Tens of thousands of art fans filled the cobblestoned streets of DUMBO Friday night and all day Saturday for the 18th iteration of the DUMBO Arts Festival, kicking off a weekend of non-stop performance pieces, interactive art, and open studios. And although the neighborhood's relentless construction this year blocked off key areas of festivals past—the Tobacco Warehouse; much of Empire Fulton Ferry State Park—gorgeous weather and the energy and creativity of scores of artists from all disciplines combined to keep the crowds large and happy.
Here are some highlights from the festival's first two days:
* Tom Fruin's stained-plexiglass shack near the Brooklyn Bridge will likely reign as the weekend's most Instagrammed piece of art, and for good reason: reflecting the sun during the day, or illuminated from within at night, this thing is pretty as heck. There are sometimes also strange theatrical goings-on inside the house, courtesy of CoreAct.
* Beauty, a series of performance pieces curated by the South Asian Women's Creative Collective (SAWCC) that ask your participation in various explorations of how women are perceived and judged based on their physical appearance: their clothing, their hair, their skin. Located in the plaza area at the end of Main Street.
* Heather Hart is back once again with Barter Town, at which about a dozen vendors along Water Street trade for things like songs, snacks, clothing, massage therapy, and third-eye face painting. Each booth sets its own terms. The most interesting artist at Barter Town this year is definitely Risa Puno, who baked 700 "Please Enable Cookies" for the weekend, which she'll give you in exchange for pieces of information about yourself, everything from your email (which earns you just 1 redeemable point), to your mother's maiden name (4 points), to your fingerprints (5 points).
Please Enable Cookies, by Risa Puno (Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
* Underfoot, Karen Mainenti's playful stenciling of all of those old train rails that are still embedded along many DUMBO streets.
* All of the light- and/or video-based art works, most somewhat participatory, within both St. Ann's Warehouse on Jay Street and the Festival Lounge at One Main Street.
The DUMBO Arts Festival continues on through today, until 6:00 in the evening, so if you're looking for something fun, free, and family-friendly to do this afternoon, this is your move. Sadly, you will have missed the Discotransformer, which appeared Friday and Saturday nights, but here some video: