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CUT N’ MIX: Contemporary Collage On Display At El Museo Del Barrio

Cut N’ Mix explores the work of artists experimenting with collage and collage techniques in ways that expand the gestures of cutting paper and mixing various mediums together. It takes as its point of departure some of the concepts from Dick Hebdidge’s series of essays collectively titled Cut N Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music, published in 1980. In this text, Hebdidge explored the variations of Caribbean reggae and dancehall and other related styles of music as emblematic markers of Caribbean ideas of nationhood, belonging, and the making of culture. The artists included in the exhibition range from established artists who are veterans of collage to new generations of artists experimenting with this malleable medium.

Participating Artists: Elia Alba, Jesse Amado, Blanka Amezkua, Javier Barrera, Maria Berrio, Cecilia Biagini, Michael Paul Britto, José Camacho, Karlos Carcamo, Nat Castañeda, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Matias Cuevas, Rafael Ferrer, Roger Gaitan, Carolina Gomez, Javier Ramirez/NADIE, Carlos Gutierrez Solana, Hector Madera, Glendalys Medina, Alex Nuñez, Catalina Parra, Carlos Rigau, Hernan Rivera Luque, Linda Vallejo, Rafael Vega and Eduardo Velázquez.

Cut N’ Mix:  Contemporary Collage will be on display from July 22, 2015 – October 17, 2015.  For more information check out http://www.elmuseo.org/cut-n-mix/.

STRANGE FRUIT REDUX ART for FAME

STRANGE FRUIT REDUX Premieres At MRT’s 10th Anniversary Event

No one truly knows what the day holds as they prepare to step out their front door.  Burgeoning Bed-Stuy artist Nathan Strange is poised to be the next sensation of the New York City art scene, but a common trend plaguing our society may prevent him from doing that.

Written by Afrika Brown, STRANGE FRUIT REDUX is a series of poem monologues mixed with music and socio-political pop culture sound bites that reflect the fears and frustration of the modern black man and stars Bryant L. Lewis.  STRANGE FRUIT REDUX is making its premiere at Manhattan Repertory Theatre‘s 10th Anniversary Event.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre was created in 2005 by Jennifer Pierro and Ken Wolf.  Manhattan Repertory Theatre produces full-length plays, One Act Play competitions, and monthly short play events.  Since 2005, Manhattan Rep has produced over 1000 full length plays and over 500 short plays.  Manhattan Rep is committed to the artist, to creating a context of creativity and support a clean and professional environment.  Manhattan Rep celebrates unbridled creativity, not judgement, and believes that a script is not a play, just the map for a creative team to bring it to life.

Playwright, poet, author and journalist, Afrika Brown is known for writing riveting lifestyle and entertainment features. In 2006, Brown published Sepia Sapphire, a collection of poetry. In 2007, Brown’s weekly chapter series Diary of a Break Up was featured by Universitychic.com. In 2009, she founded F.A.M.E. NYC Magazine. In 2014 Brown’s one act play, THE OUTING, was featured in Open Hydrant’ Urban Waves Festival, Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summer Short Play Festival and The Strawberry Festival.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre‘s 10th Anniversary Event runs from July 15th to 16th at 9 p.m.  Ticket reservations can be made at mrtreserve@gmail.com.   Manhattan Repertory Theatre is located at 303 West 42nd Street #3.

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A History Lesson – Kaminski Style

Since the beginning of mankind, humans have kept records of events.  These narratives shape our civilization.  People turn to the history books to learn about the past, understand the present and possibly predict the future.  But visual art can sometimes render words unnecessary. Such is the case of Ken Kaminski and his paintings that chronicle the events of 911, the recovery period that continues to unfold and indeed the period before September 11, 2001.  Through hues of purple, yellow, red, blue, black, white, and through the style of Abstract Expressionism, Ken Kaminski retells a story that is permanently etched in the minds of everyone in this nation.

BaghdadLast August Kaminski’s 9/11 Paintings were featured at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Edward Williams Gallery.   This exhibit offered viewers a pictorial on canvas spanning from the airplanes slicing through perfect blue skies, to the chaos and destruction of the twin towers and ultimately their demise.  And like history, the lessons of the past can and sometimes do repeat themselves.  With Kaminski the story of his 9/11 work has come back around again and although the plot is slightly altered, the impact is just as potent. On January 31, Kaminski’s Recovery Paintings exhibit opened at Walter Wickiser Gallery.  The exhibit is comprised of seven paintings: Baghdad (1991), Wounded Towers (2002), Collapse (2011), Intersection (2011), Intersection 2 (2011) and Ghost Towers (2011). On the crisp white walls of this Chelsea gallery, Kaminski’s paintings and the story they convey take on new life.

