Celebrating the Arts: It’s Fiesta time, local artists ready to show works
WILKES-BARRE — “You know how they say you should write what you know?” Michelle Thomas asked. “You should paint what you know, too.”
Thomas, 58, of Tunkhannock, took her own advice when she painted a “Family Tree,” one of several hundred pieces of artwork people can admire when they visit the Fine Arts Fiesta, set for May 18 through May 21 on Public Square.
The artist incorporated family photos into the mixed-media piece, which won a first-place award in the painting category, but she didn’t stop there. She also included old-time pictures of strangers.
“You come across these pictures, and it seemed so sad to me that they’re sitting in an antiques store and nobody wants them. They’re kind of orphans,” she said. “I kind of feel like I rescued them. I put them in a piece of art and now they’re preserved.”
Preservation is also a goal of artist Kristen Badeau-Hauptmann, 32, of Luzerne, who crafted a latex mask of a craggy-faced “Forest Guardian,” which garnered second place in the sculpture category.
“I am very much an environmentalist,” Badeau-Haupmann said. “I’ll go out in nature and ‘see’ these creatures in the wood or in the sky. To me, he symbolizes the beauty of nature and the strength that is needed to protect nature.
“I care so much about the trees and the bees.”
As visitors stroll around Public Square, they’ll find a wide variety of art under big tents.
Look closely at Paige Martin’s “Fin Soup” sculpture and you’ll see its fins are crafted from spoons.
“I cleaned out every flea market in a 10-mile radius and then I went to Family Dollar, where they were selling four spoons for $1,” Martin, 21, of Wilkes-Barre, said, adding she used 114 spoon handles in the piece.
Examine the robot sculpture designed by Robert Broghamer, of Forty Fort, and you’ll see it’s holding a smaller robot, which in turn is holding a dinosaur.
Admire the “Best in Show” watercolor by Frank Wengen, 61, of Lehman Township, and you’ll see the true-to-life way the artist rendered a portrait of a pig he noticed at The Lands at Hillside Farms.
“There’s so much realism in every little hair,” fiesta volunteer Gary Womelsdorf praised the piece, pointing to the animal’s back. “With the contrast of light and dark, you’ve got that positive/negative effect.”
This is the first year he entered any art into the Fiesta show, Wengen said, and he will have five pieces on display.
“It’s a nice outlet,” he said of the Fiesta, “and a nice place to see the work of other artists.”
The Fiesta also features live entertainment from dance groups to glee clubs to a jazz band to opera.
The Tri-Cities Opera presentation of “Hansel & Gretel,” set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, is dedicated to the memory of the late Jane Lampe Groh, whose late husband, Al Groh, had helped found the event.
“She really supported art in all its forms,” her nephew, Chris Miller of Lehman Township said. “My uncle worked night and day during the prime of the fiesta, and my Aunt Jane was his backbone.”
Another Fiesta highlight is the performance by headliner Tom Rush, set for 7 p.m. Saturday. Folk musician Rush is well-known for “his distinctive guitar style, wry humor and warm, expressive voice,” as fiesta executive director Brian Benedetti described him in a news release.
Food vendors will offer pizza, hot dogs, crab cakes, gyros, pita sandwiches, barbecued brisket and ribs, Caribbean delicacies, potato pancakes and more.
And, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, children will have an opportunity to take part in art projects, ranging from painting on easels to sculpting clay.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.
Fine Arts Fiesta
2017 Performing Arts Schedule
Thursday, May 18
10 a.m. Thursday, Wyoming Valley West High School Chorus
11 a.m. Thursday, Wyoming Valley West High School Orchestra
Noon Thursday, Fine Arts Fiesta Opening Ceremonies
12:30 p.m. Thursday, Wyoming Valley West Middle School Jazz Band
1:30 p.m. Thursday, Coughlin High School Jazz and Concert Band
2:30 p.m. Thursday, Wilkes-Barre Orchestra
3 p.m. Thursday, Holy Redeemer Royal Singers
4 p.m. Thursday, Wyoming Valley West High School Jazz Band
5 p.m. Thursday, Scott Edmunds Jazz Quintet
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Fine Arts Fiesta Awards Ceremony
7:15 p.m. Thursday, Perfect Harmony Center for the Arts
Friday, May 19
10 a.m. Friday, Wyoming Valley Middle School Orchestra
11 a.m. Friday, Wyoming Valley West Middle School Chorus
Noon Friday, Dallas Middle School Select Chorus
1 p.m. Friday, The Treble Makers
2 p.m. Friday, Anthony Natiello
4 p.m. Friday, Wilkes-Barre Academy Glee Club
5:15 p.m. Friday, Nitya Rhythm Dance Academy
6:30 p.m. Friday, Flaxy Morgan
Saturday, May 20
11 a.m. Saturday, Joan Harris Dance Center
Noon Saturday, YOUniversal Suzuki Strings
1 p.m. Saturday, The Mozart Club
2 p.m. Saturday, Dance Theater of Wilkes-Barre
3 p.m. Saturday, Rising Stars Performing Arts
4 p.m. Saturday, Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre
5 p.m. Saturday, Conservatory of Dance
7 p.m. Saturday, Tom Rush
Sunday, May 21
11 a.m. Sunday, The Poetry Society
Noon Sunday, NEPA Academy of Dancing
1:30 p.m. Sunday, Tri-Cities Opera (in memory of Jane Lampe Groh)
3:15 p.m. Sunday, Keystone Kids
4:15 p.m. Sunday, The I-tations - A Tribute to George Wesley