SEWICKLEY — Mavuno, a festival created by the Sweetwater Center For the Arts to highlight BIPOC artists, strives to definitively prove the value and talent of the city’s marginalized creators and performers. The festival continues to grow, as, this year, they present more artists, and a beer garden courtesy of an important voice for diversity in Pittsburgh’s creative spaces.
Unlike the rest of the festival, the beer garden comes with a separate ticket price and is only open to attendees 21 and over.
Created 27 years ago by Black artists and educators in and around Sewickley, including the late Elizabeth “Betty” Douglas, Mavuno takes place during the traditional African harvest season in September and October. The name of the festival comes from a Swahili word meaning “first fruit.”
The Friday kickoff will feature live readings from local poets Veronica Corpuz, Gwendolyn A. Mitchell, Doralee Brooks, and Bonita L. Penn, and the opening reception for In Life…, an art exhibition curated by Deavron Dailey and Janet Watkins.
In addition to Dailey and Watkins, In Life… will display pieces by Alecia Dawn Young, Douglas J. Webster, Ernest Bey, Marlon Gist, Marce Nixon, and Norman Brown
“We really reached deep into our artistic network to put together a group of artists that we feel will really embody the essence of what we were trying to convey with this exhibition,” Dailey states in a promotional video for the event.
This reception will also include a memorial for Douglas, who passed away in July. According to the event description, several pieces of her artwork will be on display, along with a speech by the Women of Visions Collective.
The Saturday event features over 15 vendors from all around the area, and, aside from the beer garden, will showcase live performances by NASH.V.ILL. and Icy Pisces.
This festival, ultimately, “aims to foster dialogue in the greater Pittsburgh community and create opportunities” for artists, while providing 100% of sales to over 15 vendors, including Burghade, ZACButters, and Wild Rise Bakery.
Various arts organizations described as aligning “perfectly with the festival’s mission to amplify BIPOC voices in the arts” will also appear. This includes Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a longtime local nonprofit focused on art, music, and education, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center, which will be on-site with its Hot Wheels mobile glass-blowing truck.
Mavuno has been solely dedicated to its mission through many changes in the city, local art city, and BIPOC community. Now, as attention and resources grow around these issues, Mavuno will continue towards their goal, but with the creativity and reach to add to their programming and further enhance the experience.
Mavuno Festival. Fri., Sept. 15- Sat., Sept. 16. Sweetwater Center for the Arts. 200 Broad St., Sewickley/Riverfront Park. 300 Chadwick St., Sewickley. Free. Beer garden $20 in advance, $25 at the door. sweetwaterartcenter.org