November 2017

By Stephen E. Lipken


It was truly “Arts” Tale of Two Cities, as the Eighth Annual 2017 ArtsFest pivoted between Pelham and New Rochelle, October 6-8.


Our journey begins at Jolo’s Vegan Restaurant and Art Gallery, 47 Lawton St., New Rochelle, featuring works by co-owner Tania Guerrera, a Puerto Rican Yoga teacher.   “My artwork…is called ‘Taino Meditations.’  It is a woman inside of a Taino motif, which is the sun.  She is sitting in meditation and the phases of the moon surround her.  She sits on a lotus flower.


“Most of my works were in my book, ‘Recapitulations’ along with my poetry, incorporating my Puerto Rican heritage in my art, along with some African motifs,” Guerrera stated.


Guerrera also introduced  a hard sour cider, crafted  by Chris Sheldon, Diner  Brew Co.,  Mount Vernon, utilizing German and Japanese yeast strains.


From Jolo’s it was a short hop to the New Rochelle Public Library for the 102nd Annual Juried Exhibition of the New Rochelle Art Association, featuring Crafts; Graphics; Steel Sculpture; Mixed Media; Oil/Acrylic; Pastel; Photography and Watercolors.


As ambient jazz music played in the background, Restaurateur/Artist Alvin Clayton, proprietor of Alvin and Friends, 14 Memorial Highway showed 13 of his paintings, some influenced by Matisse; one notable work was a portrait of jazz great Louie [Louis] Armstrong.


Then on 32 Relyea Place, New Rochelle, world-renowned 3D Pop Artist Charles Fazzino displayed his meticulously crafted three-dimensional hand-colored cardstock depictions of New York City, San Francisco, actors. Queen Elizabeth II,  Cartoon characters and Star Trek motifs, as well as free-standing sculptures such as a “Big Apple” (NYC), decorated surfboard, sled and a giant painted baseball with New York Mets themes.


“Many years ago I went to School of Visual Arts in New York. Many of the pieces that I used to paint were my favorite delis on the Lower East Side,” Fazzino noted.  People always asked me, ‘Why so many Jewish pieces,’ sort of like I built a Jewish following…because of my early days of painting my favorite delicatessens…


“Today I paint all subject matter.  Scenes of New York have always been my favorite and tend to be the world’s favorite...,” Fazzino concluded .


At the High Brook Studios in Pelham on Saturday, people were greeted by “Bifur,” their cat with a bifurcated (split) tail.  “We are an open studio…,” artist Stacy Miller remarked. “We are all working artists and have jobs. There are four painters and two sculptors.  Lance Johnson and Barry Mason from Mount Vernon are joining us.  Mason works at the Pelham Arts Center and is a photographer and teacher. Some of us are printmakers as well.”


Mason attached a sculpted painting, an abstract canvas stretched over wood to a wall of the High Brook Avenue Bridge; Scott Seaboldt placed some of his paintings under the bridge, aided by interns Joelle Bragen and Iana Reyes.  Just below the bridge was an anonymous rendering of a “golden calf.”


In Wolf’s Lane Park, Beatrice Wolert displayed two works in progress, “TouchStone #13,” Acrylic, mirrored beads, silicone, mesh and metal; TouchStone #14, Acrylic, beads, ethylene-vinyl acetate, leather, silicone, mesh and metal.


At the Empty Hand Zen Center, in New Rochelle, Soto Zen Buddhist Priest Deborah Wood was conducting quiet, mysterious meditation, speaking in whispers.  Among the Empty Hand Center offerings are Zazen, seated meditation; Kinhin, walking meditation, Dharma Talk and Chanting.


The tour continued with two extraordinary artists, Marie Hines Cowan and Martha Valenzuela, working out of their studios on 55 Webster Avenue, New Rochelle.  Cowan is a figurative oil painter who presents Greek mythology in modern settings.  She pointed to her depictions of a very intimidating Athena; Sphynx, “who knocked one of the New York City Library lions off its pedestal and was seen picking up men on Fifth Avenue.”


Valenzuela pointed to her painting “Birth of a New Order,” a work in progress.  “I am an artist, originally from Dominican Republic and migrated to the United States…I portray the relationship of man to organic material, which tries to create a dialogue of exalting and magnifying the beauty of the organic ones over the mass-produced.”

At the Pelham Arts Center on Sunday, ten writers read their essays at the Best of 650 Program. Organized by Edward McCann in 2014, 650’s mission is to promote writing in 650 words through live performances that celebrate the spoken word, a literary forum for personal stories, read aloud by writers before an audience.


The stories ranged from a woman who lost her brother through Aids Related Cancer, “From AIDS to Ashes;” “A Fling and a Prayer,” about a divorced lady minister awkwardly trying to date again and “The Greenest Shade of Green,” regarding a girl’s revenge on a persnickety neighbor trying to control her kids and cat by throwing a bag of dog poo on their perfectly manicured lawn.


Seen at the fund-raising “If I Had a Hammer“ Music Festival at Habitat for Humanity of Westchester’s ReStore, 659 Main Street, New Rochelle, Executive Director Jim Killoran said, “I have been blessed to build in Puerto Rico ten years ago…Habitat hammers back. That’s the theme of today.  We are hammering back in Puerto Rico.  We are hammering back in Houston.  Today’s benefit goes 100% for our rebuild efforts in Puerto Rico.


“People can e-mail and make a donation.”



ArtsFest,Tale of Two Cities

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