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Rittenhouse Square Celebrates 79 Years of Fine Art



A Column by Michael J. Fino




This year marks the 79th Anniversary of the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show in Philadelphia.79th Anniversary of the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show Tens of thousands gathered to celebrate original artwork between Sept. 17 –19. There were 145 professional artists present, 60 percent from PA, NJ and NY; in addition, there were also 22 full-time Philadelphian art students to make a total of 165 very talented artists.

Handmade oil and watercolor paintings, sculptures, silk screenings, etchings and artistic pieces of 3-D objects, or mixed-media, are just a few examples of the art to be enjoyed—all original creations. This year, 20 states were represented in the show and 5 artists traveled from Canada. In recent years, some artists came as far as Europe if selected to participate in this prestigious event.

 History of the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show

In June of 1932, a small group of Philadelphia art students came to Rittenhouse Square to hang their original paintings between trees and clotheslines. At the time, the students were known as the “Art Students’ League” and they studied the work of Earl Hortter, an internationally recognized ether who resided in Philadelphia.

As the show evolved, it was intended to provide Philadelphia with quality artwork for display. Consequently, several students exhibit their original artwork in this prestigious and well-known art show every year going since its humble beginnings.

Chairman of the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show Association (RSFAA) Marshall Burns  Marshall Burns, RSFAA Chairexplained that this is a premier, juried show unlike any other. The process of selection is intricate one. It starts with an application and then a blind jury of 10 experts reviews the work by photo projection. The names of the artists are not revealed.

The determination whether or not to admit the work is based solely on its ability to represent the artistic standards set forth by the RSFAA. Since it is a professional show and an enormous opportunity for any artist chosen to participate, the competition is extremely stiff. Art students are welcome to apply and frequently admitted, but they must be studying full-time at a local art school, college or university. A significant number of applicants are turned down every year, but they are always encouraged to reapply the following year.

“When patrons come to this show,” Burns said, “they do so with the expectation to see professional art. This show is very important because whether a person comes to admire the work or to purchase a piece, it is a significantly unique experience and reflects the absolute best Philadelphia has to showcase.”

Blair Barbour , a talented local artist.Blair Barbour , a talented local artist, has grown with the organization since she began as student 10 years ago. Her mother and step-mother, both fellow artists, inspired her to attend art school. When Barbour was a student at Bucks County Community College, she focused on drawing, silk screening and painting. Today, as a seasoned artist, effort is directed on creating collages that feature figurative subjects. Additionally, Barbour has been serving as a member of the Board on RSFAA for the past three years where she advocates student involvement.

 “I feel incredibly humbled that I am able to give back to the art community by helping develop aspiring local artists,” Barbour said. “I know from personal experience that any student who has the honor of being selected will not miss the opportunity to also learn valuable people skills, effective methods of displaying their work and branding themselves.”

Although the show is designed to be fun and relaxing in nature, participants must adhere to strict rules and regulations. Show Director Steve Oliver All art must be original; no reproductions are permitted. No art found at this show will be functional. Patrons will not see t-shirts, jewelry, postcards or books at an artist’s booth. Show Director Steve Oliver  explained that this tradition started in 1932, which makes Rittenhouse Fine Arts Show the oldest continuing fine arts show in the country. The show also was featured in 2 serious magazines and ranked in the Top 100 in both, based on artists and show management.

“Part of the reason this show is so highly respected is because we keep the original traditions alive,” Oliver said. “Full-time art students aspiring to be professionals started this celebration and today, it is our intent to help current art students get recognized by admitting stellar work in a high-profile, nationally recognized show.”

“Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show (RSFAS) Student Video”

Source: http://www.rittenhousesquareart.com/artistinfo_stdnt.html

For an exclusive photo gallery to theright for more photos of the artists work and of the festival!!

Some notable participants this year included: Sarah Pollock, a painter focused on cityscapes and landscapes depicting areas from all across the globe; Grant Silverstein, an etcher focused on myth and allegory as well as realism; John Harris, an artist extremely talented using mixed-media to create 3-D artwork, Barbour, and Burns.

For more information on the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Festival, visit http://www.rittenhousesquareart.com/index.html  or for any artist interested in exhibiting work, download the application (http://www.rittenhousesquareart.com/RSFAA2010ARTISTSAPPLICATION.pdfand review the FAQs (http://www.rittenhousesquareart.com/RSFAAStudentFAQ.pdf)

Every year there is one show in the spring and one in the fall so if you are a professional artist or a local art student, do not miss your chance to be considered for the next show. If instead, you are a collector or even an art admirer, please come on by and enjoy Philadelphia’s finest!

If you know of a festival you would like Mike to cover, contact him at: mikefino@verizon.net  or mailto:mikefino@verizon.net