Rutherford Rocks: Arts Festival
By Jennifer Ersalesi
TIR: Rutherford Rocks will take place at the Williams Center Plaza on June 12th, why was that location chosen?
Katie Pippin: We chose the Williams Center Plaza because it's outdoors, it's in close proximity to downtown, and will reinforce the notion that the Williams Center is still alive and kicking. The Williams Center is a performing arts center- it made the most sense to have artists performing there.
TIR: Can you tell us some more about the live performers?
KP: We needed a full lineup to support the Rutherford Rock youth bands and improv group. I reached out to a few of my friends in Rutherford who are musicians. Dante's Inferno and both DJ Pete and DJ Bag Lady live in town. I also reached out to Chris Fox in Lyndhurst, the singer of Ruby Bones, and he found a few more local musicians. Most acts are performing acoustically- this is to cut down on lugging equipment around, running tons of power cables all over the plaza, and because it seemed more fitting for a family-friendly afternoon downtown.
TIR: Can you tell us more about the artists’ pieces that will be on display?
KP: The artists who will be displaying are all locals- we put out a call in the Rutherford Arts Council Facebook group for anyone interested, and immediately had responses. Inclement Illustrations does amazing work. Augusto Labat has generously offered a painting to raffle that day (I love his work so I am hoping to win it!). What makes this festival different from others is that we are not charging artists a table fee to display their work, and we are not charging a commission if they sell any of their work. It's really important to the RAC to make sure artists are not paid in "exposure bucks". Artists have bills too, so any way we can support them financially is a win. That being said, we will be collecting tips at the festival to donate to the artists and musicians. If you like what you see and hear, please donate a few dollars!
TIR: Is this the first “festival” of this kind in Rutherford?
KP: The concept of an art crawl is not new, but this is the first county-wide Arts Amble, organized by Creative Bergen. Hopefully, it becomes a yearly tradition! There will be artists and events all over the county that weekend. I wanted to make sure that Rutherford was represented from the beginning. Individual artists or venues hosting a group of artists could apply. The Borough Arts Committee reached out to local arts businesses this spring to see if any were interested in being included- Soldato Books and Records also signed up as a venue. The Arts Council sponsored the venue fee for the music portion of this festival, which will feature the Arts Committee youth rock and improv group program that the Recreation department offered this spring. The Elliott Free Little Art Gallery and Rutherford Coffee Company will also be showing artwork that day. So Rutherfordians can explore art all over town, or all over the county, or both!
TIR: Who is sponsoring the event?
KP: This festival is a collaboration between the Williams Center board, the RAC, and the borough arts committee.
TIR: What can visitors expect when they come by the Williams Center that afternoon?
KP: There will be a tent set up behind the farmers market with musicians playing continuously from 2-7 pm. Artists will have their work displayed at tables spread out in the Williams Center Lobby. There will also be an information table about the Arts Amble. The festival is free and open to all ages- masks and social distancing will be enforced throughout the day. We're still finalizing details, but we have our fingers crossed for an additional evening event that will be 21+. In case of rain, all performances will be moved indoors to Marcus Hall.
TIR: Why are the goals of this event?
KP: The overall goal of Creative Bergen with this event was to provide artists more opportunities to show their stuff. This is what we've been doing with the Arts Council and arts committee as well- creating more chances for Rutherford to experience art in its myriad forms. Not to mention that after a year of Covid-19, people are hungry for a good time. I am so excited to experience live music, I will see ANYONE perform.
During Covid-19, people turned to art to keep themselves sane. Kids hung drawings in the window and did chalk art on their sidewalks. The borough had floats going around town playing music. People learned to sew, and bake, and redesigned their homes inside and out. In a way, this festival feels like a cautious first step towards cutting loose and celebrating a return to normal. Maybe next year it will be twice as large!
TIR: Why is it important to continually foster and promote the arts in Rutherford?
KP: Art is for everyone. If you've ever listened to the radio, watched a movie, hung a painting on your wall, or danced like a goofball- you've experienced art. It connects us and feeds our souls. Having more arts opportunities benefits all Rutherfordians. It teaches new skills, keeps kids out of trouble, inspires people, and provides work for professional artists. People were SO thrilled to see the colorful Youth Arts Banners up and down Park Ave. When I see how happy these experiences make people, it motivates me to do it again.
More info about the arts amble: artsamble.org
More info about the RAC: rutherfordartscouncil.com