Mark Your Calendars: Events Every Artist Should Attend This Summer

Whether it’s a festival or an exhibit, New York City is bursting with events this summer. Creative minds, grab your calendars and save the date(s) so that you experience authentic and exhilarating art and performance.

Blue Note Jazz Festival 


June 1-30, 2016 (See schedule)

Location: Various throughout the boroughs

Featuring: Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Al Jarreau, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Scofield / Mehldau / Giuliana, Rebirth Brass Band, Talib Kweli, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Sangam: Charles Lloyd / Zakir Hussain / Eric Harland, Arturo Sandoval, Avishai Cohen, & more.

Brooklyn Film Festival

June 3-12, 2016

Location: Various Locations in Brooklyn (See Venues)

With this year’s theme being “Experiment”, the international and competitive festival features a diverse collection of screenings of contestants emerging in the film industry. The Brooklyn Film Festival’s goal is to highlight Brooklyn as a center for cinema making, as well as engage the public in independent film production. Single film tickets can be purchased, or a festival passes can be bought here

Museum Mile Festival

June 14th, 2016, 6-9pm

Location: Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets

A free event that allows art enthusiasts to loop 5th Avenue starting at and ending at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other participating museums include El Museo del Barrio, The Jewish Museum, The Smithsonian Design Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and The Neue Gallerie. In addition, various displays and interactive events will take place along 5th avenue during the event

River to River

June 16-26th, 2016

Location: Lower Manhattan (see schedule)

Run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, River to River includes over 60 free events (some require RSVP, beginning June 1st) providing participants with  intimate and provocative dance, music, visual art, and new media projects in public parks, in historic landmarks, on Governors Island, and along the waterfront.


Midsummer Night Swing

June 21st-July 9th, 2016

Location: Lincoln Center

Each day of the festival, the dance floor opens from 6:00PM -10:00PM including styles of Latin, Swing, Disco, and R&B. The dance instruction includes a live music set, and on June 23rd and July 2nd the party ends with a free Silent Disco. Tickets can be purchased at the door each evening, or a festival pass can be purchased here

Fresh Fruit Festival

July 11th-24th, 2016

Location: The WILD Project Theater, 193 East 3rd Street

Annual Festival celebrating the arts of the LGBQ community.  Two weeks of day and night Theatre, Dance, Musicals, Cabaret, Art, and much more. Although an official calendar of events have not yet been released, 2015’s events included shows and exhibits from artists such as  Patrick Thomas McCarthy, Rachel Carson, Andy Chesterton, Obediah P. Wright, Judy Klass, and Kelli Dunham.


Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

BHHF-Poster-Full--683x1024.pngJuly 13th-16th, 2016

Location: Brooklyn – Multiple Locations

In addition to musical performances, the Festival offers a number of activities for its audience, including: panel discussions, exhibitions, parties, film screenings and a family-friendly block party. The Festival is more than a concert or outdoor fair. It is a family reunion for lovers of this great culture. Four days of beats, rhymes, knowledge, film, photography, MCs, DJs, B-Boys, B-Girls, food, fashion and more. Buy tickets here




New York City Poetry Festival

July 30th-31st, 2016

Location: Governors Island, Manhattan

A two day event featuring over 250 poets and writers from reviews, workshops, magazines, collectives and organizations. The line-up currently includes The Adroit Journal, Apogee Journal, Black Lawrence Press, Blue Bonnet Review, Brooklyn Poets, Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective, he Emily Dickinson Museum, Hidden House Press, Italian American Writers Association, Louffa Press, Miami University Press, Nauset Press, New York Writers Workshop, Pen Pal Poets, Poets of Corsi, Royal Blue Publishing, Urban Word NYC, and dozens more. Tickets are free, but must be reserved online

The Battery Dance Festival 

August 14-20, 2016, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Location: Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park – Battery Park City

New York City’s longest-running free public dance festival that provides the opportunity for professionals and emerging dancers to present original work for the public, including a wide range of styles including ballet, theatre, modern, Polish dance, Colombian dance, as well as boundary defying artistic genres. Official list of companies will be released in June.



