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Artists and Families Excited as Arts Fest Begins Final Day

by on July 13, 2014 1:30 PM

Next to Chris Plummer’s stylish woodcut prints in his tent on Allen Street, a small wooden plaque hanging on the wall reads “Living the Dream.”

Plummer, an artist from Kentucky returning to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts for the fifth time, says he isn’t always a full-time professional artist. Though he displays his work at 12 shows each year, he also works part time in a bakery back in his home of Alexandria.

Plummer was one of the artists specifically invited to participate in this year’s festival, giving him the chance to live the dream of being a professional artist for the past three days.

Though he says his weekend began with a slow start, people have really taken to his woodcut musings on what he calls “the in-betweens” of life.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work about suburbs lately, because they’re in between the city and the country,” Plummer says. “Being in between things is a big part of life, and a big part of my work.”

Given his focus on these in-betweens Plummer says he’s always been struck by the unique character of State College, which is itself somewhere in between being a small city and a large town. He says between the art appreciation created by events like the Arts Fest and the influence of Penn State, the town benefits from a sense of both culture and community. 

“State College is great,” Plummer says. “It’s like a city without the city, or a suburb without the burb.”

Penn State professors Mort Webster and Steffany Fredman moved to State College with their children in January and have also been struck by the town’s melding of art and family. Fredman says, for months before the move from Boston, friends and family members excitedly told them they had to attend the Arts Fest. 

Fredman says she enjoys how family-friendly the weekend has been. Though she’s loved the range of art and entertainment, some of her favorite moments have been watching her daughter Rachel adorn Heister Street with her designs and brave the Allen Street water attractions with her husband.

“This is only our first summer here in State College, and I’m so glad we were able to experience this,” Fredman says. 

As the festival entered its final day on Sunday, New York pen and ink artist Michael Smith says he’s enjoyed the “great honor” of being selected for Arts Fest. After several long days of manning his tent, he admits that he’s felt “really beat, like you just want to go back to the hotel and chill out.”

Despite the tiring hours, Smith says he’s enjoyed people’s enthusiastic response to his intricately shaded work. A fan of architecture, several of Smith's detailed prints of Penn State landmarks like Beaver Stadium and Old Main were favorites among the large crowds. 

Though the festival is nearly over, Smith will have little time for rest. After a long drive back to Niagara Falls, he has only one day to prepare for another art show. Despite this rigorous schedule, Smith says he always loves experiencing the hectic energy of Arts Fest.

“With some shows you might not make money, but you’ll enjoy the entertainment or food or the way the organizers treat you,” Smith says. “Here, you get all of that.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is StateCollege.com's general assignment reporter, an alumni of Penn State and the bassist for local indie rock band Sun Whales. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelMGarrett.
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