By Meredith Hoffman
HELL'S KITCHEN — More than 100 Hell's Kitchen locations will offer free exhibits, performances, and parties this weekend as part of the third annual Hell's Kitchen Artists In Studio Tours.
The three-day "unruly, insatiable art Bacchanalia" will kick off with a party and auction Friday at Lucky Strike Lounge at 660 West 42nd St.
"We want to expand the realm of people, to have ordinary people see the value and charm of the art world," said Mike Felber, founder and organizer of the event and longtime Hell's Kitchen resident.
"We want do this in a way to help Hell's Kitchen, which has an incredibly storied and colorful history," Felber said.
The event will include open studio and store spaces from 12 - 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, plus evening and late-night parties at the Hourglass Tavern, among other spots. Visitors can pick up maps to guide them through the myriad events.
The festival includes painting, sculpture, dance, body painting, and other art forms, and includes artists of every stature, from emerging to renowned.
"If the artists don't have a home or studio in Hell's Kitchen I put them in a business, but if they live in Hell's Kitchen I encourage them to have people in their home," said Felber, who said he's been planning this year's festival full-time since February.
Felber, who works as a caterer when he's not organizing the festival, is fell in love with Hell's Kitchen after moving to the neighborhood in 1995.
"I don't make money, I'm just doing this to benefit the area," he said. "I've seen this neighborhood develop."
He said he was inspired to create the Hell's Kitchen Artists Studio Tours after attending other open studio events around the city, as well as meeting one of the organizers of Brooklyn's Bushwick Open Studios, and was inspired to do the same in Hell's Kitchen.
He said the festival has gained momentum every year and he hopes to continue to add to the existing festival.
This year's he's introducing a new magazine about the local art scene called 'At the Edge, scheduled to come out 2 weeks after the festival.
"There are a lot of people who've done artistic things under the radar in Hell's Kitchen," he said. "We want to increase the public's recognition of things of aesthetic and spiritual value."