Fairmount: Despite Humble Roots, Arts Crawl Still Going Strong

Fairmount: Despite Humble Roots, Arts Crawl Still Going Strong
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The Fairmount neighborhood was recently bombarded with local artists showcasing their most recent accomplishments.

The Fairmount Arts Crawl, which allowed visitors to view and purchase artwork at participating restaurants, celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 6 from 2 to 5 p.m., by hosting food trucks, tents boasting artwork, and even a clown handing out balloons.

A local vendor showcases work at the Fairmount Arts Crawl on Sunday, April 6th, 2014.

A local vendor showcased work at the Fairmount Arts Crawl on April 6.

The crawl took place about two weeks earlier than previous years; however, the change in date did not seem to affect local vendors. Luckily spectators enjoyed a fairly sunny afternoon to roam Fairmount and surrounding streets.

Jack’s Firehouse played host to watercolorist Tom Fitzgerald.

“One of my pieces this year was made over 50 years ago,” said Fitzgerald. “Talk about 50 years in the making.”

The 74-year-old gathered his inspiration from his travels throughout Ireland and numerous places in Europe. This was his first year showcasing at Jack’s Firehouse.

Unlike previous years when the artists only showed their work at local restaurants, the artists were also able to display their talents on the streets underneath tents. Some of the various pieces included paintings, drawings, photographs and jewelry.

A combination of almost 40 shops, bars and restaurants and 70 tents hosted about 4,000 participants according to estimates from the Fairmount Community Development Corp.

Rebecca Johnson, executive director for the Fairmount CDC, said the Arts Crawl  continues to be one of the biggest and most fun-filled events in the neighborhood.

The agency now helps host the event that was begun a decade ago by Fairmount Art Center owner Jill Markowitz and Neighborhood Potters husband-and-wife owners Neil Patterson and Sandi Pierantozzi.

Some of the work Sandi and Neil have for sale in the studio on Fairmount Avenue.

Pierantozzi and Patterson sell mugs at their Neighborhood Potters studio on Fairmount Avenue.

The first Arts Crawl featured less than 20 artists from the area, just getting together at a few local bars. This would then grow to include almost 150 this year.

Patterson and Pierantozzi both received a call asking to make the next one into a neighborhood-wide event. Patterson remembered wondering how they were going to make the event an annual outing.

“We had to find lots of artists and get a lot of places onboard,” Patterson said. “It worked out because the neighborhood was willing to help.”

As the years went on, Patterson and Pierantozzi saw an increase in vendors; however, this also led to an increase in work.

“We weren’t getting paid, which was not a concern, but had limited funds to throw this together, ” said Pierantozzi. “It was a lot of work for only three people.”

The event was consistent throughout the years; however, the trio did see struggles. Patterson remarked about year five being difficult due to weather and other years fluctuating with visitors due to trying to select the ideal date.

Eventually, it was decided the Fairmount CDC would take over most of the project and someone would be paid and appointed to put the crawl together. Patterson and Pierantozzi felt it necessary to guide this new director when they could no longer aid in the process.

“We put together a book of everything we learned for the person coming in,” said Pierantozzi. “It was sort of like a how-to guide.”

And like that, the Fairmount Arts Crawl officially was hosted by the Fairmount CDC.

Patterson and Pierantozzi continued to take part. This year the couple saw an increase in participation, though not in traffic at Neighborhood Potters.

“We definitely saw a drop in people who stopped by the shop,” said Patterson. “However, sales somehow stayed the same.”

Some of the work Sandi and Neil have for sale in the studio on Fairmount Avenue.

Patterson and Pierantozzi offer their work for sale in a studio on Fairmount Avenue.

Neighborhood Potters has produced many students throughout the years thanks to its pottery classes. Many students continued to show pieces throughout the years of the crawl.

Amy Campbell, who has only been in pottery with Patterson and Pierantozzi for one year, showed a small pot in her favorite color.

Campbell found the chance to show her piece as a great honor to her and the neighborhood people who made it possible.

“It is exciting to showcase a piece you have built with your hands and show the community the fun you can have in your own neighborhood,” said Campbell. “The arts are so important to our society and our creativity as humans.”

Dana Lanzino, who has been in the crawl the last few years, echoed Campbell’s enthusiasm.

Lanzino’s paintings have been annually displayed at the Urban Saloon. She finds the crawl to be informative and exhilarating for those wishing to see artwork.

Lanzino understands how much work each artist puts forth for the event and she sees it continuing for the foreseeable future.

“This is a great event,” said Lanzino. “People can come see what the neighborhood and its people can offer.

Read more about Neighborhood Potters here.

– Photos, video and text by Amber Curtis and Courtney Marabella

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