When Alexa Dexa belts out an aria from “Be a Doll,” an electroacoustic opera she composed for an array of toy instruments Saturday at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, she will be taking center stage — that is, in the Main Street venue’s lobby.
Dexa joins a mixed-media artist who re-creates an animatronic fortunetelling machine, as well as a poetry-writing clown, three-dimensional painter and interpretive dance performer, in the launch of “Artful Antics,” the Patchogue Arts Council’s 2019 festival season. “The fourth edition of the village-wide event will showcase work inspired by whimsy, joy, humor and play,” says the council’s executive director Beth Giacummo.
The public will also get a chance to directly engage in the cathartic kickoff romp. Whether arriving in their own handcrafted costumes or choosing to create one in artist Jenny Thwing’s workshop, art-minded revelers can show off their own creativity in a New Orleans-style promenade that winds from the theater along Main Street down Roe Walkway to the village’s just-installed “Pathway to the Arts.” The public art project, comprising four custom paver designs, draws on local talent and imagery.
“They were all done by Long Island artists,” notes Giacummo. “One was inspired by architectural details from the village post office and others make reference to Long Island flowers and conch shells.”
The art-filled afternoon culminates at the PAC Gallery on Terry Street, where Thwing’s pop-up installation, a tableau of animated cut-paper leaves, blooms and insect-human hybrids, spreads over the space’s walls and floor. “I consider the mural to be a community garden,” says Thwing, noting contributions to the work made by a number of area residents.
Patchogue native Giacummo, one of the 11-year-old council’s founding members who is also a practicing artist, remembers the South Shore village where she grew up as “definitely not a hot spot,” with no indications of becoming a thriving arts destination.
She also recalls the organization’s early meetings, held on a couch or at a kitchen table, and its initial shows that, without a home to call its own, were mounted in available lobbies and storefronts. “Now we have permanent exhibition and office space along with five satellite venues, including a gallery in the Patchogue Library and one in a coffeehouse, with some 15,000 people a year attending the various exhibits and events," she says.
According to Giacummo, it has always been the arts council's intention not just to show art, but to build a community among local artists and audiences. The goal of creating opportunities, she contends, is part of the council’s “big secret,” slated to be announced at Saturday’s afternoon reception. “It will bring us to the next level,” she says.
WHAT Patchogue Arts Council's "Artful Antics"
WHEN | WHERE 1-5:30 p.m. Saturday, various locations throughout the Village of Patchogue
INFO Free; 631-627-8686, patchoguearts.org