The tale begins with Baghdad.  Geometric shapes burst from a tawny plain. Waves of red and black anchor the bottom to the painting.  In a way these impressions look like oil and blood that has been shed for that oil.  Dead center is a bull’s eye.  If a history buff was inclined to trace back the events that led to 9/11 one would have to make a stop at Baghdad, in fact, some might argue it was the first ground zero.

Wounded Towers_KaminskiWounded Towers goes straight to the center of that horrible day.  As the towers bend, slowly yielding to their fate, bold colors of red, white, blue, yellow, green and black entangle the surface.  Between the brushstrokes and paint Kaminski smeared with his fingers, the agony of the fuming towers is consciously and unconsciously evident.  While I viewed this painting last year, this time I was able to see a under case “p” resting in the middle.  When I saw it I was gobsmacked.  Why haven’t I seen it before? P…pain, and why haven’t I ever used that word to describe that day?

Collapse_KaminskiCollapse is an overwhelmingly tumultuous piece. You can see the tower being taken asunder in copious shades of blue and black and streaks of yellow and orange and a splash of red. As with Wounded Towers a “p” appears in the center of the painting. It’s dark and sweeps over you like a tidal wave.

Intersection_KaminskiIntersection and Intersection 2 return once again, and more directly, to the geometric shapes that are present in Baghdad only these shapes are surrounded by thicker, darker hues.  The dense globules of paint reminded me of the soot that covered the surrounding area of Ground Zero or the heavy plumes of smoke that hovered over the smoldering remnants for days. Like its title these works act as a conduit linking what was to what is and the possibly of what might be.

Ghost Towers_KaminskiGhost Towers is a piece with spiritual dimensions.  In this work Kaminski pays homage to lives lost on 9/11.   In total, all of these works tell a distinct story about history from a very distinct point of view.  But chronicling modern events using paint and canvas is only one of the narratives this exhibit tells.  The other signifies the title of the exhibit itself, Recovery Paintings.  Although Kaminski has fused sociopolitical themes into his work previously, the paintings that were influenced by the events of 9/11 were his therapy – a way to reconcile the horror and enormity of a moment in time that continues to affect us.  Indeed his recovery has become our recovery and as we continue to look back on 9/11 while trying to navigate our present and future, Kaminski gives a starting point that can be used in our healing as we continue to record and create history.

 

 

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Fifty Years of a Masterpiece – Azar Lawrence Quartet Pays Homage to A Love Supreme At Jazz Standard

“No matter what…it is with God.  He is gracious and merciful.  His way is in love, through which we all are.  It is truly – a love supreme.” – John Coltrane.  On December 9, 1964 the John Coltrane Quartet, consisting of John Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums visited the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs to record one of the most influential, brilliant concept albums ever recorded.  That album was A Love Supreme.

A Love Supreme was recorded in a single session and is considered Coltrane’s most seminal work.  It is poetic, a sermon and a testimony translated into a magnificent aural feast that inspires the most rapturous emotions about God, spirituality and enlightenment.   To listen to A Love Supreme can be inspiring and life changing; it’s the type of work most artists strive to achieve, not matter the medium, but are lucky if they get remotely close to.  Coltrane died almost three years after this recording at the age of 40.  He never got to witness how this opus impacted the music world, but I feel safe in saying that Coltrane’s autobiography and legacy was summed up in this piece.  For me it was the musical equivalent to the “Big Bang Theory” – a melodic explosion that created an alternate universe where I was able to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the world in which our bodies reside. In other words, A Love Supreme was an introduction to the metaphysical plane here on Earth.

Jazz StandardIt has been 50 years since Coltrane and company recorded A Love Supreme in Englewood, New Jersey, and its relevance is just as potent today as it was back in the 1960s.  In recognition of this important contribution to jazz and American music, Jazz Standard enlisted saxophone virtuoso Azar Lawrence to celebrate the creation and recording of this masterpiece.  The Azar Lawrence Quartet includes Benito Gonzalez on piano, Billy Hart on drums and Reggie Workman, who worked with Coltrane, on bass. The celebration was over two nights, December 9 and 10, and was a fitting tribute to this piece.  Coltrane once said, “God breathes through us so completely…so gently we hardly feel it… yet, it is our everything.”  It’s evident that the most high was present during the recording of A Love Supreme and the spirit of Coltrane was at Jazz Standard when the Azar Lawrence Quartet performed selections from this work.  These men breathed passion into a work that is already filled with emotion.  They were awe-inspiring.  I fell deeper in love with this work, if it’s possible to do so.  They played the house down and it was one of the best tributes I have been privileged to witness with my own eyes.  The vibrations could be felt in every corner of the room.  I believe we all left feeling connected.  Thank you John Coltrane for creating a work that will last as long as human history exists.  And thank you to Jazz Standard and the Azar Lawrence Quartet for allowing us to rejoice in a work and an artist that used his abilities to uplift humankind.

