Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 'Fab! Festival' showcases East Village art, dance, music (photos)

I was heading to the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn on Saturday when I hit a detour in the East Village.

Mike Estabrook and Ernest Concepcion work on a large pastel drawing, part of their "Kangarok" series.
(Photo: Leslie Koch)

East 4th Street was filled with people, performers, craft tables and food stands. Artists were creating a masterpiece in oil pastels right on the street.

A man in a pink bodysuit silently danced and crawled through the crowd, stopping occasionally to strike a bizarre pose.

The Fab! Festival was in full force. This free event showcased local artists, musicians and dancers who perform in the neighborhood's cultural venues.

Needless to say, I did not make it to DUMBO yesterday!

>> More photos! Click here: Photo Album: 2010 East Village "Fab! Festival" and Block Party

Children stare at performers in Lycra suits who danced and crawled their way through the crowd.  (Photo: Leslie Koch)

Spotlight on local arts

The Fab! Festival was a refreshing change from the fairs that normally shut down Manhattan streets.

Gone were the out of town vendors selling fried dough or sausage and peppers.  I couldn't find a single stand selling $2 plastic earrings or pseudo-Guatemalan clothing.

This was not a commercial street fair, but a cultural festival celebrating Lower Manhattan's art scene.

I recently attended a Fringe Festival performance on this same block-- East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery. I was impressed by the wide variety of theaters and cultural centers crammed into such a small area.
Dancers perform on Center Stage at the 2010 Fab! Festival. (photo: Leslie Koch)

It turns out this block is a "cultural district" established by the non-profit group Fourth Arts Block (FAB).

"Home to more than a dozen arts groups, 10 cultural facilities and 17 performances and rehearsal venues, the East 4th Street Cultural District attracts an annual audience of 200,000, serves 1,200 artists and provides more square feet of active cultural use than any other block in New York," boasts the FAB website.

The Fab! Festival served as a preview to FAB's upcoming fall season. Hundreds of community residents gathered to watch emerging artists performing for free on two stages.

However, not everyone was happy with the offerings.

"There are no activities for children! You should be ashamed of yourself! Where are the balloon animals?" shouted a crazed woman.  She gestured wildly at no one in particular.

Art Cart NYC made its debut at the Fab! Festival. This mobile gallery brings art to the streets. (Photo: Leslie Koch)


The Fab! Festival featured a wide variety of street art and performances. Among the most intriguing:

* The "What is todo vanguardia?" cube. A Kabuki- style performer paced inside of a giant box, apparently acting out a scene from an opera. If you know what this is about, please fill me in!

* The Art Cart NYC mobile gallery, housed in a converted U-Haul. It brought the food truck craze to a whole new level.

* The Shining Mantis artists drawing an epic battle in oil pastels, right on the street.

* The random gyrations of the man wearing a pink Lycra bodysuit and crawling through the crowd.

A performer inside a sealed box labeled, "What is todo vanguardia?" (Photo: Leslie Koch)

>> For more information on the Fab! Festival check out the Fourth Arts Block (FAB) website and Twitter page (@fourthartsblock).

>> For additional photos visit the LeslieTravel Facebook page: Photo Album: 2010 East Village "Fab! Festival" and Block Party

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  1. oh man.. the Mike Estabrook and Ernest Concepcion art piece is creepily beautiful! love it! i wanna come visit and go for such stuff with u.. when when when?!! LOL :)

  2. @ Ckik- I'd love for you to come to NYC! I'll show you the town. There are tons of street artists and great free art shows :)

  3. Ahhh I miss NYC so much, I love how it oozes creativeness from every single crevice.

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