by Tiffany Hyman
Magnificent paintings, excellent photography, wonderful graphic art, unique sculptures, one-of-a-kind artistic crafts and stunning jewelry. These are just a few of the exceptional features that will be at this year's Lewiston Art Festival, taking place Saturday, Aug. 13, and Sunday, Aug. 14, on Center Street.
Now celebrating 45 years of beautiful artwork, the event has been named among the "Top Cultural Destinations" by First Sunday Magazine; "Summer Festival Showcase Event" by Bi-National Niagara Tourism Alliance; and "Top 100 Attractions Along the Seaway Trail" by Journey Magazine.
"The art festival is truly something out of the ordinary," said Eva Nicklas, artistic director for the Lewiston Council on the Arts, which organizes the event. "It's a well-run, well-respected and fun festival."
The festival showcases some of the most talented artists around, with more than 175 from all over the country, including Alaska, Florida and Texas and 10 other states. Artists compete for prize money awarded in eight categories.
"First and foremost, this festival is for the artists," said Nicklas. "We roll out the red carpet for them."
New for the festival is artist-in-residency for three nationally known Tuscarora artists, Karen Hodge-Russell, Erwin Printup and Simon Brascoupe. These artists will team up to create a mural named "The Four Winds," inspired by Printup. The mural is a Native American legend representing Bear as North Wind, Panther as West Wind, Moose as East Wind and Fawn as South Wind. Hodge-Russell, Printup and Brascoupe will paint both days from noon to 4 p.m.
Hodge-Russell is a national exhibiting artist. She taught art in the Buffalo school district for grades K-12 and special education students. Two of her pieces were accepted in the Albright Knox Art Gallery's "Western New York Show." She also worked directly with Albright's education department, where she produced a student gallery called, "Mask and Motif."
Hodge-Russell focuses on cyber art, using fiber materials, such as ceramics, jewelry and feathers, to create pieces that symbolize plants and animals from indigenous people's ancient designs.
"Cyber art is a new way people are expressing themselves," said Hodge-Russell. "I use some recycled material. It's quite an endeavor."
One of her newest and exciting projects is hair comb design. Hair comb artwork combines unique frottage painting techniques to create a one-of-a-kind 3-D piece. Hodge-Russell turned her passion for hair comb artwork into education, and teaches students how to use it.
Printup has been painting since 1979. He earned his Associates of Fine Art degree in two- and three-dimensional art. In addition to having art on display at Tuscarora Native Indian Elementary School and being featured on PBS's "Reading Rainbow," he also was featured on a show called, "Return to the Turtle."
Brascoupe is extraordinaire. His work, which includes traditional stenciling, color application and feeling, can be seen all over the world - and particularly the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, Japan and Cuba. He uses a prehistoric technique to create zoomorphic lines and bright, vivid colors. Brascoupe enjoys creating artwork around nature, with animals teaching humans to see the world through their perspective. He currently teaches at Carleton University and Trent University in Canada.
This year's featured artist is the talented Kelvin Henderson. Henderson, a Suitland, Md., native, brings creativity to a whole new level. With combining vibrant colors, cool texture and music-like feel, it is no wonder this jazz, modern artist is such a sensation.
"I work with a lot of bright colors and textures," said Henderson. "I'm a very modern artist that creates a jazz-like feel with my pieces."
Be sure to look for perhaps Henderson's greatest piece, "Dance with Me." The painting is very formal and truly striking.
Nicklas and the LCA were thrilled to choose such an amazing artist. Henderson had exactly what new and exciting image they were looking for.
"LCA and I were really impressed by Kelvin's work," said Nicklas. "All of his art is so eye-catching and beautiful."
Henderson was just as enthused as Nicklas. He said he was delighted to be picked as the featured artist.
"I was so excited to be nominated. People come out, they're warm, and, hey, they love my artwork," said Henderson.