 

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Love Letters Will End Broadway Run On December 14

We all know the saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Seems like that’s the case for Love Letters, the play will be ending its run earlier than its original end date of February 15.  In fact, the last performance is set for December 14.  Although it’s short notice, there’s still time to see one of the best plays this season.  Now I’m well aware that all things, good and bad, have their time, but if you ask me this is one good thing that has come to an end way too soon.

A national tour of the production will launch in fall 2015. Tour cities, dates and stars will be announced soon.

SAMO

Written by Afrika Brown, F.A.M.E NYC Editor and Founder

Tears etch scars down my cheeks

Fresh blood, new death each week

Black bodies and Blue justice gone viral

New day but its HIStory we rival

We scream no justice, no peace

We create footsteps in the streets

Covering the prints of elders before

But what really lies at the core

Is it my melanin?

The place I live in

The coiled roots of my dome

Or the fact that this land was never my home

We contribute to the prosperity of red, white and blue

But Uncle Sam don’t give a damn ‘bout folks with my hue

Occupy Wall Street, Hands Up –Don’t Shoot

And while we “die-in” stores, corporations still get loot

Weren’t we sick and tired with Fannie Lou Hamer

Technologies advance with frozen minds, it don’t get no stranger

Are we the problem or the solution?

The cure or the pollution

Maybe we are everything you see

Cause this land made for you and me

Is a whore born out of hypocrisy

A blind lady holding up scales

The bitch is deaf too and dead men tell no tales

Seventeen watching Rodney King

Twenty –two years, new video, same sting

Can you see the ring I’m trying to paint?

Full circle of blood smeared and stained

With the crimson of Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Trayvon

Amadou, Anthony Baez… do I have to go on?

No, I don’t need to go any farther

Cause the tombstones go past Eric Garner

Unarmed man blasted in a project stairwell

And still you don’t think Jim Crow ain’t alive and well

Dead black men just pictures on your TV

Not too different from black men swinging on trees

They called them strange fruit

KKK, zealous pigs, identical boot

Bearing down our larynx

Shouting NEXT GENERATION…NEXT

So I can’t trust the boys in blue

Or the boys in blue

And red bandannas who

Fit the criminal profile

But wait…we all fit the profile

Of being descendants of the three-fifths lifestyle

Cause when these laws were being made

My great-grandparents were slaves

For a country made for you and me

It’s been slow in spreading equality

And while the twentieth century is written about in books

The new millennium carries the shadow of a familiar look

And while CNN tries to discover who really is the foe

I say it’s just the ghost of SAMO

 

17

The Illusionists Bring Their Magic to The Great White Way

One can be inclined to say that magic happens every night on Broadway.  Each performance brings the audience into new worlds and is always different than the night before.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing a live performance, that is until you add the heighten sensation of watching someone try to wiggle themselves out of a straightjacket suspended high above the stage or shoot an apple off a woman’s head, all to the beat of some funky music and pyrotechnics shooting from the stage.   And if that’s your bag, then a night of captivating thrills and pulsating amusement are guaranteed when you step into the Marquis Theater for The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible.

Gone are men in penguin suits and top hats pulling rabbits out of a hat and drawing multi-hued scarves out of their pockets.  The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible has all the slickness and pomp of a Las Vegas show, the sounds of hot, pumping dance party and the satisfaction that makes the ticket well worth the price.  Most of the tricks performed have been around for decades; however The Illusionists give them a 21st century injection that gives them a fresh appeal.

