If it sounded like a party was happening inside the recently landmarked United Palace Theater back on the evening of May 31, the truth of the matter was not far off. Members of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), local residents and arts enthusiasts from across NYC’s five boroughs gathered for a ceremony in the lobby of the historic theater (complete with live music and dancing) to kick off the 15th annual Uptown Arts Stroll. Spanning 85 city blocks in upper Manhattan, the month-long multi-disciplinary arts festival celebrates the vibrant creative community-in-residence north of 135th St.
This year’s Uptown Arts Stroll offers a diverse line-up of events, from poetry readings and outdoor film screenings to live music and one-woman shows. The work of local artists can be found in many area businesses and restaurants, such as photographer Emmanuel Abreu’s Estoy Aqui Pero, Mi Mente Esta Alla, on view at 809 Restaurant and Lounge (112 Dyckman St.).
To partake in the offerings, download a festival guide. Whether your tastes skew toward an evening of interdisciplinary dance and performance (the Higher Ground Festival at Ft. Tryon Park’s Anne Loftus Playground, Sat., June 24, 7-9pm), flexing your own creative muscles (“My Art Madness Paint Party” at Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center, Fri., June 23, 6-8pm), there are plenty of events to investigate.
Local artists held open studios in West Harlem and Washington Heights on June 10; next, more artists will do the same in Inwood on Sat., June 17 (Fairview Ave. to W. 220th St., 1-6pm). Call some friends, stop off at points for drinks and snacks, and take your Uptown Arts Stroll to the next level.
And now, five questions that NoMAA Acting Director Joanna E. Castro has never been asked:
The annual poster contest for the Uptown Arts Stroll generally sets the tone for the event. This year’s winning poster was created by Alexis Agliano Sanborn. Can you talk about her design and how it speaks to the history and the changing face of northern Manhattan?
NoMAA was thrilled to receive 40 submissions for this year’s poster contest, the highest number in our history. The panel was looking for an original design that represented Uptown’s cultural treasures. Alexis Agliano Sanborn’s design best represented the 2017’s theme of diversity and inclusiveness of our community today.
In 15 years, the Uptown Arts Stroll has gone from a one-night artistic block party of sorts to a month-long festival of exhibits, open studios and events along 85 blocks. How is does the event this year differ from previous incarnations?
This year is special as we celebrate the Uptown Arts Stroll‘s quinceañero. For a third consecutive year, the Stroll goes down to W. 135th St., with cultural events including open studios. We are excited to celebrate for the first time the closing of the Stroll at the Harlem School of the Arts (645 St. Nicholas Ave.), on Wed., June 28, 6pm. We have also incorporated new programs like Arts at the Market. Free family-friendly art-making workshops [will be] led by Evelyn Suero, and Annette A. Aguilar and StringBeans will be performing live Latin jazz at the Inwood Farmer’s Market on Sat., June 10, 10:30am-12pm. Lastly, we are bringing live entertainment prior to screenings of [Inwood Art Works’] Film Works Alfresco in Inwood Hill Park on June 12, 19 and 26 at 7pm.
Since participating artists are responsible for booking their own venues and set-up, how does NoMAA support them? What makes participation under the Stroll’s umbrella different from the cultural and/or creative things that might be happening independently on a standard weekend?
The Uptown Arts Stroll promotes and brings awareness of the rich diversity of artists we have uptown. This year’s Stroll has 150 events, 45 exhibitions and 22 open studios so far, and more signing up every day. NoMAA supports these events by printing a guide and distributing it widely throughout the community as well as updating an online calendar. NoMAA also has a wide following on Facebook and Twitter. Community blogs like Patch allow us to further spread the word of all events taking place the entire month of June.
As a not-for-profit that seeks to “cultivate, cultivate, support and promote the works of artists and arts organizations in northern Manhattan,” NoMAA’s technical workshops have gained a loyal following among local creatives. Can you talk a little about the workshop? Are creative members of the general public encouraged to attend, and if so, should they sign up beforehand?
NoMAA’s workshops are geared towards artists and arts organizations, although the general public is also welcome to attend. Our workshop program is free, although registration is highly encouraged. Those interested can visit www.artstroll.com for more information.
What’s up next for NoMAA after this year’s Uptown Arts Stroll ends on June 30?
We are gearing up for a call for installations in Inwood Hill Park. We will also be presenting our Technical Assistance Institute this fall. Check our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information in the coming weeks.