This Summer’s List of Affordable Workshops and Classes for Creative Minds in NYC

Many classes and workshops, whether for writing or painting, tend to be expensive and out of reach for many students and younger artists. However, there are still many opportunities to delve into your craft locally this summer. Stay challenged and connected  by signing up for workshops, classes, and events this summer. Check out these no-commitment, one session classes around NYC:

Drawing and Painting

1.  Draw In Central Park -$35

A 1-session beginner’s course run by The Art Studio NY, the class is a nature walk workshop duo for creative minds inspired by nature. They meet Saturdays (check online schedule, as it is not every Saturday of the month) from 12pm-2pm in the Upper West Side of Central Park. Instructors are teachers from the studio, who will guide the lesson and provide feedback. The fee also includes all art supplies for the day.

2. MoMA – Artist Lead Classes (Free-$30 for Students)

Join artists currently exhibited by the MoMA for 1 session classes ranging from style, technique, to theory. With a student ID, register for classes at a discounted price of $30 such as “Political Printmaking: The 1960s and Today”, or look for their free events such as “Art and Practice with Carloine Woolord.” If you can’t make it to the MoMA, you can also utilize their online archives of classes at home.

3. Weekly Figure Drawing – $15

The Trestle Gallery in Gowanus, Brooklyn is a community studio that offers walk-in figure drawing classes three times a week -Monday and Wednesday Evening, along with Saturday afternoons. The session includes no instruction, only the space and the model where artists bring their own supplies and work on their figure drawing techniques.

4. First Fridays Art Social – $20

A laid back event designed for fun, the Brooklyn Craft Company meets every Friday evening at 7PM for drawing class and wine tasting to meet friends and improve your craft. The price includes all drawing materials and drinks for wine tasting.

Theatre and Performance

1. The Magnet Theatre – FREE

Introduction classes from improv to storytelling, the Magnet Theatre in Midtown, NY offers frequent tuition free classes where attendees are taught by theatre professionals for 1 class sessions. They also have shows, such as Premiere: The Improvised Musical debuting this month for only $10 a ticket.

2. AND Wednesdays -FREE

The  Artistic New Directions acting group (or, AND) hosts free events on Wednesdays. These include a Improv Workshop run by actors Scotty Watson and David Marx, or a Open Rehearsal for Anything Goes, where participants perform a 10-minute cold reading of the musical (there is only 6 spots available to make sure to RSVP for this event by emailing

3. Jalopy Jam Sessions & Workshops 

The Jalopy theatre and studio in Brooklyn hosts a variety of jam sessions, free of charge, where musicians can gather and riff off each other in a group of talented musicians. They also provide workshops (ranging from $25-$30) where you can register to learn more about tuning and improving music for the instrument of your choice. Also check out their lists of Live Music Performances in addition to their classes.

Poetry and Writing

  1. Brooklyn Poets’ YAWP -$5

Named after the Walt Whitman’s famous line in Leaves of Grass, this local community is dedicated to inspiring and connecting with others. Orchestrated by Brooklyn poet, Jason Koo, the group invites poets to meet at 61 Local at 7PM every second Monday of the month for a workshop and open mic. Guest speakers frequently come in to lead the group, and participants receive feedback as well as an opportunity to share.

2. Gotham Writers – FREE

Alongside its premiere programs that require tuition, Gotham Writers also host a variety of events free of charge. From topics ranging from playwriting, to humor writing, even entry level creative writing, their free courses survey a variety of genres, meeting anywhere from Bryant Park to local bars and restaurants.

3. New York Public Library -FREE

Search for writing events such as Island Writers Creative Writing Group meeting every Tuesday at 1pm, or an autobiographical focused group Writing Circle meeting every Thursday at 10am, the library organizes a variety of free events in various locations.


  1. Pay What You Wish- Experiential Intuitive Photography -$20 (suggested)

The Art of Intuitive Photography, in addition to its many photography classes and sessions, will often offer a “pay as you wish” 1 hour photography session. These are lead by one of their instructors, and they focus on tapping into your intuition as well as offering basic tips and photographing skills.

2. PhotoManhattan’s Free and Affordable Photography Classes -FREE

PhotoManhattan school of photography offers free of cost workshops and photography sessions through their Meetup page. Here, photographers can gather for various walks or in studio for a courtesy course lead by instructors from the school.



Long Island Poets Gather to Celebrate the Beats

This Wednesday, April 13th, local poets met at Valley Stream’s coffee shop, Sip This , to have a reading of the post-1950’s Beat Poets. Pieces from Charles Bukowski, William S. BurroughsAmiri Baraka, and more were shared in the group to honor the poetry movement.

