On June 3rd, from noon to early evening, people from all over Philadelphia gathered on the Avenue of the Republic to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the West Park Arts Fest. Presented by the West Park Cultural Center, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and Global Philadelphia, the event was fun-filled and booming with excitement from start to finish.
Though there were cloudy skies and wet grass the morning of, by the beginning of the event, the sun was out and the road was clear for visitors to peruse the dozens of tents. Heritage Storytelling, the Please Touch Museum, the Philadelphia Zoo, WePaint, Clowns without Borders, and more offered activities for children that promoted creativity, fun, and learning. Vendors sold homemade jewelry, books, journals, artwork, clothing, and more while people chatted and bonded with their families. If you weren’t looking in tents, you were at a stage on either side of the Avenue, watching dance troupe or up-and coming musical artists perform enthusiastically, in line to eat from busy food trucks, chilling at Parks on Tap, or on a historic trolley tour of Fairmount Park. From reggae to hip-hop, soul to indie, musicians enjoyed themselves as onlookers danced and swayed to original and cover songs.
It was the first time the West Park Arts Fest has been held in front of the Please Touch Museum, but one wouldn’t even know the difference. The afternoon was smooth sailing, with water ice in every other hand and kids with painted faces and budding friendships and learning opportunities. Even the Conservancy did arts and crafts (sunprints and pinwheels) with many children.
Fairmount Park Conservancy, through its Arts & Culture program made possible thanks to ArtPlace America, had 5 artists feature installations/experiences. Timothy Belknap, Claes Gabriel, Taji Nahl, Tiona McClodden, and Eugene Lew showcased sculptures, videos, and a bike tour, respectively. Located at several different areas, the artwork provided commentary on community engagement, physical activity, cultural expression, different minority heritages, colonization, war, and slavery. The interesting, unique, and grand installations acted as an extra boost to the Arts Fest as a whole.
The turnout was most likely one of the most rewarding parts of so much planning and preparation. The Parkside community turned out, as well as diverse Philadelphians from many neighborhoods. As a primary goal was the West Park community engaging in the arts, one would say the Fest was a success!
Check out pictures from the event here and more information about the artists below:
Claes Gabriel Website: http://claesgabriel.blogspot.com/