Harlem Arts Fest brings free family fun uptown
Demetria Irwin | 7/2/2015, 11:22 a.m.
The fourth annual Harlem Arts Festival wrapped up over the weekend, and the event was a major success. The free, multi-day festivities held in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park drew more than 1,000 attendees.
People of all ages took in performances from 35 different acts that included singers, dancers, spoken-word artists and musicians. But before the outdoor fun began, HAF kept the uptown funk just right by holding a kick-off party at Ginny’s, the intimate club space tucked away beneath the popular Red Rooster restaurant. Decked out in their Friday night best, revelers sipped cocktails and nibbled on chef Marcus Samuelson’s delicious creations as HAF performers Samora Pinderhughes, Akir and Laurendesberg took to the stage. The spoken word, singing and musicianship were a perfect way to kick off a Harlem-based event. It was unmistakably uptown.
At Marcus Garvey Park the next day, HAF attendees were treated to performances and an opportunity to shop at more than 20 local vendors. But this year’s HAF had a special surprise. Park-goers could watch artist Slone, in cooperation with the Zipcar company, paint a Zipcar live and in-person.
One especially amazed toddler exclaimed that he wanted to paint “his car” too. Mom did not look pleased about that, but the live painting served its purpose—to provide inspiration and wonder. And keep your eyes peeled. The multicolored, custom creation is available for rent this summer, along with Zipcar’s other vehicles.
HAF Executive Director and co-founder Neal Ludevig is understandably proud of this year’s festival. “I can’t believe we just wrapped our fourth festival already!” he said. “It feels like the time went by so fast, and we’re already thinking about how we can make the fifth anniversary super-special for the community.”
The HAF weekend is always a busy one for Ludevig, as he takes a hands-on approach to managing the festival, but he did take in some acts and enjoy the artistry.
“My favorite moment from this year’s festival had to be the look on people’s faces when Elijah Avraham, the founder and creative director of Black Boys Dance Too, started dancing in the audience with a Harlem Arts Fest shirt on and then hopped on stage to kick off his group’s performance,” said Ludevig. “People were shocked.”
Between free yoga lessons, the art/audience boundary-smudging work of Pop Up Theatrics and the special “Kids’ Corner” filled with interactive goodies, the HAF has established itself in just four years as a unique, high-quality, multigenerational event for Harlem residents and visitors.
This year, the festival included a Saturday night after-party at Silvana, which started at 11 p.m. Definitely not for the kids, but the grown-ups have to have grown-up fun sometimes. HAF started at Ginny’s and ended at Silvana. Nice bookends to a weekend of uptown fun.
For a full list of artists and vendors (and to make sure you don’t miss the festivities next year), visit the official website at www.harlemartsfestival.com.