‘Arts Fest’ debuts in Ventura Park

INCLUDES LIVELY VIDEO | Take a look at activities the lead up to a much-anticipated concert at the first-ever East Portland Arts Festival …

Here in the Hazelwood neighborhood, a crowd gathers in Ventura Park before a concert featuring Esperanza Spalding.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The weekend of July 9 and 10, Ventura Park was buzzing with activities during the day. And, into the evening hours each day, there was a Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) “Concert in the Park”.

The days were filled with free drop-in mini music lessons, with the help of instructors associated with PP&R’s Community Music Center. Also, PP&R staff provided art activities, which appeared to be, primarily, painting and stenciling.

At this table the art activity is painting river rocks.

Drumbeats, provided by folks who joined in Nigel Smith’s Family Fun Drumming session, held in the shade near the east end of the park, provided a lively rhythm to the other activities.

As the day went on, the temperature rose; those staying for the concert sought shade under the large fir trees on the south side of the park, near the mobile stage set up there.

Learning what it’s like to play a violin is Tsedupkunga, with help from a Community Music Center instructor.

The supervisor of PP&R’s Summer Free For All program, Jarrell Hosley, said that the events held on this particular weekend were an “east-side version of the Washington Park Summer Festival held in the Rose Garden Amphitheater.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate outer East Portland too, and to give residents here an opportunity connect as well.”

Picnicking before the concert are Jun Suzuki, holding Juliet; and Jacklyn Kohon, Mami Matsuhashi, and Madoka Abe.

The evening of July 9, the act on the big portable stage was Aaron Nigel Smith & 1 World Chorus, in concert.

Here’s a look at families having a fun day and evening, at this event:

The July 10 show, featuring Esperanza Spalding, was scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. The warm-up act at 6:35 p.m. were students of the Manifest Dance Agency PDX and Hip Hop Soulsation Academy; their performance continued until about 7:00 p.m.

Esperanza Spalding greets the audience from the stage, as her concert gets underway.

An “early count” by PP&R staff estimated that 2,200 people had gathered for the concert by the time Esperanza Spalding, and her band and dancers, took the stage.

Mainly, the audience showed their appreciation of Spaulding’s avant-garde jazz musical presentations, accompanied by movements of the dancers with her show.

A number of older adults left after the first couple of numbers, shaking their heads in puzzlement. Perhaps they expected Spalding to play classical selections on violin and cello.

A pleasant evening was had by the many who stayed and enjoyed this special concert.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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