Prepare for an Arts-Filled Season in Neighborhood Parks

By Marie Holmes

After a virtual 2021 season, Summer on the Hudson — NYC’s annual free outdoor arts and culture festival held in Riverside Park from 59th to 153rd Streets — is coming back this summer in person.

The festival will present 250 events from May to September, Whitney Deardon of the Riverside Park Conservancy said at the April meeting of Community Board (CB) 7’s Parks & Environment Committee.

All events — concerts, film screenings, wellness presentations, and activities for children — are free and open to the public. New offerings include plein air painting, forest bathing walks, trivia and game nights, and STEM programs for kids. The full new Summer on the Hudson schedule is available here, and brochures will be disseminated throughout the community.

In more Riverside Park news, Margaret Bracken, the park’s landscape architect, will give a talk for the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group, “More Than Cherries: The Flowering Trees of Riverside Park,” on Wednesday, April 27 at 6:30pm. More about the event and how to access it virtually here.

Photo credit: Malcolm Pinckney/NYC Parks.

There’s also art at Anibal Aviles Playground on 108th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The installation, “Good Neighbors,” consists of portraits of Manhattan Valley residents taken on the street. The photographs are enlarged and reproduced on a weatherproof vinyl material, then mounted to the playground’s fence.

“Good Neighbors” has been well-received, according to Jennifer Pliego, Director of Special Projects at El Taller Latino Americano, the nonprofit responsible for creating it, and the parks department has approved the installation of a new set of portraits on April 29-30. These will include works by cartoonist Felipe Galindo and several other artists.

“Good Neighbors” has received grant funding and will return in September, and other installations are planned through February 2023. Pliego noted that if there is community support, El Taller could continue with these exhibitions even beyond that date.

El Taller is also planning a temporary installation on the wall of 103 W. 108th Street, a building adjoining the playground that is currently a garage and scheduled to be razed. This work is a mural that incorporates the 1962 Booker T. Washington yearbook photo of Anibal Aviles, a Puerto Rican-born New Yorker who was killed in the Vietnam War. The mural will remain up until the building comes down in about a year.

NOTE: The Anibal Aviles playground was selected by the Community Parks Initiative as one of ten city parks that will receive capital improvements. There will be a meeting to discuss ideas for the playground on Monday, April 25 at 6:30pm. Register here.

Area residents should also note that the playground’s renovated restrooms will be opening shortly.

Councilmember Gale Brewer.

Speaking of restrooms, Eddie Amador from Councilmember Gale Brewer’s office reiterated Brewer’s commitment to accessible park bathrooms; making school playgrounds available after hours; and dedicating 1% of the city’s budget to the parks department. The councilmember also supports the Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE) Act, which would require every community to have three drop-off sites for compost and for e-waste. Amador spoke as well of a bill that would create a city department of sustainability and climate change.

The committee ended the evening by reviewing its letter to Mayor Adams, urging him to see through on his promise to dedicate 1% of the city budget to the parks department. It read, in part, “the 1% increase you promised is a bare minimum to adequately staff our parks and playgrounds and keep them safe, clean and accessible for all New Yorkers. As we go into another year of reliance on our green spaces and concerns about climate change, time is of the essence. Please fund this critical infrastructure now.”

ART, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 4 comments | permalink
    1. Ken UWS says:

      What are “forest bathing walks”?

    2. Marilyn says:

      What about the sink holes in Riverside park that have been left to sink for over a year? And the new garbage areas aka rat motels in Riverside park. They are unsightly and inconvenient.

    3. Meg P. says:

      Thanks for this helpful guide—great to have so much to look forward to after what has felt like an especially long winter! I’ve also read that the West Side Community Garden will be resuming its concert series this spring.