During the weekend of July 28 to 30, well over 100 artists and artisans will display their work on downtown streets, in booths on and around Columbus Circle.
Most will do so under the aegis of the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival, coordinated by the Downtown Committee of Syracuse and now in its 52nd season.
The festival, a juried show, features 138 artists and crafters who come from Central New York and from around the country. They work in varied media: paintings and clothing, ceramics and glass, photography and wood.
Viewers will encounter Steven Sadvary’s mosaics; wall paintings by Pratibha Sane who’s influenced by folk-art traditions from Northern India; acrylics by Sharon DelConte. Many of her paintings feature imagery of animals; indeed, her pieces include “Buffalo Planet” and “Octopus on the Rocks.”
Sculptor Larry Angello has made recycling an integral part of his creative process. He works with broken and abandoned antiques and vintage objects, gathering elements that are reassembled into new artworks.
With a large show like the Arts and Crafts Festival, a contrast in styles is inevitable. Mia Sohn, for example, practices the ancient art of pysanky. She does wax-resist processing on egg shells, generating intricate symbols and patterns.
Glen Klein, meanwhile, specializes in a contemporary technique, digital manipulation of photos to create surreal pieces. One work depicts the downtown of Danville, Pennsylvania, a small community. In his version, cows ramble through downtown, and pasture has supplanted asphalt.
There’s also an array of ceramics created by artists such as Jamie Noce, who works in porcelain and stoneware, and Peter Valenti whose pieces include raku wall tiles and functional pottery.
A variety of photos are on display: Robert Schnitman’s landscapes, portraits and other work by Heidi Welch, Steve Pearlman’s urban landscapes. In one photo, taken at Times Square at rush hour, images of taxis are reflected onto billboards. Pearlman’s interested in a different perspective on ordinary scenes, in finding patterns, shapes and lines that typically escape passers-by.
And wearable items will appear in several booths. Tanya Zabinski will show her Planet Earth line of hand-printed clothing, while Frank Westfall, the long-time proprietor of Middle Earth Leather Works in Syracuse, will present vests and jackets. He also sells messenger bags and totes.
In addition to the arts and crafts displays, musicians and dancers will perform. This is an eclectic group including Jozette Borrmann, who does hoop dances; bagpiper Jack Heins, also known as Piper Jack; Solanum, performing Celtic music; and the Syracuse troupe, La Joven Guardia del Teatro Latino. They do Latin dance.
During the weekend, other groups will display artworks downtown. They don’t compete with the festival. Rather, they complement it.
In the 300 block of Montgomery Street, an arts collective hosts a show devoted to local artists and crafters. As in the past, the portfolio is wide-ranging. It encompasses ceramics by Marcus Acevedo, Nancy Sutton’s glassworks, jewelry by Michelle DaRin and Judy Lieblein, and Caroline Tauxe’s fabric collages and other textiles. Other exhibitors include Ken Nichols, a potter, and Isaac Bidwell, an illustrator and creator of the comic “Pickled Punks.”
There are also booths occupied by the Syracuse Peace Council, the Syracuse Cultural Workers, and Boom Babies, the Westcott Street shop.
David McKenney and Charlie Sam, co-coordinators for the arts collective, indicate that the annual show continues a tradition begun by its founder and long-time coordinator, Alberta Pepin, and her collaborator, Walt Shepperd of the Media Unit. Both of them have passed from the earth.
The collective receives set-up fees from artists and then asks them for donations when the show is completed. The funds are then distributed to arts programs for local youth. Sam notes that proceeds for 2022 went to the Westcott Community Center, La Casita Cultural Center, the YMCA and other organizations.
In addition, the Onondaga Historical Association, at 321 Montgomery St., is providing space for Native American crafters to display their creations. That takes place in the OHA gift shop. Beyond that, ongoing OHA exhibits are open to the public. “Syracuse: City Life in Watercolors” presents works by Dan Shanahan, Bill Elkins and Dudley Breed Jr.
Across the street, in front of the YMCA, the Downtown Writers Center has scheduled a book sale and appearances by several writers.
Finally, the Everson Museum has set up a hands-on activity connected to Frank Buffalo Hyde’s exhibition at the Everson. Museum staff will assist people in making three-dimensional pieces. That takes place in the 300 block of East Onondaga Street.
The Arts and Crafts Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 28 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 29 and 30.
Carl Mellor covered visual arts for the Syracuse New Times from 1994 to 2019. He continues to write about artists and exhibitions in the Syracuse area.