The Hammond Downtown Development District’s 22nd annual Hot August Night brought together artists and businesses to support and connect with the community.
The Lionpawlooza pep rally kicked off the event at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25. Hot August Night included participating artists and businesses, a car show, musical performances from musicians such as Hammond-native Todd O’Neill and wine and craft beer walks. After Lionpawlooza, attendees had the chance to connect with university athletics. Nih-Jer Jackson, a junior wide receiver shared his thoughts on the event.
“Hot August Night is a good time for us to come out and interact with the community and show our support for the community as they support us,” said Jackson. “Get to know the fans, show support for the community heading into the season.”
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. set up a table beside the DDD main stage with the Lion Up American Wheat Ale beer. Co-owner of Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. Cari Caramonta appreciated the addition of a craft beer walk.
“We’re extremely excited about that because not only can you get wine, you can get craft beer,” said Caramonta. “We’re loving how Hammond is really turning into a craft beer destination. It’s got lots of great bars, restaurants and breweries other than us even. It’s really cool to have that beer option now, and we’re happy to have our booth out here as a part of the whole beer experience tonight.”
At the Harley-Davidson table, people could enter their name into a drawing for a class in learning how to ride a motorcycle. Harley-Davidson Marketing and Events Coordinator Jeri Henderson explained her reason for participating in Hot August Night.
“It’s just so critical to the community,” said Henderson. “We want people to know that we’re approachable. A lot of people think that Harleys are your grandpa’s bike, and it’s not cool to ride a Harley. But the fact of the matter is they’ve gotten really progressive in what you can do to your bike. We just want to bring it out to the community, tell people they’re not as scary as they think they are and make that connection.”
Artists found a spot to showcase their passion in Art Alley. Attendees stopped to watch Kelly Boyett paint a scene in Art Alley.
“It’s beautiful scenery, especially for the painting that I’m doing here, and I felt a very Van Gogh inspiration when I got here,” said Boyett. “The sky is beautiful. The lighting is beautiful. That’s just what I envisioned. So far, it’s a wonderful experience. I’ve seen a lot of interesting people and interesting things happening.”
More of Boyett’s art can be found at Kelly Boyett on Instagram and Facebook or her website at kellyboyettart.com. Boyett spoke of her passion for painting.
“I have painted all my life,” said Boyett. “It is the only thing I’ve ever had any interest in. I was a failure at dance, sports, everything else, but this I stuck with. Luckily, it turned into a full-time career for me.”
Nathaniel Bauerle, a junior music major set up on the sidewalk to play music for passersby. This was Bauerle’s third year playing on Hot August Night.
“My grandmother bought me a bass guitar a long time ago in about sixth grade, and I just kept going from there,” said Bauerle. “I played the flute in middle school and high school.”
Bauerle’s band can be found on Facebook at kevinandsound. Bauerle expressed his feelings about music.
“It’s raw emotions,” said Bauerle. “There’s no other feeling that can compare to what music can make you feel.”
Jolie-Aimée Taubin felt nervous displaying her artwork at Hot August Night for the first time.
“It’s nerve wracking to have people come by and see your artwork and comment on it, and you never know if you’re gonna have good comments or bad comments,” said Taubin. “I don’t take compliments very well because I get shy, but it’s nice. It’s a good experience. I’m gonna do it again.”
The tribal belly dance troupe Tribal Happenings performed in front of the DDD main stage between Lionpawlooza and the performance of Todd O’Neill. Lindory Dyson, one of the dancers, discussed how she got into the art form.
“I was really fascinated with Aaliyah and Shakira,” said Dyson. “I started looking at Lebanese belly dance, and then I started diving into Egyptian. Then, I found my belly dance mom who’s also known as Lady Morrighan. She helped me really own the craft. I started from the bottom. I started with taking the classes, then I took more combination, really stayed in it and became obsessed with it. I’ve been doing that since 2010.”
The Hammond Art Guild gathered in the Colombia Theatre for the Performing Arts. Otto Ochs set up with his wife Marion to display her jewelry.
“I think every community, every small town in America needs their artists because to be creative is to be constructive,” said Otto Ochs. “I think creativity is nonviolence, and we need less violence. The more artists we have in our community, the better the community’s off.”
Kelly Christensen, a junior art major displayed her artwork with her friends Brady Merwin and Taylor Berry who graduated in July.
“It’s really fun,” said Christensen. “It’s really nice to see all the different types of people and just the community come together to look at art and look at all the different people’s crafts and stuff.”
Merwin described the different experience of standing on the other side of the table as an artist rather than an attendee.
“It’s interesting,” said Merwin. “I get to see it in a different light. I love it. Just like she said, it’s a great blend of a mixture of art, and it’s just a great outlet for everybody.”
Berry decided to show her work at Hot August Night for the first time to start selling it. She discussed the inspiration for her craft.
“It depends on what you call inspiration,” said Berry. “I would say like ‘80s horror films and gory things like that. That’s what I did my thesis on. My thesis was on biopsy photos and building a wall installation from it. Things like that, kind of more gross and disturbed things that a lot of people wouldn’t find inspiration from.”
Attendees stopped by businesses for wine and beer. Devone Paul, a web developer for Anntoine Marketing + Design, enjoyed the business taking part in Hot August Night.
“We love throwing huge parties, so it gives us an excuse to throw a huge party for everyone coming in,” said Paul. “There’s food and wine. It’s awesome.”