SOUDERTON — In a normal year, the Souderton Art Jam would be artists, crafters, food, drink, music and vendors in a big one-day celebration on Wile Avenue at the park in Souderton.
This year, it isn't on Wile Avenue, but it's running for a month and can be seen by people anywhere in the world.
"Just like so many other events, festivals and public gatherings, the Art Jam had to respond to the pandemic and social distancing and safety requirements," said Harry Boardman. "Our answer is to just make the event virtual this year."
Boardman and his wife Heather own Exhibit B Gallery in Souderton and are two of the artists in the Souderton Art Jam. Harry Boardman, community volunteer Raymond Hopkins and Souderton-Telford Main Streets Manager Christina DiVergigelis form the committee that organizes the Art Jam.
To see this year's Souderton Art Jam, which started Sept. 26 and runs until Oct. 26, go to the Souderton-Telford Main Streets website at www.stmainst.org and click on the Virtual Art Jam logo. Clicking on an individual artist takes you to an image of the artist's entry in this year's Art Jam and a link to where more of the artist's work can be seen.
"If you go to the Art Jam page and you see artwork from an artist you like, you can go straight to that artist's website or social media feed, wherever the artist told us they wanted people to go, and you have the option to buy their work there and all of the artists handle the sale and work with the customer just like they would at the Art Jam," Boardman said.
Some of this year's artists are returnees who have displayed their works at Souderton Art Jam in previous years, while there are also some who are making their first appearance there and others who previously displayed their art, but said they will pass this year because they only do in-person displays, Boardman said.
"I would like to hope that some of these artists that came to us for this virtual show will be interested in coming out for the in-person show next year," he said.
The Art Jam is designed to connect art lovers with artists, he said.
"Frankly, as an artist, to be able to do an online show for a very small amount of money, and to be able to keep 100 percent of the sales, it's a very low risk," Boardman said.
"For most of these vendors," he said, "if they achieve one sale out of this, it's gonna be well worth it to them."
As in previous years, there will be a juried art competition with awards for the top entries in the categories of Fine Art, Jewelry and Functional Art.
While the change to a virtual show is only because of the pandemic, it could lead to a longer-term change, Boardman said.
"I don't know if it's feasible or not, but I hope that in 2021, we're able to do a live in-person show just as we've done for the last seven years, and then maybe include an online component," he said. "Maybe we're able to use this as an opportunity to grow our show in the future in a new way."