CRAVE brings avant garde to downtown Syracuse

Café Club Surreal offered live, interactive works of art on Saturday as part of the CRAVE arts festival.

CRAVE’s Café Club Surreal brought the crazy, quirky and cool to AXA Tower’s patio on Saturday in downtown Syracuse.

A mashup between a night club and Cirque du Soleil, the dimly lit space was packed as people posing as “live art” jumped, walked, ran and danced to house and electronic mixes around audience members, creating an environment of suspense, surprise and fun.

Audience members like Jessica Desalu, a clinical psychology PhD. student at SU, couldn’t peel their eyes away the walking works of art.

“I was really interested in the young man in the black dress and red dreads, but then we have this creature here in all black that kind of caught my attention,” she said. “I’m just really intrigued by the whole setup. It would be interesting to see what else they have going on.”

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The artwork interacted with each other as much as they did with the audience. Halfway into the event, two men in rainbow tye-dye jumpsuits leaped onto the patio space and played an acrobatic game of tag, cartwheeling and jumping along the perimeter of the space. Two women in plaid pajamas chased down an unwelcomed male visitor to their sleepover party, tapping each other and audience members with their pillows along the way.

Kalia Zell-Barrow, a Syracuse native, wasn’t surprised by the charades.

“I figured it would be something weird like this,” she said. She isn’t disappointed though, and wants to contribute to other arts initiatives like Café Club Surreal in Syracuse. “I want to get involved.”

Sam Read, the creator of Seattle’s Arts Crush Festival and leader of the Creators’ Conclave on Saturday, also attended the event. He hopes events like Café Club Surreal and CRAVE draw in more supporters like Barrow for arts initiatives.

“What I think is needed in terms of the arts in general in this country is to become much more inclusive and community driven,” Read said. “So patrons don’t necessarily just come and be spectators but actually participate in the creative process, and by doing things like this, it’s not just about going to an institution, it’s out in the community.”

Photo: Ashley Branch

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