ArtsFest: Arts Festival in New Rochelle and Pelham Brings Art, Music, Dance & More

Every Autumn, New Rochelle Council on the Arts uses its annual ArtsFest as a way to provide local artists with the opportunity to showcase their works while bringing their community together. From October 19 through 22, the arts festival in New Rochelle and Pelham will launch new events and highlight more artists than in previous years.

The festival has grown in size since its 2009 beginnings as a clay festival during ArtsWestchester’s All Fired Up initiative. The event was then transformed into ArtsFest, which grew to expand to other mediums in the years that followed. This year’s festivities will feature poetry, visual art, live music, dance and more.

Leghorn “The first few years, it wasn’t as huge of an event. It was a more mom-and-pop, a smaller event. But it’s grown and grown…” says New Rochelle Council on the Arts President Theresa Kump Leghorn. “Our idea was to highlight all the local artists who are working here. A lot of times, people don’t know there are so many artists in their community because their work is so private.”

This year’s event will open the doors to the studios of 20 local artists, allowing guests to explore the artworks being produced by their own community.  Not only does these open studios showcase local artists to a larger audience, it also allows visitors to observe artists in the space in which they create.

The festival also brings in talents from local organizations with workshops, events and exhibitions from groups like Pelham Art Center, Mamaroneck Artists Guild, Songcatchers and more. The Picture House in Pelham brings its annual German Film Festival into the mix on October 20.

Leghorn continued “Having the artists open their studios gives people the idea that there are working artists making a career in the arts right here, all around them.” Among the featured artists are 3D illustrator Charles Fazzino, woodworkers Susan Manspeizer and Eric Weber, painter and sculpture Fran Sisco, botanical mixed media collages by Hannah Jupiter, painter Barry Mason, and more.

The four days of events will also showcase music artists, dance groups, a classic car show, and a celebration of New Rochelle’s newest statue. The statue is of local artist E.L. Doctorow, who is known for his novels in the historical fiction genre, including Ragtime, which was inspired by his home in New Rochelle. A historic trolley tour on October 21 with City Historian Barbara Davis will bring guests on a guided tour of some of the local Doctorow-related sites, including the author’s home.

Music lovers will have the opportunity to attend the ArtsFest Music Festival, which showcases the sounds of local bands, which each perform a 45-minute set.

ArtsFest Dance Festival showcases performances by professional companies and local schools throughout the weekend, including Ajkun Ballet Theatre and Rooftop Rhythms.

For the event’s duration, there will be an outdoor Artisan Market, which will feature 40 local makers selling their items, including pottery, jewelry, photography, original art and more. There will also be live music, art workshops provided by ArtsWestchester’s ArtsMobile and food trucks.

As the festival grows each year, Leghorn, along with the many local artists involved, look to keep the core goal of promoting and celebrating local art. This includes welcoming new artists to the area.

“New Rochelle is really growing, and it has a lot of new development downtown. I am hoping that more and more of the new people who come to New Rochelle will enjoy ArtsFest and get involved with the New Rochelle Council on the Arts and keep it going.”

Photo credit: Marie Hines Cowan exhibition “Musing, Metamorphosis and Medea” (Courtesy of New Rochelle Council on the Arts); William Papaleo (Courtesy of New Rochelle Council on the Arts); ArtsFest Trolley (Courtesy of New Rochelle Council on the Arts); Ajkun Ballet Theatre (Courtesy of the organization); Singer/Songwriter Lauren Mian (Courtesy of New Rochelle Council on the Arts).

About Dan Wood

After receiving his BA in Media Arts, Daniel Wood went back to SHU for his MA in Journalism and Media Production. He has played trumpet in various bands and was surrounded by artists and writers growing up, which led to his interest in writing about various creative topics.

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