Tonawanda News

August 18, 2013

Project 308 hosts art festival on Oliver in North Tonawanda

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Natalie Brown, owner of North Tonawanda’s Project 308 gallery, took a page from her father’s book Saturday and brought back art to Oliver Street as part of a day-long festival.

Brown’s father, Paul Brown, was the originator of a successful art festival on the street in the mid to late 2000s. Brown said she wanted to re-establish the event to bring arts back closer to the community and residents who live around the gallery. 

“I took tips from my father, but am also doing it all in my own style,” she said. 

More than 50 vendors set up shop in Oliver between Schenk and Robinson streets for the festival, which celebrated the one year anniversary of the opening of Project 308. Many of the artists who took part Saturday have displayed their art at the gallery, Brown said. 

After a year of success, she said she was happy to celebrate.

“We have expanded a lot since the first show, and everything has been going very well,” she said. “I just feel so lucky that I am able to do this ... some cities wouldn’t allow you to close streets and have a fest, but everyone here has been so helpful.”

Vendors at the event offered a huge range of creations, including handmade clothing, jewelry, paintings and photographs. Sherri Marranca, who was the first artist to display her work at Project 308, was one of the artists on hand Saturday.

Marranca started painting about 10 years ago after being inspired to create work that her young daughter, who is blind, can appreciate. She has since been featured on the “Today” show. 

“Everything is very durable, and everything has texture so you can touch it to experience it,” she said. 

Kailee Brohman, another painter, was publicly displaying her art for the first time Saturday. She was thankful and nervous for the opportunity, but also expressed gratitude for all that Brown has down for the area.

“I just love what she is bringing to North Tonawanda,” she said. “Normally, you have to go downtown for something like this, but now, thanks to her, it’s right here.”

Attendees on Saturday also got to grab a bite to eat from Lumber Jake’s Burgers and Shakes, and try some wine from The Traveling Vineyard. Performances were put on by the Marjorie Blakely Dance Studio and Danceamour, and two glassblowers, Jason Rochevot and Aaron Brown, were also there to entertain the crowd. And kids also got the chance to exercise their creative side by painting at a children’s station at the event. 

Although Brown is looking for a full-time job and may reduce her time at the gallery, she knows she wants to continue her work with Project 308 and put on another festival. 

“Regardless, I want to do this again, and learn from what went well this year and what I could improve upon,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.” 

Contact reporterJessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley