic spirit of a person at a young age. “The arts encourage empathy and compassion. Introducing them to children can only improve upon the way they grow up,” she explains. To help with this effort, Frisco Arts worked hard to provide plenty of fabulous attractions for kids and activities throughout HALL Park this year, including live Disney princesses to meet and greet, balloon animal artists and face painters throughout the park. There were bounce houses in the food truck lot, an instrument petting zoo held by the Plano Symphony Orchestra and more. This year, Frisco Arts also created an arts scavenger hunt to encourage children to seek out all the different forms of art that are available at the Arts Walk, and to learn something about each one. There was no shortage of young artists in the making that day.
In the VIP tent, where sponsors and partners were able to spend time and appreciate everything they had managed to pull together, Mayor Jeff Cheney made a surprise proclamation -- that this day was officially declared “Frisco Arts Day.”
Indisputably, the afternoon was a huge success, and, as promised, measured above and beyond last year’s first-ever Frisco Art’s Walk. By providing a family-friendly, free and open event such as this to its people, Frisco Arts and its partners have once again brought the community together with music, visual arts and education, while keeping everything fun and dynamic.
As a nonprofit organization providing free services to its citizens, Frisco Arts relies on generous donations to keep their mission and efforts alive. Those who wish to give to this organization’s cause can do so at friscoarts.org or by texting “Frisco Arts” to 41444 and making a credit card donation. Frisco Arts hopes to continue to inspire minds, young and old, by allowing them to experience the arts in a personal way, through the tradition of the Frisco Arts Walk for many years to come.