WILKES-BARRE — For the first time in more than a year, Robert R. Husty and other local artists will have the opportunity to exhibit their artwork.
Husty, coordinator for the Wyoming Valley Art League, will display four paintings called “The Rite of Spring,” “Spring’s Recital,” “Sea Legs” and “The Pecking Order” at this week’s Fine Arts Fiesta on Public Square.
In all, Husty said, 42 artists and members of the Wyoming Valley Art League will exhibit about 125 pieces of artwork in a tent.
After art exhibits were canceled or virtual for more than a year, he said the fiesta is a step toward returning to normal.
“So many of the artists are excited to have the opportunity to exhibit their artworks in person,” Husty said. “The fact that it is an outdoor event is what makes this possible as a somewhat safe alternative at this time.”
The scaled-back and shorter version of the popular Fine Arts Fiesta will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday on Public Square.
The fiesta is returning to downtown Wilkes-Barre after it was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was about to celebrate its 65th anniversary.
“Presentation of the Arts 2021” will have COVID-19 safety guidelines in place regarding masking, sanitizing and social distancing.
In addition to exhibitions by members of the Wyoming Valley Art League, Verve Vertu and the Wyoming Valley Bonsai Society, the fiesta will feature an Artists’ Market.
About 35 artists will participate in the Artists’ Market, said Joel Zitofsky, who is coordinating it.
Zitofsky said people who attend will have the opportunity to see a variety of artists and craftsmen they haven’t seen in more than a year and who have been struggling.
“There will be a nice variety of artists and different crafts, photographers, jewelry and glasswork,” he said. “They’re looking forward to seeing their old customers and new ones.”
With home improvement projects on the rise, Zitofsky said many people are eager to get out and buy artwork.
“People are focusing on their homes and here’s a great opportunity to fill it up with some wonderful crafts and artwork,” he said.
This year’s fiesta will look different and will not include children’s activities, a juried art exhibit or live entertainment on Public Square.
Larry Newman, executive director of Diamond City Partnership, said although this year’s fiesta is slimmed down, its return is a “sure sign of better days to come for downtown Wilkes-Barre.”
The Diamond City Partnership has been working with the Fiesta Committee and downtown businesses and venues to round out the fiesta’s weekend offerings, he said.
“This year’s fiesta will spread beyond the arts market and exhibition and sale tents on Public Square to a variety of additional locations throughout downtown Wilkes-Barre,” Newman said.
In lieu of a fiesta food court, board members encourage visitors to support downtown restaurants, which have endured hardships over the last year.
Through Diamond City Partnership’s “Diamond City Dine Out” promotion, 18 downtown restaurants will welcome fiesta patrons with specials throughout the weekend. A list can be obtained at the fiesta information tent and at discovernepa.com.
On Saturday, Diamond City Partnership will launch its new outdoor “Sunsets on South Main” series in the Midtown Village courtyard at 41 S. Main St. in conjunction with the fiesta.
Vendors will be in Midtown Village courtyard from 1 to 7. There will be live music by the Music Room Trio from 4 to 7, and a Susquehanna Brewing Co. pop-up.
Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery at 141 S. Main St. also will be open to visitors with extended hours throughout fiesta weekend. Visitors can stop by and view Ray Klimek’s exhibition “Carbon” from 10 to 5 Friday and noon to 5 Saturday and Sunday.
Newman said the Diamond City Partnership is working together with the Fiesta Committee, city officials and downtown businesses on this because they understand that after the shutdowns, fiesta weekend “is our first true opportunity to reintroduce people from all over the region to downtown Wilkes-Barre and all that it has to offer. “