Hosted by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce since its inception, the 44th Arts in the Alley Festival from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17 attracted dozens of artists from around Ohio to showcase their art, set up vendor booths and participate in the festival’s art and photography competition.
The festival also saw the participation of local restaurants and food trucks, providing attendees with several options for food and refreshment as they made their way through the busy streets of downtown Grove City.
“We’ve been [attending] here 18 years, roughly,” said Dale White, who runs the Country at Heart shop with his wife, Tami. The Whites specialize in crafting wood arts, selling a variety of designs ranging from snowmen donning sports jerseys to representations of Christmas-related scenes like the Nativity.
“We’ve always been very happy with the show,” White said. “This is our best show by far.”
His sentiments are shared by Emily Sekerak, a traditional relief prints artist and newcomer to the festival.
Commenting on the importance of events like Arts in the Alley, Sekerak said “I think they’re very important for the art community.”
Though the festival boasts a variety of artists from around the state, not just anyone can apply for a vendor booth at the event.
“Any juried art event I consider competitive,” said Sekerak. “You submitted your artwork to a jury and they juried you in or waitlisted you or said no.”
Submitted artwork is also subject to intense scrutiny. “Our staff has a very rigorous process […] to make sure that we have the best possible vendors here,” said Chris Moscato, a member of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce. Part of the process involves ensuring every submission is verified for authenticity.
“It’s a blind jury,” said Summer Holmes, an artist who crafts mosaics. “So they don’t know what they’re looking at or who it is … they just look at the artwork itself.”
Though the admission process is intensely competitive, it does allow artists who have been accepted to showcase their unique forms of art.
“Quite a bit of my mosaics are made out of dishes, including all my mosaic jewelry,” said Holmes, commenting on her artstyle. “I just think it’s more fun, and dishes have pretty patterns on them.” She also notes that people often send her broken dishes to be repurposed as mosaic pieces.
Travis Bell, a local artist who produces graphic designs inspired by pop culture, said that events like Arts in the Alley are a great way for aspiring artists to showcase their artwork.
“You have to understand what your expectations are,” Bell said. “Are you going to sell everything? Are you just there to enjoy the fact and let people walk in and talk to them about your art? It’s really weird. It’s really hard sometimes, but it’s really rewarding. I don’t care if I sell anything. I just kind of dig people that walk in and somebody that buys a piece I’m so appreciative of. Every time is like the first time somebody bought, to me.”
The Arts in the Alley festival returns next year, beginning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2024 and ending at 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 22, 2024.