Last February New York pianist Lara Downes and painter Kim Ray Krupnick of Fort Lauderdale brought a slice of avant-garde art to South Florida, with Downes playing pieces by Debussy, Gershwin, and Stephen Paulus while surrounded by projected slides of Krupnick's landscape paintings. "That was successful enough that we decided to expand it a little bit and include more of our artist friends," says Krupnick.
The expansion takes it from one to three days, and the result is the First Annual Arts Exchange Festival. Subtitled "Musings," this year's event again takes place at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale, but encompasses a wider spectrum of the arts, including video art, photography, painting, painting assemblages, storytelling, electronic music, classical piano, blues, and world music.
Says Downes: "We wanted to erase all of the boundaries , so we're just mixing it all up, and it should be a lot of fun."
Mixing it up means that Downes and Krupnick aren't collaborating again but are instead working with other artists. The ingredients for this year's artistic stew will be blended as follows:
At the May 5 opening (7 p.m.), guests enjoy Undercurrents, an interactive underwater digital video shot by Veera Kauste, which is accompanied by keyboardist Vanessa Drabkin, whose synthesizer sounds will trigger different effects on screen. Next up is "Homespun," in which local folk-blues standout Magda Hiller plays songs surrounded by a suite of Krupnick's paintings inspired by the songs. In "Girl Talk" Downes, soprano Dana Hanchard, and painter Ashton Hinrichs present a mélange of music, poetry, and art.
"Akykiegle the Turtle" is the title of the May 6 kids' storytelling and mask-making workshop conducted at Borders by South African vocalist Robbi Kumalo and bassist Bakithi Kumalo, who played on Paul Simon's world-music Graceland album.
The action returns to ArtServe at 2 p.m. on May 7, when the festival concludes with "Graceland Kids," the Kumalos' Graceland-inspired family sing-along. Before the music begins, another mask-making session is held, and kids from both workshops are invited to wear their creations during the singalong.
"Combining the visual and the musical arts really creates a rich experience," Krupnick declares. "The art makes the music richer, and vice versa."