Winterfest at The Frick offers art, winter activities


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

A family ice skates during Winterfest at The Frick on Jan. 15.

By Ananya Pathapadu, Staff Writer

A little girl stands at the edge of the skating rink as her dad holds her hands and encourages her to step forward. She takes that first step and makes her way across the rink with her dad, slowly gaining more confidence. This skating rink is one of many activities available at The Frick Winterfest. 

Winterfest at The Frick is an outdoor event featuring activities such as skating, live performances, guided art-making, carriage rides and more. Winterfest is a two-weekend event taking place Jan. 14 to 16 and Jan. 21 to 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With such a large space to hold this event, Arianna Lower, event manager at The Frick, said they have a variety of activities spread across the many buildings.

“We are 10 acres, and we try to utilize every portion of it. We have glass blowing from Pittsburgh Glass Center, we have carriage rides, we have a skating rink, our art museum is free and open to everyone,” Lower said. “We also have Clayton tours for our historic mansion. And then we have winter site walks, just talking about winter traditions in the Gilded Age.”

Attendees of Winterfest also saw glass blowing demonstrations from the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Trained educators from PGC demonstrated glassblowing at Winterfest as they talked about the art and science of glassmaking. 

Sara Droz, a resident of Point Breeze, came to Winterfest with her niece and nephew and thought their favorite part of this event was the glass blowing demonstration.

“Watching these glass blowing demonstrations. I’ve always wanted to see this,” Droz said. “My niece and nephew, who are 9 and 10, are mesmerized and could sit here all day which never happens.”

Steve Cicero, a history teacher from Butler County and a docent at the Frick Museum, shows everyday objects from the Gilded Age during Winterfest at The Frick, such as this toaster. (Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer)

Another Winterfest attendee, Jenny Tabrum, came to the event with her granddaughter and found the art museum enjoyable, especially given it was Henry Clay Frick’s private collection of art pieces.

“We went to the art museum … To know that it was somebody’s personal collection is a wonderful thing to see,” Tabrum said. 

One of the museum’s goals is to foster engagement in the community through the activities offered at events such as Winterfest, said CJ Dawson, a studio arts teacher at The Frick. 

“I think it’s just a really great way to engage with your community, to welcome more people to the Frick and continue to expand and grow our audience and engage with people of all ages, because that is the goal here today with all the fun stuff happening,” Dawson said. “We really want to cement ourselves as a piece of this community, that we’re open to all and it’s a space for us to share and learn from each other.”

Dawson, a 2022 Pitt alum, discussed the history of the museum and how it grew from just the Frick mansion to the institution it is today. 

“The Frick is an institution — it was originally just the Frick mansion, and he, Henry Clay Frick, whose family lived in the mansion, also continued to purchase the grounds here,” Dawson said. “So the grounds that we are on today is the extent of his land here in Pittsburgh.”

Dawson explained that Henry Clay Frick lived in the Frick mansion until he moved to New York City, at which point his daughter Helen worked to continue the legacy of the Frick family in Pittsburgh. 

“She started the art museum, so that kind of continued the legacy of the Frick family into making it the space that you see today with the Car and Carriage Museum, the greenhouse, the art museum, we’re in the education center here right now, which was previously the garage where the cars were parked, which is kind of a cool tidbit,” Dawson said.

Sarah Stewart, a 2007 Pitt graduate from Squirrel Hill, sits with her daughter Jo while she makes clay figures with a Frick Museum educator during Winterfest at The Frick. (Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer)

Among the many buildings at The Frick is the Education Center, where Dawson led artmaking activities this past weekend using tools such as watercolor and modeling clay. 

“I am an art teacher here at The Frick. So we have a couple different artmaking events happening today,” Dawson said. “We are doing watercolor in the classroom, we are also doing experiments with model magic and making really fun creatures out of that.”

The Education Center had tables with people sitting among one another picking up paintbrushes and trying out the watercolor. Dawson emphasized the importance of getting involved in creative activities regardless of your age. 

“I think it’s super important for people to get involved here because we all love making things right? It’s really fun to exercise those creative muscles and use our imaginations while we’re here,” Dawson said. “As you can see in the classroom right now, we have people of all ages doing the activities. I like to stress that to everyone, because adults need to make things too and it’s really fun.”

With the many activities available for people of all ages, Winterfest is a local, community event taking place on a piece of land that is intertwined with the history of Pittsburgh. Dawson said The Frick seeks to welcome and foster engagement with the Pittsburgh community. 

“Obviously as a piece of private land before, it wasn’t open to everyone, but now we want to make it more of a space that is for the community and where we’re able to welcome people of all ages and backgrounds and just foster that love for history, science and art as best we can,” Dawson said.