New Bedford, MA, has more than whales. A lot more, actually, like a vibrant arts community that brings creative life to the city’s historic downtown.
Andy Anello is one artist who caught on. He moved to New Bedford from New York City six years ago in search of more space and time to make art. Since then he has been digging into the scene, and today he is the creator of Lunar Teeth, a performance art experiment that convenes four times a year on or around the summer and winter solstice and the vernal and autumnal equinox, and showcases artists from various disciplines.
Anello began Lunar Teeth as a studio photographer looking for a looser outlet than the familiar formula of Idea + Execution = Finished Work/Portfolio. He wanted something where he could focus on the process instead of the outcome. The result is an event that operates like an open mic for work that is experimental, is often unfinished, and that stretches the visual artist. “There is freedom in doing something once and never seeing it again in the same form,” Anello says.
So far the six installments of Lunar Teeth have attracted artists from New Bedford, Providence, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Gatherings on the equinox and solstice keep the work regular but not overly structured, and in tune with natural rhythms.
A lot of traditional visual artists in New Bedford operate in isolated studios. Lunar Teeth is a refreshing, contemporary alternative to that. “People are surprised at how engaged they are. The perception of performance art is that it’s boring, but Lunar Teeth has grabbed people’s attention,” says Anello.
Carl Simmons has been a Lunar Teeth regular since its conception. His work revolves around the history of Brooklawn Park in New Bedford. In one of his performances, audience members called in their own memories of the park to Carl’s Google voicemail. Simmons played each message back and read the accompanying (mostly hilarious and inaccurate) Google translation. The performance was a reflection on making informational sense of people’s personal memories.
Another regular, Dustin Brunelle, builds wooden boxes using basic carpentry skills. At Lunar Teeth he times himself while stacking the boxes as a way to look at the concepts of labor and hard work.
“It’s been amazing,” says Simmons about Lunar Teeth. “There was no outlet for this kind of thing before. The beauty of Lunar Teeth is that it’s really loose, but it pushes you to create something at the same time.”
The next Lunar Teeth will be held on September 19, 2015.