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Arts festival showcases local, national talent

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Published: Sat, July 12, 2008 @ 3:48 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — Once a year for the past decade, the campus at Youngstown State University transforms from a public university nestled in a mid-size city to a lively marketplace of fine arts and handcrafts, a carnival of children's activities and an open-air concert hall for all ears.

Today, artists and vendors galore filled the Campus Green at YSU— the central hub of the 10th annual Summer Festival of the Arts, also known as the Artists' Marketplace. The area was filled with patrons, young and old, who appeared excited and anxious to experience and show appreciation to the local, regional and national artists.

Festival Coordinator Lori Factor said the event offers a wonderful collection of all types of art, dozens of family activities and more than 60 musical, dance and theatrical performances.

Tucked away inside the Magg-Butler Plaza is the Festival of Nations ethnic fair. About a dozen vendors from different national and religions groups set up shop near the stage area next to The Butler Institute of American Art. That stage featured performances from various ethnic groups including the African style dance troupe, Harambee Youth Organization of Youngstown.

The Festival of Nations featured an array of food and displays. The Polish Arts Club was serving up pierogis, haluski, and kielbasi and kraut while the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church set up a display showcasing traditional Ukrainian artifacts and information about their heritage.

And what ethnic fair wouldn't be complete without an information table regarding the genocide in Darfur? George Garchar, member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition of Consciousness, volunteered his time to educate festival-goers on the importance of awareness. He said they generated quite a bit of interest, and was pleased with people's desire to become involved in the effort.

"Mostly, what we are encouraging is political action," Garchar said. "That's what it's going to take."

Outside the Festival of Nations in the Campus Green, the Artists' Marketplace was in full swing, playing host to artist creating everything from paintings and sculptures to jewelry and hand-made accessories.

Tracy Segreti of Youngstown has been making scarves and pillows from silk for about 15 years. She hand-paints her silk and quilts it together with various fabrics and accents it with bead work to create one-of-a-kind interior accent pieces.

Segreti has been attending the festival as a vendor for the past five years, and while she may not sell as much as she would like, she enjoys it because it's a place where her work is truly appreciated, she said.

"I study yoga and Hinduism to some degree and that's starting to come into my work," Segreti said as she held a pillow featuring an open hand, a symbol meaningful to Hindu's. "I just try to combine what I'm interested in and what I craft."

Daniel Horne of Girard creates sculptures from scrap steel he acquires from a scrap yard in Niles. He began fiddling with welding about five years ago when his wife bought him a welder for his 40th birthday.

"I buy hundreds of pounds of it and then I just figure out how to put it together into balanced things," Horne said. "It's all about balance and reusing materials."

Horne noted that this is his third year at the festival and it is usually one of his best shows.

In the tent beside Horne, Lisa Zitello of Boardman was selling unique, hand-made onesies. She said she started doing it six years ago when she had her first child and saw a need for unique baby clothes. She takes white onesies and dips them in different pans of dye, hangs them to dry, then either sews patches or draws on them.

Zitello said that while the onesies generate a profit for her— they cost $15 each— her true passion is creating abstract paintings based on medical photography. She was always fascinated with the human body, but didn't want to paint portraits. Instead, she takes microscopic images of different body parts and translates them into art.

"That's where my heart is," Zitello said. "I'm looking to create a balance between grotesque and beautiful."

Also featured at the festival is Paul Zimmer of Tampa, Fla. His booth features North America Love Flutes, hand carved inside and out, as well as various North American, Gospel and Celtic recordings using the flute.

The Summer Festival of the Arts continues through Sunday. For a complete schedule of events, visit their Web site.

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