Shadyside’s A Fair in the Park is a 50-year affair for artists
The Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh will celebrate a half-century of talented artists who have showcased their work over the years during the 50th anniversary of A Fair in the Park.
The annual event, being held Sept. 6-8 in Shadyside’s Mellon Park, will feature a special booth titled, “A Retrospective: An Artist Looks Back,” with old and new pieces created by Craftsmen’s Guild members who have retired from showing at the fair.
“Some of the artists will spend time at the booth meeting with attendees and discussing their experiences as working artists in the region,” says Karen McKee of Plum, guild president. “We are looking forward to engaging with additional Pittsburgh Craftsmen’s Guild members in this fashion.”
Fair Director Carrie Nardini says the event has grown significantly since it began in 1969, when organizers first created the precursor to the current event, the Craftsmen’s Guild Craft Show, held at Allegheny Center on the North Side.
‘A fine arts affair’
When the show moved to its current home in Mellon Park, its name changed to reflect its new image as “a fine arts affair for the artist community” to show and sell their work.
“When spoken aloud, A Fair in the Park can be interpreted as an ‘affair in the park,’ creating a mysterious allure that the original show organizers wanted to portray,” Nardini says.
Works by nearly 100 regional and national artists will be featured this year, in a variety of mediums including clay, fiber, wood, jewelry, glass, metal, mixed media and two-dimensional art.
An estimated 20,000 visitors are expected to attend the three-day fair.
For Tim Roth of Greensburg, A Fair in the Park is an opportunity to meet new people and share his talents in both pottery and chair-caning.
“Sometimes when people see my work at a festival, they ask if I could help with repairing their cane chair,” he says. “The chair caning that I learned as a child prompted my mixing the pottery and cane media. The different materials that I use to fix chairs continue to make their way back into my pottery.”
Laurie Leonard of Jeannette creates jewelry pieces that are miniature reproductions of her watercolor paintings. She says she recently started working with sterling silver to add a higher end to her jewelry line.
“I wanted to offer one-of-a-kind pieces that also feature semi-precious gemstones to compliment my artwork in each piece,” she says.
Variety of arts and crafts
Some other local exhibitors include:
• Mark Mooney of New Kensington, who makes fine furniture, picture frames and framed mirrors and tiles in the Arts and Crafts style. He is co-founder of Ginkgo Studios with his wife Kathleen Allen, a potter. This is his ninth year at A Fair in the Park.
• Mitzi Frye-Hall of Irwin, a mosaic artist who applies stained glass, china, vintage jewelry and found objects onto ordinary objects, transforming them into works of art. She specializes in creating mosaics on guitars, violins and other string instruments. Her other pieces include mannequins, shoes and wall art. This is her eighth year at A Fair in the Park.
• Robert Bishop of New Kensington (Robert’s Woodworking Studio), who uses various domestic and exotic hardwoods to create pieces such as keepsake boxes that incorporate wood with an interesting grain pattern or that is highly figured. He applies multiple coats of an oil-varnish blend to accentuate the natural patterns of the wood.
• Connie Blair of West Newton, who taught art in Kiski Area School District for 33 years before starting her business, Tender Blossoms, to dry and frame wedding bouquets. She discovered a passion for felting and has combined her love of flowers in her work. This will be her second year at A Fair in the Park.
Projects for kids
The fair also will feature hands-on activities and a Kids’ Area with interactive projects provided by artists and community organizations.
Wood Turners Anonymous and the Pittsburgh Glass Center will be holding glass-blowing demonstrations. Mobile kitchens and food trucks will sell lunch and dinner fare.
Live entertainment on two stages will include Calliope Folk Art, Olga Watkins Band, RML Jazz, Matt Miskie, Bruce Molyneaux, Mark Passaro, Matt Barranti, Gashouse Annie, Pitt Fest Opera and Jenny Wilson.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.