Tompkins Square Park
Ave. A To Ave. B, E. 7 St. To E. 10 St.
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The Daily Plant : Wednesday, August 25, 2004
TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK IS CENTERPIECE OF SECOND ANNUAL HOWL! FESTIVAL
Yesterday marked the end of the second annual Howl! Festival, a weeklong celebration of East Village arts, centered in Tompkins Square Park. Consisting of over one hundred performances and special events at over 60 venues, the Howl! Festival honors the East Village’s historic role in the formation of America’s counterculture. The festival, which takes its name from Allan Ginsberg’s famous poem, "Howl!", aims both to preserve the East Village’s unique history and to provide contemporary artists with a space to create new and visionary work.
Although performances took place throughout the East Village, Tompkins Square Park hosted some of the festival’s most anticipated events, including "Wigstock." Founded in 1985 in Tompkins Square Park, "Wigstock" is a drag performance of spectacular proportions. Usually held in large venues, such as Union Square Park, this year’s performance marked a return to "old-school" Wigstock and included performances from the legendary performers Boy George, RuPaul, Lypsinka, and Wigstock founder, Lady Bunny. Over 2,000 people showed up for this year’s show.
The HOWL! Festival was also coordinated to coincide with two ongoing East Village festivals: the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and the Allen Ginsburg Poetry Festival, both held in Tompkins Square Park. Presented by the City Parks Foundation, the Charlie Parker Jazz festival took place on Saturday in Marcus Garvey Park and Sunday in Tompkins Square Park. The Tompkins Square performance was headlined by Jimmy Heath and included performances from Vanessa Rubin, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kenny Garret, and Rachel Z. At the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Festival, held on Friday, audiences were wowed with special readings by Kazim Ali, Erica Kaufman, C.A. Conrad, Anyssa Kim, Denize Lauture, Janine Pomy-Vega, Edwin Torres, Tracie Morris, John Giorno, and Bernadette Mayer. The festival was hosted by Steve Earle, singer, songwriter, and political activist, and Christopher Stackhouse, artist, curator, and poet.
Finally, Tompkins Square Park was intimately involved in a brand new event called "Art Around the Park." More than 100 artists gathered in the park over the weekend to cover a 900-foot long, eight-foot wide ribbon of blank canvas with original art. Working on assigned sections, the artists created a spontaneous work of art that ran from 10th Street and Avenue A, 7th Street and Avenue A, and halfway down 7th Street from Avenue A toward Avenue B. It incorporated hundreds of gallons of paint and sculptural material of all kinds.
Other highlights of the HOWL! festival included the Bluegrass Ball; Viva Charas!, an all day Latino music and dance festival with a guest appearance by Luis Guzman; a Poetry Jam at Joe’s Pub, with an all-star cast of Lilli Taylor, Ed Sanders, Edwin Torres, Suzanne Vega, Carl Hancock Rux, and Moby; Avant-Garde(n), seven nights of screenings and performances in seven different community gardens, and a HOWL! film festival, including screenings of Wild in the Streets, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, and End of the Century, a new documentary about the punk-rock band, The Ramones. The festivities ended yesterday evening with a political cabaret that included representatives from 30 New York-based activist groups and a salute to the spirit and history of the East Village.
Written by Hannah Gersen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means."
Directions to Tompkins Square Park
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