Art and people, celebrated
Two festivals together in Veterans Park
By Adam Coughlin firstname.lastname@example.org
New Hampshire has great proximity to the mountains, the ocean, forests and Boston. Many discuss this geographic diversity in terms of quality of life, but some say it is the reason the state has so many talented artists.
“Inspiration is never far away,” said Peg Lipin, publicity chair for the Manchester Artists Association (MAA). “When you live in a small community you have a different perspective. We can go to the mountains or the wooded areas and get inspiration.”
It seems to be working, according to Lipin, as many members of the MAA showcase their works not only regionally but on a national level. Lipin said another reason for the success of local artists is their willingness to travel and take inspiration from other parts of the country and the world. Lipin said one artist frequents the American Southwest and brings that style of painting back home.
Many of these works, by about two dozen of the more than 200 members of the MAA, will be on display at Art in the Park, which will be held in Veterans Park in Manchester on Saturday, Aug. 28 and Sunday, Aug. 29.
“It will all be under the tent, as we’ve had rain the past two years,” Lipin said. “It is our final outdoor show of the season and the artists tend to produce their favorite New England-themed works.”
While much of the Art in the Park will celebrate New England’s natural beauty, there will also be plenty of opportunities to bask in the cultures of foreign shores. For the third year in a row, Art in the Park is teaming up with PeopleFest to create a truly multicultural event.
PeopleFest began four years ago and was created to fill the void of the defunct International Festival, which ran through the 1980s and early 1990s, according to Nabil Migalli, who was instrumental in starting the new festival. It began in the parking lot of the JFK Coliseum and featured 10 acts including a Hawaiian dancer and a Vietnamese singer. While volunteers were enthusiastic, turnout was less than anticipated, according to Moe Lamy, who is the stage manager for the event. But Lamy was not discouraged. A change of venue and a new partnership would change the event’s fortunes.
Tiffani Frisella works as a liaison between the two organizations. She thought Art in the Park’s reputation (it has been around for more than 40 years) could help PeopleFest and she believed the diversity of PeopleFest would improve Art in the Park. She was right.
“It brings the whole community together,” Frisella said. “From the new immigrants to people who have been in Manchester for generations. It provides an opportunity to learn from each other.”
Frisella said understanding culture can bring down barriers and eliminate the fear that can be instinctive when one does not know someone else. She said culture (dancing, singing, arts) is a fun introduction to different countries and languages and can be a conduit that leads to greater discussion and understanding. Art for the most part needs no translation.
“It exposes people to things they normally wouldn’t hear or see and can be a real awakening,” Lamy said. “It reminds everyone we’re all just human beings.”
Even if no one came, the mere organization of the event is a win. With acts including Burundi drummers and dancers, a Jewish-Hebrew-Israeli musician, an American Native dancer, a Spanish singer, Sudanesse dancers and the Greek Assumption Church dance group, getting every act on the same page can be a challenge.
“It takes patience,” Lamy said. “And a lot of e-mails and phone calls.”
The result is worth it.
“The whole event is a celebration of heritage, culture and the diversity of Manchester,” Magalli said.