Founded by West Park Cultural Center in 2008, the West Park Arts Fest will return for its 11th year on Saturday, June 9 along South Concourse Drive in West Fairmount Park. Fairmount Park Conservancy is excited to partner again in hosting the annual festival. The site is adjacent to the Centennial Commons along Parkside Avenue–a “new park within a park” by the Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.
West Park Arts Fest 2018
This free public event aims to bring communities together in the park, promote greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage, while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. The event is a showcase for visual artists, musicians, dancers, craft vendors, and local institutions and nonprofit partners.
From 12 – 5 pm on Saturday, June 9th, visitors will be able to enjoy an incredible range of performances and activities, including:
- Dance and music performances by West Philadelphia Orchestra, Badd Kitti, Gretchen Elise Music, Patrice and The Show, The Philly Clicks, Jasmin Yahne Dance Company, and many more
- Children’s pavilion with family-friendly activities
- Prototypes of the Franklin Institute’s new exhibition Game Masters
- Make-and-take art activities by Mural Arts Philadelphia and others
- Three outdoor art installations featuring Philly-based artists Brian Bazemore, Ruth Scott Blackson, and Jesse Harrod
- Handmade vendor market
- Guided historical trolley tours through the Centennial District
- Food trucks
The three outdoor art installations have been commissioned by the Conservancy, curated by guest curator Theresa Rose, and made possible thanks to support from ArtPlace America. The installations draw inspiration from the neighborhood and its rich cultural history. Explore the information below to learn more about the artists and the installations they will debut on June 9 at the West Park Arts Fest.
Brian Bazemore, aka BCASSO, is a self-taught visual artist who has been making art in his community for over thirty years. He often works with paint, photos, metal, text, found objects, and organic materials. Based in Mantua, he views himself as a visual storyteller whose work is rooted in the physical and emotional environment of his life, family, and community.
For the West Park Arts Fest, Bazemore will be working with elementary students, church groups, and neighbors to create a proverb sign maze in the Park. This interactive Memory Garden will consist of colorful signboards or pictograms which will display short written or photographic messages about identity, important cultural celebrations, loss, and other personal memorable events in the lives of the East Parkside Community. These signs will be installed in the shape of a walking artistic maze, allowing visitors to walk through and learn about these important events in the lives of community members.
Ruth Scott Blackson is a British-born artist who has resided in Philadelphia for the past eight years. She utilizes process and research-based practices to create drawings, sculptures and projects that highlight the subtleties around us. Her work was recently part of the 2015 exhibition series at Eastern State Penitentiary.
For the West Parks Arts Fest, Blackson will be creating an interactive work and an area of rest and relaxation for festival attendees to enjoy. Amid the other vendors at the festival, she will set up a tent clad with tapestries and adorned with hanging pieces of fabric. The tent will also contain piles and piles of rugs, inspired by the goods on display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Visitors will be invited to walk through the tent and take a rug of their choice to sit on the grass away from the hustle and bustle of the festival. They can relax, rest, think, enjoy food and drink, and chat with fellow festival-goers. A booklet will be created to provide attendees with information and historical context about the patterns of the rugs, how they were constructed, and their connection to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition.
Jesse Harrod is a Canadian-born artist who lives and works in Philadelphia. She works with unexpected materials to make sculptures, drawings, and animations to create works that speak to the complexities of gender, empowerment, and support. She has exhibited widely and is Head of Fibers & Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.
For the West Park Arts Fest, Harrod will be working with students from Martha Washington Elementary School to imagine, sew, and produce banners to be displayed at the Festival. She will teach the students how to sew and work with a variety of fibers. They will think about how cloth, quilting, flags, and protest banners can engage people and communities. Together they will decide on a theme and create banners that speak to the theme while utilizing untraditional shapes and materials.
You can watch a short video about the event and find out more about last year’s commissioned art installations here.