Interconnectedness. It’s the key word folks in the Brooklyn Arts District are focusing on in encouraging the community to take advantage of everything North 4th Street is becoming: a destination to work, dine, shop, and play.
Once a hustling area of commerce and residents pre-WWII, the neighborhood has faced constant reconstruction for 30 years or more. The first reviltalization efforts took place in the ‘70s, and continued into the ‘80s and ‘90s. Today, it’s finally culminating in bustling activity again, so much so the newly formed Brooklyn Arts District Community Organization (BADCO) wants everyone to explore the borough of downtown just in time for Halloween. On November 2, they will host their first arts and cultural walk, dubbed Day of Dead Arts Rove, featuring family-friendly events that allow participants to familiarize themselves with local businesses, pubs, restaurants, and galleries.
“November 2 is the last day of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday, when the deceased are honored through celebrations of their life,” explains Nina Bays, the head of the arts committee for BADCO. “It felt like a great way to bring people together to share something personal but in a festive setting. And it also presents the opportunity to learn about and include some threads of cultural traditions, which makes for a more rooted and meaningful event.”
BADCO has partnered with UNCW’s multi-cultural student organizations and Centro Hispano to properly honor the enriching significance of the celebration. They’re encouraging foks to dress to impress and sport calavara-style face-painting, an artistic representation of skulls prominent in Mexico’s celebration of the Day of the Dead and the Roman Catholic holiday All Souls Day. It will be offered for a small fee at the area’s newest salon, Hair Slayer, and at the local bar Brooklyn 723. As well, the watering hole will be showing luchador films featuring El Santo, a popular actor in Mexican superhero films.
It all kicks off with a spoken-word edition of Speak Easy Wilmington at Flytrap Brewing at 2 p.m. The theme “Laughing at Funerals” welcomes scribes to churn out and deliver their best satirical and creepy stories and poems. Gina Gambony will produce a kid-friendly puppet show entitled “Baba Yaga” on the back patio of the Goat and Compass every hour, starting at 2:15 p.m., with the last production taking place at 5:15 p.m. Sketch comedy by Pineapple-Shaped Lamps will take over the Bladen and 4th street corner at 4 p.m., as SquidCo. plays experimental and electronic music from their store one block over. The record shop has been a part of North Fourth’s evolution for the last five years.
“We’re excited to see so many new faces on the street, and anticipate many more as housing expands and CFCC opens their performing arts center [off 3rd Street],” owner Phil Zampino says.
SquidCo’s neighbor and new restaurant Canapé will have patrons decorate their own skull cookies and strike at piñatas. Folks can also see their latest art show, “Surfaces.”
“Some of the area galleries, like CFCC’s Wilma Daniels Gallery and SALT Studio, are holding special hours so people can pop in and see the exhibits, too,” Bays notes.
Wilma Daniels features their annual faculty show of 2D and 3D art. SALT is showing photographs and installation work by Leeta Harding, while ACME Arts Studios on N. 5th will showcase Fritzi Huber’s “Dia de Loa Muertos ofrenda.” Likewise, Detour Deli and Café will sell handmade steampunk jewelry by Melissa Hindle-Sherman and books written by her husband, Todd Sherman.
“We’ll have a larger-than-life skull that will travel between venues for people to write mementos on,” Bays says. The skull will make a symbolic offering during the parade route at the end of the day. New storefront Eco Chic Blossoms will host a paper flower-making workshop, and the flowers will hang on the 4th Street bridge. The decorated structure essentially will act as a traditional Dia de los Muertos altar, a place where folks honor their deceased love ones and ancestors. It will be the last destination of the rove and will look like an arts installation when all is said and done. Participants are asked to gather at 4th and Harnett at 5:30 p.m. to do the final fanfare march.
“We hope the event brings businesses and people together to show that we’re a team,” Eco Chic owner Kristy Holt says.
All events—including wine-and-cheese tastings at Tin + Oak, food from the neighborhood’s food truck, Soulful Twist, and a sneak peek at soon-to-be-opened wine and beer shop Palate—are self-guided. “And if people get tired of walking, they can hop on Trolley Pub Wilmington,” Bays says. Basically a bar on wheels, the trolley is powered by the people riding it, all of whom pedal and sip on select brews.
“We do have a recommended route to best take advantage of all the offerings,” Bays notes. “We are definitely encouraging people to dress for the day.”
Having lived in the neighborhood for six years, Bays and the committee already have hosted neighborhood cleanups and begun outreach to help further progress redevelopment of the area. Along with volunteers and community organizers like Allister Snyder, founder of BADCO, they’re welcoming “spirit guides” who may want to help out during BAD’s Day of the Dead Arts Rove. Musicians and artists are welcome to join in on the fun, too (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
“The more people we can get involved with the organization, the more influence we can have in the area,” Bays says. “We hope the interest in this first event will continue to further the development of community on the northside, and show how businesses and residents can mutually benefit from those symbiotic relationships.”
Day of the Dead Arts Rove
Arts and cultural walk
Brooklyn Arts District, N. Fourth St.
November 2, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.