The stale summer air tasted of bug spray, charcoal and wet mulch as young artists huddled around picnic tables under tents for the fourth annual Brook Park Arts Festival on Saturday, Aug. 4. People strolled in slowly after the rain, as Monarch butterflies and dragonflies fluttered. Children sat to get daisies and owls painted on their faces.
Local artists and vendors came to show their work, and hopefully sell it as well. Although some said their work pertained to specific styles, most of the art on display was abstract.
One of the first artists to arrive was Felix Morelo, a Bed-Stuy native who is now a Mott Haven resident. Morelo, a graduate of the Parsons School of Design, came to sell and distribute his art, and to give out free advice.
Local business owner Odette Chavez came to promote and sell her body butter among the local artists as well. Chavez runs Luscious Tierra, where she sells natural products such as deodorants and lotions.
Though Chavez, 36, did not bring any of her own art due to what she says is a nearly year-long case of artists’ block, she considered her new product a form of art-making in itself.
“I’ve been doing this for about six months,” said Chavez. “I realize that even though I can’t paint, part of why I do art is to reach people, and so I kind of offset my painters block by making these products.”
Angel Martel, 36, brought three drawings which he lay down at his side. Martel, a graduate of The Arts Institute of NYC, primarily works with colored pencils and acrylic paints, sometimes mixing the two to create fuschia and dream-like colors.
Martel was excited to show his work, which conveyed a contemporary, urban sensibility through the use of found objects. This was something he considered a way of allowing his audience’s imagination to intertwine with his own.
One of his drawings featured pigeons in front of an expansive pasture, with a glass-like cube jutting out of the ground.
“I’m very handsy with the pencil, I could draw anything realistically, and as you can see my imagination is very broad,” said Martel. “With color pencils I love shading and blending in colors. That’s what I like to do a lot.”
Unlike Martel, an experienced and trained artist, 13-year-old Chakaia Martin displayed her work in public for the very first time. “I feel really exposed, because I feel anxious about how people might feel about it. Her art is good but it’s not like [other more experienced artists] here,” said Marten. “To be honest, I don’t think I have a genre for it yet.”
One of the festival organizers, Manuel Castillo, 42, said he was excited by the turnout. Castillo scurried back and forth to greet visitors as they entered the park.
“We want to do this every year because we want unity in the community. I want it for the kids.” said Castillo. “The reason is this is my circle of heaven, this is my safe haven in Mott Haven. This is what I want, for the people to come here and feel not out of place but in tune with nature.”