Community collaborations contribute to event’s growth
Article and Photos by the Lewiston Council on the Arts
The Lewiston Art Festival is back! On Saturday, Aug. 12 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Sunday, Aug. 13 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), our village will showcase the work of more than 200 artists, musicians and performers who come from near and far to be a part of Lewiston’s annual celebration of creativity and skill.
Lewiston’s reputation as a thriving arts community, home to artists and art lovers alike, is due in no small part to the yearly Art Festival, sponsored by the Lewiston Council on the Arts.
“We at the LCA are thrilled to be able to once again bring this fantastic community event to Lewiston, and we acknowledge with gratitude the continuing support of our elected officials from all levels of government,” said Lewiston Council on the Arts Executive Director Maria Fortuna Dean.
The ongoing investment in the arts from the boards of the Village of Lewiston and the Town of Lewiston, as well as the Niagara County Legislature, recognizes the far-reaching effects of a vibrant arts sector. Lewiston's artistic profile contributes to stimulating our business growth, attracting tourism, and creating a community where people are eager to live.
“We are very excited to welcome back the 57th annual Lewiston Art Festival,” Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch said. “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!”
Now in its 57th year, the festival has been named “Top Cultural Destination” by First Sunday Magazine; a “Summer Festival Showcase Event” by Bi-National Niagara Tourism Alliance; US News, “10 Perfect Places to Plan a Trip”; and Buffalo Spree Magazine, “Hot 5/An Opinionated to-do list.”
“The Lewiston Art Festival is an extremely important part of the Lewiston community, and presents a weekend that people look forward to every year,” Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick said. “Coming out of the pandemic – and realizing that nothing is guaranteed – the Art Festival is appreciated even more, as it was one of the first festivals to return.”
Artist Elizabeth Taylor (LCA photo)
What to Expect
The pedestrian-friendly layout will close Center Street to cars from Fourth to Eighth streets, and fill the village roadway with art and music.
The Grant Asklar Quartet will be busking on Sixth Street, and The Barroom Buzzards and the 12/8 Path Band will stroll the festival, all adding their great musical energy to the Art Festival.
In keeping with our commitment to foster the development of young artists, College Alley, located in the KeyBank parking lot, will again feature the work of high school and college students. Student artists have the 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!
A Chalk Walk participant (LCA photo)
This year’s Chalk Walk theme is “Choose Love,” and the competition will have 10 teams of all ages, with prize categories for Youth Artists, Emerging Artists, High School, and Advanced Artist (Individuals 18 years or older). There will be cash awards, and all Chalk Walk artists’ work may be considered as inspiration for a Village of Lewiston crosswalk.
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.
There will even be a collaborative “Fill-In-The-Heart” activity, where passers-by can jump in and add their artistic touch to a piece of collaborative street chalk art!
Modern Corporation generously cosponsors the “Modern Art Awards” given in six categories: Painting; Mixed Media; Graphic Arts / Photography; Artistic Crafts I: Jewelry; Artistic Crafts II: Ceramic, Glass, Metal; Artistic Crafts III: Wood, Leather, Fiber. Each category will award first-, second- and third-place prizes; Best in Show and Best Booth will also be awarded.
A female dancer (LCA photo)
This year’s “Indigenous Experience” is proudly cosponsored by Artpark & Company. It features the “Trail of Treaties” and “Treaty Talks,” curated by Artpark Indigenous Producer Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis/Algonquin Nation).
Festivalgoers will embark on an immersive and engaging audio/visual journey of six wampum belts, to be discovered along Center Street, which have had a great impact on the lands we walk on here today. Guests can listen via QR Code at each stop along Center Street (bring your handheld devices and EarPods!), and read each of the five wampum belt backgrounds, then stamp a commemorative “Trail of Treaties” passport booklet.
Those who have engaged with all five wampum belt stations will have the opportunity to create their own “The Edge of the Woods” wampum strand (while supplies last) in Hennepin Park at South Fourth and Center streets. At the gazebo, guests will discover one of largest wampum displays in the U.S., with professor Richard D. Hamell (adopted into Seneca Nation) on hand to answer questions on the treaties, and Dr. Joe Stahlman (Tuscarora Nation) providing a “Treaty Talk” each day at 1 p.m.
New this year, to honor the traditions of our Haudenosaunee neighbors, Jordan Smith will open each day of the Art Festival with “The Words Before All Else,” a thanksgiving address in his native tongue, at 10 a.m. at the gazebo.
This year’s “Indigenous Experience” offers a full schedule of Indigenous music, dancing, presentations and children’s activities curated by Kehala Greene Smith (Tuscarora Nation) and hosted by Jordan Smith (Mohawk Nation), both members of Artpark’s Indigenous programming collective.
Please see the schedule and visit the Indigenous artisans at the gazebo to experience the rich traditional and contemporary culture of our Haudenosaunee friends and neighbors.
The 2023 Lewiston Art Festival image, "The Firebird," was designed by featured artist Jessica Gadra. (Courtesy of the Lewiston Council on the Arts)
But That’s Not All!
There’s plenty of interactive fun for all ages at the Art Festival this year. Get a henna tattoo (near the clock at North Fifth Street), or have your face painted or a caricature done (corner of Center and South Seventh streets). There will be two free, hands-on Kids Art Zones at Seventh and Center streets.
At ArtZone No. 1, by the St. Peter’s R.C. Church rectory, the Lewiston Public Library will sponsor activities from noon to 4 p.m. on both days for children of all ages.
ArtZone No. 2, by the Orange Cat Coffee Co., will bring Artpark’s free family activities to the Art Festival on Saturday. It will feature artmaking by the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University on Sunday. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. both days.
Don’t forget to visit the information booth at Fifth and Center streets to pick up this year’s wonderful Art Festival T-shirt. The 2023 image, “The Firebird,” was designed by featured artist Jessica Gadra, and is based on a centuries-old myth.
“The child is rooted (no pun intended!) in the forest and is attuned to the whisperings of all its creatures,” she explained. 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.
Stop by and meet Gadra in person at booth No. 608, across from St. Peter’s Church.
For the safety and comfort of our two- and four-legged friends, we strongly discourage bringing non-service dogs to the festival. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for their bare paws!
Art Festival sponsors include the Town of Lewiston, Village of Lewiston, Niagara County Legislature, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Modern Corporation, United Way of Greater Niagara, Sevenson Environmental Services, Tin Pan Alley and AMD Environmental Consultants Inc. Chalk Walk sponsors include KeyBank, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and First Presbyterian Church. The “Trail of Treaties” and Indigenous programming is sponsored by Artpark & Company.
To accommodate patrons and vendors, Center Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 3 a.m. Saturday until Sunday evening. Side street access will be available at Ninth, Eighth and Fourth streets.
For more information on the Lewiston Art Festival, visit www.artcouncil.org.
Lewiston Council on the Arts Executive Director Maria Fortuna Dean with Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh, and the Town of Lewiston and Village of Lewiston boards.