One of Niagara County’s premier summer festivals returns next weekend, filling streets with art and music.
“The Lewiston Art Festival is back!” organizer Lewiston Council on the Arts stated. “After 2020, the ‘lost year,’ we are excited to present this signature Lewiston event with some modifications and following CDC guidelines.”
Events begin Saturday and run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Center Street. The Art Festival will showcase the work of more than 130 professional and student artists representing nine states. In keeping with the LCA’s commitment to foster the development of young artists, College Alley will again feature the work of high school and college students (near Eighth Street), providing them an opportunity to gain exhibiting experience without adhering to the more stringent requirements for professional artists.
“Don’t miss this chance to start collecting the work of these emerging artists,” LCA stated.
2021 Art Festival featured artist Lori DeFazio.
Art Festival Highlights
•Modern Corporation co-sponsors the “Modern Art Awards” given in seven categories: painting, photography, graphic arts, sculpture, mixed media, artistic crafts (ceramics, wood, fiber, glass) and jewelry.
•The Michael McMahon Memorial Award will be given to a watercolor artist and is sponsored by friends of McMahon, who was a well-known instructor and watercolorist.
•A “Best Booth” award is also chosen. This year's judges are retired art teacher Fay Northrop and Ed Cardoni, E.D., of Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center.
•The Barroom Buzzards and the 12/8 Path Band will add their musical merriment to the Art Festival.
•Hennepin Park Gazebo will be transformed into an Iroquois Market, which LCA stated “brings to life the rich culture of our Haudenosaunee friends and neighbors. Join us for a celebration of traditional and contemporary Native American culture expressed through art, music, drumming and dance, featuring our host and emcee, Randy Greene, the Niagara River Iroquois Dancers, Dan Hill (flute), Haudenosaunee Singers, and singer/songwriters Mark Porter and Darryl Tonemah.”
•With some COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the traditional Chalk Walk has again gone virtual. The “Chalk YOUR Walk Competition” allows artists from across the state to try their hand at crafting a mural.
“We opened up the competition to anyone in New York state and people could compete from the comfort of their driveway, parking lot, path or park,” LCA said. “This year's theme was ‘Imagine, Explore & Create!’ Judges will select the Best of Show winner ($500 prize), and all the submissions will be posted on our Lewiston Arts Council Facebook page. People’s Choice Award ($250) will be determined by online voting.”
Winners will be announced at 4 p.m. Saturday.
•The information booth at Center and Fifth streets will offer this year’s colorful Art Festival T-shirt. The 2021 image is designed by artist Lori DeFazio to commemorate the occasion.
•Visit the ArtZone located next to the information booth. LCA said, “It’s all about making it fun for the kids! The Lewiston Public Library will sponsor a free, hands-on art activity, so while you're ‘in the zone,’ kids of all ages can make a piece of sand art jewelry.”
The Art Festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. With a pedestrian-friendly layout, Center Street will be closed off to cars from Fourth to Eight streets from late Friday night until late Sunday night.
For the safety and comfort of two- and four-legged friends, LCA strongly discourages bringing nonservice dogs to the event.
David Smith of the Mohawk Nation. (Photo by Ray Lonsdale/submitted by LCA)
Staging a Comeback
Though residents, elected leaders and members of the media speculated the Art Festival would return in 2021, only the LCA knew what logistics would be required to welcome back the event – and the thousands who will attend.
“We really didn't know the festival would be a go until all the restrictions were lifted” in the spring, LCA said. “Up until that point, we tentatively planned for a festival with distanced vendors and vaccine recommendations for everyone.”
Though 2020 was used by many as a time to streamline and/or modernize events, LCA said the time off was not helpful. “It didn't help us to plan a new festival ... because we spent the time strategizing how to have a COVID-era festival. Strategizing included how to get the organization through a year with no revenue-generating events, lost sponsorships and furloughs.”
As such, “What's new are the things we had to eliminate to have a safe event. Restrictions were lifted so late in the planning process that it was too late to reinstate some features of the festival.”
Still, LCA noted, “Despite fewer artists, visitors can expect the quality of art that's always been a feature of the festival.”
And for those wondering, LCA noted, “In 2022 we are looking to re-invent a new Chalk Walk event … on the street.”
Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch said, "We are very excited to welcome back the 55th annual Lewiston Art Festival. Lewiston has never looked better, and people are ready to stroll down Center Street and enjoy the many artists and their works. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Lewiston Council on the Arts for their service, dedication and hard work in making the Art Festival one of our best festivals!"
Lewiston’s reputation as a thriving arts community and cultural epicenter is due in no small part to the annual Lewiston Art Festival. The showcase has been named one of the “Top Cultural Destinations” by First Sunday Magazine; a “Summer Festival Showcase Event” by the Bi-National Niagara Tourism Alliance; and one of US News, "10 Perfect Places to Plan a Trip.”
For more information, visit www.artcouncil.org.
College Alley artist Nate Reilly poses with his latest mural in Niagara Falls. (Submitted by LCA)