Community Picnic Is a Hit

Nestor Gil and Luis Schettino hold a pinata while a crowd of people watches during the LaJiraGira picnic event on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail in Easton, Pennsylvania.

The LaJiraGira picnic on the trail attracted a large crowd that enjoyed food, music, art, and the pleasures of community on Aug. 6.

The group met at the Silk pedestrian bridge linking to the arts trail, where event organizer Nestor Gil, the Karl Stirner Arts Trail artist-in-residence this year, welcomed participants and provided background on what they were about to enjoy. The group walked on the trail together, with several people taking turns holding what Gil called the event’s “mascot,” a piñata made of tobacco-stained paper, 24 gold leaf, and butterflies, attached to a long pole.

The journey ended near the Labyrinth art installation. Participants sat on blankets and the ground as they listened to Jim Toia, KSAT executive director, give remarks, followed by Gil, and then watched as several children and a couple of adults took a turn whacking the piñata with a stick until it surrendered its candy treasure.

Residents enjoyed food supplied by the La Perla Tapatia restaurant in Easton, music, and each other’s company. The Rio Bossa Trio played bossa nova, Latin popular music, and Latin jazz. The group featured Jorge Torres, guitar; Steve Foreman, bass; and William Weisbach, percussion

LaJiraGira expresses traces of Gil’s family and ethnic histories as a community-centered, lived experience in which ritual, festivity, and food play a central role.

“As a child, I often found myself among the chaos of community as we made processions, prayers, and rituals out of major and minor life events,” says Gil, associate professor of art at Lafayette College. “I wanted LaJiraGira to bring some of that energy and life into a context where we as a diverse community could share in it together.”

Gil took photos of people’s blankets during the picnic and will make prints from them as part of his tenure as KSAT artist-in-residence. The printed picnic blanket forms, which he sees as reshapeable, portable sculptures, will be placed on the arts trail for short periods either in concert with an event (such as the Movies Along the Trail screening on Oct. 21) or randomly as an invitation for people to engage in impromptu gatherings or to elevate awareness of a particular location on the trail.

LaJiraGira was made possible by a Hotel Tax Grant from Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

To view the images at full size, click on one, then move your mouse to the right side of the expanded image and click on the arrow to scroll through the gallery. The photos were taken by Olivia Giralico, with the exception of the music ensemble, which was taken by Melissa Strom. View black and white photos by George Panichas.