By Nick Wagner and Matt Mattei - [email protected] - [email protected]

As part of the Wyoming Valley RiverFest, first Artists’ River Tour set for Saturday

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A photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25.
Matt Mattei | Times Leader
A photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25.
Matt Mattei | Times Leader
Andrea Mantione, left, of Plains Township, and Darlene Gubino, of West Wyoming, take a break from kayaking in West Pittston.
Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

WEST PITTSTON — It’s the best river in the state, according to Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers. Now’s your chance to get a closer look.

Jan Lokuta will host the first Artists’ River Tour of the Susquehanna River from Harding to West Pittston on Friday from Harding. The event invites artists, aspiring artists and anyone else who would like to join the Riverfront Parks Committee and Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe Rental for a leisurely paddle down the Susquehanna River as part of the Wyoming Valley RiverFest.

The trip will feature opportunities to stop along the way to sketch, draw or photograph the scenic river. Participants are invited to share their creations at RiverFest in Wilkes-Barre’s Nesbitt Park Saturday.

Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the West Pittston River Commons and be shuttled six miles up the river to Apple Tree Boat Launch in Harding.

“The trip is designed for artists,” Lokuta said. “We’re thinking we’ll be on the river for three to four hours. That will include two stops.”

The stops will be just below Campbell’s Ledge and the other just above the mouth of the Lackawanna River.

The North Branch of the Susquehanna River was recently named the 2016 River of the Year. Lokuta also said this year’s RiverFest coincides with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

“RiverFest has been going on since 2000,” Lokuta said. “It started off as a one-day festival dedicated to highlighting the value of the Susquehanna River as a historical natural resource. We really expanded it to a three-day event now.”

Dallas artist Sue Hand has paddled the entire North Branch of the Susquehanna and floated the course scheduled for June 24 with Lokuta and others about two weeks ago.

“The river is magnificent,” Hand said. “It tells me what to paint. I don’t ever go out on the river with a preconceived notion. There’s always the mystery of, ‘What’s around the river bend?’”

Hand said the Susquehanna is a wealth of colors, textures, changing reflections and natural beauty. She recommends the river tour to fellow artists.

“I’d say, do it,” Hand said. “Plein air painting is not just painting from a still life. It’s painting from life itself. You’re going to be with a group of people who love art and, from the kayaking point of view, you’ll be in total safety with people who are experts in their field.”

The trip is part of four river tours Susquehanna Kayak will offer as part of RiverFest. There will be one at 4 p.m. Friday from West Pittston to Nesbitt Park; at 8 a.m. Saturday from Harding to Nesbitt Park; and 8 a.m. Sunday from Nesbitt Park to Hunlock Creek.

Cost for each tour is $45 with a recreational kayak rental, $60 with a tandem kayak or canoe rental, or $25 if participants bring their own kayak. Cost covers shuttle service, T-shirts and river guides.

For more information about the kayak trip, contact Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe Rental at 570-388-6107 or visit www.kayaktheriver.com.

“They focus the mind’s eye on reality,” Lokuta said of artists. “We want them to see the beauty of the Susquehanna River as it is.”

Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

First river tour for artists set for Friday, June 24

By Nick Wagner and Matt Mattei

[email protected]

[email protected]

A photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_Susquehanna_resized.jpgA photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25. Matt Mattei | Times Leader

A photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_Susquehanna_resized.CMYK_.jpgA photograph taken by Jan Lokuta on a previous River Tour was made a painting by young artists and now sits in Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Artists on the June 24 tour can show their creations at RiverFest on June 25. Matt Mattei | Times Leader

Andrea Mantione, left, of Plains Township, and Darlene Gubino, of West Wyoming, take a break from kayaking in West Pittston.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_TTL062115RiverFest_6.jpgAndrea Mantione, left, of Plains Township, and Darlene Gubino, of West Wyoming, take a break from kayaking in West Pittston. Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch
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Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick