Artbeat brings Cambridge together
Celebration of art, culture, music, and the summer
On the hot summer day of July 15, Davis Square transformed into a retreat for the city locals. Artbeat, one of the largest art festivals in the area, is held on the third week of July every year. Being an art enthusiast and fairly new to the city, I decided to check it out. I am glad I did because Cambridge has never felt so colorful, unified, and inspiring.
The festival started on Friday with music and interactive performances through the evening. The organizers, the Somerville Arts Council, shut down the entire square on Saturday, providing a large platform for the community to come together.
Flea markets have historically served as incubators and breeding grounds for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Artbeat offered even more by providing a stage (or two) to rising musicians, celebrating local food entrepreneurs, and opening doors for unique artistic talents. This year’s theme ‘Roots’ attracted many sustainability and green-awareness organizations and community projects. A woman walking on sticks and a man dressed as Elvis Presley brought in flavors of a carnival to the event. The organizers mindfully set up a dedicated space with pools and fountains for parents and children to beat the heat in style.
Amidst all the craft, music, and food, a unique setup seemed to be catching everyone’s attention. A woman wearing a white hat and a hopeful smile, and typing on a contemporary typewriter, was giving everyone pieces of paper and pens. The papers were all different colors and cut into unique shapes and sizes. She was asking everyone to write a prophecy for someone else and then pick out one that they related to the most. People wrote and some drew their thoughts down with enthusiasm and she would type a few out on her typewriter at request. Eventually, all the colorful pieces of paper, each having a unique thought, made their way onto jute ropes tied to trees to make for a beautiful installation. The effect of paper bunting immediately made the space look festive and uplifting, making people stop and notice.
Participation from attendees and the desire to share made this effort unique — everyone was immediately curious and wanted to engage. We humans remember and cherish the experiences in which we are actors, and not merely spectators. This project permitted people to reflect, empathize, express, and share in the simplest way. It let everyone think of their community and reach out to one another through the power of genuine words.