Burlington County’s Historic Smithville Park will be lit up and luminous once again during the upcoming 3rd annual Arts After Dark festival.
The special after-hours event returns to Smithville on Sept. 9 and will feature an eclectic mix of art, music, film, food and entertainment for a celebration of creativity and self-expression.
“Burlington County is full of history and natural beauty and also has a diverse and vibrant arts scene. Arts After Dark showcases all three while providing a fun night of entertainment for all ages,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “From film and fine art to light displays, mural making, jazz and DJ music, wine and cheese tastings and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”
The event will begin at 4:30 PM and run until 9:30 PM.
This year’s festival will feature a series of exhibits and screenings focused on the art of cinema and one of its earliest forms: the crankie.
Crankies are among the oldest storytelling art forms. They are made from long, illustrated scrolls that are wound onto two spools and then fed into a lighted box with a viewing window. The score is hand-cranked while the story is told or music is played or sung.
This year’s Arts After Dark will feature Burlington County’s first-ever Crankie Festival. Eight original crankies will be exhibited and, for the crankie-curious, there will also be opportunities to view, play with and add to a crankie roll that will be crafted to commemorate the event.
In addition to crankies, all the award-winning films from this year’s Burlington County Short Film Festival will be screened throughout the festival.
Once the sky darkens, Smithville will become a canvas for a fantastic light and cinema show featuring projections that will illuminate Smithville Mansion and its grounds, creating an otherworldly experience. This one-of-a-kind show will be created by Mount Holly-based Camagine Design.
Fine art exhibits
Festival goers will have the chance to experience a wide variety of fine art exhibited in the park galleries and grounds.
On display in the Smithville Mansion Annex Gallery will be the County’s 47th Juried Art Show, which showcases the outstanding creations of artists from across the region in a variety of mediums.
The Workers House Gallery has a special exhibit of some rarely-seen works by Hugh Campbell, a renown local artist, philosopher and writer who frequently painted the landscape of the Rancocas Creek and the streetscapes of Mount Holly.
There will also be a pop-up gallery in the special event tent featuring a large selection of artwork previously exhibited in both Smithville galleries or the Warden’s House Gallery in Mount Holly.
Yarn bombing, live murals and blacklight drawing
This year’s festival will also feature several different forms of street art, including a “yarn bomb” installation led by artist Beverly Ellis.
Yarn bombing is a style of street art involving crocheting or knitting patterns of yarn or wool onto public structures such as trees, benches, lamp posts or signs, with the goal of injecting color, warmth and fun into public spaces.
There will also be mural painting demonstrations by muralists Liz Amaral, John Fitzpatrick and Leon Rainbow and an interactive “Blacklight Box,” where festival goers can use colorful chalk to create designs or marks on anything and everything.
Live music, food and more
There’s plenty more to do and see this year, including an interactive lantern-making workshop with artist Ken Johnston and demonstrations and interactive activities with Artworks Trenton.
The Mark Smith Quintet will be performing jazz music in Smithville rose garden, Kamau the Chakra DJ will be spinning records in the Annex Gallery and the duo of David B. Cole and Linda Harris will play in front of the Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County.
Visitors can attend a wine and cheese tasing hosted by Main Street Mount Holly Association and other delicious bites from an assortment of food trucks on site.
More exciting events and programs are also planned this fall. For a complete rundown, visit the Burlington County Parks website at www.co.burlington.nj.us/235/Parks and click on the Fall Program Guide.
“Burlington County has one of the best park systems in the nation and events like Arts After Dark are a great way to showcase traditional and cutting-edge art forms, along with the beauty, history and fun to be found at our County parks,” said Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “It’s a great night out and the perfect way to support the arts in Burlington County.”