Art, music, dance, sport, and friendly competition to unify our community. All these kinds of creative diversity were celebrated at the Harmony Fest. GNV Urban Art took an interview with the main initiator of the project.
Hello! Who are you and what was the event at the Northeast Park? What are the idea and the purpose of the project?
Hi, my name is Guido Montenegro and I’m the event coordinator for the Harmony Fest. This idea for a community event at Northeast Park initially arose from a dispute between the tennis ball players and a local dance group of young girls. Jeffrey Weisberg, the executive director of the River Phoenix Center For Peacebuilding stepped in with plans for a conflict resolution. This included building a wall between the tennis ball court and the racquetball court and installing a mural on it that would express Harmony between the groups.
How did you come up with this idea and how many artists got involved?
During that time, I was introducing a community project to Raquel Vallejo, the Cultural Programs Coordinator for the Gainesville Urban Art Initiative. My project is entitled the Urban Culture Project. The idea is to step into the neglected sectors of Gainesville and install urban art murals and facilitate community events. The mural at 8th Street was my first attempt. As I presented this to Raquel, she immediately offered me to lead the Northeast Park mural project.
I then assembled a team of Artists from Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami and we began collaborating ideas. There were 14 artists on my roster and we communicated frequently to develop this project. Over the course of two months, Jeffrey Weisberg, Raquel Vallejo, and Charles Zidar the Assistant Cultural Affairs Manager and myself gathered periodically to discuss the implementation of the event.
Please, tell about the breakdance competition.
The Breakdancing portion of the event is also part of my urban culture project. The agenda is to receive community and financial support in order to provide workshops, public classes, and regional competitions for this type of urban art as well. For this Breakdancing competition, we had a 2 vs 2 with a cash prize and original canvases donated by every artist that participated in the Mural. We had participants from Georgia, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Gainesville. Jkilla and bboy Vega from Georgia were the finalists.
What were the other activities at the event?
We also had free yoga classes facilitated by the Sanity Guru Yoga studio and free capoeira classes facilitated by the Capoeira Academy of Gainesville. Besides that, we had a variety of artist vendors set up throughout the park as well plenty of food vendors like Humble Pie Pizza and Vanarchy Sandwiches. It was a good turn out and we received the much positive response from the community. The idea is to continue to build on this framework and bring art and culture to the other neglected sectors of Gainesville.
Thank you for your time and all the effort! Good luck with the future editions of the project!
Gainesville residents and guests of our town, enjoy the artworks created in Northeast Park located at 400 NE 16 Avenue, GNV, 32601.