Artists and Friends Return to Chatham for Alumna’s Art Exhibition

Attendees and VIPs at the Gialamas exhibition. Artist Fran Gialamas is in red; her subject Lesley Wells is in stripes.
Photo: Angela Billanti

Author: Angela Billanti


Artist and alumna Fran Gialamas returned to Chatham University in September to present her art exhibition, “The Chronicles of a Chatham Art Major.”

The collection derives from her 1958 solo exhibition proposed by her art professor Charles Le Clair.  “I took it very seriously and it was considered a professional exhibit at that time, even though I was a student,” Gialamas said.

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Artists gather at the 45th annual “A Fair in the Park”

The mood at Mellon Park the weekend of September 6 was one of creativity and family fun as the community gathered to celebrate the 45th annual “A Fair in the Park.” The fair, hosted by the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh, is an event that provides artists from all over Pittsburgh and surrounding areas an opportunity to show and sell their work. This year’s fair, which took place on Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7, included over 100 booths featuring a wide variety of mediums from photography and painting to woodworking and textiles.

According to Kathryn Carr of Bethel Park, a board member for the Guild and owner of Go Car Go Art Studio, planning for the event begins well in advance of the fair itself. The process, which she described as “quite an endeavor” involves everything from choosing the vendors, to laying out the locations of the tents, and organizing food vendors and performers for the main stage.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

She also explained that all of the vendors must provide their own tents, tables, and anything they may need for the show, so setting things up takes a while. “Fortunately, I got to put up my tent on Wednesday” she said, chuckling.

The efforts of the Guild paid off, however, as the park was packed with hundreds of individuals, couples, families, and friends who came out to enjoy the festivities. People strolled through the sea of white tents and enjoyed rows and rows of arts and crafts. Vendors also enjoyed themselves, as was clear by their engagement with the customers. They were eager to talk to the patrons, and were more than happy to share their backgrounds, artistic processes, and to talk about the pieces they were selling.

June Burns, the owner of Peachie Originals in Fredonia New York, was one such vendor. Her artistic journey began thirty years ago when she decided to turn her engineering degree into something more rewarding. She and her husband have been making old-fashioned wooden puzzles ever since, and the two of them, as well as their children, travel to fairs and festivals to sell their products.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

“It’s not about what you’re good at, it’s what brings you joy,” Burns said, attributing the quote to her grandmother. “I enjoy connecting with people, and talking to all of the customers.” She went on to say that, despite living in New York, she loves “A Fair in the Park” because it is a “community show.” “Other venues are too big,” she explained, “but the people who live around here invest in their community…you see people coming back day after day.”

In the center of the festivities was a large stage that featured numerous bands throughout the three days, including “Cello Fury,” “Lovebettie,” and “‘Celtic Indian’ Arvel Bird.” In addition to performing, the artists also sold merchandise, and were more than willing to meet with their fans after their shows

Around the main stage, the fair boasted several food vendors from all over the area. There were options for every dietary need, with food from BRGR, Randita’s Vegan, and PGH Crepes, among others.

Being the community event that it was, the fair was just as popular for children as it was for adults. Numerous activities including face painting, animals from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and backpack decorating, were organized for the kids who attended the event.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

In addition to planned activities, children were eager to watch the various artists at work. One artisan quickly gained a large group of young spectators who were eager to watch him carve a bowl from a block of wood.

Despite Carr’s point that this tends to be a “busy time of year for a lot of people,” the fair did not seem to suffer at all. After 45 years, the fair is still an important community event, and the general sentiment among the attendees was an excitement for it’s future.