By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Six blocks of art, an “open air” artists’ event and more workshops and exhibits than one could shake a paint brush at: It’s time for everyone’s favorite spring fling, Lewisburg’s 32nd annual Celebration of the Arts, which kicks off today and runs through May 10.
Nature has a hand in this year’s event, said Sara Kelley, a celebration planning team member, and can be found everywhere Saturday from the artists’ wares on sale to assorted entertainment to this year’s featured artist, John Sterling. He’s a furniture maker who works with the wood, flaws and all, to create naturally beautiful, unique pieces, some with Asian influences. Sterling’s work will be featured all festival long at Faustina’s Gallery, 229 Market St.
Also on display for the duration are two exhibits that start the celebration from 7 to 9 p.m. today. The Packwood House Museum hosts an indoor art show featuring two-dimensional works and offerings from both pros and amateurs; next door at First Presbyterian Church at 18 market St. is a photography display in the first-floor parlor, also with works by pros and amateurs that are especially worth a look.
“There are some wonderful photographic eyes here in the Valley,” said Kelley, who was busy hanging photos Wednesday for that exhibit. “It was a great treat and fun to hang, the work is really beautiful.”
Taking in nature is a large part of a new feature to the festival, the First Plein Air event on Sunday, sponsored by the Merrill Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy, the Lewisburg Arts Council and the Artists Guild of Lewisburg.
“En plein air” is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and this free event welcomes artists of all ages and levels to set up their easels at one of four conservancy conservation easement properties: the Dale-Engle-Walker property in Union County, Dick and Donna Constant’s Hermit Hollow property in Snyder County, the Montandon wetlands in northern Northumberland County and Glacier Pools Preserve in Lycoming County.
The sites will be open to artists from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and noted painter Alice Kelsey will hold an optional plein air workshop beginning at 9 a.m. at the Dale-Engle-Walker House.
Saturday, of course, turns downtown Lewisburg into one big artists’ colony, with nearly 150 artists set up to sell their wares on Market Street between Front and Seventh streets with a special children’s interactive art place in Soldiers Memorial Park. This has everything: jewelry, sculptures, clothing, glass and metal pieces, woodwork, all the usual and unusual festival patrons have come to know and love about the event.
There is always entertainment when you need a break from art, and in keeping nature in the mix, this year welcomes Cheri Heimbach and Baywings Falconry, of Lewisburg, bringing the “art of nature” to the event, Kelley said. And for something completely different, check out the five-member Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble, whose repertoire includes original tunes to jazz, swing and bluegrass.
Remember parking will be tight on Saturday. Kelley advises everyone who can to leave their cars and use the free daylong shuttle, which stages at the north Weis Markets parking lot on Route 15.
For event times, a list of performers and artists, a downloadable festival map, shuttle and other information, visit the website at www.lewisburgartscouncil.com.