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Shadyside Arts Festival continues to excite, delight

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 6:44 p.m.

Artists often find inspiration from their surroundings.

Brett Mason found his while riding a bike.

Julie Keaten-Reed discovered hers after a journey to Japan.

Alexis Barbeau went under the sea to come up with hers.

Husband and wife Dusty and Val Scott ascended Mt. Washington to reach theirs.

Experience the result of these various creative stimuli on Aug. 24 and 25 at the 16th annual Shadyside Arts Festival.

“The festival welcomes artists who have created some amazing items,” says Tori Mistick, director of the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce. “It brings an excitement to Shadyside every summer. This event attracts art lovers from all over the region, year after year, to see all the beautiful pieces. There is such a passionate artist community in Shadyside, and this festival is an extension of it. You never know what you might find.”

The unknown is what entices shoppers, the artists say. They design products you don't see every day and that you most likely can't find in a store.

Prices range from a $25 pair of hand-designed earrings all the way up to $50,000 metal sculptures. There will be 200 artists from 30 states for the two-day juried festival, which features paintings, sculptures, photography, glass, wood, jewelry, collage, and ceramics.

Artists are hand selected by an independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants.

Julie Keaten-Reed of central Florida has been a vendor for several years.

“Shadyside is such a cute neighborhood,” Keaten-Reed says. “Everyone who comes by loves and appreciates and understands you can't buy these items in a Target. And you get to meet the person who made the item. There is so much high-tech in the world that this is a place to have a real connection between the product and the buyer.”

Keaten-Reed (www.juliekeatenreed.com) found herself deeply moved by the art and lifestyle of the Japanese. So she decided to blend techniques of Asian art aesthetic and Western art heritage in her paintings. She merges finger drawing with Japanese brushworks and looks to dramatic landscapes, serene still-life studies, quirky animals and expressive abstractions, which she will showcase.

“I love being a part of this show because the quality of the work is high, and there is no bad location,” she says. “Each show I do has its own vibe, and this neighborhood setting is just perfect.”

Waiting for that perfect shot has drawn Burgettstown couple Dusty and Val Scott (www.dustyblues.com) to sit in the early morning hours atop Mt. Washington. Their landscape photographs are on display in corporate and private collections around the world, including Japan, France, Poland, Spain, England, Brazil, Hong Kong, Canada and throughout the United States.

They enjoy shooting Pittsburgh scenes and will wait for a long time to get the perfect shot. The glow of city lights can make for an incredible photo, Dusty Scott says.

“Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to photograph,” he says. “And when you get cooperation from Mother Nature, it can create the perfect setting. It's worth waiting for the shot. And sometimes you get lucky.”

Riding his bike around the city helped Brett Mason of Beechview (www.brettmasonpaintings.com) find work creating watercolor paintings based on interesting architecture and minimalist nature scenes.

He would search out historic houses and approach residents to see if they would be interested in a piece of artwork depicting their home.

“I go where inspiration leads while trying to remain grounded to the positive energy,” he says.

Mason started with oil painting in college but discovered watercolors years down the road. He works in both mediums.

“I don't care too much of what I'm painting, but focus rather on the general atmosphere and effects of light,” he says. “Sometimes, it's just the simple things that catch your eye. It might be the composition. It might be the way the light hits it.”

Or it might just be something fascinating that's under water. That's where former scuba-diver-teacher-turned-artist Alexis Barbeau (www.seametal.com) of Boca Raton, Fla., finds inspiration. Her jewelry collection began as pieces shaped like turtles and fish and has since evolved into designs including sea grass and coral. She brings each piece to life with precious metals, precious stones and pearls. A portion of her sales is donated to the Ocean Conservancy and other conservation groups.

“Pittsburgh really appreciates and supports the arts,” Barbeau says. “Other shows are more like carnivals, with all the food and games, but this one is a true art show. I have developed a clientele over the years attending this show. It is also beneficial having it in an area with lots of wonderful stores and boutiques. The arts festival adds to the overall shopping experience in Shadyside.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com.

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