'Emerging Artists' make their debuts at Arts Festival

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A purple banner with the words "Emerging Artist" stretched across the top of Sherry Rusinack's tent at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, distinguishing hers from nearby displays as the festival opened to visitors today.

The banner marks Ms. Rusinack, 34, as one of eight Emerging Artist Scholarship recipients among hundreds of vendors at this year's festival, but with her mohawk and her eclectic mixed media work, she didn't need the bold white letters to stand out among the crowd.

"All I wanted was for people to look," Ms. Rusinack said, as passers-by gawked at the giant skull hanging in the back of her tent in Gateway Center.

The Emerging Artist Scholarship Program helps Pittsburgh artists present their work at an outdoor show for the first time. The program covers the festival entrance fee and provides a tent and basic equipment for each artist.

Blake Anthony, 29, is running his business, Pittsburgh Pottery, from his basement right now, and the scholarship gave the company its outdoor debut.

"Our whole house has been kind of taken over as a pottery studio," Mr. Anthony said.

But the work of building his business is a rewarding one, he said, and his colorful pottery and "Drink up, yinz" coffee mugs were already drawing crowds in the festival's first hours.

"I'll be proud of this product," he said.

Rose Duggan, another scholarship recipient, stood quietly at the edge of the her own tent. The 24-year-old said she was nervous but ready to display her abstract acrylic paintings.

"I want people to get a feel for something that's handmade," Ms. Duggan said. "I think that's harder and harder to find now. ... Buying something that's handmade is really rare and really something that's special in your home."

Scholarship recipients like Ms. Duggan could also work with a mentor, a fellow artist ready to answer questions about the show. The program gave her more confidence to showcase her work, Ms. Duggan said.

"We're all sort of working in our houses or in our studios and this one day we all come out and show everyone what we've made," she said.

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Megan Doyle; mdoyle@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1953. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published June 7, 2013 8:15 PM


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