PITTSTON — Rose Randazzo believes nothing is happening in a downtown unless art is happening.
That view provided some of the impetus for Randazzo, Pittston’s Main Street manager, to organize the city’s first art walk.
With help from local artists and a Pittston Area teacher, she created the Second Friday Art Walk, which debuts this evening at 5.
“Pittston is going through a major revitalization effort,” Randazzo said. “One of the most important things is public art and getting the art on the street.”
The work of eight artists will be displayed on movable grids in front of various downtown businesses. The former Arts SEEN Gallery, now known as Art on Main, 71 S. Main St., will showcase more than 30 artists who will exhibit their work.
“We also have, as part of the art walk, live entertainment,” Randazzo said. “We have a free concert in the tomato-festival lot. One or two bands will be playing in front of The Music Scene at 36 N. Main. We have a lot of outdoor cafe seating in a lot of the restaurants.”
The city already benefits from Portals to Progress, in which artists paint the doors of downtown businesses. And then there are the heritage mural artist Dwight Kirkland painted on the side of the Pittston Dental Building and various downtown art sculptures. The mural depicts coal miners, garment workers and trains, all part of Pittston’s heritage. Randazzo said Kirkland is coming to the Pittston Tomato Festival in August to paint another mural.
She said she wanted to do in Pittston what is done in the SoHo district in Lower Manhattan, known for its artist lofts and galleries.
Pittston also has a new pocket park next to Napoli’s Pizza on South Main Street, where people can take their own food or a takeout order and eat.
“It’s a cool concept,” Randazzo said. “Pittston is probably the only city in Northeastern Pennsylvania that has a pocket park on Main Street in the middle of the business district.”
The art walk is another way to help Main Street merchants.
“Scranton did First Friday; Wilkes-Barre does Third Friday,” she said.
Another art-walk organizer, Maria Livrone, who took over Arts SEEN Gallery in April 2012 with her boyfriend Bill Zack, said Pittston is having the event on the second Friday so as not to conflict with the other events.
The second Friday is also when her gallery has had special events during the past year.
“We started last spring with Second Friday,” Livrone said. “We would just have 30 local artists do something special for Second Friday, put it in their spaces, and there would be refreshments, and we always had live music.”
Randazzo said a third planner, teacher Sarah Donahue, wanted to help with the downtown, so she was enlisted.
But, she added, what really made the art walk happen was when Livrone came into the mix.
“Maria organized all the artists and is having events in the gallery,” she said.
“Our gallery has the work of 30-plus artists,” Livrone said. “We have two guest artists. Jack Harris, an author, will have a book signing. Tony Maurer built a harmonograph and is bringing it in. People can interact with it.”
She said the device makes designs with pendulums.
Livrone said the event is drawing an overwhelming response from the public and other artists, who want to participate.
“Unfortunately, we have no room,” she said. “It’s going to grow in the future.”
The art walk will take place every second Friday of the warmer months, May, June, July, September and October. There will be none in August due to the tomato festival.
Livrone recommended visitors to the art walk first go to Arts SEEN/Art on Main, where they will find a schedule of the events.
“We will have complimentary refreshments in the gallery,” she said.