The first day of spring is still a few days away, but the season began last week for creative Bay Ridgites with the kickoff of the 44th Annual Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts.
Festival chairman and treasurer Bob Kassenbrock said hundreds flocked to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Fourth Avenue between 74th Street and Bay Ridge Parkway on Thursday, where attendees had the chance to view and buy paintings by local artists and purchase plants that the Guild for Exceptional Children, a local group that aids developmentally disabled people of all ages, grew in its greenhouse — all to the accompaniment of a chamber orchestra.
“In our area of Brooklyn, this is really the only place where a community artist can display their work and see if someone wants to buy it,” Kassenbrock said.
Kassenbrock said that 25 percent of the profits from sold artwork will go toward college scholarships for local youths pursuing a degree in the arts. Money raised through the plant sale went to the Guild.
Though Kassenbrock admitted that the school grants, which range from $1000 to $1500, don’t cover much beyond basic art supplies, he said the Festival is an important opportunity for local painters and sculptors.
But he acknowledged that the Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts has been shrinking over the years — a trend organizers are working to reverse by inviting the neighborhood’s newest residents to participate.
“We want to make sure that the Chinese-American community and the Arab-American community that have become a part of southwest Brooklyn will become aware of us, and learn that we can provide a welcoming venue for them,” said Kassenbrock.
The Festival ran through Sunday with performances from local singers, a Craft Fair — ”for the ladies,” according to Kassenbrock — and a children’s day complete with silly putty-sculpting, science experiment stations, and creative writing events.