Buses will become things of beauty in Valley art contests this summer

City transit buses will become a canvas for art this summer in Youngstown and its suburbs.

As part of a contest, art created by local residents will be mounted on the sides of Western Reserve Transit Authority buses.

Power of the Arts, the regional advocacy group for artists, is sponsoring the program, in conjunction with the WRTA.

Artworks will be reproduced and mounted on 21-inch by 59-inch placards on the sides of buses in the fleet. Some pieces will get the full wrap treatment, making the entire bus into an eye-catching canvas.

“We loved the idea that WRTA buses would become a rolling public gallery, bringing art to us as we go about our days,” said Karen Schubert, coordinator of POA.

“One goal is that artists will see their work and feel encouraged by a community that cares so much about art. And we also want to make WRTA buses more visible, recognizing that they are a critical community asset.”

The art will start appearing in late spring or early summer. Schubert believes the bus-art project is a first for the Mahoning Valley.

WRTA buses have long been rolling billboards, generating revenue from the large advertisements mounted on their sides.

But Dean Soroka, advertising sales manager for the transit authority, was instantly on board with the art idea. “When I was first approached by Karen Schubert, I thought it was an awesome idea,” said Soroka.

It reminded him of a citywide project in 2004 in which 29 Youngstown State University Penguin statues were decorated by local artists and set up around town.

For the bus project, 18 works of art will be selected – each the winner of a contest – and will remain on a bus for at least two months.

For information about the contests and how to enter them, go to powerofthearts.org. Winners will receive a $100 honorarium and will be invited to a reception where they will meet their sponsors. There is no fee to enter the contest. Artists must live in Mahoning or Trumbull counties and can be any age. For information, email poa.infor@gmail.com.

Artists are limited to one submission per contest, but may submit to more than one contest if they qualify.

Some of the contest sponsors have restrictions.

“For example, Trumbull New Theatre will sponsor an artist from Niles and give preference to a theater theme,” said Schubert.

“Easterseals invites artists to work on a project with their clients, adults and children with disabilities. Timbre is interested in a collaboration of students working together. And Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will sponsor an African-American female artist to depict the Harlem Renaissance.”

A panel of local artists will judge the entries, which will also be displayed by the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

The list of sponsors also includes the Public Library, Cultivate: a Co-op Cafe, Jet Creative, Mahoning County Land Bank, Lit Youngstown, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, McKinley Memorial Museum, SMARTS: Students Motivated by the Arts, Dr. Alexis Smith, The Soap Gallery, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, Youngstown CityScape, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the YWCA of Mahoning Valley.

Schubert said POA hopes the project will be taken up in classrooms throughout Valley schools.


The First Ladies, also known as The Presidents’ Wives, are looking for area women who want to join the historic re-enactor troupe.

The Ladies, which is sponsored by Salem Preservation, has been entertaining area clubs, churches, alumni and social organizations for more than 10 years.

They present an enjoyable and light-hearted look back in history by chatting about their time in the White House.

The group presents its program as a social tea that they are hosting at he White House. They banter about their husbands’ ways, their children and their causes, while sharing anecdotes about life in Washington, D.C.

The teas range from quite humorous to very serious, as the Ladies suit each program to the tastes of the organization they are entertaining.

Over the years, the Ladies have presented teas that represent many different eras and aspects of United States history. Their programs include Victorian First Ladies, Ohio Presidents’ Wives, Christmas in the White House, White House at War, Life in the “Early” years, Family Life and Children, and 20th Century First Ladies.

Those who might be interested in joining and would like to learn more can contact Arlene K. Schwartz at 330-337-6829 or schwartzda214@gmail.com. There is no memorization necessary to participate in the group. Each lady simply reads about their chosen character in order to better portray her.

All of the First Ladies members are volunteers who do it for the enjoyment of sharing knowledge of the presidents’ wives.

Clubs or organizations who would like to book the First Ladies can contact Schwartz.

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.

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