Howl: The Second Annual Festival of East Village Arts

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Evan Sung
New York Coolies: Jessica Cogan, Brianna Leigh Hansen,
Josh McLane & Annika Sundin

As everyone knows by now, New York was invaded by the Republican hordes. The city was overrun with men wearing kahki pants and pastel polo shirts and women with frosted blonde hair and Dooney and Burke purses - as horrifying a group of Southern-Baptist-Mothers-in-law as I have ever seen. We were overrun by rubes who could not even define existential angst. We had collective nightmares. And they walked three abreast on the sidewalk.

Before they arrived, I really needed a party to fortify myself, so on Saturday August 24th, I headed to Tompkins Square Park to celebrate Howl, The Festival of East Village Arts. With me were New York Coolies Jessica Cogan, Josh McLane, Evan Sung, Annika Sundin and Brianna Leigh Hanson. Our intention was to photograph Art Around the Park. Huge sheets of white paper are draped over the park fences and they are then painted by local artists. Art Around the Park was scheduled to start at 9AM, so we were running, thinking we were late, when we arrived at 11AM.

Surprise, surprise! There were huge sheets of paper, but no paintings and very few painters. Well duh, who's the numb nuts here? This is the East Village and it was 11AM, which qualifies as the middle of the night in some bars. Silly me! I asked a slightly official looking guy sitting on a stool when the painting would start. He said, "Now, sign in here." Well I don't know if we qualify as painters (it's the East Village afterall and the rules are loose) but we certainly had no paint, so we declined. (See the great photos Evan took of the finished paintings when he returned on Sunday.

Howl is like that. It is a huge boiling cauldon of psychedelic color, everything that is wonderful about the East Village: the art; the music; the people; and the disorganization. They don't call it a Counter Culture County Fair for nothing. But it works the same way the East Village does. Howl embodies the same spirit that allows a down-at-the-mouth pizza parlour to exist next door the trendy boutique. All day long, wherever we went, we were eumphemistically asked to "paint" and if we had some paint we certainly would have obliged.

(Clockwise from Top Left Anika Sundin with "Joe Strummer", Taylor Mead, Reverend Billy and some interesting strangers)

We were wondering around the park and had stopped in front of Chico's painting (he did the Howl poster) when a cute young girl walked up and asked us if we would please march in the Howl Parade. Well, I love a parade so I accepted for all the hung-over hussies I was shepherding around the park. Off we went to the corner of 8th and First and when we got there, there was another surprise. A very nice lady issued huge pink prom dresses to the girls and gave everyone banners to carry. (Photo note: That is Lisa Renko in the top right corner of the photo collage below.)

It seems the Lower East Side Girls Club wear pink prom dresses as their symbol and they had more prom dresses than they had girls that morning. I certainly hope those Girls Club girls had a better excuse for not showing up then some of our missing New York Coolies, who I am quite certain were just hauling their hung over asses to bed at 11AM.

Howl was incredible and next year we will be back with buckets of paint and this time we will bring blue tutus, so the men will have something cool to wear.

Rock on! - Wendy

Howl is co-produced by the Federation of East Village Artists

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