June 13, 2024
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ArtsFest Returns To New Rochelle

After being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular Westchester celebration of the arts known as ArtsFest will run this year from Friday, October 15 through Sunday, October 17. Highlights of ArtsFest 2021 will include the free ArtsFest Music Festival, a dance festival and artists’ open studios, plus activities at dozens of public and private venues from Wykagyl/North End to downtown New Rochelle to the Pelham Picture House Regional Theater.

According to the Festival Guide, ArtsFest, celebrating its 12th year, was “created by the New Rochelle Council of the Arts (NRCA) to shine a spotlight on the wide range of arts and arts venues in the communities. In 2019, hundreds of people visited the 43 venues to marvel at the free exhibitions and performances, presenting more than 120 artists’ works. This year’s festival coincides with downtown New Rochelle’s Restaurant Week, sponsored by the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District.”

Local vendors will have unique jewelry items and crafts for sale at the ArtsFest Artisans’ Crafts Market on the grounds of Thomas Paine Cottage. The Rotunda Gallery in City Hall and the New Rochelle Public Library will also host art exhibits. Throughout the city, there will even be pop-up art exhibits at local restaurants.

A highlight of ArtsFest 2021 will be behind-the-scenes tours of local artists’ studios. This will be the second time that Judaica artist and Young Israel of New Rochelle member Fred Spinowitz will open his studio for festival participants. On Sunday, October 17, from noon to 3 p.m., Spinowitz will demonstrate his new work on painted tapestry. He calls this exhibit “Abstract Calligraphy.” Spinowitz’s studio is located at 995 North Avenue, one block north of Paine Cottage.

Spinowitz explained that he will open his garage studio to allow the community to watch him work. Visitors will observe Spinowitz’s techniques and ask questions. His tapestries are painted on cloth, and then sewn. He plans to have three finished pieces to show and hang, and he will be working on a fourth. “It’s still in progress, and similar to my paintings which are abstract works incorporating calligraphy. For the piece that I am currently working on, people will see me actually embroidering into the cloth.”

Spinowitz explained the process: “First I paint on cloth. Then, after it dries, I take a tapestry needle and various colored thread and embroider in the intentionally non-painted spaces. The thread is used as a brushstroke. It’s a stroke into a painting. Completed, it looks like a wall hanging or a tapestry.”

This process takes weeks until the paint is dry because it’s an unprimed fabric, unlike canvas, which dries much faster. One of the completed tapestries is called “The Birth of Flight.” In the piece, the wings are actually painted, but in between some of the painted colors are sewn-in colors.

Spinowitz, a fan of mixed media, said: “As far as I know, I just discovered one more type of mixed media, which I use often in my work. I use acrylic and oil in my paintings, or I use graphics and I use different glass and paint, but this is a brand-new kind of mixed media.” Spinowitz will work on his current tapestry, explaining this unique process.

Born and raised in New York City, Spinowitz is a product of yeshiva education and received a BFA and an MA from the Pratt Institute. He has been influenced by the abstract expressionists but continues to add the overlay of his Hebraic studies, as a constant reminder of the calligraphy of his early education, providing a counterpoint to the wild mass of color and his vivid imagination.

Spinowitz began teaching art privately and under a federal grant program to New York City public schools. Concurrently, he continued to work on paintings and ketubot, which are in private collections throughout the United States. He has been included in group shows at the Yeshiva University Museum and had a one-man show at the gallery at West Point. Beginning in the 1980s, Spinowitz began designing Judaica in silver, brass and porcelain. For additional information on his work, visit www.SpinowitzJudaica.com.

For information on ArtsFest 2021, visit https://newrochellearts.org/artsfest-2021/.

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