WESTFIELD, NJ — The success of the first AddamsFest last fall was such that town officials decided to get an early start on this year’s event.
They gathered at the appropriately named Addams Tavern on Elm Street on Aug. 6, and Mayor Shelley Brindle kicked off the promotion for the gala, a Halloween-timed extravaganza dedicated to Charles Addams and his eponymous ghoulish creation, “The Addams Family.”
During the last two weekends in October — Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 — AddamsFest attendees will take in festivities that include movie screenings, a masquerade ball and art exhibits.
“I thought about, what do we have in Westfield that is uniquely ours that we can celebrate as a community and create a little sense of place,” Brindle said at the luncheon. “And it’s immediate, it’s Charles Addams!”
Westfield came up with AddamsFest as a way to celebrate the native son who achieved worldwide fame with his fictional macabre characters Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Cousin It, Pugsley, Wednesday, Lurch and Thing, the disembodied hand.
This year’s Aug. 6 kickoff featured “The Charles Addams Experience,” a driving tour that visited many of the sites associated with the man who in 1938 created “The Addams Family” cartoon for The New Yorker that was later turned into television shows and feature-length films. Addams’ family home on Elm Street and the Presbyterian Church cemetery on Mountain Avenue were among the stops on the tour.
“We drove around the area because that’s where Charles Addams grew up and that was the inspiration for ‘The Addams Family,’” said Danielle Desser of Frank PR, which is handling publicity for Addamsfest. “We looked at some of the cartoons he did in The New Yorker. The cemetery was the inspiration for his artwork.”
This year’s AddamsFest will not only celebrate Addams’ most famous work, but also give visitors a chance to view the creations of other artists, including Ricardo Roig. The Hoboken-based artist mainly makes prints and he has created several series based on locations, such as New York, Hoboken and Hawaii. He also has a Westfield series. He gave ink portraits in Charles Addams’ style to guests at his Roig Collection Art and Framing Gallery on South Avenue West in Westfield recently. The artist said he works with screen printing because it gives the colors more vibrancy, an advantage he doesn’t have with ink.
“I fell in love with the impressionist paintings and how they captured light and made everyday scenes enchanting and iconic almost,” Roig said. “Manet was my favorite because he broke everything down into a light, medium and dark.”
Roig shares some similarities with Addams, at least in terms of darkness.
“When I do a lot of my nighttime scenes, I use a lot of black paper, it gives it that mood … I do a lot of beach scenes and for those I use a lot of light, grey, and tan papers. For the art, I think ‘OK, what’s the color that’s going to bring it all together’… I like the screen-printing because it keeps the colors vivid throughout.”