JUNE 28, 2019




It’s summertime in New York City, and with the arrival of longer days and warmer nights comes the advent of New York festival season, displaying the best of musical, performative, and creative arts the five boroughs have to offer.

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is presenting their 18th annual River To River Festival, an arts and culture festival that takes over lower Manhattan for the last two weeks of June, and is free and open to all. Starting on June 18 and concluding June 29, the arts festival highlights and celebrates the creative diversity of New York’s artists with live performances, large-scale installations, and interactive art to create a conversation between the artist, the public, and the city.

This year’s festival is focused around the theme of slowing down, reflecting, and imagination. The landscape of New York City and the culture it creates is a continuum of constant motion and change. The 2019 River to River Festival invites Manhattanites to slow down from reality for a moment, connect with art, and the stories they tell about their city.

DREAM by Yoko Ono

“Our contemporary reality is rushed, and nowhere is this more apparent than in New York,” said Lili Chopra, LMCC’s Executive Director, Artistic Programs. “There is always somewhere to go, something to see, and more to achieve, creating a frenetic energy that makes this city fabulous and exhausting in equal parts. In response to this, the River to River Festival addresses the experience of the individual within the urban setting by making space for balance.”

Art exhibits and experiences featured in the festival include two visual installations by multimedia artist Yoko Ono, one of which, Add Color (Refugee Boat), beckons for the public’s participation through means of self-reflection about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Performance artist Ernesto Pujol’s research into active listening also relies on the self-expression of the participants, by simply talking and being heard. Artist Jennifer Monson’s performance explores the clashing forces of gentrification from cultural to ecological through the use of live performance and body movement. Dancer NIC Kay goes on an exploration of black performance and the constraints of the stage for black artists with a choreographed performance through the streets of New York. Other experiences included within the festival are the Black Gotham Experience, highlighting the lost histories of the African Diaspora, and Dean of the Columbia University School of Art Carol Becker and author Mark Epstein’s studies of transformational awareness. 

NIC Kay, pushit!!. Photo by Ian Douglas