By An Uong
Somerville, MA – A day both sunny and cool is a rarity during a New England summer. Last weekend falls under that magical category, which was lucky for Somerville’s Artbeat 2014, which has been occurring annually for 25 years under the direction of Somerville Arts Council (SAC).
The festival ran Friday and Saturday in Davis Square, welcoming individuals to explore crafts as well as visual and performing arts. From eclectic vendors to colorful food trucks, nothing was amiss. This year’s theme was “hatch,” which alludes to the nature of Somerville’s arts activity. David Blakeslee, who designed the event’s logo and general aesthetic, fleshed the theme out.
Another artist, Nicole Duennebier, SAC’s featured artist for the month, is currently displayed in the windows of Davis Square’s CVS – otherwise known as Inside-OUT gallery. The installation draws inspiration from the intricacy of spreading celluloid visuals. The dioramas include other artists’ work as well. Duennebier incorporates the individual pieces into her own works, creating a collection that brings depth to the motion of a hatching community.
Executive director Gregory Jenkins said that the event, beyond just drawing visitors to Somerville, “gives everyone of these artists an opportunity to explore themselves and show off their work.” In this way, the opportunity for both cultural and economical developments arises for these individuals.
Artists are given a venue for their work, where the flow of viewers is guaranteed to be dense. Julia Jerome’s hanging sculpture, “Waterlily Sky,” graced the bike path in 7 Hills Park. The mobile is made of large water lilies that float effortlessly over the passersby. Jerome’s clever treatment of an object that we usually experience from above puts viewers in a new, though exciting position. At night, the piece lights up, effervescent in inviting the audience to float along with it.
The Multi Use Somerville Community Roving Transport Bus, or M.U.S.C.R.A.T. Bus for short, was parked in the center of Davis Square. It has been colorfully decorated by an artist with the scene of a muskrat surrounded by leafy trees. Not far from where it was parked, children painted a wooden mural to be added to the bus’s image. This vehicle, once completed, will be a wandering automobile that offers art workshops to anyone in the area who is interested.
The street was not the only part of Somerville that was buzzing with activity. The various stages, plazas and theaters hosted performances in music, dance and even puppetry on Friday and Saturday, which provided nonstop artistic stimulation.
For a festival with so many different parts, it was surprisingly seamless. From one section to the next, Artbeat strung together a wide variety of visual and performing arts.
(Though the festival has ended, keep an eye out for next year’s dates and other art events on the Somerville Arts Council Website.)