It's going to be a night in Riverhead, unlike any other. When the clock strikes five o'clock on August 8, arts and culture will transform Riverhead into a cultural hot spot. Expect to find live music, a flash mob channeling Michael Jackson, a wine tasting, a ballet performance, poetry readings, clog dancers, a teen idol competition and more.
Then there's the visual art. A new juried show opens at the East End Art Gallery plus around 13 artists take to the streets to unveil temporary public installations that include participatory art, a video projection, murals and some unusual projects. Most are one-night only presentations but a few of the public murals remain on view past Friday.
It's all part of "JumpstART", an evening of public art that free for the public. It takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2014 with the dramatic finales launching at 8 p.m. The Peconic River will be set ablaze during RiverFires, presented by the Riverhead BID. A participatory fire ceremony with drums and art, "We are All Connected", begins at 8 p.m. on the grounds of East End Arts. Around the corner, the "Light Murals" projects begin in the public parking lot adjacent to the Peconic River.
Most of the visual arts project were born in "JumpstART", a new program which melds the practical business of staging public arts and securing funding with art making. An initiative of East End Arts (EEA), the program was developed as a way to help the arts integrate with the business community to create additional reasons for people to visit, according to EEA.
“JumpstART is a great example of how the arts can directly inspire a community with positive energy and support the economy by bringing visitors to Downtown," stated East End Arts Executive Director Pat Snyder in a project release. "The JumpstART artists are delighted to be sharing their creativity with the public. It’s going to be a terrific night.”
The project had communities who are striving for economic revitalization, such as Riverhead, to keep minds open to incorporate arts and culture programming as ways to draw people to walking downtowns. Snyder anticipates this model can be replicated and could benefit other Long Island communities when business owners and political powers link arms with artists.
Artists also benefit by raising awareness of opportunities that may exist in the public sector and are better prepared to step up with public art proposals, according to East End Arts. In the initial JumpstART program, 16 artists were selected from 36 applicants, stated EEA. Friday's event is the culmination of the program which began in March 2014.
JumpstART artists presenting art or culture are photographer Miranda Gatewood, painters Barbara Maslen, Annemarie Waugh, Caitlyn Shea, Lorraine Manzo Angeletti and Jessica Valentin (aka Ratgrrl); ceramic sculptor Tina Folks; mixed media artists Ginger Balizer-Hendler; Charles Manfredi and Kristina Howard; natural interpretive artist Charlene Pulsonetti; multi-media artist Carolyn Munaco and window-mural painter Karen Noack.
Susan Dingle, who focuses on spoken word, is presenting an open mic with featured poets in “Poetry Street… Where every voice is heard!” at the Blue Duck Bakery. Blue Spruce Cloggers present a dance performance featuring clog, tap and Irish Step Dancing at Grangebel Park.
Information about the artists and their projects can be found by clicking here.
While Friday is the crowning glory, there has been plenty of work gearing up for the golden moment.
Miranda Gatewood has been staging test runs of her "Light Murals" video project all week, she said. The projections feature her landscape photography of vistas within a 10-mile radius of Downtown Riverhead. Projecting natural beauty onto buildings falling into disrepair is a "metaphor for projecting possibilities for the future of the township undergoing reconstruction and renewal," she said.
Caitlyn Shea has been painting a new mural for Riverhead that will remain after Friday has gone. The painting features a larger-than-life hummingbird as a way of "...representing the rapid and industrious rhythm of the community as it works towards further revitalization," according to the project website.
Jessica Valentin, also known as Ratgrrl, has had her work cut out for her: The Oakdale artist is presenting an "epic street art style visual treasure hunt" that will take participants around Riverhead, scouting for her work, according to the project description. The "Ratgrrl Royalty Project" also has community-building in mind and encourages participants to consider themselves either King or Queen and an important part of a family of royalty, wrote Valentin.
Working behind the scenes at her studio is natural interpretive artist Charlene Pulsonetti of Remsenburg. NY. Her participatory multi-media artwork, Sanctum, is a temporary structure where participants enter to take some moments away from the everyday to give peace and positivity the chance to settle in.
Quiet contemplation is fostered inside the intimate space through a combination of recorded sound, ambient lighting, bean bag "boulders", and crow silhouettes rising to apex of the dome, said Pulsonetti.
"With Sanctum, I hope to bring a calm, relaxing space to the participant," she wrote in an email. "They can sit inside for as long as they wish during the event to meditate and be 'in the moment.' With our busy lives, it is sometimes hard to achieve this. I hope that after experiencing the project, it will encourage the participant to seek out inner peace in their daily lives."
The artist team of Tina Folks and Lorraine Manzo Angeletti have also been working behind the scenes to create and practice the presentation of their multi-media participatory piece. We are all Connected incorporates art, a fire ceremony, drumming, spoken word and the Hindu practice of the tree pose in to explore a universal theme of community, according to a project description.
Artists with works already completed and installed include Karen Noack of Centereach who created the Symbolic Language of Flowers. The window mural is "...an expression of emotions and feelings using the symbolic language of flowers, which was a method of personal communication during the Victorian era," Noack explained in a project description.
Also installed is Charles Manfredi's Baldies Visit Riverhead. The miniature installation features a backdrop of the newly-renovated Suffolk Theater populated with signature "baldies," three-inch tall painted figures representing the merchants and patrons in Riverhead, according to East End Arts.
BASIC FACTS: "JumpstART" takes place on Friday, August 8, from 5 to 9 p.m. in Riverhead, NY. Many of the installations and cultural events take place besides the Peconic River, along East Main Street or on the grounds of East End Arts, located at 133 East Main Street, Riverhead, NY 11901. www.eastendarts.org.
JumpstART is an East End Arts program with funding by the Long Island Community Foundation, Suffolk County Department of Economic Development, All for the East End (AFTEE) and Riverhead Business Improvement District.
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