Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Colorful Costumes of Carnival

On Oct. 13, I attended the finale of the fifth Miami Broward One Carnival  at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.  The highlight was a parade of more than 20 masquerade bands from countries in the Caribbean and South America.  I specifically went to see the beautiful array of colorful and creative costumes and take photos. Below is a photo I took of one of my favorites. 
Click here to see a few more of my favorites

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Will Never Forget

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since I stepped out of a New York City subway, walked up the stairs and outside onto West 4th Street in Greenwich Village, saw traffic had stopped and people were standing in the middle of the street pointing toward the sky at a gaping hole in one of the World Trade Center towers surrounded by smoke and fire.
With such a tumultuous beginning, I had no idea how the day, September 11, 2001, would end. I'm grateful for my New York University friends who were with me as we navigated our way through chaos and uncertainty. And, I'm grateful for miraculously meeting up with my sister in Manhattan, eight hours later, amongst crowds of people, and us finding our way home.
The memory of September 11 will always be a part of my life. My heart aches for the loved ones of those lost, as for many the pain of that day remains the same. I recently looked through a journal I kept during that time, and found a poem I wrote about the day after.

The Day After

It was a long night after an unbearable day
A friend of mine said on the phone today
Strike back, cause fear!
I heard a man yell into another man’s ear
More than 2,000 perished, I can’t believe my eyes!
A woman said aloud while reading a newspaper as she walked by
Photos upon photos of loved ones
Some flying through the air
Each one representing heightened despair
Flickering candles
Ave Marias
Fighters jets
Inhalers for breathing
Thick clouds of smoke prevent from telling the season
Is there a reason?
A homeless man said while shaking his head
Debris and rubble have taken the place of his bed
Volunteers donate cheers
To a band of brothers
In search of one another
Political ambition in remission
As heads of state contemplate
A decision
On a collision
That attempted division
Or a division
That resulted in a collision
Though united we stand
With red, white and blue flags in our hands
Reeling from the effects of hate
Trying to understand
-Sheryl Estrada

GeekPhilosopher: Instant download of free stock photos, images, backgrounds, and desktop wallpapers. Pictures can be used for personal and commercial web sites.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Artistic Afternoon in Bushwick

When I attended Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) June 1, I felt as if I had a special invitation into the sanctuaries of artists who were present and welcoming even in the midst of a 90 degree heat wave.

Completing its seventh year, BOS is a three-day arts and culture festival hosted by the volunteer organization Arts in Bushwick (AiB).  The purpose of the festival is to showcase the community’s arts scene while creating a relationship between local artists and residents.

This year, BOS was from May 31 to June 2, and according to their website, included 627 shows throughout Bushwick, Brooklyn.  The New York Times reports the festival extended into neighboring East Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Ridgewood, Queens.  The event was free and open to the public.

I was only in Bushwick for one afternoon, so I focused on one location and explored the open studios on the second and third floors of 1717 Troutman. On the outside, it only appears to be a huge, warehouse/industrial-looking building.

But inside there are studios housing artists who create a wide-range of art, from portrait painting to technology-based art to furniture design. You name it; you'll find it in that building. And, the rooftop has stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.

Below are photos of some of the studios I enjoyed visiting:

The studio of Julia Norton.

Bobby Hill's studio

Artwork by Bobby Hill

Todd Polenberg holds an orange ball, which determines the movement of the LED light
display. Polenberg is the associate creative director, technology and effects for the Blue Man Group.

Created by AppliedDesconstruction101
Tim Okamura's studio

Origami by Max Steiner Design

A view of the Manhattan skyline on a hot and hazy afternoon, including One World Trade Center, from the rooftop of 1717 Troutman.

A beautiful mural on the side of a building facing Troutman Street.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Boxing With Art

"Round Zero" artists' reception at The Art Directors Club in Manhattan.
Artistic painting and boxing are two activities most wouldn't pair together. But when you think about it, an artist and boxer do share many things in common. 

For starters, to be successful as a painter or boxer, one must have an innate talent. Sure, you can be taught how the direction of paint brush strokes influence the result of artwork. And, you can be taught how to throw a jab or an uppercut.

Though, there’s a difference between a painter who uses technique to enhance their vision, and a painter who uses technique, trying to create a vision. A boxer who follows rehearsed moves over and over again is no match for a boxer whose instinct and agility surpass anything they’ve learned.

Throughout history great artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden, to name a few, used their art as a form of social commentary. And, great boxers like Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali had a huge cultural impact on society. The boxer and artist each fight for their talent literally and figuratively. It’s a struggle that draws spectators.

Event poster featuring "Fist" by Taha Clayton

When I attended the artists’ reception for the fine art exhibition “Round Zero” on May 15 at the Art Directors Club in New York City, I saw the merging of the artist and boxer. The latest work of four Brooklyn-based figurative painters Joseph Adolphe, Taha Clayton, Tim Okamura and Jerome Lagarrigue were exhibited as a collection curated by Dexter Wimberly.  The artists used prize fighting as inspiration for their work.

I marveled at the vision each piece of art expressed. From Adolphe’s portrait of Muhammad Ali as a young fighter to Clayton’s painting of a fighter’s wrapped-fist in the air to Okamura’s interpretations of the female boxer to Lagarrigue’s three-part portrait of an actual boxer in training -- the expression of talent in the collection is abundant.

The well-attended reception was definitely a hit. It seemed as if there was a collective enthusiasm for the art and the artists. Living in South Florida, I’ve had the opportunity to attend annual art shows such as SCOPE Miami and PULSE Miami, where I was first introduced to Okamura’s work. The same excitement that exists at these shows, which occur simultaneously with Art Basel in Miami Beach, is the same excitement that filled the Art Directors Club for “Round Zero.”

