By: Elizabeth M O’Laughlin
On a sunny September afternoon in Rittenhouse Square, the 81st bi-annual Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show was in full swing. The three-day festival, this autumn falling on September 14th to the 16th, showcases artists from all over the United States, and even some from Canada. People of all ages casually strolling through the park stopped to admire all sorts of artwork, from impressionist paintings to abstract sculptures and everything in between. Set up around the perimeter and in the middle of the park was over 140 booths with delicate artwork displayed inside. Each artist is allotted a 10’ by 10’ space to set up his or her booth. Artists must pay a booth fee of $400 to be featured, but once set up, their work is exposed and for sale on the streets of Philadelphia for all to admire or potentially buy.
The Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show is completely run by artists. The entire board of directors consists of working artists, who exhibit in some of the most prestigious shows in the world. One of these artists is Blair Barbour, a Temple Film and Media Arts program graduate. Barbour comes from an artistic background. “My mom was an artist, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and I did it in college,” Said Barbour.
Barbour creates collage style art, where she uses different glues, paper, recycled materials, and seals it all in with a protective SPF. No paint is used in her collages. Aside from the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show, which she says is her favorite showcase; she also displays her work in restaurants and art galleries in the city. Some of Barbour’s work can be viewed on her website, www.blairbarbour.com.
The Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts show prioritizes quality, and strictly exhibits original work. A jury chooses which artists will be featured in each show. Usually around 300 artists apply and only about 150 get in. There are artists who have returned to the Rittenhouse show for multiple years, and each show displays 30 to 40 new artists each time around as well. Aside from established artists, full-time art students from local art schools are also given the opportunity to participate and showcase their work.
One of these students is Carissa Marinelli, a 23-year-old recent graduate from the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, who has been featured in the show three times. After being in the show, Marinelli sold some of her paintings and has gotten good exposure. She also received graphic design work after being noticed at the show. Marinelli has been creating art all her life, but got serious about it in high school. Some of Marinelli’s work can be viewed at www.cargocollective.com/carissamarinelli.
Another student, Kevin Mann, who currently studies at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, was also featured in the art show. “For students, it’s fairly cheap, and an opportunity to show people your work,” Mann stated. “I draw inspiration from my own angst, and anxiety. And just commotion.”
Mann describes his style as “abstract and expressive.” After he finishes his undergraduate career at Temple, he hopes to go on to graduate school for art in the Midwest or southwest. Marinelli and Mann are just two of the more than 20 talented students featured in this years show. Students can sign up online to be featured in the show on a first come, first serve basis. Student artists don’t have to go through a jury and don’t pay a booth fee, just a $35 application fee. As the oldest running outdoor original art show in the country, the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show is an outlet for professional and student artists to display their creativity to the public.