At the last possible minute, I took a trip downtown to visit the Three Rivers Arts festival: the festival ends on Sunday. Controversy surrounds this year's festival, from the reduced footprint of the exhibition to the censoring of one of the works.
The Best of Pittsburgh exhibit is held in PPG's Wintergarden this year. The giant atrium lends itself more to installation than to the plastic arts, and there was plenty. The Post Gazette review is a good overview of the exhibit. My stand-outs were Rise Nagin's installation and Josh Tonies' mixed medium works.
The art community is alarmed by the trend of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Recently, the curator for the Best of Pittsburgh exhibit, who also coordinates the juried art exhibit as well as other visual arts components to the exhibit, was eliminated from the festival staff. Katherine Talcott did her best to bring more of the visual arts into the festival by expanding the festival's footprint to other venues in the downtown area. However, this tactic was not very successful because the core of the festival had migrated to food and entertainment years ago.
Let me step into my time machine....
I lived in Portland OR for many years. When I first arrived, they had an arts festival in downtown. The streets were closed to traffic, huge tents were installed, and a range of artists and artisans presented a a diverse selection of art. Entertainment was generally provided by buskers and a few local restaurants had booths to feed the hungry masses. As the years rolled along, the arts component diminished to be replaced by more and more food vendors. Within five years of my arrival, the festival had been moved to Waterfront Park and had been re-named Food-Fest. Seriously.
So, it could be worse. Instead of the death knell of visual arts and the rise of performance-based art, TRAF could become some gargantuan food festival. At least there is some art involved in the festival. At least the artists and artisans of the artist market still have a place.