Eleanor Wedel (left) and her mother, Coral Wedel (right), pose in some of the decorations that will be on display at the 20th Ohio Paw Paw Festival. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

Albany Celebrating 20th Ohio Paw Paw Festival with Community Art Making

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There’s something exciting cooking up in a former floral shop in Albany, OH. The awning of the building is decorated in colorful strings of pennant flags, a large gate painted the bright green and yellow hues of the paw paw sits against the building, and large papier-mâché paw paws dangle all around the storefront entrance.

“I’m starting to think of it as a paw paw pop-up art making studio,” said Rachel Clark, an artist in residence at Passion Works and the person at the epicenter of the art making. “We’re trying to make Albany the center of the paw paw universe.”

The project is known, as its Facebook page declares, “Community Art Making in Albany! Celebrating the 20th Paw Paw Fest.”

The exterior of the former floral shop in Albany that is now being used to craft artwork to display at the 2018 Ohio Paw Paw Festival. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

For the past several weeks, the pop-up has occupied the formerly empty storefront on Washington Street, inviting the community to stop by and take advantage of the vast store of paints, cloth, and other donated materials in time to make decorations for the 20th annual Ohio Paw Paw Festival, which will be held Friday, September 14 through Sunday, September 16 at Lake Snowden.

The project is the result of a partnership between Chris Chmiel, the festival organizer for the Ohio Paw Paw Festival, Donna Collins, the executive director of the Ohio Arts Council, and Passion Works Studio.

“It’s this exciting trifecta that is trying to promote community building and art making in Albany,” said Clark. “This has been our first experiment in the area, so we just have this space for a month right now before the festival, but we have been getting a lot of exciting requests from community members wanting us in here for a longer-term capacity.”

Clark emphasized that anyone is welcome to join the fun, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, through Tuesday, September 11.

“I think that every day that we are here, it’s an exciting idea for the community to warm up to,” said Clark. “We have all the materials, so all we need is for people to walk through the door with some energy and willingness to try new things with us.”

Listen to WOUB’s entire interview with Clark and Ross Di Penti embedded above.