By Sandra Schulman
As downtown West Palm Beach moves forward, “art experiences,” if not actual “art” in the traditional sense, takes on a leading role.
And thus is it is with Art Affair, a week of such experiences now ongoing in West Palm Beach. In addition to the 3-day Downtown West Palm Beach Arts Festival at the end of the week, there will be a 3-day pop-up event with Whisperlodge, live demonstrations, performances, in-store activations, mural tours, dance performances, and interactive classes.
“We believe that art and culture have transformative powers to bring the community together,” said Gopal Rajegowda, senior vice president for the Related Companies. “Art Affair is a way for us to share moments of discovery and inspiration. Whether it’s through immersive public art experiences, cultural collaborations, brand-specific activations or educational events, art and culture will always remain a focal point of the CityPlace experience.”
Like I said, experience is the new buzzword. For one that is equal parts theatrical and therapeutic, Art Affair will feature Whisperlodge, a live meditation session that claims to gives participants “tingles from specific visual, auditory and haptic triggers.”
Haptic, which means “relating to or based on the sense of touch,” is the kind of technology commonly used in video games and smartphones. Some phones allow users to actually feel the clicks and vibrations that result from their interaction with touchscreens.
Featured in the Netflix documentary Follow This, Whisperlodge sessions will take place during Art Affair from Thursday through Saturday at various times at Culture Lab, the space inside the former Macy’s.
Art Affair will give daily 90-minute walking tours at 10 a.m. of new murals that have been painted over the last few months. The tour, led by Ashley Capps of Gravity, a locally based arts-and-culture consulting firm, starts and ends at Hilton West Palm Beach and includes free valet parking and drinks at the Four-Star Hotel.
Murals by Tokyo-based artist Frankie Cihi; New York-based artist Rico Gatson, whose Mountain Top is an homage to Martin Luther King Jr.; and Florida-based artists Cayla Birk, Charles Bane, Lisa Kaw, Sarah La Pierre, and Chalk & Brush will be featured.
“As part of this year’s Art Affair, I’m bringing my fresh and fun Art Club to CityPlace. Art Club is a place to let your hair down and get creative. No artistic skills are required,” says Lisa Kaw, whose graphic wave and sunset murals festoon the Hibiscus Garage, At 6 p.m. Thursday, she’ll be at Copper Blues to paint flowerpots to celebrate spring.
Another garage mural artist, Sarah LaPierre is known for her trademark thick-paint palette knife style. She will be exhibiting her South Florida-inspired paintings at the outdoor art festival Saturday and Sunday. LaPierre also notes that her mural series Growing Good can be seen on the second and third floors of the CityPlace garages, in the northeast stairwells.
“It’s like an art scavenger hunt,” she says. “This is such a great time to be an artist or art enthusiast in West Palm!”
Also on Saturday and Sunday, the newly reimagined Rosemary Avenue, with wider sidewalks and more shade (though the beginning section of Steed Taylor’s mile-long Road Tattoo was destroyed in the process) will be home to the 9th Annual Downtown West Palm Beach Arts Festival, with more than 100 artists’ tents, arranged gallery-style with various mediums of fine art. The free outdoor event takes place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on both days.
Beyond the street festival, there are more experiences curated by area partners:
*Over at Galley at Hilton in the West Palm Beach Hilton, The Art of Galley will feature live entertainment by DJ Selecta Steve, the making of a chalk mural by contemporary artist Charles Bane, along with smoky cocktail demos and a new spring menu from Chef Miguel from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 3.
* An opening reception for artist Ryan McGrath is set for 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at The Regional Kitchen restaurant on Okeechobee Boulevard at CityPlace.
*A live painting exhibit by Emmanuel Gonzalez is set for Friday at Copper Blues from 7-9 pm.
*There’s a special discount on the popular Downton Abbey exhibit at Culture Lab tickets using code ARTAFFAIR5.
*A dance performance by Ballet Florida pirouettes into the heart of CityPlace on Saturday at 2 pm.
*And the Broadway musical based on Little Women gives free performances Sunday at CityPlace Square Plaza.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, please visit www.artaffairwpb.com.