MAYVILLE - The ultimate art festival is coming to Chautauqua Suites Hotel in Mayville.
From Sept. 24 through Sept. 29 the Chautauqua Art Challenge will give 16 artists from around the world the opportunity to compete for cash prizes.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, artists will compete in a variety of multi media art forms such as: painting, clay, cardboard and fabric sculpture, ice carving, wood carving, and performance.
Rick Boni, of Ridgeway, Pa., owner of the Appalachian Arts Studio, and competitor in the Chautauqua Arts Challenge, working on a sculpture that he was commissioned to do at American University in Washington, D.C.
Each competitor must produce work in every art form. The work will then be judged and auctioned off at the end of the event on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. Saturday will also include a dinner theater performance from 6 to 10 p.m.
The event is hosted by Chautauqua Suites in conjunction with the Appalachian Art Studio from Ridgeway, Pa. The studio is owned by Rick and Liz Boni.
"Appalachian Arts Studio is a hands-on learning art facility," said Mrs. Boni. "And, each year in February we host an event called the Ridgeway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous in which 200 carvers from all over the world come to carve. We've been doing the event for 14 years, and about 20,000 people come to the event."
The Bonis have received numerous awards as a result of their wood carving events including an award from Germany for opening the doors of chainsaw art to the world, said Mrs. Boni. The success of that event led Boni to want to host an event in Chautauqua County.
"It's been a dream of his to do this," said Mrs. Boni. "And, the Chautauqua Suites have made that happen. It's the first year for the event, but we're hoping it will evolve to become a really important event for the area."
Many of the artists participating in the event were people who the Bonis met throughout the 16 years they've been in the business. The artists will be competing against each other, but the ultimate goal is teaching and learning, said Mrs. Boni.
"The artists have to compete and be judged in every category," she continued. "So, they have to be multi-talented. The belief is that if you're truly creative you can do anything."
A number of the artists are area residents, such as: Scott Dow of Corry, Pa., Rick Pratt of Buffalo, Chris "Snuffy" DeStefano of Ridgeway, and Mark Tyoe of the Adirondacks. But, there are also international artists who will compete including Simon O'Rourke from Wales who, according to Mrs. Boni, is probably one of the best carvers in the world. Then there is Ragna Reusch Klinkenberg from Germany who can carve on the tips of toothpicks. She was commissioned to carve three heads of states on pencils. One of them was President Obama and the pencil was given to him as a gift. Cima Bue, of New York City, is a pyrotech who, according to Mrs. Boni, will light up the night with a sculptural garden. Trevor Twist, owner and creative director of the Mitchell School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, Md., is an accomplished painter and also tutors at Chautauqua Institution. Christopher Caines, a New York City choreographer, will also be participating; as well as Susan Miller, the first female chainsaw carver in the world, according to Mrs. Boni. For more information on the artists, including Rick Boni, visit appalachian-arts.com.
Those who decide to attend the event have the chance to bring something home with them. There will be a silent auction held on Saturday that features the items created during the competition. There will also be an open mic on Saturday, local arts and crafts vendors and beer and wine tasting. The event wraps up on Saturday evening with a dinner theater that includes a buffet, cash bar and live performances by each of the competing artists.
"The main goal is to bring arts to the community, and to extend the tourist season because Chautauqua is known as a cultural and arts center," said Mrs. Boni. "The area lends itself to this type of event because it is a cultural center. So, we're hoping that not only the artists are inspired, but that everybody who comes is too."
Special rates are available for the week at Chautauqua Suites Hotel. For $45 guests can stay for the whole week; including Friday and Saturday. The price also includes admission to the dinner theater. The daily admission fee is $5, and the dinner theater is $22.
Chautauqua Suites is located at 215 W. Lake Road in Chautauqua. For more information call 814-772-0400 or search for "Chautauqua Suites Hotel" on Facebook.