DIYnspiration: Backyard Bounty
Inaugural Arts Festival spotlights indie artists
My view of the inaugural Arts on the Square was seen through vendor’s blinders. But even from within the confines of the 10 x 10 from which I sold a decent number of handmade and vintage baubles and original artwork as SubVerse Aphrodesia, I was able to note the steady stream of people the festival drew to Lackawanna County’s Courthouse Square. Beyond what I like to call “the usual suspects,” regularly seen in the art department of our Electric City campus (you know who you/they are), the promise of life in downtown Scranton on a Saturday afternoon was a siren luring a refreshingly diverse crowd. Festival attendees were of all ages, lifestyles, and socio-economic groups. Some were there for the live music and performances, or to people-watch, others to shake hands or to shop and snack. Some were inspired to leave their own creative mark on the day whether by community mural, poetry, or sidewalk chalk. My kind helpers (thanks Stacy & Caroline!) relieved me long enough to run around the square in search of specialness and surprise.
Best Finds at Arts on the Square:
1. The thing I almost bought. All of the bonsais by Sue and Bob Crane of 2 Cranes (575-9408 or BC18505@comcast.net.) I had made the vendor’s vow* not to spend all my earnings buying all the cool things everyone else had for sale, but I almost broke it and raided the bank bag for $15 to take home the mistletoe fig in compromise for the more expensive kumquat that I really wanted.
2. Tutus are magic. Few garments are happier than tutus and we are all fortunate for the trend that’s brought these little tufts of whimsy out of the ballet and into the mundane-stream. There were at least two different vendors — Posh Little Girls and Chic Somethings Boutique (both on Etsy.com) — offering tutus as well as other festive adornments for little girls. (I personally welcome anyone — adult, boy, dog, etc. — to the tutu table.)
3. REAL Russian Matroyshkas. These ethnic nesting dolls have picked up a lot of trend stream in the past couple of years. How fortunate we in NEPA are to have the option to buy beyond the made in China jewelry imports but real matryoshkas painted by a real Ukrainian artist — Igor Kulagin — who just so happened to make a home in Scranton with his Scranton-born wife, after leaving Moscow, Russia where he had worked as an artist, carpenter, and decorator for 25 years. Call 604-2543 or email email@example.com for more information.
4. Abstract Art To Go. We’ve been admiring the gorgeous abstract paintings of Koval Grippo since well before the last biennial regional show that keenly awarded the artist a solo exhibition. They are, sadly, a little out of that elusive aforementioned budget, but … $10 earrings and $15 pendants bearing the same beautiful artistry— OMG! Visit Debra Koval Designs at Etsy.com to find fancier (and more expensive) version of the wearable jewelry art the artist offered for sale at AOTS or www.kovalgrippo.com.
5. Locally Grown Organic Produce is Art, Too. I love the idea that someday we might not be able to cross town without tripping over freshly harvested vegetables, herbs and flowers for sale. The blueberries — at two different stands (Barn Chicks Brand Organics) — were especially seductive.
6. One of a Kind. We’ve been admiring Verve Vertu’s batik contributions for several years now, but the bracelets they were selling on Saturday were new to our eyes. I hope you bought a bunch because The Deutsch Institute (deutschinstitute.org) program pieces were created with love by artisans with disabilities and special needs.
7. Real Retrogram. John Ingiamo is up to fresh work with old cameras. You can see some of the results on his Facebook page at john.ingiaimo. Forget “can” you “should.”
8. Out of a Fairy Tale. Bachestinks of Honesdale is the perfect poster child for handmade artistry. Not only does Rachel herself look like a young Andie MacDowell stepped out of some quaint romantic comedy, the things she sews — aprons and shopping bags and the cutest little sewing tomatoes ever — out of scraps of vintage fabrics and commercial sacks, etc. are a dream.
9. The things people do with chalk! The Pop Up Studio (www.thepopupstudio.org) passed out packs of chalk and “Creativity Cards” with inspirational prompts to stupendous results. As the day drew to a close, we saw the community spread across the sidewalk in a pastel rainbow of words and symbols.
*Is making things fun? Yes. It is also work. And I’m sure if you polled the artists participating in AOTS you’d be hard pressed to find any one who had done all that work just for kicks. Sure it’s nice to keep one’s hands busy, and I personally love having something to do beyond the day job that does not involve a glowing rectangle, but most artisans are working to supplement their family’s income. This the modern American Dream – a little something on the side that helps us to make ends meet and sleep through the night without waking up in a cold anxious sweat and sadly rational fear of bill collectors.