The other day I attended an opening for the annual Lower East Side’s Festival of The Arts (May 28 through 30, Theater for the New City, 155 1st Ave. 212-254-1109 http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net/les.htm ), a collective exhibit by different artists who live or work around the neighborhood – some of the few artsy folks who have not been scared away by the escalating rentals and moneyed yuppies who are slowly but incrementally changing the face of the area (the economic downturn probably slowed things down for these holdouts – let’s see how the coming months turn out).
Like in earlier editions, not all the works are for sale, as some artists prefer to keep their art unmotivated by the trappings of commercialism – they hold day jobs and do art for the sake of art. One work commented on the ongoing situation in the Gulf of Mexico, the still-unsolved (as of this writing) British Petroleum oil spill disaster. The piece consisted of newspaper clippings as a backdrop for a fast food-style pack of fish and chips – with fish bones symbolizing the death of sea life that has been a direct – and economy-affecting – consequence of this ongoing tragedy.
Joshua David Stein wrote on the New York Press (a publication that I also contribute to) that the festival (which also includes theater, music and other activities) was a “a beautiful anachronism in a few ways,” meaning that it sort of celebrates a LES does no longer exist. I beg to differ with him. The Festival reflects on what the area is now. No longer as vibrant as it was in the past, but still alive and thriving in this unique way that differs from any other area in this wonderful town.