A Soiree With The Arts In Mind

The Quarterly Art Soiree began quietly on Sunday afternoon with sing-a-longs, button making and painting lessons. There were young performers, aspiring filmmakers, free popcorn and even a balloon artist all in the cellar space at Webster Hall on East 11th Street.

“They’re loving it, they’re loving it,” Pauline Vitale said of her two grandsons. “My little Cyrus has a speech delay so he’s really into the music. So he’s enjoying it. They’re having him play the squeezebox.”

But as the hours passed, the soiree spread to all four floors of the building and became decidedly more adult. Tattoo artists went to work on body canvases, director Sanzhar Sultanov premiered his film “Burning Daylight” starring Robert Kneppner and live music began to thump from the basement.

Even the balloon art turned mature.

Organizers say the event, which is in its third iteration, is about fostering local artists while expanding the traditional concept of an art show.

“Painters all tend to go to the gallery openings, film makers tend to go to film premieres and the same thing with all the other genres, but rarely do you see them all under one roof or under one festival environment,” said Jennifer Mushkin, a co-curator of the soiree. “We really wanted to create a jovial atmosphere where people drink, dance, while supporting one another.”

In keeping with the theme of celebrating and developing the East Village, a portion of the proceeds from the event went to benefit the Bowery Mission. Additionally, among the 30-or-so visual artists who had work on display were Cooper Union architect students Mena Henry and Lautaro Cuttica, who presented their work “The Intangibles.”

“I felt privileged to have the opportunity,” said Mr. Cuttica. “But at first I thought it was questionable as an artist venue because it was kind of dark, it seemed like a dark space but the philosophy of the show is that the art shouldn’t be so separated from the environment it comes from, it should express that somehow. I guess the rough design influences that.”

“I like the feeling of the space,” said Mr. Henry. “It feels like a small village within a village or from an architecture point of view, you could say an enclave within an enclave.”

Many of the club’s permanent features, like its hallways lined with television screens, were used for video and photo pieces, and more than a dozen musicians hit the venues stages.

Organizers say they hope to continue to expand the event, but developing the local art scene may be an up-hill battle. Some in attendance said that, while they value this event, having it impact the neighborhood might be a lost cause.

“As far as I can say, I don’t feel that there is a vibe here,” said Mr. Cuttica, referring to the East Village. “I feel like there’s more going on in Bushwick, where it hasn’t really been invaded by commercialism yet. But I’m sure it will be.”

For more information about the next soiree, visit www.TheQAS.com.