Taking in the sounds of Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps and Arms & Voices as a mist began to fall over Whalley Avenue, pint-sized Westvillian Ava Kimbro and her mom Marjorie made a decision: stick it out, at least until Ava could get a big, blooming flower painted on her face. After all, this was their third Westville Artwalk, and they weren’t going to be that easily deterred. They inched toward the front of the line, where face artist Lauren Wilson was hard at work with her palettes, brushes, and stencils.
That — resilience the face of an intermittent drizzle, lots of umbrellas, and the occasional joke about wearing wool and winter boots in May — was the theme of Westville’s 19th annual Artwalk, held Friday night through Saturday around Central and Whalley Avenues and in a section of Edgewood Park. Despite a driving rain Saturday morning that pushed events back an hour, hundreds of attendees turned out, taking advantage of free, family-friendly activities, tours of nearby ArLoW, Lotta Studios, Beecher Park, Westville’s myriad art galleries, and pop-up markets galore.
In Edgewood Park, the threat of rain did little to keep away Westville’s families. Linda Young and LaRoya Porter came out with their kids and kids’ playdates for this year’s promise of interactive, kid-friendly activities. While Young’s daughter Bella, 4, went straight for the bike-powered spin art tent, Porter’s daughter Layla Uqdah-Jennings, son Zahir Uqdah-Jennings, and nephew Travon Spell headed to a muddy spot where Air Temple Arts had set up shop, the three trying to master the rhythmic stylings of artists Stacey and Nick Kigner, who got them set up with twirly ribbons and small juggling sacs.
They were serenaded from the stage by A Broken Umbrella Theatre Company, which gave a preview of its May 15 gala, “Made of New Haven” ...
... and from the ground by cyclist-educator Paul Hammer, whose pedicab struck a steady and gentle whirr and crunch against the mud and pavement as it completed short trips between the park and nearby avenues. Around there, on a rarely blocked-off sliver of Whalley, the Hillhouse Marching Band kept the crowd warm with its infinitely danceable, seamlessly smooth musical stylings ...
... while kids tried their hands at some instrumental improvisations of their own, banging away at an array of plastic crates, pans, and boxes affixed to the side of Aquila Motors’ lot to make a percussion wall.
Down Central and Whalley, the sound of their impromptu-music making mingled with the best of Artwalk’s quirky soundscape, adding an unexpected layer to not just the marching band’s immaculate performance, but also to the likes of Sambaleza, Edgewood Jazz, and Dr. Caterwaul’s, where accordionist Adam Matlock stunned and delighted with a version of TLC’s “Waterfalls.”
The sound made it inside Westville’s galleries, storefronts, and Lyric Hall too, where makers and artists including Tammy Chapman, Hayne Bayless, and Liz Pagano had set up a pop-up market.
Back in Edgewood Park, some extra yarn bombing was well underway ...
... and Alisa Bowens gave an end-of-Artwalk salsa lesson to a small but enthusiastic crowd who had stuck it out.
Watching the day’s events unfold, local filmmaker Travis Carbonella finished the afternoon with a big grin on his face. When the Independent asked him why, Carbonella — who considers himself about 1000 percent Westvillian, and lives above Manjares Pastry Shop — smiled.
“It’s like our Christmas,” he said.