Art is year-round in Wassaic, with residencies, exhibits, themed art parties, and all manner of educational programming ongoing. Still, Wassaic Project’s colorful, au courant summer festival is the one day of the year for which the town and the project are most known. This highly ritualized, compact and diverse festival brings a cosmopolitan level of style and sophistication to the beautiful, rural eastern reaches of the Hudson valley, close enough to Connecticut to smell the jai alai.
The 2019 Wassaic Project summer festival takes place on August 3. The scope and density of this one-day affair defies easy description. It is full of exhibits; serious talks by serious artists; five hours of world-class international dance in and around barn; live music with a hip, global, and Bacchanalian bias; and general pageantry executed at the visual and conceptual level one would expect from an artist’s colony.
Of note this year is The Prince, a day-long one-man show from performance and video artist Agnese Cebere. The Prince mimes his way through public life as best he can to the music of silent film. Meandering alongside and in-between other artwork and among visitors, the performance is improvised using costume, site, and social interactions as prompts for sketches. There will be two film programs in the Luther Barn Auction Rings: A Family Shorts Program at 1 p.m. and an Experimental Shorts Program at 4 p.m.
Dance programs in the Luther Barn feature the work of seven ensembles or choreographers. This year, the Project challenged each artist to present a variation of small dances on the 4’ x 4’. platforms surrounding the barn. Performers include the notable duo binbinFactory, Brooklyn choreographer and dance filmmaker Janessa Clarke, solo performances by Paula Josa Jones and Argentinian Marilia Quevedo, and more.
Music at the Wassaic Project begins late in the day — 6 p.m. — and buoys the whole affair late into the night, as music is supposed to. Headliners this year include the hip art-soul ANTI- recording artist Xenia Rubinos, the cinematic global groove horn project Ikebe Shakedown, the cool indie soul-folk outfit Holy Hive, the Afro-Cuban-focused Strings N Skins, Acoustic Mandala Project and more.
The Wassaic Project’s summer exhibition, Ad Astra Per Aspera, will be open all day, as will the Art Nest, a free artmaking space for kids. This is a one-of-kind-festival, and free. It is well worth the drive. The Project’s website does an outstanding job of describing the festival and selling it to undecideds. Take a look for further incentive.
Saturday, August 3
Noon – late
Luther Barn Field
17 Furnace Bank Road