HIGHLAND PARK – More than 50 artists will converge on Highland Park for the 6th Annual Arts in the Park Festival to showcase and sell their work. Arts in the Park is from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 3, along Raritan Avenue between 2-5th Streets in Highland Park.
“People look forward all year to Arts in the Park. It’s a wonderful day of fine art, fine crafts, music and superb dining. This year, many of the downtown restaurants will turn themselves into sidewalk cafes, so people can sit outside, meet with friends over a drink or a bite to eat, listen to music, look at the artwork for sale and have a great time in a vibrant, authentic downtown setting,” said James McCrone, executive director of Main Street Highland Park, the non-profit that promotes businesses along Raritan Avenue, and co-sponsor of Arts in the Park.
“It’s the perfect ending to a homecoming weekend, and for alums who remember Highland Park way back when, there will be many very pleasant surprises. The energy of the festival, the quality of the work–Arts in the Park has it all,” he continued.
There will be also be a Kid’s Zone at Arts in the Park, which will feature activities for children, from a banner for painting, sidewalk art, balloons, face painting and a henna tattoo artist.
Highland Park Mayor Steve Nolan said Arts in the Park is aligned with who and what Highland Park is known for.
“For years, Highland Park has been known as a community of people who love artistic expression of all kinds. Many of our residents are accomplished musicians, dancers, artists, poets and writers. Our schools have an incredibly high level of student participation in extracurricular programs involving the arts,” Nolan said.
“The Highland Park Arts Festival was the brain child of Main Street Highland Park and many residents. By combining the borough’s growing reputation for great restaurants (yet another form of artistic expression) with our appreciation for the arts, the volunteers of Main Street Highland Park are making our downtown a destination choice people who live in the central Jersey region,” he continued.
Artists from painters to sculptors and photographers will be on hand Oct. 3 to show and sell their work. They will also be judged in one of the seven categories: painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, fine craft, mixed media and green, which recognizes work done with recycled or re-purposed materials or was created in a sustainable way.
“This last category (green) has proved interesting and provocative, and I always look forward particularly to what will shown,” McCrone said.
Local sculptor Fred Cole fits into the green category.
Cole said his work is fitting for Highland Park because he uses recycled materials and many borough residents are environmentally conscious.
“My inspiration is the world around me. I recycle materials. Each material I find leads to me wondering how I can use it. Sometimes, the shapes just jump out,” Cole said.
This will be Cole’s fourth year participating. His work sells for $15 to $300.
“It’s a great day. You see so many of the same people year after year. It’s great for the community,” he said.
James Best Jr. of Teaneck is hoping to place again this year. He won first place in painting and third place in print making last year.
“I got a lot of exposure. The amount of people streaming by was incredible,” he said.
His prints, which are 20X30 inches, sell for $500-$700.
Arts in the Park is co-sponsored by Unity Bank, 104 Raritan Ave. Walter Deutsch, vice president of the bank and a member of the Main Street Highland Park board, said bank officials “are very happy to supply an outlet for the local artistic community in and around Highland Park. It means a lot to us that we can bring together the community in this way.”
“This reaches a different demographic and it has a broad-based appeal. It lets Highland Park shine in front of a lot of people who don’t normally see it,” he continued.
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