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Lewiston Council on the Arts offers activities throughout summer and beyond

LEWISTON – For nearly 50 years the Lewiston Council of the Arts has been offering Lewiston’s signature festival event of the season – the Lewiston Arts Festival, to be held this year on Aug. 8 and 9 on Center Street.

But throughout the year the organization offers up much more free programming and art of all kinds, from concerts to theater, music and poetry, and even Lewiston history. You’ll want to get out your calendar and start making plans.

Two programs have received funding from the New York Council on the Arts, including the new family show “Et Tu, Shakespeare?” created by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, where four actors take the audience on a journey through Shakespeare’s time with excerpts from a wide range of the Bard’s works. The performance will be presented at 7 p.m. on June 29 in the Hennepin Park Gazebo at Fourth and Center streets. Elizabethan games and activities for kids will be offered before the show.

Also Lewiston Arts Café will be offering programming on Tuesday and again on Sept. 8 and Nov. 10 in the Lewiston Opera Hall. The council teams up with Just Buffalo Literary Center to feature some of the finest poets and musicians in Western New York in the style of a 1960s coffee house setting. Coming up this week are poets Lynn Cieselski and Randy Rumley and music by singer/songwriter Davey O. The cost is $2 and free for council and Just Buffalo members.

Other events include:

• Chainsaw Art will be presented at Olde Sanborn Days in partnership with the Rotary of Niagara County on July 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sanborn Fire Company, Route 429. Artist Aya Blaine will be in residency with the chainsaw creating masterpieces before your eyes while you stroll through the old-fashioned country fair and craft show.

• Blue Mondays, the recipient of Blues Beat Magazine’s prestigious “Muddy” Award, will be back at the Hennepin Park Gazebo for its 21st year. The evening has attracted a faithful following of blues lovers from both sides of the border. Hours are 7 to 9 p.m. on July 6 through Aug. 10.

New this year – the last two nights of summer Mondays will be Bluegrass Mondays. The music will take a detour down a country road with Creekbend on Aug. 17 and Mountain Run Bluegrass Band on Aug. 24.

• Summer of ’69 will be back at 6 p.m. July 10 in the Hennepin Park Gazebo for its 11th annual reuniting of Lewiston’s grooviest 1960s rock musicians, but this year the program will celebrate the younger generation with young talent from the Lewiston Music School performing favorites from the 1960s, followed by performances by the local guys who lived it. Featured bands will be the Loved Ones, the County Orphanage, the Invaders and special guest Grammy Award winner Gary Baker. The evening will end with a “far out” classic jam.

• The Key Bank Chalk Walk Competition, an annual highlight of the Lewiston Art Festival, will be back for its 31st year from noon to 4 p.m. on Aug. 8. Teams of student artists compete for cash prizes and bragging rights by creating spectacular chalk murals. Judges and the public pick their favorites. This year teams will be challenged to create a coin within a nine-foot diameter. The style will be trompe l’oeil, or trick the eye, using imagery to create the optical illusion of depth.

• The highlight of the summer is the 49th annual Lewiston Art Festival, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 8 and 9 on Center Street.

More than 175 exceptional artists and fine crafters will be featured. Visitors to the picturesque village will have a chance to stroll the shops, restaurants and parks, while meeting with artists one on one.

More than 20,000 original works of art will be available, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, glass, wood, mixed media and photography. There is also music, food, street performers, workshops and demonstrations.

This summer’s T-shirt, brochures and web design were inspired by stained glass artist Suzanne Todaro’s piece titled “Beams.”

The show also offers College Alley, featuring student artwork for sale and a chance to create your own art using recycled materials at the Modern Art Zone.

New this year is the opportunity to continue the festival experience after 6 p.m. both days at “Spirit of the ’80s” in Academy Park. The event will offer food, cold beer and live music, including Voodoo’s Stan Ridgeway on Friday and the English Beat on Saturday. Proceeds from “Spirit of the ’80s” benefit the arts council, Lewiston Alumni Association and Music is Art in Niagara County.

And when the weather starts to cool the fun will continue.

• Marble Orchard Ghost Walks are an offbeat look at Lewiston’s historical past featuring re-enactors who entertain and educate as you tour the village and into the cemetery. Bring your own flashlight. Tours begin at 7 p.m. at 476 Center St. on Saturdays, Sept. 5 to Oct. 24. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for arts council members and $8 for youth under 12.

• Earth Voices of the Great Spirit from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Lewiston Peace Garden, 476 Center St. This is a free event that celebrates contemporary Native American culture through music, drumming, dance and arts. There also will be children’s activities, demonstrations and storytelling. The event is held in conjunction with the Lewiston Harvest Festival.

• A Tribute to the Edmund Fitzgerald will be presented by artist and Fitzgerald enthusiast Tom Asklar at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Water Street Landing, 115 S. Water St. The third annual tribute will focus on the American Great Lakes freighter that sank during a storm on Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975, resulting in the loss of its entire crew.