Bring it on! A little competition is good for everyone. Not to worry - the Lewiston Art Festival will again offer this. Students from schools all over Western New York will compete in the 27th annual KeyBank Chalk Walk Competition on Saturday. Ten teams of students will put on their game, yet artistic, faces and create spectacular murals made from chalk, beginning at noon. Competitors will depict their own interpretation of this year's theme, "Chalk One Up for Diversity."
"This year's theme is important for today's global situation," said Chalk Walk Chairperson Fay Northrop, who has been on the committee since 1985.
"The competition is one of the highlights of the festival. It's one (of), if not the most, spectacular part(s) of the event," said Nicklas.
Guests can be sure to find many colorful murals below their feet as they walk along Center Street. The 8-foot-by-10-foot mural ideas were nominated by students' teachers and approved by LCA. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places judged by professionals. Judging begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"It's wonderful to watch young, energetic and talented kids use their creativity," said Nicklas. "It is absolutely charming."
"It promotes good human behavior," said Northrop. "The kids just work so hard."
Children can show off their creativity, too. From noon to 4 p.m. on both days, they can participate in the First Niagara Art Zone, where they can create a chalk mural or hands-on art activity. On Sunday afternoon, a free "Make and Take" workshop will be hosted by Niagara University for children of all ages to enjoy.
No one likes a road hog. Fortunately, the fest will again be pedestrian-friendly. Center Street will be closed during the Art Festival from North Fourth to North Eighth streets, with both the Fourth and Eighth street intersections open for cross traffic. Driving restrictions begin at 5 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and continue through 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14.
Fifth Street will be closed at the First Niagara Bank drive-thru and at the KeyBank drive-thru. Customers, however, will still have access to the drive-in area of each bank.
The layout for the weekend is meticulous - the walkways are conducive for not only pedestrians, but for businesses as well, said Nicklas.
"Bigger isn't always better," she said, speaking of not closing off Center Street in its entirety. "Many businesses will (still) benefit."
Of course, the festival could not be complete without plenty of entertainment and of course, food.
Buffalo's 12/8 Path Band will perform hits on percussion and horns strolling throughout the festival.
"12/8 is very cool," said Nicklas. "It's a real highlight of the festival."
And southern spice is always nice. The Mariachi Gringos will perform Mexican music. The band will stroll down the street, sure to sweep guests off their feet.
"The Gringos shake it all over the place," said Nicklas. "They always get everyone dancing."
Other exciting highlights include:
•Ilya's Belly Dance performance
•Hot Country Liners
•Omni Puppet Theatre
•Niagara Frontier Fiddle Club
•Jena Abati (opera singer)
Food vendors will be scattered throughout the two-day event. Light food is available to guests, but the focus of the fest is specifically on art and entertainment.
"There are such great restaurants on Center Street," said Nicklas. "We want people to utilize them."
Nicklas, Hodge-Russell, Henderson and Northrop encourage all to attend the whole Art Fest weekend, which is expected to be filled with the area's best artwork.
"Art is so inspiring and good for you. It opens up your mind and heart," said Nicklas. "Everywhere you turn, there's something to watch and learn about. It's wonderful to bring such beautiful artwork to the village."
"The art festival expresses and shows current art in the community and it's the result of current culture," said Hodge-Russell. "It inspires people to create artwork throughout life emotionally, or by using visual language."
"It's an amazing festival," said Henderson. "The area is great and the artwork is even better."
"It's just a fun event. It answers to diverse artistic taste," said Northrop. "It has become an important part of me."
Before leaving the fest, be sure to pick up a colorful Art Festival T-shirt that features a piece by Henderson on it and stop by the Opera Hall Gallery to view special weekend exhibits.
LCA extends its appreciation to Modern Corporation for its generosity in supporting the event. Thanks to Modern, more than $5,000 will go toward the "Modern Art Awards" Nicklas added.
The Lewiston Art Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the LCA at 754-0166 or visit www.artcouncil.org.