SCRANTON — Opportunity.
That’s what two Abington area residents saw when they learned of the Kickstart Art challenge, a contest for local artists with a desire to grow small businesses into retail space in downtown Scranton.
Trinka Ravaioli, of Clarks Summit, and Noreen Blewitt, of South Abington Township, are among the six finalists in the competition, the final phase of which will include pop-up shops, opening Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12 to 14 on Bogart Court. The temporary stores, offering a variety of fine art pieces and handmade items, will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, giving the public a chance to meet the artists.
Following the weekend of pop-up shops, the winner or winners of the competition will be chosen and awarded six months of free rent in a Bogart Boutique shop. Winners must maintain a presence there for at least one year.
Blewitt, who has enjoyed art her entire life and began painting professionally about 15 years ago, said for her, the challenge presents an opportunity to have a gallery in an area which many people are hoping will become “a vibrant art community.”
She said she believes this vision will be realized, and she is excited to be a part of it, if chosen.
“It has really come alive,” Blewitt said of the area’s art scene. “It’s so beautiful. …You can see the art community growing in downtown Scranton.
“I work from home, so to be a part of a vibrant community of artists, to me, is both motivating and inspirational.”
Ravaioli expressed a similar attraction to this aspect of community.
The West Scranton native described the architecture and history of the city as “authentic and beautiful,” adding those are qualities she looks for in people as well.
“My family is from here and I love it,” she said. “It’s the real deal and there’s nothing fake about it.”
She emphasized although she currently works from home as a graphic designer and painter, and gains a lot of business by word of mouth, having a storefront space will provide a new avenue of marketing for her business and a new support system for herself as an artist.
“It’s a total jumping off point for me,” she said.
Blewitt entered the competition along with her sister, Maryclair Jordan, of Dia Studio, and daughter Jennifer, of Jennifer Blewitt Photography. The trio hopes to open a studio and gallery space under one new name.
The other of the six finalists is Kari Johnson, of AOS Metals.
The Kickstart Art challenge is sponsored by Donald J. Rinaldi, developer of The Renaissance at 500.
To learn more about The Renaissance at 500 and the Kickstart Art challenge, visit thekickstartart.com.