Summer Festival of the Arts offers full slate of fun



By Sean Barron


If you have a date at 8 and don’t want to be late, you could buy a clock made from slate.

“We specialize in slate, salvaged or recycled,” Brad Coulson said Saturday about the material that is the centerpiece of the business he and his mother, Linda Coulson, run.

About eight years ago, the Coulsons, of Clarion, Pa., started Slate Accents, which specializes in clocks, picture frames, light-switch covers, tables, address numbers, mirrors and more made from the fine-grained, foliated material.

Mother and son are among the estimated 80 local, regional and out-of-state artists, photographers, woodworkers and other vendors who make up the 15th annual Summer Festival of the Arts on and near Youngstown State University. The free gathering began Friday and continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

Brad Coulson recalled having passed a razed house on his way to work, where curiosity led to his collecting pieces of slate that were discarded in a nearby trash bin. He soon began exploring the artistic possibilities of his collection and, through trial and error, learned to shape, cut and form artwork from the material.

Coulson explained that he and his mother amass slate from barns and other structures in mainly remote parts of western Pennsylvania.

Little did David Shafron of South Euclid know that a request from his future wife would be the first leg to building his business.

“It all started because my wife wanted a headboard,” Shafron said about the origin of Darbynwoods Fine Woodworking, which he started in 2003 at his residence and studio. “Now she’s a cobbler’s wife and she had no shoes.”

Shafron uses reclaimed cherry, pink flame, magnolia, ash, hackberry, walnut, maple and other types of wood to custom design everything from ceiling-fan pulls to bowls.

Much of his material is salvaged from fallen trees that otherwise might have ended up in a landfill. For example, Shafron was selling a bowl designed with hackberry wood that came from a tree felled during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Mix acrylic paint, canvas and a love for animals and you have the essence of Jessica C. Blair’s craft.

The self-taught folk artist uses those media to create renderings of animals, mainly dogs, from people’s reference photographs. Her works also show a bit of an Andy Warhol influence and are a reflection of her love for dogs, especially Boston terriers.

“I began last Christmas,” the Girard woman said. “I did one for a friend and all of my other friends wanted some for their families.”

Attendees of all ages spent much of Saturday afternoon buying merchandise such as stainless-steel yard pieces, prints, clay items, leaf-imprinted tea towels, designer skateboards, stained-glass products, custom-made T-shirts, jewelry and photographs, including a collection of prints and photos of Mill Creek MetroParks by C. Scott Lanz, a local photographer and festival regular.

Those who wonder about the origin of Columbiana-based Lamb Handwoven Rugs need look no further than its founder and owner.

“I have collected over 50 vintage looms dating back to the late 1800s,” said Linda Ann Marie Bertanzetti, whose initials form the first word.

Bertanzetti, who practices her specialty from a large studio on her 30-acre farm, designs wool, cotton and blue-jean-style rugs, among other things.

Entities taking part in the fest include the Rich Center for the Study and Treatment of Autism, the Oakland Center for the Arts, Ballet Western Reserve, Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana and several other cultural organizations, and Students Motivated by the Arts.

Also at the event is Wick Neighbors Inc., which is collecting donations for charities on behalf of the late Carmine L. Cassese, who died June 28 at 57 after a four-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Cassese, who owned Cassese’s MVR eatery.

, also was a Wick Neighbors board member.

“This is a great opportunity for people to embrace the arts and history and culture in our area,” said Lori Factor, event coordinator, adding that she wanted to thank the estimated 100 volunteers for making the show possible.

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