Night & Day — There are very few artists who can say they were exhibitors at the first Lewiston Art Festival 47 years ago.
But Ron Becker, now 61, was there, and he’s also going to be at this weekend’s festival on Saturday and Sunday.
Becker, a former Lewiston resident, who graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School in 1970, obviously started young. He was only about 13 when he showed his paintings at the first festival on Center Street, when vendors set up on the grass adjacent to the sidewalks rather than in the closed off streets as they have done for many years.
“For a ninth-grader I did pretty good,” he said recently in a phone interview from his home on Long Island. “I sold a couple of paintings.”
He credits growing up in Lewiston, in a house built upon an apple orchard, for the way nature has since influenced his work. “Growing up in Lewiston definitely gave me a love of nature and the beauty around us,” he said.
Although his life took a circuitous route which led him into dancing, acting and years as a therapeutic recreational director, he returned to his art several years ago when he began a class to teach senior citizens how to paint.
He came home to Lewiston for last year’s Art Festival, and was delighted by the growth of the festival, as well as all the people that remembered him and his parents, Arnie and Nel Becker. Arnie, a building inspector, and owner of a marina, was also a local entertainer.
Ron is hoping to see more friends and family at this year’s festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and says that compared to other outdoor art shows he’s entered lately, Lewiston’s is at the top of the list.
Those sentiments are echoed by the Bi-National Niagara Tourism Alliance, who named the festival a “Summer Festival Showcase Event,” as well as by Journey Magazine who named it a “Top 100 Attractions Along the Seaway Trail.
This weekend’s event will showcase more than 175 professional and student artists from 13 states as far away as Alaska, Florida and Texas. Artists will compete for prize money in 8 categories; painting, photography, graphic arts, sculpture, artistic crafts (ceramics, wood, fiber, glass) and jewelry. Modern Corporation co-sponsors the “Modern Art Awards” totaling more than $5,000.
On Saturday, student artists representing schools from across the region will converge in the KeyBank parking lot for the KeyBank Chalk Walk Competition. Teams will compete for “Arts Are Key” awards, sponsored by KeyBank. Attendees will choose the “People’s Choice Award at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
College Alley will feature the work of high school and college students on North and South 5th Streets and provide them with an opportunity to gain exhibiting experience without adhering to the more stringent requirements for the professional artists.
In a special “Go Green” collaboration with Lewiston Council on the Arts and Modern Recycling, summer art campers at Artpark transformed recycling carts into colorful design objects. The public will vote to determine the top 3 designs with proceeds going to a local environmental organization chosen by the student artists.
In an effort to decrease the environmental impact of the festival, organizers are recycling and composting throughout the event. Food vendors on the street, as well as village businesses, will be encouraged to use compostable service ware.
To emphasize the theme of recycling and reuse, the Modern ArtZone, a free hands-on art activity area, will focus on creating art from discarded materials from noon to 4 p.m. both days of the festival.
Sunnking, Inc. and electronics recycling and data destruction company, has donated various recycled elements for the activity and will also showcase a robot they created from 100 percent recycled electronics.
The information booth at 5th and Center streets will sell this year’sart festival t-shirt, designed with a mandala by featured artist Brett Miley.
IF YOU GO: • WHAT: The 47th annual Lewiston Art Festival • WHERE: Center Street, between 4th and 8th streets, in Lewiston • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday • CONTACT: For more information visit www.artcouncil.org