Sip & Stroll’s return reinvigorates local art scene

Trisha Atluri, Executive Entertainment Editor

As the late-afternoon sunlight filtered through the trees behind the Coppell Senior and Community Center on Thursday, the Coppell Community Orchestra set the tone for the evening with an idyllic rendition of “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift.

The orchestra was the first of many performances along the route of the Art Sip & Stroll, an annual celebration of fine arts in Coppell. Entertained by the orchestra’s pleasant music, adult attendees sipped wine and beer samples as they began the walk in Old Town Coppell. Along the trail, the Coppell Community Chorale serenaded visitors with a cappella covers. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., the Ballet Ensemble of Texas and Milaana Dance performed in the Old Town Pavilion, which also housed Theatre Coppell’s photo booth and a sculpture demonstration. The night ended with a concert by Elevation, a Dallas-based Emerald City cover band.

“This event’s always really special because it’s a grassroots effort of creatives in our community coming together to celebrate the arts,” Coppell Arts Council vice president Jana Tidwell said. “We believe very strongly that the arts should be approachable. You shouldn’t have to get in a car and drive to Dallas to be exposed to fine art. You should just be walking in a park and enjoying your community to understand what fine art is.”

Dallas-based cover band Elevation entertains guests at the Art Sip & Stroll fundraiser held at the Coppell Arts Center on Thursday night. The fundraiser is hosted by the Coppell Arts Council annually, and this year it is celebrated in conjunction with the grand opening of the Coppell Arts Center. (Nandini Paidesetty)

While the event was centered around music and dance, visual arts played a significant role in the aesthetic experience of the Sip & Stroll. Lining the walkway outside the arts center were professionally made chalk illustrations, which visitors admired as they watched Elevation perform and bought sliders and chips at the Easy Slider food truck. On display inside the arts center was the Blue Exhibit, which featured the work of local artists in shades of blue.

“The thing I love most about this event, and I’ve been to a couple of them, is the diversity,” former Coppell Middle School North art teacher Kari Dollar said. “It doesn’t just have the visual arts, but we have the wind ensembles, dancers [and] all types of different art. You’re getting a full, well-rounded experience.”

The Sip & Stroll is an annual fundraiser for the Coppell Arts Council, which uses the event’s profits to fund fine arts programs and lease public art installations around the city. Its presence has brought the community together to celebrate the arts consistently since 2017, alternating locations each year between Old Town and Andy Brown Park. However, last year the event was canceled due to COVID-19. 

Thursday’s Sip & Stroll opened the Takeoff Music Festival, a series of performances and exhibits occurring this weekend to celebrate the arts center’s official grand opening. Plans for the space started in 1988, and the Coppell Arts Council opened the gallery in September 2020 to display the work of local artists. Now, the center is expanding beyond visual arts with its first live performance season forthcoming.

“This has been a 30year dream in the making,” Coppell Arts Center marketing coordinator Daniel Beauchamp said. “We are so thrilled to open our doors and welcome all the local residents to our center. This is the first year we’re finally able to say Coppell has a dedicated space for the arts.”

Resident art companies, such as the Coppell Community Orchestra, will use the arts center to practice, perform and promote fine arts.

“[Coppell Arts Center] is our new home for years to come,” Coppell Community Orchestra president Vanessa Younts said. “We get to perform there, we get to rehearse there, and we get to make memories and grow as a group there. It’s a huge part of our legacy.”

The remainder of the music festival features performances by artists based outside of Coppell, including country artists Coffey Anderson and Matt Castillo on Friday, former Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth on Saturday and illusionist Mike Super on Sunday. Tickets for these shows can be purchased on the arts center’s website.

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