Alison Stewart: This is All Of It on WNYC. I'm Alison Stewart. This Saturday, two big things are happening. One, we get a reprieve from the rain. Yes, it'll be sunny and in the low 70s. Two, it's the Inaugural West Side Fest. Over 20 cultural institutions, parks, museums, and performance companies based in neighborhoods around the Hudson River are collaborating for a day-long celebration of the West Side.
Free museum admissions, performances, arts, crafts, you can even learn some marine science. There's a lot going on. Here to help us parse through it are two people who are steering the ship this weekend. Jane Carey is Director of Community and Government Affairs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Hi, Jane.
Jane Carey: Hi. Thanks for having us.
Alison Stewart: Salvador Muñoz is the Associate Director of Public Programs and Outreach at Poster House. Salvador, welcome.
Salvador Muñoz: Hi. Thanks so much for having us.
Alison Stewart: Jane, let us define the West Side. What do you mean by the West Side?
Jane Carey: That is a difficult question to answer. Everybody has a different idea of what the West Side is, but for us on West Side Fest this coming Saturday, we are starting at the north from the Shed. Our southernmost anchor is Westbeth on Bank Street and heading all the way over to 6th Avenue to capture Poster House.
Alison Stewart: Salvador, the festival was planned by the West Side Cultural Network. Who's a part of this network? How big is it? What's its mission?
Salvador Muñoz: There are so many amazing members of the West Side Cultural Network. We have over 20 arts and culture organizations that are participating in West Side Fest, and with something going on throughout the day, there's really something for everyone, from kids and adults to everyone in between. It's impossible to list all of our activations and our partners in the time that we have now, but I do encourage you to go to westsidefest.nyc to see the full schedule of everything that we have going on.
Alison Stewart: Jane, how did this festival come together? What was the inspiration for it?
Jane Carey: Sure. Well, our neighborhood has just changed a lot recently. Culture has always been a part of the West Side, but in the last few years, we've seen a lot of growth in cultural institutions along the Hudson River, including the Whitney Museum moving back downtown in 2015, to openings like Little Island and Poster House and the New York City AIDS Memorial. Recognizing that change in our neighborhood, we came together to be in dialogue with one another and think about how we can help one another further our missions and connect more to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and out of that, formed the West Side Cultural Network.
Inspired by our cultural colleagues uptown with the Museum Mile Festival, we thought, "Let's put together our own event to celebrate all that we have to offer and remind New Yorkers who maybe haven't visited us recently or would like to come again for the second time this week, that there's always something new and dynamic happening on the West Side." We're a unique community, open parks, a lot of fresh spaces, and we hope that folks can come and check out all we have to offer this Saturday.
Alison Stewart: I think for some people, they hear West Side and they're like Chelsea Pierce, the High Line, and maybe Chelsea Market, but you said it's changed a lot. Jane, what are some of the changes if that's somebody's the way people anchor the West Side?
Jane Carey: Well, look, New York is always changing across all boroughs, but I mentioned some of the organizations that have opened in the last handful of years. Hudson River Park is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In just a few weeks, we'll be opening its newest park, Gansevoort Peninsula, right across from the Whitney. That's a big change that we're very much looking forward to here in the neighborhood, and we hope we'll encourage people to take another look at our neighborhood and explore all that it has to offer.
Later this week, the Whitney is going to be celebrating cutting the ribbon on a new pedestrian plaza adjacent to the museum with a new piece of public art there. There's always something new happening here, and many of the cultural organizations that are part of that network are fueling that change and creating new reasons for people to come and check us out.
Alison Stewart: Salvador, Poster House has a wide range of performances hosted by comedian Glo Butler, and there's all kinds of activities that are planned for Hudson River Park Pier 63. What are a few that you're looking forward to? What's something that's unique?
Salvador Muñoz: Yes, thank you so much. There's so much going on throughout the day. There really is something for everyone, but a few highlights include free admission at a number of museums, including The Whitney, Poster House, and the Ruben Museum, the Submerged Marine Science Festival at Hudson River Park, which you mentioned. Live musical performances at Tier 63, hosted by Poster House and a block party at the Shed, poetry readings on the High Line, and so much more happening all day long.
