At this writing, the music lineup includes Phosphorescent, Mike & Ruthy, Tracy Bonham, Nina Violet, Hopewell, Common Prayer, Duke McVinnie, Monogold, Justin Russo (of the Silent League) accompanied by a string ensemble, Gail Ann Dorsey, Acorn, the Woes, Matthew Carefully, Jeff Mercel, Alexander Turnquist, Liam Singer, Paul Dillon, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK) and more. Daytime activities include the O+ Film Fest; an art performance by Linda Montano in collaboration with the Ione Dream Festival; a Public Health Resource Fair that includes organizations like Planned Parenthood, the New York Blood Center, Marbletown Teen Center, Healthy Living Partnership, HIV screening, organ donor and other information; and – a unique offering that separates this Festival from all others – the O+ Participating Artist Health Clinic.
That last item – the Health Clinic for O+ participants – was conceived by local dentist Dr. Tom Cingel, artists Denise Orzo and Joe Concra and musician/photographer Alex Marvar to address this chronic problem. Cingel’s love of live band music prompted him to offer dental care gratis to any group if they’d come do a concert in Kingston. Soon the creative juices of all the Uptown artists were flowing, and the idea for an entire weekend event grew to include other health care professionals – to be precise, Dr. Art Chandler from Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, Dr. Randall Rissman and Maverick Family Health of Woodstock, Dr. Michael Sheran and Dr. Paul Bushkuhl from Medical Associates of the Hudson Valley, Dr. Ronald Hanovice from Kingston, Dr. Paul Hutchins of Metta Chiropractic in Red Hook, Dr. Billy Murphy from Columbia Memorial Hospital in Chatham, Dr. Allen Nace, director of Outpatient Addiction Treatment Services at Kingston Hospital and Dr. Jeff VanGorden, occupational therapist at Columbia Memorial Hospital.
As an artistic component, the buildings of the Stockade District will display artworks related to the Festival’s theme as giant paste-ups, to remain on view after the event is over. And a retrospective catalogue of the exhibition/event is in the works, to be published in winter featuring artwork, photographs from the Festival, interviews with participating artists, musicians and doctors and a compilation CD.
Artists and musicians put their bodies and souls into their work, but typically do so outside the scope of affordable health care even in the best of economic times. Most support their creative endeavors doing part-time work with no benefits. In a tremendous gesture of generosity, all participating artists and musicians will receive free screening and care on-site, with follow-up care available for free or for affordable co-pays, on a case-by-case basis.
Marvar explains that the name “O+” comes from the Chinese interpretation of blood types, designating a person of organization, determination and ambition, and the circle represents the wholeness of what the group is trying to accomplish – the long-term goal being to develop “a model for all communities, wherein perpetual health care for artists can become a reality.” Like food cooperatives, farmers’ markets, Community-Supported Agriculture ventures and other direct barter systems, such an objective speaks to individuals and communities whose needs are not met by standard corporate-driven economies. It speaks to people who want to take more direct responsibility for their health and well-being, for their very experiences of living – people like many of us who want to take back our ability to choose. And that includes medical professionals having the choice to render services outside constrictive systems.
Concra says, “It’s a matter of consciousness. Things come together when they’re ready to coalesce. Everybody is responsible for this great idea, and everyone is responsible for making it happen. One of the most beautiful things is the people who are jumping on board. It’s a really diverse group of people.” Orzo references the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a state of physical, mental and social well-being. She says, “The doctors bring their medicine arts to the musicians and artists, and the artists and musicians bring their medicine to the community.”
Passes to all Festival events – hospital wristbands! – will be available for a suggested donation of $25, with all excess proceeds going to Angel Food East. Meanwhile, the call is out for artists until September 10. If you have artwork that depicts anatomy, body and/or wellness imagery applicable for conversion to high-res wheat-pasteable posters for outdoor urban installation, see the submission guidelines at www.opositivefestival.org/art.html. And if you have the urge to volunteer your services and be a part of the effort, the group is looking for a few good healthy bodies to assist before and during the Festival: hanging artwork, organizing parking, ticketing, band sign-in and stage management, hospitality area for bands and docs, staffing the doors at each venue et cetera. Check the website for venues, schedules and other information. Get involved; it’s good for you.