By Sydney Keller
Pittsburgh Current Intern
The first weekend of the Three Rivers Arts Festival is in the books and while it didn’t rain, there were some unexpected issues.
The 60th annual fest saw high attendance numbers over the first weekend as guests were treated to free musical acts, art installations and special exhibits in and around Downtown’s Point State Park. The festival runs through June 16.
And while those at the festival had a good time, things didn’t go so well for several artists who had thousands of dollars in artwork stolen late Saturday night into Sunday morning. Some of the stolen work was large, but the art was able to be removed despite 24-hour security.
According to a statement from the Cultural Trust: “These thefts are an unfortunate occurrence that is highly out of the ordinary for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust always implements security 24 hours a day during the Festival. Since learning of this activity, we have alerted our on-site staff, volunteers, and security partners in the city to be on special lookout for these acts and have dedicated further resources to security in the Artist Market area. If anyone sees something suspicious in the area, we encourage them to alert our public safety team, which can be reached in the public safety tent at the entrance of Point State Park or by calling 911.”
One of the main highlights from this past weekend was seeing local musicians dominate the main stage. Earlier Saturday, pop/hip-hop artist Brittney Chantele played to a large, energetic crowd. Saturday’s headliner, Marty Stuart, had to cancel at the last minute due to a family emergency. Esther Rose, Stuart’s original opener became the headliner and that allowed Pittsburgh-based Ameripolitan group, The Beagle Brothers to open
So, what does the coming week have to offer?
One of the art attractions at the festival this year is artist Jonathan Lo’s “Ocean Sole Africa” which recycles flip flops from Nairobi, Kenya and turns them into art. Lo came up with the idea of using flip flops for art because his friend, a marine biologist, encountered many flip flops in the ocean.
“It’s one way of saving marine life,” Lo says.
Sarah Aziz, director of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, believes Lo’s art installation demonstrates a meaningful effort to positively impact the environment.
An artist returning to the festival this year, Toby Atticus Fraley, created “The Pittsburgh Time Capsule” which allows anyone to record a one-minute message for the Pittsburghers of the future. Two capsules will be stored and they will not be opened until 2120.
“I’ve always been interested in history and I look at old photos and I wonder what those people were thinking about,” Fraley says.
Fraley believes it is an opportunity for a normal person to express their thoughts into the future because, for the most part, only celebrities or politicians words are widely recorded and heard.
“The capsule is a way for an everyday person to transmit a message into the future,” Fraley says. “It’s a way for us to tell people something.”
Fraley has had the time capsule idea in his notebook for years and is excited to finally share it at the Three Rivers Arts Festival over the next ten days.
Aziz is happy to welcome returning artists such as Fraley as well as new artists like Lo and many others to the Three Rivers Arts Festival this year.
Another notable artwork at this year’s festival is the “Origami” performance that will take place next to Point State Park on the lawn from June 14 through 16. A dancer, Satchie Noro, will perform on a 40-foot stage shipping container that shape-shifts throughout the piece.
“[Three Rivers Arts Festival] brings everyone together and it is really fun to see,” Aziz says. “So many different people come down to the Arts Festival and everybody is here and being nice to each other and interacting all in the name of art.”