The fifth annual “Embrace Winter” festival grew an extra 10 blocks bigger this year, as the February 25 event highlighted arts and crafts for kids as well as adult entertainment.
Previously held from Bay Ridge Avenue to 77th Street, this year’s celebration — organized by the Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance (BRACA) — allowed local organizations and individuals who found themselves anywhere between Bay Ridge Avenue and 89th Street to support each other. Led by BRACA founder Victoria Hofmo, the party included food, art and activities for children and adults alike.
A popular activity for children was an ice fishing game at Cosentino’s, 6927 Third Avenue, hosted by Olaf the Snowman and sponsored by the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. Present at the event, Mike Cosentino said the kids “got a kick out of it.” The wooden fish set up by the market were caught with a traditional pole.
The Scandinavian East Coast Museum also put together a showcase of watercolor fashion illustrations created by Textile High School alumna Elsie Willumsen in 1945 and 1946. The artist will be 96 this spring, and SECM President Hofmo said “These folks have lived rich lives and have much to offer.”
In addition, that afternoon, Vesuvio Restaurant hosted a free one-hour concert by Regina Opera, which featured Broadway selections and opera pieces performed by soloists Jennifer Greene Ribeiro, Heejae Kim and Kevin Rockower. Musical accompaniment was provided by flutist Richard Paratley, pianist Maxine Feldman and Kirill Ulanov.
Musical performances also included Ira Bolterman and Joseph Anastasi, a duo that has been playing together for over four years and who launched their duo act at a well-known water hole. Their performance at the Salty Dog at 7509 Third Avenue included renditions of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness.”
“The feedback that we got was super uplifting,” said Anastasi, stressing, “The community needs the arts to be recognized. It’s part of how we get inspired.” For Bolterman, that inspiration comes from working with his friend, who said “words cannot describe how comfortable” it is when they play music together.
Anastasi’s wife Audrey was also featured in the festival as a visual artist, with a multimedia piece entitled “Parrot Fugue” that could be seen in the window of Kitchening, 8003 Third Avenue. “I was very happy that one of the shops I support was participating, and that I was matched with them by Victoria,” she remarked.
Inspired by nature, what started off as an image of a person ended up with a parrot superimposed on top. “The underlying motivation is a sense of connectivity to life forms and life forces,” Anastasi explained.
For the children, artistic opportunities included paper rose making and drawing pictures of leaves found in Owl’s Head Park thanks to an all volunteer organization, the Owl’s Head Park Horticulture Group. All day long, craft-making was also available at Norma’s Arts & Craft Supplies located at 7813 Third Avenue.
Children’s peace-themed art exhibited by the Ridge Creative Center, entitled “Peace,” was inspired by the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. Students between the ages of five and 13 used a tie-dye paper process to create colorful pieces to reference the peace marches of the ’60s. Notable pieces included firecrackers, a dragon and celebrants under a moon.
For children between four and nine, handmade, slightly 3-D Yeti puppies were displayed climbing and tumbling down a mountain.
On the food front, Uncle Louie G at 8702 Third Avenue contributed special soup and desserts. Nearby, HOM at 88th Street showed the short documentary film “When Broomsticks Were King” was followed by a Q & A with the director and actors.
Hofmo’s hope is that Embrace Winter will continue to grow. “The thing is to pair up more” business and organizations in the future, she said.