By Gabrielle Fellows
This weekend, B&O Station in Youngstown will be host to two events meant to draw community members together in appreciation for nature and the arts.
Artists of the Rustbelt will be holding its art show on Friday inside of the B&O Station, where around 35 artists will be offering their work for sale.
Tony Nicholas, executive director of Artists of the Rustbelt, said that he believes the art show is just one way to prove that the arts and the people that are passionate about them is on the rise in the area.
“The artists who participate in our shows come from all over the area — 75 percent of them do not make their living from their artwork, which illustrates that they do it because the love what they do. [Artists] being from the Youngstown area gives them an opportunity to be a shining light that helps expose the gem that our city is becoming. With each show we see more people coming to Youngstown who either have never been or haven’t been here for a long time, and it’s a great feeling to see them light up and see the surprise on their faces,” Nicholas said. “The quality of art work brings more and more people back repeatedly to enjoy the atmosphere and collect work from artists they discover. The popularity of our shows has grown consistently from show to show, year to year.”
Nicholas said that the arts are a way to revitalize a community by building the market from the ground up, using beautiful handmade work from hardworking people.
“Look at any city that is recovering from a loss of industry for whatever reason. The arts always lead the way to revitalization. They create the interest that gets the general public coming into town and reignites the pride within those who have been here through the darker times, and they embrace their city with a renewed vigor,” Nicholas said. “As our artists gain recognition from those outside the area, those outside the area want to come see what we have to offer here in Youngstown. Art is the new steel — onward and upward I always say.”
On Saturday, Friends of the Mahoning River will be joining the event, hosting Riverfest 2015 outside in collaboration with the art market. The free event is built around learning about and celebrating the Mahoning River. Guests can take walks along the nature trails or ride in canoes or kayaks. Younger attendees can partake in crafts and other various activities, such as playing in the bounce around and having their face painted. Live music from “The Pickups” will begin at 5 p.m.
Amy Komara, Event Coordinator for Artists of the Rustbelt, said events like the ones happening at the B&O this weekend are ones that bring the city together by encouraging citizens to “support local.”
“These events bring us together. It’s a great event to get together, shop, socialize, have an adult beverage, hear great local music, have a bite to eat and enjoy the music — music is art as well,” Komara said. “Supporting local is a must. Our commitment to our local businesses is a way to continue growth in this valley.”