On July 26, Lackawanna Courthouse Square in Scranton transformed into one big art gallery in the middle of town. The city sidewalks were designed with chalk. The benches and lampposts were covered with cross-stitched quilts. Even the statue of John Mitchell, champion defender of human labor rights, wore a bright blue cross-stitches scarf around its neck.
But what really made the square seem like an art gallery that day was all the local artists and vendors displaying their work around the square. That's because it was Scranton's 2nd annual Arts on the Square Festival.
Vendors of art filled all four streets (Washington Ave., Linden St., Spruce St., and Adams Ave.) of the entire block. The festival goers browsed from one tent to the next one. They also witnessed two local artists painting their murals on Adams Ave.. The two painters are Evan Hughes and Ben Adcroft. Hughes' mural was featured on the cover of the July 24-30 edition of The Electric City.
Under the tents, some of the vendors did more than just promote their services. They got the people involved as well. Spirited Art of Dickson City taught painting classes to children and adults. The teachers were Sarah, Carle, Ky, Heidi, Stephanie, and Kathy.
"I really enjoyed working with Scranton Made," said Katherine Schkloven, one of the teachers. "They did a great job of getting different vendors. We're bringing color to the community."
Voyager Video, a Scranton-based production company, allowed people to be videotaped in slow-motion videos. The people in the slow-motion videos had the option of using or wearing props such as party hats or pompoms. They also got to watch themselves in slow-motion right there and then. A video release of all the videos recorded at Arts on the Square will be shown on www.vimeo.com on August 2nd.
The Pop Up Studio, a studio in Scranton, provided pieces of colored chalk for people to draw on the sidewalks of the square. New this year, the studio also made a Plinko box with little whiffle balls. Kids and adults attempted to roll the balls all the way down the box without them getting caught in a net. Kids and adults also had fun spinning hula hoops, which were also provided by the Pop Up Studio, around their bodies.
Professionals demonstrated their expertise at the festival. Staff members of Mission Yoga, which is located on Spruce Street, demonstrated yoga positions on the grass while passersby watched attentively. Also, physics professors Prof. Nicholas Truncale and Prof. Zachary Huard demonstrated physics experiments. Truncale used a Tesla coil to light a bulb in front of people while Huard showed an experiment using a concave mirror.
There were also vendors who promoted future events. Zippo, a lighter company from Bradford, PA, promoted the upcoming Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival, which will take place in Lakewood, PA from August 24-31, 2014. Also, Katie Leonard, senior vice president of college advancement had a stand with flyers, which exhibit the upcoming Scranton Mini Maker Faire, which will be a show-and-tell fair for inventors, crafters, tinkerers, and commercial exhibitors to showcase their creative works. It will take place at Johnson College on October 4th, 2014 from 10am to 7pm.
"This is a great way to bring together artists and showcase the best that Scranton has to offer," Leonard said about Arts on the Square.
Also at the Square was local author Edward Murphy of Clarks Summit. His books Rock Rewind, Pennsylvania Deer Hunter, and Life & Basketball were up for sale at his stand. Vitamin Group, which has a Vitamin E store located in Philadelphia and a warehouse in Scranton, sold their supplements at the stand. Christina Wolfe, a member of the Scranton Brewers Guild with her husband Sean, gave free samples of dog treats made of peanut butter grain to dogs at the square.
The festival goers not only saw the vendors but they also heard live music from the bands. There were stages of live bands playing throughout the event: The Summersteps Records Stage on Spruce Street and the Highway 81 Revisited Stage on Linden Street. The bands on the Summersteps Records Stage were Kid Icarus, Cold Coffee, Eww Yaboo, and A Fire with Friends. The latter featured Indigo Moon Brass Band, Heavy Blonde, Katie Kelly & The Charming Beards, Gentlemen East, and Charles Havira.
Festival goers also had the opportunity to eat their lunches or dinners from food trucks parked on the square including Don's Chilli Willi Soft-Serve Ice Cream and Muncheez. There were also tables of food and beverages such as The Electric City Roasting Company located in Throop, PA and Sweet Lush Cupcakery located in Dunmore, PA.
Raffle baskets were sold to benefit the Everhart Museum, the University of Scranton, and the Scranton Cultural Center.
The vision of Arts on the Square (to support artists and businesses in Lackawanna County) is coming to be a reality thanks to everybody involved in it. A special thanks goes to Lackawanna County Commissioners Corey O'Brien, Jim Wansacz, and Patrick O'Malley and The Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department. Lackawanna County partnered with Scranton Made and local artists to create Arts on the Square. Hopefully next year, even more artists will share their talents with this great event.