The City of Yonkers will celebrate its burgeoning status as an arts destination on May 20 at the 9th annual Yonkers Arts Weekend (YAW). The event, which attracts upwards of 10,000 people each year, gives visitors an opportunity to experience the creative spirit that has transformed Yonkers over the years.
City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano has witnessed the power of the arts to renew and uplift a community. “Initially, I was unaware of how the arts can play such a significant role,” he said. “After seeing what has transpired in Yonkers in the last decade with the help of our arts community, I am a true believer the arts can be a change
agent and bring a community together, regardless of any other differences.”
Activities, which range from exhibitions and hands-on workshops to musical performances and tours, will run from 10am to 9pm (check the schedule for specific times and venues). From 11am to 5pm, a free shuttle will take visitors from the Yonkers Metro North Station to the Carpet Mills Arts District, Hudson River Museum and Untermyer Gardens.
Since YAW’s founding in 2014, Yonkers has seen numerous galleries open and dozens of muralists and artists contribute to a downtown renaissance. It is home to renowned artists such as Robert Zakanitch, David Hammons and Barbara Segal, and there are currently over 75 public art projects on display.
“Yonkers Arts Weekend signifies that the arts play an important role in the personality, development and diversity of our city,” says Spano. “It’s become a tentpole event for our Yonkers arts community.”
A wide range of free activities can appeal to all ages. Participants can visit a Pinkster Festival—an annual African American celebration of spring at Philipse Manor Hall; have their portraits drawn as part of DrawnTogetherNYC at the Riverfront Library; and explore artists’ workspaces in YOHO Studios, among other happenings.
For instance, visitors to the Hudson River Museum (HRM) can create floral arrangements with fresh flowers, fly colorful kites and compete in a kite festival. Teaching artist-in-residence Natalya Khorover will demonstrate how to make floral wheels from single-use plastics as part of an upcycled community collage called The View Outside.
Says Saralinda Lichtblau, the museum’s director of education: “[YAW] …gives HRM the opportunity to connect with the entire community, including those who may be [visiting] for the first time. When they walk inside, they’ll discover an array of world-class exhibitions, our outstanding collection, fun and engaging activities, tours, and hands-on workshops with artists.”
Blue Door Art Center gallery director Michele Amaro hopes visitors will make time to see a collage exhibition titled, Paper and Glue, which was curated by artists and teachers Judith and Richard Wilde who will also teach a collage workshop. There’s also an “Arty Party” drop-in rock painting workshop for children, and the Jazz and Poetry Collective will give a performance.
Amaro said Yonkers Arts Weekend provides a unique opportunity to visit all the vibrant art organizations that make Yonkers an invigorating place to live and play: “The arts are not only a luxury, they are an integral part of the human experience.”