FALL RIVER — For some, it might just be a gigantic scribble on the side of a building.

But for others, like Portuguese-Canadian Jesse James pointed out, the large mural at the corner of Bank and Greene streets in Fall River can very well be a symbol, a foresight for things to come in the city. It’s like you’re redrawing the city with a new vision, he said.

“There’s an attempt here to start something, to leave a mark… It’s kind of a statement piece for the city… and it’s visible from the Braga Bridge,” said James, co-curator of the FABRIC Arts Festival, a four-day multidisciplinary cultural experience running through Saturday at multiple venues throughout the city.

Organized by the Casa dos Açores of Nova Inglaterra (CANI), FABRIC is curated by James and Sofia Botelho, artistic directors of the Walk and Talk festival in the Azores, and António Pedro Lopes, co-director of the Tremor music festival in the Azores.

According to organizers, the idea behind the festival is to challenge the audience to discover Fall River in new and exciting ways with the help of an eclectic mix of local, national and international artists who will bring exhibitions, installations, films, lectures and concerts.

Designed by Argentinean street artist Elian Chali, who has left his mark on street corners around the world with his abstract, bright-colored creations, the mural on Greene Street is emblematic of that renewed perception, giving people space to think, said local painter/musician known as Manel – the Island Man on Monday, while working on the installation.

“It’s like a portal… a beginning to something,” he said. “It’s about waves… it’s about forces of nature.”

Due to illness Elian Chali could not make the trip to Fall River, so the mural was created, according to his plans, by Manel – the Island Man, his son Kyle Furtado and graphic designer Joseph Faria.

“It’s a big responsibility,” admitted Manel – the Island Man, adding that the mural and the entire festival will be “a great addition” to the community.

FABRIC events will be held at several venues and locations, among them The Narrows Arts Center, the Fall River Carousel at Battleship Cove, The Eagle Event Center, People Incorporated, the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) and Purchase Street.

FABRIC is the brainchild of Michael Benevides, vice-president of the Casa dos Açores da Nova Inglaterra, who approached the curators about bringing their know-how and creative minds to Fall River.

“Fall River is way behind in arts and culture,” Benevides told O Jornal. “Hopefully, FABRIC can be the spark.”

Lopes said the festival seeks “to ignite life and movement to Fall River’s city center.”

“Tradition will meet the avant-garde as we attempt to leave a legacy in the public space,” he said.

Organizers point out the festival will create temporary and permanent points of interest that will leave an indelible mark on the city, inspiring a new narrative that builds upon Fall River’s industrial heritage and reinforces a cultural bond with Portugal.

James said the festival is about “mapping the city and making visible so many things that already exist here,” using the lens of a group of artists that will transform perceptions as the city becomes the center of their artistic discourse.

“We, as curators, who are not from here, feel that something is about to happen in Fall River,” he said. “There are people here who are starting that process… they are creating space, they are thinking, they are making connections… and that’s our expectations for FABRIC…that it can function as an igniter for things to come.”

So far, the local reaction to the project has been “really wonderful,” he said.

“We are feeling this sense of curiosity,” he said, while praising all the local support they have received, ranging from sponsorships to logistics. “There’s been a very direct, spontaneous, positive reaction to the festival. This is a reflex of the city’s willingness to have an arts festival and these contemporary art manifestations in its territory.”

While the curators have the know-how, it’s these people who define the cities and make projects like this grow, said James.

“There’s a very social dimension that has to do with the way people interact with the city and the projects that are happening in the city,” he said.

An important legacy of the FABRIC Arts Festival in collaboration with We Love Fall River and Rhode Island School of Art and Design will be the production of a new city guide mapping its unique cultural experiences. Made in Fall River lists food and accommodations, the experiences, the landmarks, the products, the historical narratives tied to the city’s industrial heritage, and how Fall River relates culturally to the rest of the world as a home to so many migrant communities.

As the pilot edition, James said this festival is a try out and will dictate what course FABRIC will take in the future.

“This year is about living a legacy for the city,” he said. “There’s a buzz. Let’s grab that buzz and take advantage of it.”

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25


5 PM to 7 PM 
INSTALLATION . Diagonal Animal by Jonathan Uliel-Saldanha & Catarina Miranda
Carousel at Battleship Cove
$2 donation a ride
This installation will run every day between 10 am and 6 pm

7 PM to 8 PM
OPENING CEREMONY
Narrows Art Center – 3rd floor Concert Hall
Free Entrance

An important legacy of the FABRIC Arts Festival in collaboration with We Love Fall River and Rhode Island School of Art and Design will be the production of a new city guide mapping its unique cultural experiences. Made in Fall River lists food and accommodations, the experiences, the landmarks, the products, the historical narratives tied to the city’s industrial heritage, and how Fall River relates culturally to the rest of the world as a home to so many migrant communities.

