EVER SINCE HUMANS began cultivating crops and domesticating animals about 10,000 years ago, harvest festivals have flourished around the world. Occasions marking the intimate connection between the planet’s bounty and our species’ well-being continue even in the most urban of settings.
The 25th Annual MAVUNO Festival of African American Arts & Culture takes place Sat. Sept. 18 from 4-9 p.m. at Riverfront Park, 300 Chadwick St., Sewickley, featuring live music from LOCAL 412, NON1, SpecialK, Fresco Savant and Barbados Black and an extensive open-air marketplace with art, crafts, apparel and beauty items.
It’s free and open to the public and follows the previous evening’s Opening Reception (Fri. Sept. 17 from 7-9 p.m.) at Sweetwater Center for the Arts for a new exhibit running to Oct. 23 — First Fruit: Bring Me Your Best showcasing works by local artists Norman Brown, Elizabeth Asche Douglas, Dr. Amber Epps, Jayla Patton, Dominique Scaife and Brett Wormsley.
“Mavuno” derives from the Swahili words for “harvest” and “roots”, according to Elizabeth Asche Douglas, who co-founded the festival with Sewickley Academy history teacher Joan James.
Ms. Douglas operates Douglas Art Gallery in Rochester, PA and was the first African-American graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art before obtaining a Master of Arts in the History of Art and Architecture from University of Pittsburgh. She has fashioned a prolific, award-winning career in teaching, visual arts, publishing and (as Betty Douglas) a popular vocalist specializing in American jazz standards.
“Every culture has something they connect to symbolically,” says Ms. Douglas. “MAVUNO celebrates the elemental bond between our natural environment and the powerful inspiration we feel when we with express those feelings through the arts.”
* For more information on exhibit and festival, see https://sweetwaterartcenter.org/ or call Sweetwater Center for the Arts at (412) 741-4405.