Again, you can see a full list of complete activations at westsidefest.nyc.
Alison Stewart: Jane, will there be artists available? Will there be artists on hand?
Jane Carey: Well, I can share, at The Whitney, we're running our open studio program. That's some programming we often offer on Saturdays for families and kids. This Saturday, we're opening it up to visitors of all ages, who, of course, are always welcome to engage in art-making at the museum. We'll be working with an artist, Dindga McCannon, whose work is on view right now in our inheritance exhibition, who will be doing a fun activity for folks.
Yes, I know at the Whitney there will be artists. Then Salvador has mentioned the full list of events. On our website, we'll direct people to other performances and happenings that artists are presenting throughout the day.
Alison Stewart: My guests are Jane Carey, Director of Community and Government Affairs at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Salvador Muñoz, Associate Director of Public Programs and Outreach at Poster House. We're talking about West Side Fest, which is taking place this Saturday, September 30th. It's going to be all day. You touched on this a little bit. Salvador, I'll start with you and then, Jane, if you want to jump in. If I want to bring the kids, what are kids going to get to do?
Salvador Muñoz: Absolutely. We have a ton of activities for our youngest visitors, including a puppet show presented by Penny Jones & Co at Westbeth. Family open studios at the Whitney, all-ages yoga and children printmaking activities at Hudson River Parks Pier 63, presented by Poster House, and an all-ages creative break with Little Island.
Alison Stewart: Jane, go on.
Jane Carey: I'm sorry. I had to smile when you asked that question because my husband and I are planning out our day too with our children and was just speaking to a colleague about their plan for the day. I think Salvador touched on some of the big things. So excited to see that puppet show at Westbeth. You mentioned artists. It's an artist community. They're also opening up their studios later in the afternoon, which we're looking forward to meeting more of our artist neighbors in that event as well.
Alison Stewart: Jane, how about teens? Sometimes teens can be hard to motivate to an art space.
Jane Carey: Well, do you think a dance party would catch their eye? The Shed is going to be closing out the day with a dance party from, I think, three to seven o'clock? Check out that website at westsidefest.nyc to be sure. I think that will be a fun moment for visitors of all ages and teens especially, to come and celebrate their community.
Alison Stewart: When you think about the West Side and how much has changed, it's a double-edged sword sometimes, Jane. I think everybody recognizes this, that when you have new things come in, there's displacement. When you think about that and celebrating the West Side, but also acknowledging that it may not have been good for some people.
Jane Carey: Yes. This neighborhood has gone through a lot of change recently, and one of the things that's been important for us in building this event is to connect to our hyper local neighborhood that has been here for a long time. Making sure that all folks along the West Side know about this and feel welcome to celebrate, and hopefully, feel a sense of ownership and connection to the institutions that are here that are possible because of the contributions of longtime residents to create the fantastic neighborhood that we're a part of right now.
This is an inaugural year event. We've learned a lot through our collaboration, and I look forward, we are looking forward to future years and ways we can continue to grow our outreach efforts. An important piece for us was to make sure that we are talking to folks that have been in the community for a long time. I mentioned Westbeth as one of our partners, but there are other neighborhood organizations that we've been to to make sure that they know that they are included, and this is made possible thanks to them, really.
Alison Stewart: That's great to bring in legacy organizations like Westbeth. Salvador, food. Talk to me about food.
Salvador Muñoz: You can't have a festival without food and we're so grateful that we are located in such a neighborhood with such amazing food options. You can grab a bite and a drink from one of the nearly 60 vendors at Chelsea Market. We're also going to be close to Hudson River Park Pier 57 with their new waterfront food hall. There's a ton of great food and beverage options throughout the West Side for our guests to enjoy.
Alison Stewart: Jane, have you been to the new Pier 57 Food Hall yet?