Peter Dugan, who orchestrated this event, is an active member of the Performing Poets Association (PPA), which is lead by the Long Island Poet Laureate Lorraine LoFrese Conlin. Dugan is a published poet and performer, who has dedicated his time to organizing events allowing the local poetry community to meet together and grow.

Other poets included Suffolk County Poet Laureate George Wallace, Nassau County Community College Professor and published writer Christina Farone, poet and Hofstra University Alumni Vicki Iorio, poet Lloyd Abrams, and Brooklyn poet Ptr Kozlowski.

Enjoy footage blow from this recent event of poets honoring The Beats


To learn more about events organized by PPA, visit their Facebook page for a calendar of events, updated monthly.


CreativeNYC’s List of Top 5 Most Useful Books for Artists

Artists are typically the trend setters and rule breakers. However, though the instinct is to deviate from the norm, mentorship and growth are vital for artists being recognized and building a platform.

Aside from cultivating my craft, my personal journey in the art world consisted of delving into other’s artwork, and surrounding myself with other artists. This is vital in order to get connected and thrive in community.

Since the market for art is fluid, constantly altering, and rather unstable, knowing how to present your art and make these connections become a skill in and of itself. To do that, I hit the books to learn how other artists are propelling themselves and their art forward. Here is my list of Top 5 Books to learn about pursuing art

1. The Profitable Artist by Artspire


This book teaches practical skills in learning how to designate value to your work. It aids in knowing what most artists typically know little of, that is the laws, copyrights, and regulations that surround selling artwork and building a business. It teaches very tangible ways to connect with audiences, and how to constantly expand that audience into a broader circle outside of just the people you meet (using social media). Most importantly (for someone like me) it poses inventive ways to fund your art and thinking of how to (as the title suggests) be profitable from your art.




2. Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon


This near pocket-sized book unpacks the near impossible process of getting your work noticed in 10 concrete and sensible steps. The author speaks with a cheeky tone (one that I truly appreciated) to move through the tendencies and habits needed to being discovered and connecting with the people who will be vital to your journey. What Kleon emphasizes throughout the whole book is that the power to have your work discovered is in YOUR hands; that the ability must be self initiated and self-promotion is game changing when done correctly.


3. ART/WORK by Heather Darcy Bhandari


Authors Heather Darcy Bhandari, an art gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an art lawyer, takes the reader through the hairy details of sponsorship, representation, and legalities in a simplified manner. This book is an outstanding tool in understanding exactly what details are required of artists to make a business out of their art. The authors share their own experiences, but also interview a wide spectrum of artists and curators to provide a vast and all-encompassing tool based off of experience and the current reality of the art-world.



4. Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Edited by Sharon Louden



This book is very different from the rest. Rather than instruction and steps, this book takes literary essays written by different types of artists to create a mosaic of stories. Each individual story shares the artist’s journey of expanding their art and becoming known. You hear from artists both hugely successfully, as well as tapping into the currents of the underground art realm. The stories share both small, intimate details of the artist’s process as well as those who share secrets and tips due to their own shortcomings and trails. Rather than reading front to back, this book is better read sporadically in fragments for jolts of inspiration along the way.


5. Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon



This captivating book allows the reader to unpack “success” through their own unique standards rather than those set in the world. Additionally, it deconstructs the idea of the “starving artist” and challenges the reader to obliterate this idea entirely. It is a necessary tool for emerging artists to acquire the proper mentality in basing a career off of their artwork. It asks that the artist reading think in an innovative manner to share their work and push limits, paralleling the way in which they succeed to the art itself. This idea that the practical can also be creative is vital in breaking out of one’s comfort zone.

Poet Chris Lilley Reads From His Collection, “Je Suis Noir”

Up and coming poet and musician, Chris Lilley, shares his inspiration for his new poetry collection Je Suis Noir. The 24-year-old lives in the Bronx, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in opera music.

The collection, Lilley shares, was first conceived in November of 2015. Je Suis Noir (or, I Am Black), is a stringing together of the author’s responses to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and individual tragedies that have taken place. The poem “Phobia” initiated this responsive writing, which was written after the Paris terrorist attacks.

“I looked at the collection of poetry I had in my notebook and it seemed to have a common theme” says Lilley. “There was a yearning to put something together I could call my own”

Much of Lilley’s background and upbringing serves as the foundation where this project was built upon. The artist expresses a disconnect he felt from his school and church after these events in the news would take place was what lead him to penning many of these verses.

