Neighborhoods unite for Shadyside arts festival
The days of the dueling summer arts festivals on Walnut Street and Ellsworth Avenue are over, and Shadyside is again at peace.
“The show’s got a very colorful history,” explains festival promoter Howard Alan. “All that’s over. There was a lot of publicity, controversy and confrontation. But they wanted the neighborhoods working together in Shadyside.”
Now, the Art Festival on Walnut Street is all there is, though it’s smaller — by one day — and in September instead of August. But don’t worry, there’s still $15 million of art for sale, and many of the artists are local favorites who come back year after year. And there’s still funnel cake.
“This year, we decided, with school back in session, it’s kind of silly to be doing an art show during the day on a Friday,” Alan says. “So this year, for the first time, it’ll be only on Saturday and Sunday.”
Howard Alan Events has been doing the Shadyside Arts Festival for 11 years. This year, it’s expected to draw about 75,000 people. Alan’s company is the largest promoter of arts festivals in the country, with events in places as dissimilar as Aspen, Colo., and Cleveland. His large, professionally run fairs bear a striking similarity for a reason — they work.
“We do shows in the wintertime in Florida when the whole world is down there, and we found something very interesting,” Alan says. “People came into our art fair booths in Del Rey Beach, Boca Raton, Naples, Sarasota, Miami — wherever — and said, ‘Why can’t you bring a show like this to Pittsburgh?’ When we got the call from the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce (which the festival proceeds benefit, in part), it all kind of fell into place.”
Items for sale range from $25 hand-designed earrings to $20,000 metal sculptures. As always, it’s heavy on original paintings, photography, glass, ceramics and mixed media. All exhibiting artists are required to be at the show for the entire weekend, so it’s easy to talk to the artists about the works you’re interested in.
“People from Pittsburgh love the arts,” Alan says. “And they’re very well educated about the arts. All over Florida, they kept saying, ‘Why aren’t you in Pittsburgh?’ That’s why we’re here.”
‘Shadyside: The Art Festival on Walnut Street’
When: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Walnut Street, Shadyside