Niagara Gazette — Each Lewiston Art Festival, a crowd gathers as students from area high schools turn a part of Center Street into colorful, chalk canvases.
This year was no different, as Sixth and Center streets were transformed. Paying attention to the theme of nature, Lewiston-Porter, Niagara Falls, Mount St. Mary’s Academy and West Seneca West students brought images of trees, fire, animals and even some waterfalls to life under people’s feet.
Each stood out, but one in particular, by Lew-Port senior Megan Rogers and juniors Brenna Donovan and Taylor Aversa, captured plenty of attention with contrasting colors as Mother Nature breathing fire and chilled wind over a scene. But the most powerful aspect of it comes in a risk they took creatively, breaking down the borders of what space they were given.
“The theme is forces of nature,” Rogers said, half an hour before the competition completed. “So we thought of Mother Nature. She’s exceeding the borders, which represents how the power can’t be contained.”
It was a risk none of the other teams took, which paid off in voting for the people’s choice award, a category the piece was in strong contention to win Saturday afternoon.
The piece was rehearsed in school earlier this year, so it wasn’t spur of the moment, they said. But there were some challenges. They needed to find a way to take the drawing they’d made, which was done on a much smaller landscape, and convert it into something worthy of the space afforded them.
They spent about four hours at work making it almost leap off the blacktop of South Sixth Street, where they were assigned.
Sidewalk art wasn’t the only natural beauty on display at the festival, though. Several artists, as every year brings, set up shop along Center Street between Eighth and Fourth streets.
The event continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and showcases more than 175 professional and student artists from 13 states as far away as Alaska, Florida and Texas. But only one of those artists, Kathleen Giles, a professional watercolorist out of Gasport, could claim this year’s Best in Show.
Her painting of flowers, which she said she took from a photograph, isn’t this year’s best entry because of it’s nature theme, though. Instead, it’s the contrast between light and shadow which she tries to capture.
“I look for things that have a strong, intense light,” she said. “That have well defined shadows. It’s usually those two that end up catching my eye.”
It’s been a year of success for her watercolor, too. In addition to Best in Show Saturday, she was also awarded the prize of the Allentown festival this past June. And her painting, taken from a photograph she took of a flower arrangement, is also set to be featured in the upcoming edition of International Artists Magazine, as it attempts to win another recognition, this time in the Best Floral competition.
For about two weeks of work, the results have left her thrilled, she said.
“It’s hard to win awards for flowers,” she said. “So I’m really excited. I love painting. I’m very passionate about it.”
While not a painter, Pendleton resident and St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute senior Joshua Fraass knew he wanted to get into the festival. Fraass, who uses old maps and picture frames or anything he can get his hands on to make new pieces, took a shot at getting into College Row, a space usually reserved for college and university students looking to make a name for themselves.
When decision time came, he found out he was accepted, despite not being a college student, and he showed up with a collection of his best pieces, which combined wood frames with chalk or cork boards, maps and other papers folded into centerpiece arrangements and multiple other crafted knick-knacks.
“It’s called upcycling,” he said, playing on the theme of recycled items, which he uses. “Why would someone buy something new when they can have something old and it’s better?”
The Niagara Gazette was one of several organizations recognized by the Lewiston Council on the Arts during a special luncheon Saturday to kick off the festival’s 47th year. The council presented several entities, such as the Town and Village of Lewiston governments, Art Services Initiative of Western New York, Modern Corp and others, a special plaque featuring the logo of this year’s show.
Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.