New Rochelle and Pelham’s ArtsFest event was formed 12 years ago “to shine a spotlight on the wide range of nearby artists and arts venues,” explains Theresa Kump Leghorn, President of New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA), which founded the celebration.
After a brief hiatus due to COVID-19, the annual festivities are back in full force this year. On October 15-17, the City and Village will be taken over by free dance performances, exhibitions, live music and more when public and private venues open their doors to the community at multiple indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Between trying to anticipate how changing COVID protocols might impact our venues, and dealing with damage from Hurricane Ida, this ArtsFest was challenging to plan,” Leghorn explains.
However, she and the NRCA team were determined to bring their communities together: “After having to cancel in 2020, we were determined to help New Rochelle ‘turn the page’ on the difficulties of the past year. The arts really help to create a sense of community.”
As such, artists in New Rochelle and Pelham, including renowned 3D pop artist Charles Fazzino, will open their studios for behind-the-scenes tours. The Rotunda Gallery in City Hall will encourage visitors to consider the things that inspire them as they view Turning a New Leaf, an exhibition that asked artists to reflect on their muse. More visual arts activities will “pop up” throughout the festival, including pop-up exhibits in local restaurants and an Artisans’ Crafts Market on the grounds of Thomas Paine Cottage.
The New Rochelle Public Library will set the mood for Halloween on the 17th with a READ650 event that features a series of stories, each told in only five minutes. The event’s theme is “haunted.”
Also at the Library is a presentation of Ajkun Ballet’s Swan Lake, but dance abounds throughout New Rochelle and Pelham as well. The ArtsFest Dance Festival will bring performances by eight companies to the VAEA New Rochelle Arts on Main Street. In addition, Pelham Art Center will host an interpretive dance piece by Accent Dance NYC. The company’s performance is inspired by artist Musa Hixson’s Conversation Sculpture, a public art installation in Wolfs Lane Park.
Meanwhile, an ArtsFest Music Festival will set the stage for a lineup of local musicians, including Trio of Awesuhm’s lyrical folk-rock tunes, Downstate Darlings’ high energy alt/pop/rock sound and One Accord Gospel’s powerful vocals.
A full schedule of events is available on NRCA’s website.
A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.