WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – The Uptown Arts Stroll is 15 years old and still going strong, as hundreds of residents showed up Wednesday night at the United Palace to launch the month-long festivities.
The event kickoff, which was organized by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, featured musical entertainment, food and several Uptown greats including Patricia Cruz, executive director of Harlem Stage and Aaron Davis Hall, Elizabeth Ritter, who is Community Board 12’s chair of Parks and Cultural Affairs, dancer and artis, Maggie Hernandez-Knight and award-winning actor, Elvis Nolasco.
Uptown Arts Stroll will offer workshops, art exhibits, performances and artist talks through June 30 at selected venues from West 135th Street to West 220th Street.
Wednesday night's event also celebrated the winning work of Alexis Agliano Sanborn, the Washington Heights resident who wowed the judges with her colorful poster of Uptown highlighting a variety of flags from different parts of the world — intertwined with the parks, museums, subways, bridges and homes.
First-time exhibiting artist and children’s book author, Danielle Cher, said the experience was amazing, and although she hails from Brooklyn would like to do it again next year.
“I never heard of it before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Cher said. “But I would love to do it again and I know I am where I belong.”
Uptown artists Rammer Martínez Sánchez, who has attended and volunteered at events before, said this was also the first time he was exhibiting his “calligraffiti.” Sanchez said he’s been working on calligraphy for the past two years, although he’s been illustrating and drawing professionally since 2004.
“I’ve been an artist all my life, and people from Uptown associated me some of my other work,” Sanchez said. “But I’m a visual artist first and foremost, and I thought it was time.”
Ritter, who was not only honored at the event, but also spoke of how she was one of the original co-founders, said stroll kick-off was “in a lot of ways exactly we envisioned.”
“Artists selling their arts, events where we have music – and all happening at the same time,” Ritter said, adding that originally the founding group thought it could be a daytime event and eventually expand into the monthlong rendition that Uptown celebrates now.