The ultimate weeklong art festival is under way in Mayville.
The Chautauqua Art Challenge, hosted by Chautauqua Suites and in conjunction with Rick and Liz Boni of Appalachian Arts Studio of Ridgway, Pa., begins day five today.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 16 artists from around the world will sculpt pieces of art out of wood with chainsaws and other tools. Then on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. their creations from the entire week will be made available to the public in a gallery form as well as a silent auction. Guests can also opt to enjoy a dinner theater at 6 p.m. with performances by each of the artists.
Pictured is a mermaid ice sculpture carved by one of the sixteen artists competing at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville during the weeklong Chautauqua Art Challenge.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
"The artists have been extremely busy," said Mrs. Boni. "And they've been thoroughly enjoying themselves. Some of them have gotten up in the middle of the night to work on their projects because they are all staying here at the hotel. The weather hasn't been entirely cooperative, but since we're at the hotel we got to move indoors. They've created some truly extraordinary paintings, clay, cardboard and ice sculptures. (Today) most of them will use chainsaws to carve wood sculptures. I think people need to come see this because it's the most phenomenal art show I've ever seen."
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. And, so far they are living up to that mark. It's an experience for them, and one of them told me that they will leave here a better artist."
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.
Welsh wood carver O'Rourke said that even though he doesn't have much experience utilizing the mediums presented at the event, he found that experimenting has allowed him to broaden his approach to creating his pieces.
Jane Ashe, a nurse from NYC who is on what she calls a Pennsylvania world tour, said that as a result of attending the event that she will go home to start her artform more wholeheartedly, and with more dedication.
"One of the artists told me that she will go back home flooded with ideas because she is being fed by the imagination of the other contestants," said Ashe.
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 that evening with a dinner theater which includes a buffet, cash bar and live performances by each of the competing artists.
"The pieces that are not auctioned off will be saved to put in a gallery in the spring," said Mrs. Boni. "We're really looking forward to having more people come to see this."
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.