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Live Art Fusion at 841 East Lounge

Kirk Larsen from Hicksville paints the Fusion Collective

Kirk Larsen from Hicksville paints the Fusion Collective jazz group while they play at 841 East Lounge in Huntington. (Feb. 1, 2012) Credit: Barbara Alper

It has all the ingredients of an entire weekend out on the town -- in about three hours on Wednesday night.

A band plays jazz fusion in one corner. Artists paint at canvases scattered around the living room-like space. And patrons sip glasses of wine while noshing on tapas or meandering around to watch the art taking shape.

Call it a feast for the senses. And there's no cover charge to boot.

This is Live Art Fusion, a weekly affair at 841 East Lounge in Huntington that mixes music, art, food and wine.

"It's been almost magic," says Rich Rivkin of Huntington, who founded the event in November. "Nobody knew what to expect, and what we found is there is a unique vibe that's generated as a result of the fusing of live music and live art."


The night features a band that plays two sets -- each about an hour, with a 30-minute intermission. Over the course of the evening, about 10 artists paint quickly as the music plays, creating works ranging from acrylic and watercolor paintings to pastel drawings. The goal: Finish an entire piece by the end of the set. With patrons in the lounge looking on.

At the end of the evening, the artists often sell their creations -- pieces have gone for less than $100 up to $200, Rivkin says. During a recent Live Art Fusion night, works ranged from abstract circular swirls of colors on canvas to vibrant renderings of the band performing to a painting of Kathy Bates in "Misery."

"I'm shocked by the talent," says Michael Bradley, 46, of Huntington, who has purchased about five paintings created on-site. "It reminds me of the old days in the '80s in Greenwich Village."

Audience members on a recent night ranged from a group of women who had heard about the event through buzz on Facebook to couples on a weeknight date.

"Music is my passion. Art is her passion. So it was a perfect date night," says Gary Noody, 38, of Holbrook, as he ate bison sliders with his wife, Kristi, 37.

Says Kristi, "It's really exciting to see everyone's expression of the music."


For muralist and decorative painter Arlene McLoughlin, 45, of Massapequa, the event is a unique opportunity to share her work. "There's nothing really for artists unless you're in a gallery, and it's hard to get in a gallery," she said.

Painter Marna Schoenwald, 56, says she appreciates the camaraderie. "Artists tend to be very isolated. We work by ourselves," says Schoenwald, of Huntington. "This takes it to a completely different level. Not only are you painting with other people, but people are creating all around you."


Four jazz fusion bands are on a weekly rotating lineup. The "house band" is Fusion Collective, made up of electric guitars, drums, saxophone and Rivkin on the congos. They create their own arrangements of jazz standards and cover tunes, Latin, reggae and even swing rhythms. Improv is a huge factor.

"We try to do with our music what the artists do with their art," says Michael Ernst of Huntington, the band's electric guitar player and musical director.

Indeed, the funk factor gets so high that audience members and artists alike bob their heads to the beat. One couple even gets up to dance, spinning around a tight space in a crowd of more than 50 people.

By the end of the night, the musicians, too, are basking in the experience.

"The audience creates an energy, that's for sure," says saxophonist Tom Westbay, 49, of Bellmore. "Everybody walks out of here, and it's like a big lovefest."

Live Art Fusion

WHEN|WHERE 7:30-11:30 p.m. Wednesdays at 841 East Lounge, 841 E. Jericho Tpke., Huntington Station

INFO 631-261-2941,



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