“I understand why the disconnect would be there” the poet shares. “But it didn’t lend itself to an environment where I could talk to other black Christians about”

Lilley began writing spoken word poetry 3 years ago, and committed to performing and writing regularly in 2014. He has performed with the Christian-based poetry group True Voices since the start, as well as the New Testament Temple Church of God’s previous ministry “Word Up”

Lilley plans to work on a new book of poetry that is centered around suicide and the aftermath of his own story of an attempted suicide. Though a difficult topic, Lilley shares a newly found bravery and courage that derives from both his faith and his writing. “I’m still trying to get over that shame” Lilley says. “If I wasn’t an artist I wouldn’t of had the courage to share my story”

Lilley read two of his poems for CreativeNYC during his interview. Listen to both “The one where bullets are like flowers” and “Phobia” below



Singer Songwriter Kohli Calhoun Takes Rockwood Music Hall

Kohli Calhoun of Brooklyn, NY puts on an enticing and impassioned performance Wednesday evening at Rockwood Stage 1. Originally from Ohio, Calhoun has been playing the ukelele for 7 years, and began faithfully performing around New York in the last year.

“I’ve been a singer my whole life” says Calhoun. “And then about 7 or 8 years ago I saw a friend just lazily plunking around on a ukulele and I sorta thought, only 4 strings, hey I can do that.”

Ever since, Calhoun has been writing music both intimate and universal with lyrics formed from her personal life experiences. The product is captivating and honest music, where a story is told within the songs. The music’s sounds contain elements of indie, rock, and jazz, yielding a fresh and unique performance.

In photo: Sam Favata on guitar, Kohli Calhoun on ukulele, Jason Smith on bass, and Morgan Karabel on drums. 

Calhoun shares she’s in a “brick by brick mentality” for her music’s growth, granting her career an authentic and gradual trajectory. Calhoun put out an EP in 2010 titled “Friendly Camp Sessions” and is currently working on releasing a debut album this summer.

Calhoun’s music has also been featured on This Is Not The Radio‘s program where she recorded a solo acoustic version of her song “Take Me Away” to her promote the program’s show back in January. Watch the video below:

Receive updates on Kohli Calhoun’s future performances and her upcoming album by following her Facebook page

Photographer Paul Rabinowitz Captures Portraits of Artists in “Limited Light”

Paul Rabinowitz of Brooklyn, NY breaks the barriers of portrait photography in his collaborative series Limited Light. Working exclusively with other artists as his subjects, Rabinowitz attempts to visually portray each artist as what he likes to call, a “Modern Day Saint.”

“I guess what I’m trying to do is go beyond the physical being” explains Rabinowitz. The Limited Light series has now branched off into multiple collaborative projects, creating a ripple effect of artwork that combines his photography with art forms practiced by his subjects. Painters, dancers, actors and poets have contributed to this now evolving project.

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Rabinowitz’s process for this series is carefully designed to insure an authentic, yet intimate result. “All of what I do happens organically” the photographer explains. These photographs are all taken in natural light, utilizing no lighting equipment and taken in black and white. After the photos are taken, Rabinowitz stresses it is crucial he does not manipulate the photos with editing and retouching. Additionally, each shot is taken within a one hour session. Rabinowitz goes into each of these sessions asking “How can I  figure out who you are through the shoot?

Another distinct requirement for these sessions are how he chooses his subjects. Rather than basing the decision off of looks or being “photogenic”, Rabinowitz explains that it is solely inspired by the artist’s work. Whether they are a writer, painter, or jewelry maker- it is the art that precedes the subject. Rabinowitz shares of instances where he inquired about a Limited Light session without knowing what the artist looked like, and only knowing their artwork.

“I’m trying to sketch [the artist] in sixty minutes through the camera” says Rabinowitz. The essence of what is being captured, he shares, correlates with the subject’s own artwork.

As of last year, Rabinowitz is in the process of an extensive collaboration with a painter in Utah who takes the photographer’s photos and imposes artwork onto it to create different characters. This project is still under development, and will soon be cultivated into a more elaborate series that includes poetry as well.

To find out more about Limited Light, follow updates on Paul Rabinowitz’s blogspot.

Authentic HeARTwork Artist and Founder Shares Story Through Colors

Within the halls of the Oyster Bay Public Library hang vibrant paintings by emerging artist Celicia Cargill of Kingston, Jamaica. Now residing in Long Island, the 33-year-old artist tells her story through paintings; a story she begun actively telling 3 years ago when “Authentic HeARTwork” was first founded.

