Artists Market Paints City with Color and Creativity

By Horan, Brianna | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Artists Market Paints City with Color and Creativity


Horan, Brianna, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The Three Rivers Arts Festival returns for its annual June engagement with the city, but it's moving away from its longtime location at Point State Park.

The festival of professional exhibits, the artists market, daily music, performance art, and booth after booth of food has moved right into Downtown, with the main staging areas along Stanwix Street.

The festival begins Friday with the opening of the markets and an evening performance by music headliner Robert Randolph.

And, one hopes, without the usual requisite rainstorm.

Artists of every media imaginable will blend with Pittsburghers to form the familiar but ever-changing collage of the Duquesne Light Artists Market. The work of more than 300 artists will splash One, Two and Three Gateway Center Plaza, Downtown, with color.

"The artists in the Artists Market are as diverse as their art. There are artists at different stages in their career, and there are artists from many different places," says Sonja Sweterlitsch, market coordinator. "While some of them have never done a show before, others have really made it their livelihood, and they come in their station wagons and their mobile homes and set up at the festival. It's really a way of life for them."

New artists will arrive at the market every week to sell their works during the festival. For the first time, collectors will have the chance to review the new artists' work each week before they debut at the market during an invitation-only guided tour each Friday of the festival. Before the tours, collectors can gather for a reception at Palomino's to sip Festival Fizz -- the signature cocktail created for the festival. Invitations can be requested by e- mailing Sweterlitsch at ssweterlitsch@artsfestival.net. Space is limited to 70 guests.

"One of the nice parts of the tour is the fact that we're calling out some of the best of the market. We're also getting a little bit of a connection with the artist," says Lindsay Clark, festival communications coordinator. "There's something about mediating between collectors and artists and helping people find what they're looking for and knowing that special something about the artists."

Sharing the story behind their work is important to the artists as well.

"The people that come to see me, it's like we're family now," says Mary Lois Verrilla, who has been at the market since 1973. Known for her watercolor portraits of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, Verrilla captured the "little neighborhood" of the Artists Market on last year's festival T-shirt.

Today's Arts Festival is "not anything like it was" when Verrilla first participated in the market in 1973, when it was a five-day festival of limited media and only two food booths, selling omelets and blintzes.

Glenshaw native Daniel Baxter, whose participation in the Artists Market as this year's Duquesne Light Emerging Artist will be his first at a major festival, has his own memories of the festival.

"I've been going there my whole life, and it's kind of been a life goal of mine to be in it," says Baxter, 26. …

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