“La Isla Bonita” was born as a series of public art developed by Colombian-born, Staten Island-based artist Lina Montoya under the LMProject. In June 2014, the first piece of this series was installed at Richmond Terrace and Jewett Ave called “Mariposas Amarillas” – 18,000 yellow butterflies along the Terrace to represent migration as a symbol of a community’s evolution. The series aims to transform public spaces around the Island by involving community members in the process and continues to exist, with more than 10 pieces on display throughout the North Shore of Staten Island.
Last Summer, LMProject and local arts collective ISLA, partnered up to create a Summer Festival in the North Shore of Staten Island with the help of the NYC Parks, Partnerships for Parks and California organization Sol Collective – naming it La Isla Bonita Summer Festival. With the goal of building a yearly cultural happening which celebrates Staten Island’s diversity and multiculturalism, La Isla Bonita Summer Festival highlights Faber Park’s beautiful waterfront park, while promoting local and global arts and culture for free to the community.
“People don’t think Staten Island is beautiful, but we want to celebrate the beauty that is here, in ourselves, our friendships and our community relationships. The ultimate goal for all of us is to create something that reflects us,” ISLA founder Nati Linares told the Staten Island Advance.
The festival’s inaugural event in 2015 included live music performances, spoken word, dance, active sports, education, arts and crafts, marking an exciting development for cultural programming in the heart of Staten Island’s rich immigrant community of Port Richmond and particularly at Faber Park, where the NYC Parks and Partnerships for Parks have been concentrating their community engagement efforts.
Programming for the festival is intentionally chosen to reflect global and local sounds, with bands and DJs who are honoring traditional music while modernizing their sound for new audiences. For example, last year’s Latin Grammy winning Mariachi Flor de Toloache remix the traditional Mariachi tradition by featuring an all-female lineup and covering modern songs with their instruments. Future installments plan on furthering this mission in order to celebrate how dialogue between different cultures, generations and regions can inspire new imaginations.
The 2nd annual La Isla Bonita Summer Festival took place on Sunday, July 10th 2016 once again at Faber Park, with live performances from NYC tropical circus punk band Consumata Sonidera, global bass vocalista from Los Angeles with Filipina roots Gingee, and Staten Island’s female-fronted philosophical dream punk band Yeti. Cuba’s very own DJ Jigue of Guampara Music will provide an Afro-futurist vibe and Staten Island-via-Bermuda’s Dizzle gives us eclectic electric Island vibes. There were art activities, tabling by some of Staten Island’s most exciting community organizations, a public open-mic and lots more! Keeping in the spirit of local and global arts, the poster art was created by Colombian-based artist Lili Cuca; with the goal of inviting her to participate as part of La Isla Bonita Street Art series during La Isla Bonita Summer Festival by transforming the poster art into a mural. Read the coverage from the event in the Staten Island Advance and check out the photos here.
The inaugural La Isla Bonita happened on July, 12, 2015 produced by Lina Montoya, ISLA and G.E.D at Faber Park in conjunction with NYC Parks. Music artists included Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the Dub Ambassadors from Puerto Rico, and Staten Island’s own Dolltits. DJs Dizzle and Run P were on the 1s and 2s. Read the coverage from the event in the Staten Island Advance and check out the photos here.