Allentown artist attracts international attention

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The ever-popular Allentown Art Festival is this weekend and one local artist, who is only 22-years-old, is already attracting international attention.

Kelsey Merkle wowed everyone during her first appearance at the festival last year, when she took home a prize that is unprecedented for a first timer.

Previously, in 2010, Merkle won the Allentown Art Scholarship and enrolled in one of the top international illustration schools, Sheridan College in Canada. She’s also displayed her work there.

Kelsey loves painting eyes because she says they’re a window into the soul. Much of her artwork is staring back at people who use the bathroom at her mother’s storage shop and facility, Room to Spare, in East Amherst.

She will be bringing her artwork to the Allentown Art Festival this weekend in downtown Buffalo. She used watercolors to paint the eyes and charcoal to create huge portraits, which took her anywhere from 30- to 50-hours to complete.

Her artistic family inspired her to start drawing when she was 7-years-old. She says she never works because she’s doing what she loves and she hopes everyone can find the courage to take a risk and pursue their true passion.

“Try it. You never know what you’re going to like. Even if you fail at it at first just try it again. No one was great at it the first time,” she said.”

“Art can express something that you can’t always get out with words or showing in any other way. Sometimes you got to just put it down on paper or sculpt it and it’s nice to share that with everybody else.”

Kelsey will be at the festival all weekend, which Suns Saturday and Sunday ,11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Every year the festival provides about $25,000 in financial aid to local art students. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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