Shadyside welcomes annual art festival

Photo by Bridget Seelinger Glass sculptures from Barron Glass Design, based in Arda Michigan, were among the many exhibits on display at the festival.

By: Bridget Seelinger | Duquesne Duke

This past weekend,in Shadyside, some of best artists in America converged on a single street to sell and to show the result of their creative genius. Known as “The Art Festival on Walnut Street”, this festival features hundreds of exhibitors from across the nation, each presenting the product of their unique gifts and talents.

In a first booth, one can view and touch an ancient stone known as Moldavite, the result of an asteroid’s impact with Earth’s surface, cut to perfection and radiating gentle warm energy pulsating from the gem’s impeccable surface. In a second booth, one can view sweeping landscapes, painted with soft acrylic paints on long stretches of canvas. And in a booth farther down, one can watch a fish’s mouth open and close as water spills down its metal surface into a bronze rimmed pool below it, only to be taken up again by the fish’s fins.

The Art Festival on Walnut has all of this and more as art enthusiasts packed the street underneath the hot and humid sun with temperatures climbing to the mid-90s in the late afternoon. Despite the heat, the sound of musicians’ instruments could be heard as they practiced their own art form for the enjoyment of the browsing enthusiasts. On nearly every corner, vendors sold ice-cold lemonade, and it was not unusual to see a cup in nearly every patron’s hand. The artists themselves hid in the shade until an eager soul approached their booths whether they were selling glass art, leather purses and belts, wood carvings, or digital art.

For Helma Mezey, the artist behind Retrose, a business that specializes in wire mesh jewelry featuring roses, the festival is a highlight of the year regardless of the weather.

“I’ve been going to art festivals for over 15 years, and this one for five or six years and Pittsburgh is one of my favorite cities,” she says. “Pittsburgh is just such a great city. I love the feel of the place and the fantastic art culture here.”

Pittsburgh local Katie Koenig presented her paintings for the first time at the 19th annual festival
Pittsburgh local Katie Koenig presented her paintings for the first time at the 19th annual festival

Katie Koenig from the South Hills, who grew up coming to the festival, was especially excited because this was the first year she was selected to exhibit her acrylic paintings.

“I’ve always wanted to show my art here, ever since I was little and it’s really competitive to get in,” Koenig said. “I’m just so happy to be here.”

The event company that sponsors the event, Howard Alan Events Ltd, carefully selects the artists that are allowed to exhibit their art each year through a jury process that involves the submission of an online application and professional photos of the art that the artists intend to show. According to the artists and the event company itself, exhibiting at the Art Festival on Walnut is competitive and it is an honor to be selected. The new online application program known as Zapplication has also made it easier for artists to submit their work.

According to the veteran-artist Menzey, the new online process has made things more efficient and easier than how it was in the past. “We had to worry about email and paper, but this is a lot better,” she says.

Howard Alan Events Ltd does still provide the option for artists to submit their art the old way and they provide ready assistance for those who need assistance with Zapplication.

Noelle Davis, a senior at Duquesne, wasn’t expecting to run across the arts festival, but was still amazed by all of the products on display.

“This is a really cool event and something fun to do on a Saturday,” Davis said. “There is just so much to see. If I’m still in Pittsburgh, I hope to come to this next year.”