Riverhead’s Main Street will erupt into a kaleidoscope of color, texture and celebration Friday, when East End Art’s JumpstART program unveils the projects its artists have created.
On Aug. 7 from 5 to 10 p.m., six months of work will culminate in an outdoor arts festival complete with music and interactive exhibits. Admission is free and open to the public.
“We all do it collectively so it will have more of an impact,” said East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder. “The community benefits, the surrounding businesses benefit. If it’s anything like last year, the restaurants will all be full and the town will be full.”
Artwork will be on display from McDermott Avenue on East Main Street to the River and Roots community garden on West Main. The 14 pieces, created by 16 artists, encompass a variety of media, from large-scale murals painted on local buildings to photographic memoirs and vocal performances.
To round out the evening, a band will play at the gazebo along the Peconic River and Peconic Ballet will perform in Grangebel Park.
“If anyone is walking downtown, they will more than likely come across an artist doing a performance or a presentation,” Snyder said.
Babylon artists Andrea Manning and Becca Seibert are installing an interactive exhibit called Space Planet at 213 East Main St. There, visitors can walk through and explore an invented alien planet with rainforest, oceanic and microscopic imagery.
“We are going to fill a storefront and transform it into an alien planet,” Seibert said last week. “In the middle of the room, we’ll have a pretend picnic basket with a bunch of pretend food items from this alien planet. Then we’re all going to go and explore the space together and find the sources of the food throughout the planet.”
While some of the installations, including Space Planet, will be taken down at the festival’s conclusion, several are more permanent.
Three murals, for example, will adorn Main Street for the foreseeable future — or at least until the property owners decide to remove them.
Artist Drew Kane of Huntington, painted his “Chameleon Mural” last weekend on the side of Consignment Galore at 54 East Main St.
Other artists have created murals at 11 West Main St., by the Long Island Science Center, and near the community garden.
As his title suggests, Kane’s painting depicts a large chameleon alongside a girl with a magnifying glass — and it ties in closely to Riverhead itself.
“This is my first big public art project,” he said. “It’s based on a photo I took at [the Long Island] Aquarium … So I worked the town into it a little bit.”
To foot the bill for his work this year, Kane created a GoFundMe page that raised more than $2,000.
One mural that remained after last year’s JumpstART program has become the subject of recent controversy. A new owner of the building at 307 East Main St. now wants to remove Caitlyn Shea’s painting of hummingbirds and flowers to allow for construction. In response, Shea has launched a Facebook page campaigning for her work to be preserved.
This kind of resourcefulness and fiscal awareness are exactly the purpose of JumpstART, a half-year professional development program that offers participants monthly seminars on “the business aspects of art.”
“There were several [artists] who had business opportunities that came about from this,” Snyder said. “This is the groundwork for them to go forward.”
East End Arts educational director Diane Giardi noted that it also gives the participants the self-belief necessary to succeed as artists.
“It’s given them a lot of confidence to tackle things that they hadn’t previously embarked on,” she said.
East End Arts also invited all of the members of last year’s JumpstART to return as mentors for the Class of 2015.
“They were like a sounding board for this year’s artists,” Snyder said.