The Valley Arts Music and Poetry Festival (VAMP) was held on Saturday, June 12, in Orange's Valley Arts District. The first VAMP was held in 2001 and was the district's first-ever festival. Now it's just one in an all-year-round series of events. This year's VAMP was held right outside of the popular Hat City Kitchen and encircled the recently constructed park on Valley and Forest streets.
"VAMP paints a picture of the Valley's future," said Pat Morrissy, executive director of HANDS. "All this creative talent right from the neighborhood have come together to celebrate art, family and community. It's really grown since the first one was held in 2001."
Valley Arts District Coordinator Lorena La Grassa agreed. "There's a strong community participation here, the creative movement is growing. This is a demonstration of what we are all about. Our next event is the regular monthly Art Loop the last Friday in June. There'll be an open studio tour in the fall."
One of the first people Patch talked to was Scott Schultz, who lives right in the Valley Arts District and who was skillfully manning a grill full of hot dogs and hamburgers. He counts himself among the first full-time neighborhood residents. "It's a great little neighborhood," he said. "It's what's happening."
And Saturday's festival was certainly happening with art, exhibits, food and music. Among the exhibitors was artist Terry Boddie, who lives in West Orange and has a studio in the Valley Arts District; he was showing some original creations and was also using a photographic process to make art right on the spot.
We also saw weaver Margret Martin of East Orange, who was demonstrating weaving the log-cabin stitch on her loom and guiding participants who wanted to try their hand. Each person was able to take their work home to use it as a bookmark. Martin said, "I like coming to Valley Arts Festivals this time of year. It's nice and cheery, there's good music and nice people. It's the fourth or fifth time I've participated."
Fiber artist Jody Leight was at the Knitting Circle table. She holds a regular monthly meeting of knitters (crocheters welcome) at Arts Unbound on the second Saturday of every month. And Robin Gordon was at the event sponsor table selling raffle tickets and offering information. Event sponsors included Jerry's Artist Outlet, Musiclocker Entertainment, Unirec, Selecto Flash, Hat City Kitchen, NeighborWorks America, Valley Arts and HANDS Inc.
We also spent some time with Lorraine Gibbons of South Orange, who heads Garden State Urban Farms, and her son Andrew, who were demonstrating planting herbs in "Earthboxes." Gibbons's greenhouse is located in the district. She currently is growing fresh organic herbs and vegetables in 1,500 of these gardening systems and creating programs that teach about growing food for various groups, including ex-offenders and developmentally disabled adults.
Many performers graced the stage, including poets Nancy Boylan, Dana Maloney, Summya Jackson and Duda Penteado and musicians like SoundBox Banditz, Vibe Merchants and the NDJE Percussion School. ORNG Ink, which is run by Mike Malborough, also hosted a fashion show of original creations that were modeled by a very talented and good-looking squad including Clifford Pierre, Alex Krale, Ray Sykes, Molly Rose Kaufman, Houston Clerizier, Gabriel Adnoade and Brianna Hankerson.