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Success not measured in dollars

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Artists participating in the BCA’s Fair at the Square in Westchester Square last Saturday, May 15, may not have sold much art or made a hunk of money from the festive outdoor event. But the day brought a different sort of victory—a social one.

“Today’s been more interesting just for the purpose of people-watching,” said Patricia Manwaring, sitting at her table of paintings. “It’s so funny to hear what people say to each other when they stand in front of your table.” Manwaring said that she had trouble making sales, but was at least handing her business card out, meeting new potential fans. “Slowly as the afternoon goes on, my prices get lower,” she joked.

“People don’t seem to be buying much, but it’s nice just to meet them and tell them who you are,” said Jose Parra, who had a table of paintings outside El Boho Tropical. “The trolley starts right near me, so that’s been good. People come over, check out the art on their way to see the music.” There were also tables with handmade jewelry, mixed media artwork, and even some statue-type materials, like the work of Orlando Franco, of Tremont. Franco calls his art Orlando’s Ark, and attaches pre-made plastic animals to colorful painted bases of wood and other materials. In one example, two panda bears stand on a wooden circle with tufts of grass and stones glued on. “I want to bring a little nature back to the city,” he said.

“A lot of people have popped in to check out my work today, which feels good,” said Darnell Edwards, who had a table of paintins inside T-Mobile. “I had someone tell me my stuff would go in a museum some day,” he beamed.

As artists manned their position and hoped for sales and the Culture Trolley breezed by on its tour, over in Owen Dolen Park there was live music to be seen. Two bands played, both part of Bronx Underground: Drew Torres, a solo reggae-rock act, and A Moment’s Worth, five Pelham Bay guys who play a mix of pop-punk and hard rock. Anita Colby, of Country Club, is a co-founder of Bronx Underground, which handles punk, ska, and indie rock bands in the Bronx, organizing all-ages, alcohol-free concerts in the city. “We love the idea of an outdoor show,” said Colby. “And today is just amazing, such great weather. Usually our outdoor shows get rained out.”

Many of the Bronx Underground musicians are visual artists as well, and were able to set up tables at the fair. At thepeak of the fair, Colby said, well over 100 people were standing to watch the bands, enjoying themselves and bobbing their heads. Many brought their own acoustic guitars. In keeping with the optimism of the visual artists, Alex Bondarev, lead singer of A Moment’s Worth, said, “We saw a bunch of new people today, but also people that had seen us before, so it was a good mix. We’re getting our name out.” Bondarev is in his second year at NYU Dental School. Three members of his band went to high school at St. Theresa in Pelham Bay.

“Great music, nice art, and the weather’s perfect, too,” said Councilman James Vacca, strolling through the arts walk, shaking hands. “Events like this are a way for us to show how unique the Bronx is, it’s just different from everywhere else.” Vacca, as did BCA president Bill Aguado, noted all the potential that Westchester Square has to offer.

Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or droberts@cnglocal.com

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