Posts tagged ‘Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts’
I’ve been to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the arts many, many times in the 37 years I’ve lived in State College. But this year I saw it in a whole new way: as one of the five jurors for the festival’s Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition.
I wrote about being a juror in our May-June issue—click on the image at right to see a PDF of that story. Being a juror has two parts: First, we met on campus last February to review the submissions of about 900 artists who wanted to be in the show, and we essentially decided who’d be invited. Then, this past Thursday and Friday, we showed up the arts festival in person and stopped at each one of the 300-plus booths, to see the art up close and score it again. Late Friday afternoon we met for two hours to compare notes and argue over which artists should receive the various “best in show” awards—cash prizes totaling more than $17,000.
Of the two parts to being a juror, there’s no doubt which was the harder: what we did last Thursday and Friday. I never imagined that something so fun—strolling the arts festival booths—could make me so neurotic.
We reported to the arts festival offices on Allen Street, right in the thick of the festival route, on Thursday at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the artists would be opening their booths for the first time. Pam Lautsch ’81, ’88g, who chairs the sidewalk sale, and Anni Matsick, who’s in charge of the jurying (both are volunteers), issued us clipboards with score sheets listing the artists by location—one sheet for Pollock Road booths, one for the Old Main Mall, one for Allen Street, and so on.
We also met our escorts: Each of the jurors would be accompanied by a volunteer who would serve as a guide (helpful especially to the jurors who aren’t from around here), who would paste a sticker with our name on it on each booth to prove we’d been there, and who could extricate us if an artist was getting a little too chatty and keeping us from staying on schedule.
Staying on schedule: That was what made me so crazy. The goal was to get to all 300 booths by 5 p.m. Thursday, and, well, let’s just say I failed in spectacular fashion. I loved looking at the art, I loved talking to the artists, I loved bumping into and gabbing with other festival-goers whom I hadn’t seen in years. I loved taking a lunch break with a steak sandwich and lemonade from one of the food booths. I did not keep track of the time.
My escort, Martha Carothers ’77, kept trying to get me to pick up the pace (“Let’s see if we can do the rest of this block in a half hour”), but somehow I just couldn’t do it. By 5 p.m., after seven hours of looking at jewelry and paintings and mixed media and photography and ceramics, I had done only about two-thirds of the booths. I still had 100 booths on Pollock Road and the Old Main Mall to cover. Martha was willing to stick around a little past 5, but I didn’t feel right about taking any more of her time, and besides, my feet were killing me.
That meant that on Friday I’d have exactly three hours to cover the remaining booths, so that I could turn in my score sheets in by the 1 p.m. deadline. I lay in bed Thursday night and did the math: three hours is 180 minutes, and 180 minutes divided by 100 booths is one minute and 48 seconds per booth. And that’s assuming I need no bathroom breaks and don’t run into anyone I know.
At Pam Lautsch’s suggestion, I actually showed up on the Old Main Mall around 9:20 on Friday morning, and was able to catch a number of artists as they were setting up their booths for the day. That head start helped a lot. I also adopted a much more businesslike approach. I worked hard to muzzle myself around the artists and stop saying things like, “Oh, you’re from Pittsburgh—what part of Pittsburgh?” or “Did you take that photo at Greenmount Cemetery, by chance?” or “Hey, I think my brother-in-law bought one of your hats here a few years ago.” Instead, I’d just introduce myself as one of the jurors, spend a little time looking at their wares, then say something like, “Your work is terrific—thanks for letting me have a look,” before scooting off to the next booth.
And it worked. I turned in my scores by 12:50 p.m.—ten minutes ahead of the deadline.
Next year, I’m back to being just a civilian. I can stroll some of the booths, or all, or none. I can stop and buy a funnel cake if I want, or sit down on a bench on Allen Street listen to some live music. I can spend a half hour watching the sand sculptor do his work. I can go check out the Italian Street Painting. But I’m glad for the chance I had to play a role in this year’s festival, and the chance to experience the art and the artists in a way I never had before.
Tina Hay, editor
There was a time, back in the early 1980s, when you could see the band Cartoon play somewhere in the State College area at least once a week. I remember seeing them at the Saloon, in the Hippo Room at the Deli, and at a now-defunct bar called Rego’s, among other places. Or you could hear them live on QWK Rock on Sunday nights—I remember taping some of those shows from the radio, and I still have those cassettes somewhere in my music collection.
It’s been 31 years since Cartoon formed as a band (they were Menagerie at first, but I think they learned that the name was already taken, so they had to find a new name). And it’s probably been 25 years since they broke up. The members—Glenn Kidder ’73, Kevin Dremel ’81, Randy Hughes ’79, and Jon Rounds ’87, ’94g—graduated, got married, took jobs elsewhere. But once a year, they (more…)
I’m listening right now to a new recording from the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers, a CD released just in time for the group’s annual performance at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
The group is, as its name would suggest, a group of Penn State alumni who sang in Essence of Joy when they were students. (It’s actually an officially chartered alumni interest group, or AIG, of the Alumni Association.)