Jane Carey: I have, yes, and I'm looking forward-- That's one of the places I'll be taking my family to.
There's some delicious vendors to check out. Also, we'll satisfy the diverse palates of my family members. At the very end of the pier, if you walk all the way back, there's a really interesting installation by Hudson River Park that connects to the river too, that I'm looking forward to sharing with my son.
Alison Stewart: One of the performers this Saturday is Hila the Earth. She describes herself as an eco rapper. We're going to play a little bit of her song Dirty Talk, which has almost 45,000 views on YouTube. Let's take a listen.
MUSIC - Hila the Earth: Dirty Talk
Dirty talk, Dirty talk, Dirty talk, Dirty talk.
You want the dirt, I give you the dirt
I am the dirt that you live on the earth
You want the dirty, I give you the word
I gave you the world
I make it work. I make it work, work, work
I got the worms working under my skirt
I'm what you live on. I'm what it's worth
I am the earth. I give you the dirt
Dirty talk. Get on the ground
My body's so porous. My body's so round
If you wanna talk dirty, I'll give you the sound
Gimme the roots. I'll give you the mound
Gimme your feces. We need to hustle
Clean up my beaches. Show me your muscles
I'll give you crabs. I'll give you turtles.
Build me a baby. I'm filled and I'm fertile
You want the dirt
feeling the clay and the sand up my shirt
slip in my silt. I'll give you a squirt
You want to eat it, You need my dirt
potassium, nitrogen, enzymes, vitamins
Spread your seed, I invite them in
Alison Stewart: I'm gonna tell you, the first time I heard that I was like, "Where's this going? I'm not sure where this is going." [laughs]
Salvador Muñoz: We're so excited to have Hill of the Earth perform with us at Pier 63. We brought her on to celebrate our new exhibition opening this weekend at Poster House called, We Tried to Warn You, environmental Crisis Posters. Hill is an eco-friendly comedian and rapper, and is going give us a great performance on the day.
Alison Stewart: Oh yes. Tell me a little bit more about that poster house exhibit. There's something that came up. Somebody brought this up in one of our meetings.
Salvador Muñoz: In addition to participating in West Side Fest, we're opening two new exhibitions this weekend. One of which is, We tried to Warn you, environmental crisis posters from 1970 to 2020. It really examines environmental messaging through the poster design for the past 40 years.
Alison Stewart: Jane, of course, we talked about this as the inaugural West Side Festival, and we got a note from the publicist, The Whitney here saying, "Museum Mile isn't alone anymore." That's good on you. That's a good line from a publicist. That's something that's really is part of New York's history, and New York's people look forward to the Museum Mile Fest. Is that your hope for this festival that you'll get to that point?
Jane Carey: We would be so lucky. I think we're just thrilled we're able to pull together this fantastic event this year, and there's momentum to continue to help it grow. We've learned a lot from our colleagues uptown. They celebrated their 40th anniversary this year, Mile. I personally would love it if we, in 40 years, are still celebrating art and culture on the West Side here.
Alison Stewart: What's something that you learned that you didn't really know about putting on a festival before?
Jane Carey: Oh, goodness. The doorman. Talk to the doorman. Walking down in Museum Mile, I overheard a number of people share that they heard about this fantastic event from their doorman. There's all these really important networks in New York City that help to drive our city forward from folks that work at the doors of different residential buildings to so many different sectors. We were like, want to welcome everybody to be a part of this event because we all make culture like this happen in New York City. It can only happen here.
Alison Stewart: Salvador, did I miss anything? Anything you wanted to add about Saturday's West Side Fest?
Salvador Muñoz: There's so much going on. If I would love to tell you about each and every activation, but that would take up our entire segment. Please check out westsidefest.nyc to see everything that we have to offer this Saturday.
Alison Stewart: Jane, anything else that you wanted to add?
Jane Carey: I just thank you very much for having us on here. It's really a pleasure to be able to share our work with your listeners and invite our neighbors and New Yorkers to come and celebrate us with this weekend. Thank you.
Alison Stewart: Have a great festival.
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