The Lewisburg Arts Council is getting set for their finale of this year’s annual two-week Celebration of the Arts, as they will once again be hosting “Arts at the Piers,” Saturday , May 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All scheduled activities will be held at the atmospheric and charmingPiers area, located off Cherry Alley from North Fifth Street in Downtown Lewisburg.
Arts at the Piers is geared towards regional arts organizations who would like to find a way to highlight their activities to the community, by providing an opportunity to engage with groups offering artistic and cultural activities. This fun-filled day of interactive arts for all ages will feature demonstrations, conversation, flyers, and take-home activities.
Participating Organizations this year will include: The Lewisburg Garden Club, Strictly Ballet, The Exchange, the Lewisburg Chapter of National Art Honors Society, the Lewisburg Arts Council Artists’ Guild of Lewisburg, Bluebird Atelier, and the West Branch Chorus, among others.
Due to the construction in Hufnagle Park, the event has been moved across the street to The Piers — and had its name changed slightly from “Arts in the Park” to “Arts at the Piers.”
Last spring, many arts organizations were struggling with visibility and outreach, due to the pandemic canceling nearly all activities and events.
“This made it very difficult for folks, especially those new to the area, to get a sense of the many opportunities to participate in arts activities — either as an arts appreciator or as an arts-maker — that the Central Susquehanna Valley offers,” said Della Hutchison, President of the Lewisburg Arts Council, and co-chair of the Lewisburg Arts Festival. “This was my inspiration for Arts in the Park.”
Hutchison then pitched her idea for a different kind of “arts fair” to the Arts Council, and Arts in the Park was added to their two-week Celebration of the Arts lineup.
“For someone looking for a summer camp for their kids, or someone with musical ability wanting to join a local group, or someone hoping to meet others who share their artistic interests and make new friends, Arts in the Park was the answer.”
Groups holding programs
Happening in conjunction with Arts at the Piers on Saturday will be Photography Tours of Lewisburg Architecture and Urban Sketching Day.
The primary activity of the Lewisburg Photography Club during Arts at the Piers is a series of architectural guided photo tours of downtown Lewisburg led by Photography Club members. The purpose of the tours is to highlight the rich and varied architecture in downtown Lewisburg.
“Downtown Lewisburg’s architecture is a photographer’s dream,” said Daniel Hyde, chair of the Lewisburg Photography Club. “Walking a few blocks, one can view and photograph Federalist, Greek Revival, Tuscan Villa, Gothic Revival, Victorian, Beaux Arts and Art Deco styles.”
The tours start at the Lewisburg Arts Council’s tent in The Piers area starting at 11 a.m. and leaving every hour after that until 3 p.m. The guided tours are aimed at photographers, but non-photographers are welcome.
“The Piers themselves are significant industrial architecture and wonderful to photograph,” Hyde said. “The Piers are 30 abandoned concrete supports in a curved arrangement that used to carry a railroad siding to a large coal barn for the Reading Railroad. They are at least 100 years old, as they can be seen on a 1925 map.”
After viewing and photographing The Piers, the group will be led by a Photo Club member on a walking tour down Market Street to the Susquehanna River Bridge and back. The leader will point out interesting architecture and architectural elements worth photographing.
After the Lewisburg Arts Council board decided to hold only outdoor events this year due to COVID-19, they formed a committee to plan activities that would go hand in hand with their 8-year-old Plein Air Day.
“We expanded the traditional definition of en plein air to include other artistic activities that can be done outside,” said Barbara Baker, chair of plein air events for Celebration of the Arts and chair of the Artists’ Guild of Lewisburg. “We decided to include photography activities and urban sketching events.”
Urban Sketching is a popular, portable art that involves sketching from life on location using minimal supplies. Artists are free to come into Lewisburg any time during the day, choose a spot, and draw or paint in a sketchbook or canvas, and then move on to another place.
“We tried this for the first time in 2021 and found a lot of interest,” Baker said, “so we decided to include it again and to encourage participation by offering a workshop on how to do it.”
The Lewisburg Arts Council offers a number of events throughout the year, and most of these events give folks the opportunity to enjoy the arts with their eyes and ears.
But Hutchison believes Arts at the Piers is different, because it offers the opportunity to engage in arts-making as an active participant, not just as a passive viewer or listener.
“I would be delighted if every person who stops by goes home inspired, to either take up a new art form or to reengage with one that has languished,” she said. “And I would be overjoyed if groups that didn’t participate this year reached out to say, ‘How can we be part of this exciting, worthwhile event next year?’”
Hutchison thinks one of the big takeaways from the pandemic is just how important the arts are in our everyday lives.
“Being engaged in the arts boosted morale, bolstered self-esteem, and gave people a way to connect with others when so much seemed disjointed,” she said. “We need art and the arts in our lives, perhaps more now than ever before.”