Proceeding with caution was a primary consideration in preparing for the return of the Mt. Lebanon Artists Market in 2021.
“We started planning months ago,” Steve Denenberg said. “Who knew what would happen?”
He and his wife, Wendy, are organizers of the usually annual event, and this year’s version has been modified slightly as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
The number of artists who will be displaying their work Oct. 2 and 3 is 58, somewhat fewer than in years past.
“We just cut it down so that we could space everyone out a little bit,” Wendy said with regard to the venue, the municipal parking lot off Academy Avenue. “We’ll also have a little bit less activity, just to keep people moving and feel more comfortable that there’s safe distance involved.”
Regardless, the juried festival continues to feature professional-quality original art in a variety of media, including two-dimensional, jewelry, wood, sculpture, glass, ceramics, fiber, leather and metal.
“The people we had accepted for last year, we automatically accepted them again,” Wendy said. “I think they appreciated the fact that we didn’t make them pay another application fee.”
Along with the work of artists, food and beverages will be offered at the market, with trucks coming from Revival Chili, Totopo Mexican Kitchen, Southside BBQ Co. and Country Hammer Moonshine.
Mt. Lebanon Public Library will offer art activities for children. Plus a raffle will take place, with exhibiting artists donating pieces that can be won.
“We’re doing it a little bit differently this year. Everyone will get punch cards, and whenever they make a purchase, they’ll get a punch,” Wendy said. “And of course, people can buy raffle tickets, too.”
The raffle is the primary fundraiser for the Mt. Lebanon Partnership Arts Initiative Scholarship, awarded each year to Mt. Lebanon High School seniors who are pursuing higher education in art.
Despite the artists market not taking place in 2020, enough money remained in the fund to award a scholarship this year to Julia Hagins, who is studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
“It was important to us, and hopefully after this year, we can go back to giving a couple more,” Wendy said. “Up to three students have been recipients in past years.”
The artists market is presented by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, an established nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the vitality of local business districts, and is run by volunteers.
Although the Denenbergs recently moved to Cecil Township, they continue to organize the event in the municipality where they lived and owned a Washington Road business, Create A Frame/Handworks Gallery, for more than 40 years.
“There are certain things you miss, and this is part of it. We miss seeing the artists. We made good friends with a lot of them,” Wendy said.
“My favorite thing with our store was the buying aspect of it. So this way, I get to feel like I’m buying without spending any money. It makes Steve happy,” she added with a laugh, “although I do spend money there.”
Speaking of which, Steve said when he and Wendy visited other arts festivals this year, plenty of spending was taking place.
“We found that the crowds were so anxious to be out, and they were happy to be buying,” he said. “All the artists we know said things were great.
And with the holiday season not that far off, perhaps they’ll be saying something similar about the Mt. Lebanon Artists Market.
For more information, visit mtlebopartnership.org/events/mount-lebanon-artist-market.