Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 was the inaugural Riverdale Festival of the Arts (

The event was the brainchild of three women -- me, Linda Manning and Tracy Shelton.

(Artwork shown, Franco Defrancesca and Allison Gregory, Elisa Contemporary Art.  Photo by Byron Kates)

Together we created a live art and music festival geared to bring people together, connect them on an emotional level and help support the local community. And it worked!

It was a beautiful sunny Autumn day and we have over 1,000 people join us over the 5 hour festival!

I was responsible from bringing in the artists and artists organizations. I reached out to a number of local artists, posted calls to artists and contacted museum directors. 

The result was a great mix of local and international artists and artwork, as well as presences from some local arts organizations. 

 My gallery, Elisa Contemporary Art, was joined by the Derfner Judaica Museum and Art Collection, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and No Longer Empty. 

We had individual artists from Abstractionist Barbara Laube, to Photographer Anna Purves to Korean Artist Nu Ryu and studio mates Joy Langer and Jennifer Shotton and many others.

There were several areas set up for kids to create their own projects as well spearheaded by the Scribble Art Workshops, Bedrock Preschool and the Riverdale Y.

The stage hosted both local and international talent including Tenor Saxophonist, Eric Alexander, NYC Rock band, Sweet Fix, a wind ensemble from the Bronx Arts Ensemble and performances from local theater.

What we heard from participants and attendees was:

"The quality of the work, music, other exhibits was outstanding, and the whole feeling and vibe of the event was the most gratifying of all."

" Just wanted to thank you for a great day! The event was awesome...met a lot of great artistic people."

“It was great for people to see how much is going on in Riverdale. There haven’t been enough events that bring the community together." 

What I also loved is the follow up that I have seen between artists -- the wanting to stay connected, stay in touch and support each other.

I really do believe that Art (and I mean that in the broadest sense of the word - from visual to audio and more) has such a strong power to connect us to each other, go beyond the differences and see the commonalities.  

It does have the ability to create a community, a "village" even within a large concrete jungle.

I am honored (and exhausted) to have been one of the driving forces to make this event happen and to generate the awareness to make it a success. 

My thanks to my partners Linda Manning and Tracy Shelton (the 3 of us shown here for the media event at my gallery).