Eyes were turned to darkening skies at the annual Westville Village ArtWalk Festival this weekend, but veterans of the annual event were unfazed. In its 16 years, few can remember an ArtWalk where rain didn’t make a cameo of some kind.
Saturday’s festival saw a few light showers, but tented and indoor activities ensured a good time for all those who braved the forecast. Westville Village Renaissance Alliance Executive Director Chris Heitmann acknowledged that Saturday’s turnout was somewhat diminished by the threat of rain. But Friday evening’s attendance was up, owing to the planned increase of gallery and studio openings and activities, with many held in nontraditional venues. “We made sure to put the art in ArtWalk,” he said.
While arts and crafts vendors did not see the heavy foot traffic normally associated with the festival, many did quite well in the lead-up to Mother’s Day. One of the more popular booths belonged to Lauren Wilson of “Animate my Face,” whose painted-face creations seemed especially vibrant under the grey skies.
Artist illustrator Raheem Nelson, aka, “Ra” (left), was selling his iPad illustrations of popular New Haven jaunts, while next table over, printmaker and graphic designer Allan Greenier, showed his engraved sneakers image used for this year’s ArtWalk logo, created by Design Monsters: a pair of converse sneakers emblazoned on T shirts and some print materials.
Visiting the from Fair Haven was social media consultant Voytek Wacowski, who struck a yoga pose to display his own pair of Converse sneakers.
Steps away at Aquila Motors, pet adoption folks showed tail-wagging friendly dogs eager for a good home. A tiger-faced Alexander Kontogiannis of Earl Street posed with his dad and a dog.
Also under the Aquila canopy: a ceramic making demonstration and Westville resident Aly Fox, with her “I Map New Haven” project that asks participants to “Map the places you’ve lived or done something clever. ... Mark an “X” write some words-draw a sketch of your city.”
The adjacent “Cigar store wall,” owned by Westville’s Eric Epstein, has become a popular spot for large installations including this years. This year it was the “Before I Die” project organized by Valerie Belanger. Festival-goers wrote public expressions of their aspirations or things on their “bucket wish lists.”
Across the street at the Lesley Roy complex, artist Fara Gold showed her intimate “Transformations” collage creations hung on beautifully decorated re-purposed doors.
One of around seven artists showing in area studios was Sigrun Mueller of 55 Fountain St. Shown here with a couple of friends (center), Sigrun showed a series of beautifully illustrated tree images that she said were inspired by a statement made by the late astronomer Carl Sagan.
Westville’s, Da Silva Gallery and Kehler Liddell galleries were well attended. Some 500 reported visitors attending the topical “The Right To Bear Arms: Artists Respond” exhibit on Friday evening alone.
At DaSilva Gallery, Evie Lindemann welcomed visitors to her “Roots and Wings” exhibit, which runs through June 1.
Keys on Kites Tattoo & Gallery featured the work of artist Dooley-O in a Saturday afternoon opening and reception.
Not all artwork featured appeared on Gallery walls. At the Smokestack on Blake Street, A Broken Umbrella Theater workers were preparing props and staging for their next production in June, called “Free Wheelers,” to be staged at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Outside the building, an old bus was receiving a fresh coat of paint courtesy of Keys on Kites artists. Street artist B-Wak, was all business, busily spraying on the Broken Umbrella Theater Logo. The theater company’s co-founder, Ian Alderman, said the bus would be used as a traveling dressing because “we never perform in the same place twice.”
At the other smoke stack at the Blake Street Center, New Haven Historian Colin M. Caplan, in a departure from his popular Taste of New Haven food tours, could be seen leading a tour of Westville’s history and places.
Policing the walkways of ArtWalk was street caretaker Ariette Johnson, a former Marine, who said she “keeps Westville clean,” proudly posing in a bright orange jacket.
On Friday evening, wine expert Elliot Brause was at his usual post at Westville Wines conducting his weekly wine tasting, but with noticeably larger crowds. On Saturday, he was sitting as still as a statue in the middle room at Lyric Hall as Arlow artist Steve DiGiovanni rendered his portrait during a live painting demonstration. In the restoration room at the front of the Lyric Hall building, DiGiovanni’s masterful works co-mingled with the shop’s antique paintings in an informal gallery arrangement.
ArtWalk events slate of arts and crafts for children at Edgewood Park seemed larger than ever. Back was the popular spin-art station under the orchestration of artist Muffy Pendergast.
A far cry from your mother’s hula hoops of old, extra large decorated hoops were pressed into action at the “hula station” by kids of all ages.
Jaime Kane’s giant Community Magnet Poetry Board, encouraged participants to “express yourself, speak from the heart, and live your words.”
Though this year’s festival attendees were fewer in number, ArtWalk’s slate of activities was at its most expansive; the spirit that informs the extensive volunteerism and commitment to the arts stronger than ever.
Click here to see a complete list of this year’s ArtWalk event’s activities.