Third annual Project 308 Art Festival to take place Sept. 26
By Jill Keppeler
When she opened Project 308 Art Gallery in North Tonawanda in 2012, Natalie Brown wanted to bring art to a neglected portion of the city where she'd grown up.
She's still doing it.
Sept. 26 will mark the third annual Project 308 Art Festival on Oliver Street, centered around the gallery that gave it its name.
"This year, we have about 50 to 60 artists for the festival," Brown said. "Inside the gallery, there's about 10 artists, including two from the Starlight Gallery. We'll have a couple of food vendors and some beer tastings and music all day, as well."
The food vendors will include Louisiana Cookery Food Truck and others. Musicians will include Jess Chizuk, The Amanda Hughes Project, The Hypnic Jerks, Something New and Evan Thompson.
As far as this year's artists, Brown said that there will be a high level of skill on display in media including ceramics, sculpture, acrylic and watercolor paintings, photography, jewelry and more. A handful of artists from the 464 Gallery in Buffalo will take part.
"I think the aspect of bringing the urban artists to the suburbs is pretty cool," she said.
Artist Tracy McGehee has taken part in the prior two art festivals and will return for the third, as well. She works in acrylics, watercolors and mixed media, but said most of her work at the festival will be acrylic paintings in a variety of sizes, as well as hand-painted necklaces and stones.
"I'm also having this little community project that I'm hoping everybody's going to be involved with. That's going to be in front of my tent as well," McGehee said. The project, which will require community participation, will be turned into an art piece after the show.
McGehee, a North Tonawanda resident, lauded Brown for what she's accomplished with the gallery and the festival, saying that she's spoken to people surprised that Oliver Street has its own gallery.
"The effort she puts in and the results she's getting, they're wonderful," McGehee said. "It opens up the community to a lot of things that it wouldn't otherwise get involved with.
"I think there's no stopping her. I'm glad I can be a part of it, too. It's very exciting. From the first (festival) to this one, it's just been getting bigger every year. It's actually my favorite show to do."
Brown said the earlier years of the festival were about learning. Now, she's putting that knowledge into practice.
"It's really amazing what three years can do. ... Now it's a community place," she said. "I need to remember people are visiting, what they want to see, what they want to do.
"It's slowly up and coming now, where it was a blank canvas before."
WHERE & WHEN
The third annual Project 308 Art Festival will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda, between Schenck and Robinson streets. The Project 308 Gallery is located at 308 Oliver St. Admission is free. For more information, call 716-523-0068, email [email protected] or visit www.project308gallery.com.