The Art Walls are back. A few survived the winter although they may be replaced at some point. Other new murals are up and some are in progress. Just like last year, the project lends a touch of the creative to the cash cow that is the Coney Island boardwalk.
For those of you filled with nostalgia for the boardwalk amusements of years past, don’t worry. Coney Island, for one, is still there for you. Maybe with a few less self-proclaimed freaks in its midst, and better amenities, but who is going to complain about that! Here are some very recent shots in full Coney color.
Now, however, for those of us with a taste for a different sort of color, say the paintbrushes and spray cans of some of the city’s up-and-coming artists, there is more to like at Coney. Thanks to a project called Art Walls NYC, a series of room-sized panels has been given over to artists and serves as accompaniment to the latest installment of Smorgasburg/the Brooklyn Flea, set up just half a block north of the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue. It is so new that when I visited, two men were still at work on the RIOT panel. This area offers little in the way of art and even less in quality eats at an inexpensive price. The twelve re-purposed shipping containers that make up Smorgasburg Coney Island offer everything from organic ice cream and lobster rolls to Jamaican, Thai and Mexican street food bites.
This is wonderful development- and on the day that I was there, I definitely did not miss the long lines common to the Smorgasburgs in other neighborhoods. The art itself was thought-provoking and awe-inspiring, allowing me to forget the frenetic energy of Luna Park and even the lure of the beach for a moment. It seemed to bring the downtown scene to Coney Island, while acknowledging the area’s different-ness by placing the art right by the beach and the spectacle of its amusements.
Any large metropolis worthy of the name can boast a number of industries or areas in which they are leaders on a national or international scale. New York City being the largest metropolis in a large, wealthy, and diverse country can, of course, boast of being a leader in many fields. Certainly dance would be one of these, as dancers and aspiring dancers from around the world come here to hone their craft and to chase dreams of making it big. But there is more to the local dance scene than this- there are the national and regional dances that the City’s myriad immigrants bring from home, and other dance forms that appeal tho those looking for a social or physical outlet. These traditions and styles become part of the city’s fabric and provide a means to connect with others. Perhaps no better neighborhood exists than the East Village to showcase the colors, shapes, faces and steps of more than 70 dance groups with roots stretching across the globe.
A few friends and I met, cameras in hand, to take in this year’s 9th Annual Dance Parade http://danceparade.org this weekend. It was a sea of colors and sounds and with the Village lending its own special voice to the spectacle as well.
The dancers themselves truly represented all ages, abilities and walks of life. They showcased movement and costumes from countries near and far. Even the most jaded New Yorker stopped in his or her tracks, if only for an instant, to take in the action. Some even joined in.
The New York City Argentine Tango community is large and fairly diverse in style and approach. Opportunities to dance at Milongas, which are social dance events, abound. In warm months, local Tangueros of all ages, nationalities and abilities converge upon some of the City’s most famous and picturesque open spaces to dance under the sky. A normally intimate, darkly lit event, the outdoor settings transform milongas into a communal activity, one that is observed, ignored, admired, photographed, discussed or embraced by myriad locals and visitors alike. I took at moment during the weekly Sunday evening Volvo Tango event at Pier 45 to view the Milonga through my camera lens as the sun was going down. I had a little fun manipulating the images. If you’d like to learn more about this weekly event (Wednesday and Sunday evenings), just let me know!