Lewiston’s Art Festival returns for the 56th year | local news

Lewiston’s annual arts festival returns for the 56th time this weekend, with the number of artists performing promising to return to pre-pandemic levels.

It runs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and focuses primarily on the intersection of 5th Street and Center Street.

After the 2020 festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned in 2021 on a limited basis in 2021 due to not accepting as many artists and being more spread out around the village.

“This year we’re pretty much back to where we were before the pandemic,” said Irene Rykaszewski, executive director of the Lewiston Council on the Arts. “There was a lot of interest from some artists who are doing some other festivals in the area.”

More than 160 professional and student artists from nine different states and Canada plan to exhibit more than 20,000 original works of art. Most are from western New York, but quite a few are from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

“We have a few artists from Florida,” Rykaszewski said. “In winter they do the show tours in the south. Then when the weather gets nice up here, they come here and do the arts festival.”

About 15 of these artists are students attending College Alley, where they bring in whatever art they wish to bring with them. It gives them the opportunity to show their artwork alongside professional artists without having to meet such strict admission requirements.

“Some of the students at College Alley have had such a good experience of a professional show and learn so much from the artists that surround them that they graduate from college and come back as professional artists,” said Artistic Director Eva Nicklas.

Also performing on Saturday will be two teams of high school students from Niagara Falls and Lewiston-Porter creating murals during the Chalk Walk Invitational.

At the intersection of Center Street and 5th Street, chalk artist Anthony Cappetto will use 4D augmented reality and virtual reality technology to enhance a 3D chalk mural to create a unique street viewing experience.

The Hennepin Park Gazebo will be transformed into an Iroquois market where 14 artists and artisans will sell Native American beads, leather, paintings and other traditional and contemporary art.

“It’s becoming increasingly popular with our Native American neighbors where we’ve had to expand outside of the pavilion because we have too many handymen,” Nicklas said.

Free family activities at the festival include street performers, buskers, a stilt walker, henna tattoos, face painters, caricaturists and hair braiders.

Artpark, the Lewiston Library and Niagara University’s Castellani Art Museum will be participating in the festival, with the library’s contribution being described simply as “sharktastic”.

Artpark’s Free Family Saturday events will be broadcast onto the festival in a tented area. It features a 3:00 p.m. performance by the Pennsylvania-based Farm Art Collective called “The Scientists” about Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis.

Rykaszewski acknowledged that the arts in Lewiston are good for the local economy and the support they receive from the village, city and county shows that elected officials recognize the importance of supporting the arts.

“You come in for the festival and then start exploring the shops and have lunch or stay for dinner,” Rykaszewski said. “I know a lot of people have told me the festival was their introduction to Lewiston.”

“It really identified Lewiston,” Nicklas said. “You can go there all summer and there is always something going on. If you go to any restaurant on Center Street (during the arts festival), it’s packed.”

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