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Pontet-dances-and-paints-to-the-drum-beat
Pontet dances and paints to the drum beat

On Friday 26 and Saturday 27 of June, Northwood exploded with a fruity, fiery burst of creativity as the Northwood Mango and Music Festival took to the streets and parks to showcase the harvest of a community dedicated to the arts.

There was plenty of free parking at the lot at the far end of Northwood Road where a kids area was set up with a giant castle water slide which kept the little ones cool. There was a large mural the kids were invited to help paint, resulting in a riotous, messy but fun collision of color. The smell of BBQ wafted through the air as the Moska Project Band played for a large crowd happily eating, drinking and enjoying the unique fusion of Latin-Reggae-Rock spiced with Caribbean flavor, instrumental intros, sticky danceable beats and organic African rhythms the band plays.

Mango-smoothie-stand
Mango smoothie stand

The Festival stretched all the way along Northwood to US 1, filled with vendor booths offering lots of mango inspired goodies ranging from smoothies to salads to soaps to actual mango trees you could take home and plant.

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Cruising up to the intersection of Northwood and Spruce Avenue, it was great to see the progress on the mural being painted on the side of the OSGS Gallery. A few weeks ago I had taken the Northwood Art Walk Tour and they had just started the ocean themed mural, now it’s almost done as the artist was out putting finishing touches on.

There was a cooking demonstration under a large tent, where chefs from top local restaurants Obo, Table 427, and Bistro Bistro (a female chef, a rarity in Palm Beach County) were showing off their mango inspired dishes including Crab Cakes with Mango Chutney, Mint Mango Mojitos and Shrimp Mango Ceviche.

I stopped at a vendor that was offering large mango slushies for only $2, a sweet frozen treat made with real mango, mango juice, ice and honey. There were lots of good hand made one of a kind art booths, some jewelry made from sea glass and shells, tropical inspired clothing and a stand selling many different kinds of fruit trees. The tree stand had a large crowd and people could be seen hauling off 4-foot tall trees that already had some green fruit hanging off of them. There are some enormous mango trees in the neighborhood that pump out so much fruit in a short period of time that much of it goes to waste as the heavy ripe orbs plummet in a suicide mission to the ground and splatters. There are different kinds of mangoes, some are more stringy, others more golden in color and creamy as they can be. Once you master the art of slicing around that oval seed it’s a fruit worth worshiping.

Daniel-Pontet-Impulse-Art-Experience
Daniel Pontet Impulse Art Experience

On Saturday afternoon there was really exciting event as Daniel Pontet performed Impulse Art in the middle of the street. Impulse Art is a live performance where the rhythm of music inspires Uruguay born artist Daniel Pontet to paint with his feet and minimally his hands. It grew out of the Action Painting circles, a movement born in the decade of the 1950’s that revolutionized the concept of art. In this new re-definition, art is seen as an act and a performance rather than an object. It is the interaction between the artist and the paint, and the image on the canvas becomes a final product witness of this encounter.
There was a canvas painted solid red as a background color taped down on the street, surrounded by roller pans filled with various colors. A brightly costumed drum band from Uruguay along with some African drummers kicked up a beat and furiously played for a good 45 minutes as Pontet began dipping his toes into the paint trays and sketching the outlines of the piece, He danced and skipped around the perimeter, adding layers of color and highlights as the images began to take shape.

“Is that a butterfly?” I heard people in the crowd say. “Now he’s adding another shape!” and “Wow look how fast he’s painting with his feet!”

Pontet says “ Since I began my live performances -20 years ago – where music leads to my art, I realized that I was limited by the use of hands and brushes in following the rhythms. I wanted to feel the music… and paint that inspiration. This obsessive impulse to add the smallest of details to my work – as a hyperrealist or figurative artist – made me lose the connection with the natural flow of the music, all the while grappling with every small element on the canvas.”

“That’s when -3 years ago- I came up with the crazy idea of using my feet – without the usual artist’s tools and all the boundaries they represented. The advantages my natural interaction with the music and the dynamic it helped create suddenly dawned on me. I felt my feet dancing on the surface and a special energy flowing with the musical notes and rhythms. Actually, when performing, I don’t feel it is me who is there. But the music that moves me and flows through me allowing me to express myself creatively.”

Pontet was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, South America, in 1957 and has resided in Miami, Florida since 1991. He developed his art in Uruguay, under watercolor painter and art teachers who instilled into him the magic of color and a particular emphasis on space and shapes. He also completed courses in Art History at the School of Humanities of the University of the Republic of Uruguay. Beyond that he studied silkscreen, photography, and computer graphics as a complement to his art education. Pontet started exhibiting in 1975 and has participated in more than 60 art shows. He has received several prizes and acknowledgments and continues to show that his creativity has found no end. The crowd was really loving the combination, and the resulting painting – finished with a swift hand brush flourish of blue and white splatter paint – was a winner.

A really unique, wonderful festival that brought out all ages and races in a way that showed how integrated and harmonious a thriving, upstart community can be.

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Sandra-Schulman Sandra Schulman is an arts writer, music and film producer. Born in Miami, her work has appeared in Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Ocean Drive, Country Music Magazine, The New York Daily News, News From Indian Country, and Entertainment Weekly. She was an entertainment columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 8 years. She has authored three books on pop culture. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her blue eyed whippet. Sandra Schulman’s column appears weekly. Contact her at sandraslink@gmail.com.

Mango Festival A Burst of Creativity, a Wonderful Festival with Plenty of Arts. Review of the 2015 Mango & Music Fest in Northwood Village, West Palm Beach.