The good folks behind Schoolhouse Rock taught us years ago that three is a magic number – and we believe them. For proof, please refer to the trifecta of artistic goodness in store for Jersey City this weekend: The second Annual Golden Door Film Festival begins Thursday, Oct. 11 with a red carpet event at the Landmark Loew’s Theatre. A day later, Pro Arts and the city’s Division of Cultural Affairs kick off the 22nd Annual Artists’ Studio Tour, a free self-guided walking tour of art galleries, studios, and group shows throughout the city.
Completing the trio of arts-related activities on tap this weekend, the city’s music community will for the ninth year in a row hold the Art and Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13 from noon till 10 p.m. Billed as a day of “art, music, and community,” the festival, organized by Fourth Street Arts, will be held downtown on Fourth Street, between Newark Avenue and Merseles Street.
For folks accustomed to the frequent cultural offerings at Grove Plaza, festival founder Mike McNamara said the Fourth Street event “is very different than the [other] city festivals where it’s like 80 percent vendors. I don’t think there’s any other event in Jersey City that can boast 20 bands in one day. This is mainly a music event. And the vendors we have can’t just come here and sell t-shirts that they acquired wholesale in Chinatown. Anybody who’s vending has to have handmade, handcrafted items.”
The free 4th Street Art and Music Festival is something of a distilled combination of Not Yo Mama’s Craft Fair-meets-Groove on Grove-meets-the Artists’ Studio Tour.
Old school soul, jazz, fusion & more
While featured musicians at past Fourth Street Art and Music Festivals have leaned more towards rock, McNamara has in recent years tried to add other musical flavors to the mix. This year’s lineup of live bands will include musicians from the hip-hop, jazz fusion, metal, folk, and Cuban Afrobeat genres, in addition to rock n’ roll.
This year, 10 music acts will entertain the community with most bands getting 45-minutes sets of performance time.
Coyote Terminal, a band that hails from Saint Peter’s Prep, will open up the festival with a set that will begin at noon. Other notable bands who will perform include the popular local band the Everymen, nationally acclaimed group Chappo, and the Do Rights, an eight-piece funk band that includes a full horn section.
In a departure from the 2011 and 2011 festivals, there will be only one stage for this year’s event. The past two years the festivals featured two music stages.
“We’re just going to have the one main stage. We’re trying to keep the focus in one area instead of having everybody spread out. We felt that, with the two stages the crowd was spilt, and some of the bands didn’t have some of the crowds they should have had,” McNamara said.
Two new features that have been added to this year’s festival are something McNamara called “live art” installations that will be created on-site.
“Battle Lines” will be a live art-oriented game where a host will call out a topic and one artist will have a designated period of time to draw or paint something related to the that topic. The host will then call out another topic, which a second artist will use as inspiration for an art work that builds upon whatever the first artist created. Each “game” will feature three artists who will co-create works on sheets of paper that are approximately four feet by eight feet.
Another interactive live art collaboration will be “Paint by Numbers,” which will allow both professional artists and members of the community to create paintings using the paint by numbers method.
These pieces, said McNamara, will be displayed at City Hall in December.
The laughs are back
The festival offers other attractions for those who want a break from the bands.
McNamara has again tapped Shut Up & Laugh producer Joe D’Allegro to organize a “comedy tent” at the Art and Music Festival. This year, the tent – which D’Allegro calls the Banana Bird Comedy Club – is back to provide more laughs.
Blocs of comedians have been scheduled to perform in the Banana Bird Tent from 1 till 4 p.m.
In the opening time slot of 1 to 2 p.m., Rachael Parenta, Giulio Gallarotti, Matthew Kelly, Brian Havig, and Craig Mahoney will be onstage to kick off the comedy. This quintet will be followed by Missy Baker, Chris Calogero, Justin Walker, Matt Hoffman, and Selena Coppock from 2 to 3 p.m. Five final comics – Akaash Singh, Chrissie Mayr, Aalap Patel, Kate Hendricks, and Ray Devito – will close out the final hour of comedy from the Banana Bird Tent from 3 to 4 p.m.
The festival, including the comedy club tent, is free. But those who want to part with their cash will have opportunities to do so. The organizers of Not Yo Mama’s Craft Fair will have on hand some of the craft artists who sell their wares at their annual event. And there will be a designated children’s area at the festival so the youngest partiers have something to keep them entertained, too.
‘Little’ gathering no more
Now in its ninth year, the Fourth Street Art and Music Festival, started as “small little gatherings that didn’t really require any money or permits,” McNamara said. “And then it kind of snowballed into what it is today.”
A trained photographer, McNamara first participated as an artist in the 2002 and 2003 Artist Studio Tour. The next year, in 2004, McNamara and sculptor Joe Churchirillo organized a block party outside his 4th Street apartment as a way to generate more foot traffic for his stop on the tour.
Over the years that block party has morphed into the Fourth Street Art and Music Festival that it is today.
The festival has also spawned Fourth Street Arts, a nonprofit artist collective that supports arts in the community. Among various activities, the collective holds fundraisers that award grants to young and emerging artists in the community. Each year’s Art and Music Festival includes participation from grant award recipients from the previous year.
This year, 2011 Fourth Street Arts grant recipient and visual artist Hector Poza will exhibit his work at 371 Fourth St., which is number 40 on the Artists’ Studio Tour map.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.