Like Essence of Joy, the Alumni Singers have a repertoire that includes “sacred and secular music from the African and African-American tradition.” The song that’s playing for me in iTunes right now, for example, (more…)
I don’t know about you, but when I pick up a program at an event and discover that one of the featured presentations is titled “Galactic Cannibalism,” I immediately plan the rest of the evening’s activities around, yes, “Galactic Cannibalism.”
And that did turn out to be one of the highlights of my Thursday night visit to AstroFest, the annual celebration of astronomy that the Department of Astrophysics hosts every year during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. But it was just one of many. All of the students and researchers at AstroFest went out of their way to make sure all of us had a good time.
And it’s continuing Friday and Saturday nights, so if you’re in town for Arts Fest, you should stop by. Especially if you’ve got kids. (more…)
The Helmut’s Strudel booth is back in its traditional space on Allen Street, so clearly it’s Arts Fest Week. I love how the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts mixes the tried and true with the brand new, so I’ll be enjoying myself Saturday when I get some strudel for breakfast and then head up the street for the festival’s latest addition: BookFest. (more…)
The Arts Festival is next week, and in keeping with tradition, it’ll include a concert by Cartoon on Friday night (July 9) in Schwab Auditorium. This year, Cartoon will have a new CD ready for the concert—not bad for a bunch of guys who now are scattered throughout the East Coast, have jobs that mostly have nothing to do with music, and play together only once in a great while.
This past May, Glenn Kidder ’73, Kevin Dremel ’81, Randy Hughes ’79, and Jon Rounds ’87, ’94g got together in an old stone chapel in Keene, N.H.—Kevin’s hometown—to record the new CD. The recording is called The Chapel Sessions and I’m sure they’ll have copies available at their Arts Fest performance. You also can order it by going to the band’s website.
Now, who remembers hearing Cartoon perform at Rego’s in Heritage Oaks, or at the Hippo Room in the Deli back in the 1980s? You get extra-credit bonus points if you know what the group’s name was before they changed it to Cartoon.
Tina Hay, editor
Those of you who, like me, were in school at Penn State in the late 1970s–early 1980s will remember Cartoon as a fixture on the local music scene. The four original members are scattered throughout the East Coast now, but still get together every year for a concert at the arts festival. They played last night in Schwab Auditorium, and I got permission to shoot photos for the first 10 minutes of the show. You can see a slide show of 15 or so photos from last night here.
Tina Hay, editor
I took a walk down to Hiester Street late this morning to take a look at the Italian Street Painting project, which has been a part of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts since 1999 and which I have somehow never managed to check out. I figured it was about time.
It turns out to be pretty cool—though when I got there, the artists had been at it for a grand total of 90 minutes and, not surprisingly, didn’t have a lot to show for it yet. The artists work on these things all week long and usually don’t finish them until Saturday night or even Sunday. The first shot you see here, of a completed street painting, is from a past arts festival. (The photo is from the arts festival Web site and I’m guessing it was taken by Bob Baumbach.)
By the way, I’m assuming that this woman with the blue-and-gold head scarf is a replica of a famous painting? Does anyone happen to know the name of the work and the artist? Art history is not my long suit.
Anyway, by contrast, 90 minutes into the first day of the street painting, most of the works look more like this next shot. This is Penn State art education grad Abby Gleixner Cramer ’06, and as you can see, she’s just getting started.
Abby has been involved with the street painting festival since its inception—except for one year when she was studying art in Italy. While most of the artists in the project get 6-foot-by-4-foot chunks of pavement to work with, Abby has a much bigger “canvas,” as it were, to work with. I didn’t catch the actual dimensions, but suffice it to say that she’s got one of the two showcase spots.
She’s painting—in chalk—a replica of N.J. Wyeth’s 1933 painting “William Penn: Man of Vision, Courage, Action,” and she told me she’ll spend 10 hours a day on it from now through Saturday.
I’m looking forward to going back later in the week to see the finished products. Between now and then I need to scheme a way to get up onto the second floor of one of the nearby buildings (does the Deli have a roof, I wonder?) to get some shots from above.
Tina Hay, editor
I had a chance yesterday to be on-site with my camera when one of the three Seward Johnson sculptures was set up for the arts festival. Here’s a photo of the one called God Bless America (based on Grant Wood’s American Gothic) getting unloaded from the fork lift:
Here’s a close-up of the sculpture—these things are done in cast-bronze, and the details are amazingly realistic (click on any of these to see larger):
And here’s a shot of some passers-by checking out one of the other sculptures, called Holding Out, on the plaza outside Willard Building:
You can see a slide show of 15 or so images of the arts festival sculptures here. There’s a third one, called My World, on the plaza outside the State College Municipal Building, but I haven’t had a chance to get shots of that yet.
By the way, when I was shooting photos of the sculptures, a woman who happened to pass by mentioned to me that Seward Johnson has set up a public sculpture park called “Grounds for Sculpture” in Hamilton, N.J., where you can see lots of public art like this—not just by Johnson himself but works by other artists as well.
Tina Hay, editor