Article by Emma Riva - Images Provided by Leah Gerstel and ThirdRailArt
Art by Konstance Patton at the NoMo Soho Hotel
On Saturday, July 24th, Konstance Patton’s inaugural Be A Lover Fest spread out across several locations in the bustling chic of SoHo and Nolita. Instead of confining it to an indoor space, Patton made the open-air live painting event a transient walking tour of Manhattan’s downtown. It included Elizabeth Street Garden, Fringe Salon, NoMo SoHo Hotel, Von Bar, Overthrow NYC, Casa Mezcal, JVP Margalit, Stanley’s Pharmacy, First Street Green, and Judi Rosen NYC.
Calicho & Jeff Rose King at the NoMo Soho Hotel
I started at Elizabeth Street Garden, a quaint local rendezvous in Nolita full of ornate trellises and moss-colored stone statues. By setting the art space outside, Patton created a space where passers-by who may have had no idea the festival was even going on felt like part of the experience. It gave the event a sense of community and homeyness consistent with Patton’s values as an artist of spreading love.
Optimo at the NoMo Soho Hotel
When I walked from Elizabeth Street Garden to NoMo SoHo, I found myself reminiscing about my tenure when I worked at Pearl River Mart, which has since moved from Tribeca to one street down from NoMo SoHo. It brought to mind random fragments of sentimentality from a year when it was so difficult to connect with others—listening to my coworker wax poetic about trying to decide whether to go to the gym or not as we meandered out Houston St, sitting on the steps of the Dunkin’ Donuts on Canal St and trying to scarf down an egg sandwich in ten minutes on my break, and just going about my daily life even as tragedy occurred around me.
Viewer sat the NoMo Soho Hotel
Patton’s concept of giving viewers space and forcing them to walk between different locations allows for an aspect of personal reflection and personal involvement in the festival. Each person walking between the locations brings own memories to it. In a city as old as New York, it’s humbling to think about how many memories have been made in the city we call home. Once I got to NoMo, I encountered Calicho Arevalo selling new graphic t-shirts and prepping the wall with white paint to paint his signature colorful toucan on.
Calicho painting at the NoMo Soho Hotel
Though the artists were all at different locations, almost everyone used bright and pastel colors. The artists in attendance at the Elizabeth Street Garden used a wide range of styles, from Acool55's humanistic stencil, 'Bee Human', to traditional graffiti lettering to Basquiat-esque abstractionism to Vanessa Kreytak’s bubblegum-colored mural reading BE A LOVER.
An artist painting at the Elizabeth Street Garden
It was meditative just to observe Patton’s guests talking and painting over the synths of a live DJ set. As I watched Calicho and the artists with him roll white paint onto the wall of NoMo SoHo, I couldn’t help but think that the same thing was happening in New York. We’ve lost a lot, but if we’re lucky, our grief can be a blank canvas to paint something colorful and joyful on top of.
Konstance Patton, Founder and Organizer of Be A Lover Festival