The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible is an ensemble of seven magicians each a specialist in his field.  Adam Trent, known as The Futurist, combines dance, comedy and pizzazz to create a routine that is eye-catching and innovative.  If Liberace and Ethel Merman had a son, he would probably be Jeff Hobson, The Trickster.  He is the epitome of showmanship.  His tricks are only rivaled by his wit, which leaves the audience in stitches.  Following the legacy of Harry Houdini, Andrew Basso, The Escapologist, death-defying stunts dare to look the grim reaper in the eye and smile.  No one can resist the temptation of watching someone put their life on the line on a nightly basis.  Dan Sperry creates a cocktail of Goth, wry humor and trickery that is sure to creep you out your seat as The Anti-Conjuror.  You will squirm and be mesmerized at the same time.  Who doesn’t like a good man sawed in half trick?  The Inventor, Kevin James, revamps this old school classic with new school charm.  Silent but spectacular Aaron Crow, The Warrior, kicks magical ass.  Yu Ho-Jin is called The Manipulator and his moniker couldn’t be more appropriate.  If we were in a different century he might be going up before a council for witchcraft that is how convincing he is.  His style and approach to performing gives the impression of almost being supernatural, it’s like his tricks are an extension of himself.  It is beguiling and beautiful.

The Illusionists hail from U.S., Italy, Belgium and South Korea and have been featured on The Disney Channel and NBC’s America’s Got Talent and are the future of magic.  It’s a fun show that is great for a family night, an evening with friends or a date.   Witness The Illusionists while they are still on Broadway, I’m sure they will conjure a smile on your face as they did mine.

Photo courtesy of The Illusionistslive.com

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Hollywood Legends Spread Love on Broadway in Love Letters

Once upon time people set pen to paper to express sentiments of passion, frustration, joy and sorrow.  They made announcements about the milestones in their life and created records that captured moments in their lives, but with the advent of Ma Bell, cell phones, text messaging, emoticons (I could go on here), writing letters have become an archaic endeavor.    Hardly anyone writes letters anymore, I would venture to bet that children don’t pass notes in class, which is where this American classic begins.

unnamed (1)Love Letters details the lives of Melissa Gardner and Andrew, “Andy”, Makepeace Ladd III.  Melissa is an honest-to-a-fault, defiant, possibly bratty, young girl from money.  Andy is a nice lad from a good, stable family with high morals who just happens to like to write letters.   Over the course of 50 years Melissa and Andy honestly share their lives through letters, notes and announcement cards.  They confide their hopes and regrets, victories and losses.  Through their letters they share a life that is intimate and separate from the lives they lead with their families.  And through all the disclosures they make over the years, they never share the one fact that binds them together – they love each other.  They are soul mates who never really get the opportunity to share in life what they express in the pages of correspondence they write.

Written by A. R. Gurney, Love Letters was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It first opened at the New York Public Library in 1988.  Following a successful seven month run off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre, Love Letters premiered at the Edison Theatre on October 31, 1989 where it ran for 96 performances.  Since its initial run on Broadway, A. R. Gurney’s play has seen many incarnations including a December 2007 benefit performance starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones, which raised money for Taylor’s AIDS foundation.

Love Letters has returned to Broadway opening September 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Void of set and using epistolary form, the actors sit side by side as they recant Melissa and Andy’s complex relationship.  The play is a favored among busy actors as it doesn’t require a lot of time for preparation and the lines don’t need to be memorized. As in past incarnations of the show, there is a rotating cast of stars. So far Hollywood legends Carol Burnett and Mia Farrow have played the role of Melissa opposite Brian Dennehy as Andy.  Currently Alan Alda and Candice Bergen will take the stage for 35 performances ending their run on December 18, followed by Stacey Keach and Diana Rigg for 25 performances.  Love Letters ends its latest run the day after Valentine’s Day with Martin Sheen and Anjelica Houston taking on the roles of Andy and Melissa in show’s final 43 performances.

L letters Carol RoseggI was fortunate to witness Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy last week.  I was totally enthralled.  The highs, lows and ultimate heartbreak of Melissa and Andy’s story were recited so passionately by Burnett and Dennehy that it engulfed the stage like tight embrace.  By the end of the play I was driven to tears.   The beauty of Broadway is a show is just like the moon, it reincarnates itself every night.  The audience is guaranteed to see a performance that is different from the night before, slight changes in gestures or cadence happens as the actors dive deeper into their characters. What makes Love Letters so special is this promise will be delivered to the audience double fold as the show rotates the cast.  Love Letters is a stripped down production that gets straight to the heart of amore and unrequited affection, feelings that we have all experienced a time, or two, in our lives.  It’s a brilliant show and a must see.  Just be sure you bring some Kleenex…you might need it.

