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Jessica Gadra's `The Firebird,` is the featured image at this year's Lewiston Art Festival. (Submitted by the Lewiston Council on the Arts)
Jessica Gadra's "The Firebird," is the featured image at this year's Lewiston Art Festival. (Submitted by the Lewiston Council on the Arts)

LCA announces Art Festival featured artist


Thu, Jul 20th 2023 09:15 am

Chalk Walk expands

Submitted by the Lewiston Council on the Arts

The Lewiston Council on the Arts announces its 2023 featured artist: Jessica Gadra. Her piece, “The Firebird,” will be the image of this year’s Art Festival.

“I’ve drawn since I could hold a pencil, but being an artist has always been my ‘and’; I’ve always been a (fill-in-the-blank) and an artist,” Jessica said. “I still struggle with it. It’s hard to assert yourself unequivocally, but I think that those doubts are good to have – they keep you trying.”

Jessica’s work is featured in children's books, theater posters, the fashion industry, art galleries, and in commissioned pieces. The self-taught artist, who works in pen and ink, watercolor, and pencil, tells us that she “plucks” the inspiration for her art in “the brew of the old stories and the eternal legends that speak to us all.”

The myth of the firebird travels across time and cultures. The many versions of the story were born of oral traditions, with the magical, glowing bird at the center of tales of courage and a challenging quest, foretelling glory or heralding doom.

In Jessica’s silhouette, we see the young protagonist sitting on a blanket of forest animals: “The child is rooted (no pun intended!) in the forest and is attuned to the whisperings of all its creatures.” The mystical bird comes to rest in the tree as the child is sleeping. We see the moment the child fully awakens and is filled with the fire of inspiration.

Jessica Gadra (Submitted by the Lewiston Council on the Arts)


Jessica took first price in the Graphic Arts and Drawing category in the 2022 Art Festival. She lives in Buffalo with her husband, author Alex Livingston (whose “Knave of Secrets” was published earlier this year). The two met while both were studying English at Canisius College and have been together ever since. To see more of Jessica’s work, visit http://jessicagadra.com/.


Chalk Walk file photo

Lewiston Art Festival’s Chalk Walk Now Open to Community Groups & Families

This year, the Lewiston Art Festival’s Chalk Walk will be open to teams of all ages, with prize categories for Youth Artists, Emerging Artists, High School and Advanced Artist (individuals 18 years or older). The 2023 theme is “Choose Love.” There will be cash awards, and all Chalk Walk artists’ work may be considered as inspiration for the Village of Lewiston’s newest crosswalk.

“We are welcoming students, clubs, groups and families to try their hand at creating a chalk masterpiece,” said Lewiston Council on the Arts Executive Director Maria Fortuna Dean. “We are grateful to our newest sponsor, First Presbyterian Church, as well as our returning sponsors KeyBank and Mount St. Mary’s, whose support makes it possible for this to be a true community event.”

The deadline for registration is Aug. 1. Applicants can find the form online at https://forms.gle/pAdzN9nBBffx9jre7, or contact Cindy Sanchez at [email protected] or 716-697-0798.

Asklar Award

Lewiston resident Thomas Paul Asklar won Best In Show at the 66th annual Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo with his painting, “Leroy.” Asklar has been exhibiting at the Allentown Festival since 1997, and at the Lewiston Art Festival since 1989, where he won Best In Show in 1990.

An art teacher at Country Parkway Elementary School, Asklar is a muralist whose work can be seen all around western New York, including his newest work at Hustler’s Tavern. His fine art paintings, often inspired by his deep, lifelong connection to Niagara Falls, can be seen in art collections throughout the U.S., England, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, China and Japan.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award,” commented Asklar, who identifies equally as an artist and an educator. “Even though I won many awards as a young artist, it feels good – validating – to receive this award at this point in my life. One of my college professors and heroes, the late, iconic and prolific painter Joseph Piccillo, told me at one of my solo exhibitions that I was to never stop painting … and I never have!”

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