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Downtown State College Celebrates Spring with May Day Art & Garden Walk

The Downtown State College Improvement District will host its first May Day Art & Garden Walk on Friday and Saturday. 

The event brings together more than a dozen local artists and artisans, displaying their work throughout downtown businesses. Local businesses and organizations also will be offering special May Day experiences.

“Following the success of our holiday art walk last year, we thought a similar spring event would be well received,” Downtown State College Improvement District executive director Lee Anne Jeffries says. “We decided to plan for the weekend of the first of May and focus the theme on spring renewal, so May Day was a natural fit. Other communities enjoy May Day by hanging fresh flower arrangements on their doors, so we thought we would start this annual tradition downtown and get the community involved.” 

Participating artists will display a range of mediums, from fiber art to digital art to even Bonsai trees. The Happy Valley Bonsai Club will be exhibiting its work outside 3 Dots Downtown, alongside the organization’s in-window exhibit from artist Tiara Zhane. 

“One thing we decided to do this spring, in partnership with the Borough, was to exhibit the work of an artist named Tiara Zhane,” 3 Dots Downtown’s new executive director, Erica Quinn, explains. “The exhibit is named ‘Omni’ and it’s in the windows, so you can see it walking by — primarily some paintings, some sculptures, super-incredible pieces about identity… That exhibit can be viewed now and will be highlighted during the art walk. The Happy Valley Bonsai Club will also be stationed outside 3 Dots.”

The May Day Art & Garden Walk is one of the first in-person events 3 Dots has participated in since the pandemic began. 

“Our physical space has been closed during the whole of COVID,” Quinn adds, noting plans to reopen the 3 Dots community space later on in the season. “We’re really looking forward to this as an opportunity to have some outreach in the community… This is one of the first things we’ll do that’s in person again. Even in the capacity that we have it, we’re excited for this and everything that’s to follow. I think it’s going to be a very dynamic spring and summer.”

Beyond 3 Dots Downtown, art walk attendees will find other artists, artisans and performers at Growing Tree Toys, The Makery, Appalachian Outdoors, Ethereal Boutique, Lion’s Pride, Lion and Cub, Go Candy Shop, Connections Clothing, Harpers, Saint’s Cafe and The State Theatre. 

“We’ve been a part of previous art walks and think that it’s a great opportunity to support the talented local artists in our community. It’s also a fun way to work together with our neighbors here in downtown State College,” a Saint’s Cafe spokesperson says. “We’re showcasing artwork by Maure Irwin-Furmanek at I.F. Studios, which we’re pretty excited about because we’re fond of her work. Food and beverage will also be available for purchase.”

The State Theatre, in addition to hosting local artists Laurie DeMatteo, Lynn Anne Verbeck and Jaimee Cantolina, will also be distributing free popcorn. 

“As a community performing arts center, The State Theatre often hosts local musicians and performance groups,” Kerry Cavanaugh, the theater’s general manager, says. “This is a fantastic way for us to support other types of artists in our community and we are looking forward to the event.” 

Downtown State College Improvement District initiated a community art project that will benefit The State Theatre ahead of the event. Participants could purchase DIY flower kits for a minimum donation of $5 to have them displayed around town during the art walk.

“We wanted to spread some cheer, support the arts and the historic downtown theater that has been shuttered during the pandemic,” Jeffries says. “One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to The State Theatre thanks to our sponsor, the State College Community Land Trust.”

The May Day Art & Garden Walk takes place Friday, April 30, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m. More information can be found at www.downtownstatecollege.com. Validated parking is available at the Pugh, Fraser and Beaver parking garages; just ask a participating business or visit the Downtown State College Improvement District office, 127 S. Fraser St. for validation.