8 PM to 10 PM 
EXHIBITIONS OPENING
The Narrows Center for the Arts - 2nd Floor
Free Entrance
>> Exhibitions will be open every day between 3 pm and 7 pm

EAST ATLANTIC by Miguel C. Tavares & José Alberto Gomes
TIMESHORES by Diana Vidrascu
 

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26


7 PM to 10 PM 
CINEMA . AZ-RAP: Sons of the Wind + I Don't Belong Here
The screenings will be followed by a talk with director Diogo Lima and theater director Dinarte Branco
The Narrows Center for the Arts – 3rd floor Concert Hall 
Free Entrance
 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27


7 PM - 9 PM 
OPEN STUDIOS - Made in Fall River
Smokestack Studios, 192 Anawan St. Fall River
Free Entrance
>> This activity will run every day between 1:30 and 3:30 pm

Smokestack Studios is a collective studio of artists housed in Fall River’s historic Metacomet Mill. The studio was established in 2007 when Rosanne Somerson, Alphonse Mattia, Charlie Swanson, and Eck Follen merged their studios together to form a collective space. Since then, the studio has housed numerous artists working in a variety of mediums and styles. The studio houses individual artist spaces, as well as a shared comprehensive woodshop, metalshop, spray booth, kitchen, and gallery space.

Resident Artists: Rosanne Somerson, Alphonse Mattia, Gail Fredell, Tyler Inman, Grace Kim
Isabel Mattia, Craig Heffern, Don Coxe, Justin Seow, Peter Lutz, Oscar Bedford, Mark Bokelman, Nick Ventola, Alexandra Francis, Nico Rousselet, John Park, Quinton Bley

9 PM - 10 PM
CONCERT . MEDEIROS/LUCAS
The Eagle Event Center, 35 N Main St, Fall River
Free Entrance
 


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28


11 AM - 12:30 PM
TALK . New Formats for Cultural Projects in Fall River
People Incorporated, 4 S Main St, Fall River
Free Entrance

In this panel, we present a series of leading cultural figures to address cultural, artistic and creative projects in the Southcoast. We'll hear about their projects and activities and examine them as case studies that show the potential of an artistic project in articulation with a territory. Creativity can transform objects, places and people's lives. How do their projects inspire/ influence and how can we learn from their best practices? This talk is open to audience participation and will question how cultural projects can have a defining role in the City of Fall River.

Moderator: John Vasconcellos, President, Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts
Panelists:
James Lima, Advisor on the Economics of Placemaking
Roger Mandle, Co-founder & Chair, DATMA (Design Art Technology Massachusetts)
Tracy Barbosa, Owner/Artist Duende Glass LLC/Tracy Silva Barbosa Studio

1:30 to 3:30 PM
GUIDED TOUR . Mapping Fall River 
Meeting Point – Carousel at Battleship Cove
The visit will follow the artistic path of the festival, traveling to each mural installed by Fabric

Elian Chali Mural @ 234 Central Street: Elian’s work finds a great connection with the period of Modern Art and its vanguards like Minimal, conceptual, abstraction. In his proposal for Fall River he marks a building with a line, which evoques a gesture, an organic drawing movement, that offers to the wall a new framework with the surrounding buildings, but also a new look at the relationship of all with each other.

Braulio Amado @ Portugalia Marketplace: This collaborative mural is the result of a workshop held by Braulio Amado to art students. He followed the method used he uses on his workshops where questions are answered without using words. The proposal was to talk about Fall River without using words, relying on collage, drawings, photos and other experimental adventures. The final composition is the result of the different proposals developed by the workshop participants, worked graphically by Braulio. 

Rene Gagnon @ 390 South Main ST: The wall that holds Renee Gagnon’s work was part of the old Capitol Movie Theatre that thrived during the 1930’s to the 50’s. Using images from actresses from the same period as well as Art Deco Stylings that decorated the building, the artist offers a dialogue between the interior and exterior of the building, its past and present. 

Alberonero @ Purchase Street Square: Using minimalistic lines, Alberto Nero’s works create dialogs with the landscape and looking at art as a part of it. On his installation proposal forFABRIC, he connects different architectural elements, creating new readings of the space, by the use of transparency and color match. 

4 PM
CONCERT . Island Man
Purchase St Square (corner of Bank St and Purchase St.)
Free Entrance

5 to 5:30 PM
CONCERT . United Bands Project
Purchase St Square (corner of Bank St and Purchase St.)
Free Entrance

5:30 to 8:30 PM 
DJ SET . Nick Schiarizzi
Purchase St Square (corner of Bank St and Purchase St.)
Free Entrance

6 PM to 8 PM
CONCERTS
Lula Pena 
Kelsey Lu
Police Athletic League, 31 Franklin St, Fall River
$25

9 to 10 PM
CONCERT . Mal Devisa
Purchase St Square (corner of Bank St and Purchase St.)
Free Entrance

10 to 11 PM
CONCERT . Downtown Boys
Purchase St Square (corner of Bank St and Purchase St.)
Free Entrance