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“I was picking up my kids from school one day, and I just started crying” Cargill shares of how she became in tune with her vision for HeARTwork. “I don’t know what it was, but I had this inkling to drive.” This drive, she shares, lead her to the first contact that propelled her vision into realization.

Cargill found herself that day at the community center in Massapequa, NY, where she mustered the courage to walk inside and introduce herself to Monica Higgins, the head of the Town of Oyster Bay Rotational Art Exhibit.

First initiated by the desire for a better life for her sons, Cargill currently has her artwork displayed in Roslyn Savings Banks in Syosset and Woodbury alongside the Oyster Bay Library (full list of exhibitions can be found here). For her first International event, Cargill is having her paintings displayed in Dubai at the World Trade Center from April 6th-9th.

Cargill made the bold decision to share her story of both immigrating to New York and pursuing her artwork in her book released last year titled Reset:My Notes on Life. “It introduces me, to myself” Cargill shares. “I have a responsibility with this gift, and I have to share my story.”

Celicia Cargill, with her painting featured on the cover of her book Reset

Cargill’s story and artwork is now being recognized by figures such as NAACP President Alicia Figueras. This month at the Brentwood Public Library in Islip, Cargill will be receiving the NAACP “HerStory” Celebration Award in an event that honors female artists of color. “I thought it was so fitting” Cargill shares. “Last month was Black History Month, yesterday was International Women’s Day, and today is a solar eclipse”

With the stars aligning for Celicia Cargill, this artist plans to continue engaging with her community and expanding her book Reset into a volume series.

Fellow painters can learn from Artist Celicia by joining her for a paint class. Follow her schedule on her website here to participate in her next Paint Party event.

TrueVoices Conveys Message of Unity in Latest Poetry Performance

Snap, don’t clap. Performance poetry group, TrueVoices, celebrated their four year anniversary this Saturday in the Bronx with their event  Progress: The Narrative.  The collaboration of singer-songwriter performances, painters, and vibrant slam poetry electrified audiences leaving a long-lasting impact with those watching.

Leah James, age 25 from New Jersey, performing “Dear Black Man”

Miguel Rodriguez, from the Bronx, is the director of the New York City chapter where young adults workshop their poetry along with receiving personalized training. However, Miguel expresses his work goes beyond planning events.

“I’m your guy’s biggest fan. I’ve memorized most of your poems.” Miguel, 24, tells the team prior to the performance as they gather for a fan Q&A.

Wanesha Spencer, age 31 from Atlanta, performing “Mama Was a Rollin’ Stone”

Eloquently performed, the poems possessed collective themes of the Black Lives Matter Movement, racial inequality, and a demand for change. Their message of progress was charged with hope, and included stories of both trial and triumph. Not only did TV’s New York poets perform, also alumni and artists from Chicago’s and Philadelphia’s chapters traveled to join the stage.

Prior to the event, I spoke to poet Michael Brantley of the Bronx. In preparing for an event of this scale, he says the most important thing is prayer.

“It’s for the glory of God and to serve others. You humble yourself to pray and you really get into the mindset that this is not about me. otherwise I would be performing to myself in the mirror.”

-Michael Brantley, 29

This same thought was echoed in other performers, including Sammie King of Brooklyn, who was the youngest performer of the group. To spiritually prepare for Progress, Sammie talked about fasting in the days prior. He spoke with wisdom beyond his years when speaking about humbling himself before going on stage.

“Remembering that God didn’t make me to be the star, He put me amongst the stars just to point to Him.”

-Sammie King, 18

Leon D. Labastide, age 29 from New York, True Voices Alumni

Now four years old, TV is a national organization that combines ministry with art. Founded by Pastor Jonathan Escobar of the Bronx in 2012, TV now has chapters in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

What’s next for TV? They plan to expand their ministry into a church where artists and poets alike can gather in community and faith. Although their events attract believers as well as nonbelievers, they hope to make an impact in both the faith and artistic realm of New York City and cities along the East Coast.

Are you a performing poet and want to be a part of True Voices? They have an application process that poets can share their work to be considered for entry. Delsey Alvarez, co-director of the NYC chapter says that the most important thing during this process is for the leadership to know your story and build a relationship. “It kinda feels like family”  she says, “we’ll always keep in contact with each other.”

To apply, click here.

To learn about more events around New York City, follow them on all social media platforms using @truevoicestv