 

Photos: Carol Rosegg, AKA NYC

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Sejong Soloists Hits Two High Notes with One Event

This year Sejong Soloists had two very important milestones to celebrate, 2014 marked their 20th anniversary and the 70th birthday for artistic director Hyo Kang.  On October 28, Sejong Soloists took the stage of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for their annual benefit concert. Emmy award-winning journalist Paula Zahn returned for her 12th season as host for the event and joined the string orchestra on stage playing cello as they performed, “Serenade Humoristique a l’ espangnole.”

The Sejong Soloists is the brainchild of Kang conceiving the idea of a conductor-less string orchestra.  In 1994, Kang invited 11 young, gifted musicians from across the globe, all of whom were attending Julliard School, in order to develop and mentor the newly formed ensemble.  Kang himself was a violin faculty member at Julliard at the time and through his mentorship, the young string players and many others, who have taken part in the ensemble during the past two decades, have been able to forge relationships with composers, become rising stars themselves and have entertained hundreds with their sublime musicality and bowing showmanship.

During the gala concert Sejong Soloists performed works from Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, as well as J. Hyun, Carlos Franzetti, Hal Leonard and Pablo de Sarasate. On stage Sejong Soloists were joined by violin virtuosos Gil Shaham, Adele Anthony, Yura Lee, David Chan, Catherine Cho and Chee-Yun to perform various solos throughout the concert, each adding another wonderful layer of depth and fullness to the overall performance.   Those who were in attendance witnessed a spectacular that was as stunning to the eyes as it was to the ears.  The physicality of the performers truly demonstrated the passion that was coming through their instruments.  If this was an Olympic competition, Sejong Soloists would receive nothing but 10s across the board.  Technically they exhibited a tonality that was rich with various levels of sound.  It was amazing to hear how the sound completely filled the stage and the hall itself.  At no point did the music seem sparse; it flowed from the stage in waves and felt larger than the ensemble that had gathered on stage.  The achievement of Sejong Soloists’ big sound can only be attributed to the guidance of Hang as well as their enormous talent.  This string orchestra is certainly one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve had in a while.

Sejong Soloists is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization.  The annual gala concert provides an opportunity for lovers and neophytes of classical music to experience the next luminaries of this genre as well as to honor the tireless effort of those who assist in growing this exceptional artistic organization.   To learn more about Sejong Soloists or to make a donation, please visit, http://www.sejongsoloists.org/.

TBQ

Jazz Standard Brings the Heat to Fall with the Terence Blanchard Quintet

Nothing can warm up a cool autumn night in NYC like a plate of barbeque, a glass of wine and the sound of live jazz.  With Jazz Standard, you’re guaranteed a night of good food and good music.  Located at 116 East 27th Street, Jazz Standard is one the nation’s premier jazz clubs.  Each month they offer an array of legendary and new talent in an intimate candlelit setting.   This month they started off with the Terence Blanchard Quintet.  In my book Blanchard’s music is the secret ingredient that takes Spike Lee’s films to another level.  Blanchard’s horn can also be heard in the 2001 movie Original Sin.

TBQ4From October 1-5 the Terence Blanchard Quintet enraptured patrons of Jazz Standard with selections off his latest album Magnetic  as well as other selections composed by members of the quintet and other pieces from past albums.  The quintet is comprised of virtuoso Blanchard on the trumpet, veteran Brice Winston on saxophone and upcoming stars Joshua Crumbly on bass, Fabian Almazan on piano and Justin Brown on drums. I was privileged to be in the audience for Blanchard’s last two sets on Sunday.  Both sets were as electrifying as the name of Blanchard’s latest album starting off with an energetic, toe tapping piece, then following up with a more down tempo, melodic number and ending the set on a beautiful, robust note (pun intended).

TBQ3Along with the Terence Blanchard Quintet, Jazz Standard’s features for October include Steve Wilson Quintet, James Carter’s “Django Unchained,” and Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble.  Every Monday belongs to the music of Charles Mingus.  Billed “Mingus Monday,” the regular series presents the genius innovations that made Charles Mingus one of jazz most prolific bassists and composers.  It doesn’t matter whether your jazz exposure has been Kenny G or if you’re lifetime member to WBGO, you’ll be thoroughly entertained at Jazz Standard.  The mix of artists proves why jazz is one of the last true art forms to come out of America and why this music must be preserved and continued for future generations.

To learn more about Jazz Standard, click www.jazzstandard.com.

To learn more about the Terence Blanchard Quintet and view more photos and purchase music, click http://www.terenceblanchard.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TerenceBlanchardJazz .