By JASMINE DURSUN
When the scents of Italian fine dining ignite your nostrils, the vivid colors and patterns of tribal clothing delight your irises, and the warmness of artistic innovation lifts your spirit, you know you’re at the Edgewater Music and Arts Festival.
September is the month for creative souls as summer comes to an end and autumn enters. As New York City celebrated its opening weekend for Fashion Week, Edgewater, NJ kicked off post-Labor Day blues with its 22nd Annual Music and Arts Festival.
The Sunday afternoon celebration shut down Thompson Lane, where lined-up tents displayed treasures from handmade jewelry and native African clothing, to vintage marionette puppets and realist-inspired paintings. Thompson Lane restaurants participated as well, lining booths outside of their establishments and selling a plethora of international meals that ranged from Western Europe to Eastern Asia. The atmosphere was filled with the spirit of jazzy riffs and eclectic beats, keeping the scene upbeat until its ending at sunset.
The festival is hosted by The Edgewater Arts Council, a non-profit organization of volunteers that was created in 1991. Their ultimate goal is to increase awareness of visual and performing arts, and the annual celebratory event allows local artists to demonstrate their abilities and pass along the gift of creativity to all attendees. The festival has sparked after 22 years, beginning in 1991 with a humble 300 visitors and eight showcased artists to the extent that the limited space of the festival could not hold back the masses of people passing through.
Amongst the display artists at the festival was young Sasha Lalite, the owner and jewelry designer of Sasha L. Jewels. Inspired by her Caribbean and Latin backgrounds, bright colors and natural stone are signature to her creations, whether it be the turquoise in the oval pendants of a unique necklace or a simple stone included in a bracelet. “I’ve always been creative and I’ve always liked challenges,” said the North Bergen-based designer. Her eye for unique things has also triggered her creative streak, mentioning “the way [she] shops is the way [she] makes her jewelry.”
For others, expression is shown through painting, such as MaryAnn Burton of Hasbrouck Heights. “I’ve always had an affinity for art and putting my own interpretations down on paper,” she said about her experience with watercolor painting, which she has been practicing for 15 years. She has been participating in the festival for a full decade. “It’s a nice place to reconnect with people and get some feedback on my artwork.”
But art can travel beyond the realms of display and enter the body in a physical sense, as it does for Gerry Meagher. She practices the art of Seimei, a no-touch healing technique that can relieve physical pain and anxiety through spiritual force. At first, it was a struggle to have the Seimei booth displayed the festival for the healer, who has been practicing the ancient form for 18 years. But by making an impromptu sign introducing Seimei as an art, Meagher was able to have Seimei stay.
“What is art?” she challenged in reference to describing Seimei as an actual artform. “There’s an art in breathing, there’s an art in pretty much everything. I mean, if a urinal can make 10 million dollars at an auction, Duchamp’s urinal, is called art, let’s call it art!”
No matter how these artists express themselves, there is one trait that ties them together – their passion for art and the love they have for what they do. The importance of art varies for each of the artists. For Lalite, it’s for the sake of separating yourself from the pact. For Burton, it’s to find a release from your inner self. For Meagher, it’s what she calls “the perpetual now.”
“When you’re born, and then you breathe, and then comes love, and then everything that follows then after – that’s creation,” she explained. “It’s all of life.”