March. It’s balmy one day and frigid another. It’s a month of fickle weather inching toward spring.
Spring officially arrives on March 20 at 11:33 am, when day and night are equal across the planet. This Sunday the temperature might possibly be in the 60s.
On that day, Westbeth multi-media artist SuZen with a cadre of friends is hosting a spring celebration on Pier 46, Hudson River and Charles, to usher in the season of rebirth.
“It’s a time of renewal, new beginnings,” SuZen says, “especially, after two years of the pandemic. It’s a time to celebrate life and one another.”
From 11 am to 2 pm, The Spirit of Spring Festival of the Arts will feature music with the Westbeth Jammers, dance, and poetry.
At the exact moment of spring’s entrance, peace bell ringings will take place led by the neighborhood’s newly elected council member Erik Bottcher. The public is invited to make “joyful noise”.
“Now more than ever do we want to think about peace,” she says, reminding neighbors that the ringing of bells for peace will be at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, 11:33 a.m.
This year is particularly dear for the artist. It was 40 years ago to the date in 1982, when she did her first performance/installation, Coming From Blindness into Sight, in the lobby of One World Trade Center. She officially changed her name to SuZen that day, the inspiration for the celebration of new beginnings on the first day of spring.
In her long history, she’s marked the spring equinox with other events at the Port Authority (1984) and SI Ferry and Terminal (1985).
In 1984, she co-created Universal Peace Day, commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima, which became an annual event. Riverside Church with Pete Seeger and Peter Yarrow took on this observance in 2006.
In 2007 SuZen began the A Peal For Peace Bell Ringing Project — to ring bells around the world as a clarion call for peace at the exact moment of the Hiroshima bombing—in Japan on August 6, 8:15 am (Aug. 5, 7:15pm NYC).
In many Eastern religions, the sounding of bells is part of spiritual practice, of prayers and blessings. A student of Buddhism, SuZen brings out her Tibetan bells when she rings her bells for peace.
On Sunday, with friends around the world, all will ring bells at the same moment, sending prayers and blessings for world peace and the end of war in Ukraine.
This is the first year when SuZen welcomes spring at Pier 46. Her friend and fellow Westbeth resident and jazz singer Eve Zanni is the co-creator and music director for the afternoon.
Activities will also include face-painting, art for children, egg balancing, community activism and, inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree, there will be an Imagine Wish-for-Peace Wish Tree where participants can add their messages for peace.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.