In addition, artwork created by students from Brotherhood / Sister Sol, a Harlem-based youth organization, was on display at the event. A portion of proceeds will go to the organization.

There was also another layer to the artistic experience. Filmmaker and former amateur boxer Jeff Martini filmed the reception for the upcoming feature, “Heavyweightpaint.” The documentary showcases the four artists and their struggle to navigate the challenges of the art world and their attempt to create the “Round Zero” exhibition. The reception is the culmination of the film project.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Martini and the artists raised money for the documentary. Further support for the film is welcome, click here.

If “Round Zero” is any indication of what we can expect in “Heavyweightpaint,” it will surely be a knockout.

Check out photos of some of the paintings as well as the film trailer below.

Tim Okamura: "Raw Potential (Slugger)" (detail), oil, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 48, 2012.

Joseph Adolphe: "Ali Forever" 2012 Oil on canvas 80 x 80 in

Jerome Lagarrigue: "Near Martin," 2012-2013, oil on linen 79 x 99 in.

Check out the trailer for "Heavyweightpaint":

Monday, April 29, 2013

A View of the Wedding of Michael Jordan and Yvette Prieto

Security stand guard at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Fla. was the site of the wedding of NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan and former model Yvette Prieto, Saturday, April 27.

There was tight security, including the Palm Beach Police. Media and onlookers were told to remain in a designated grassy area across the street from the church, which faced the front entrance. As motorists passed by they would ask us, "Who's getting married?" Someone in the crowd would yell, "Michael Jordan."

Most motorists responded, "The basketball player?" with their eyes wide in disbelief. Others immediately took out their smartphones to take a picture of the church and the crowd to document the moment.

About 3 p.m., guests, transported in mid-size tour buses, started to arrive for the 4 p.m. scheduled ceremony. Attendees included former NBA greats Scottie Pippen and Patrick Ewing, director Spike Lee and his wife, author Tonya Lewis Lee. Though celebrities and the families of Jordan and Prieto were able to be seen entering the church, security used large white umbrellas and formed a line to obstruct the view of the bride entering. Jordan could not be seen entering either.

Church bells began to ring a little after 5 p.m. indicating the ceremony ended. As the hundreds of guests left the church, the bridal party and family members remained inside to take photos. The photography ended close to 6 p.m., when the remaining headed to their designated vehicles. Many thought the married couple might come out of the church and wave briefly before leaving. But, that didn't happen.

A black SUV with tinted windows, which waited at a side entrance of the church, began to slowly move, make a right at the corner and pull-up to the front entrance. The left, backseat window of the vehicle lowered halfway, and a man wearing dark sunglasses, who looked a lot like Jordan, began to wave. The crowd assumed it was Jordan and began snapping pictures; paparazzi shouted asking the man to lower the window more.

However, at the same time, a white Rolls-Royce also coming from the same side entrance of the church began making its way up the street, made a left, and headed in the opposite direction of the SUV. Jordan and Prieto were in the Rolls-Royce on their way to Jupiter Island for their reception at The Bear's Club.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Street Painting: A Lake Worth Tradition

Sunday afternoon I headed to downtown Lake Worth for the second day of the annual Street Painting Festival. In its nineteenth year, the festival included more than 650 artists, both local and from across the country, in teams of two to four who drew 254 chalk drawings on Lake and Lucerne avenues. The festival began in 1995 and is conducted by the nonprofit, Street Painting Festival Inc.

It was my first time attending, and I really enjoyed it. Along with the beautiful creations of art were musical performances, food vendors and an opportunity to experience the quaint shops and restaurants the area has to offer.

"The Gatherer" by Janet Tombros

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Massachusetts 54th Regiment: In History, Visual and Performing Arts

My photo of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Last month when I visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for the first time, I stood in front of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment in admiration and remembrance.

I admired the actions of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first formal unit in the U.S. made up entirely of black men during the Civil War, and their leader, Col. Shaw, a 25-year-old son of Boston abolitionists.  I also admired the talent of sculptor Saint-Gaudens who was commissioned to create a Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, which took 14 years to make, unveiled on the Boston Common on Memorial Day, 1897. It is now a part of the Boston Black Heritage trail.  He also created a full-scale plaster version of the monument, previously kept at his home in Cornish, N. H., adjusted and housed at the National Gallery of Art since 1997.

The works of art commemorate the brave regiment who stormed Fort Wagner at the port of Charleston, S.C. July 18, 1863 (President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863). Though Shaw and one-third of his men were killed, their actions legitimized the idea of black men in the military and is also said to have helped secure the Union's ultimate victory.

Me on the steps of the National Gallery of Art in January.
Saint-Gaudens was a teen in New York City in 1863 when members of the regiment met their heroic fate.  Ironically, what I remembered standing in front his artwork was the first time I ever learned of the regiment as an early teen watching the film, "Glory."  

My father showed my brother sister and me the Academy Award-winning film by Edward Zwick during a Blockbuster Video night in our New York household in the early '90s.  I had no clue what it was about, just that the lead character, Matthew Broderick, from one of my favorite teenage angst films, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," had a role as did one of my mother's favorite actors, Denzel Washington and also Morgan Freeman, who I knew from watching "The Electric Company."

In "Glory" (1989), told from the perspective of Col. Shaw, played by Broderick, you take a look inside of the 54th Regiment.  From the performances -- Washington won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his character, " Private Trip" -- to the significance of the story in American history, I was affected by the film.  I was so glad my parents let me see it.  I had a ton of questions for my American History teacher like, "Why am I just now hearing of this?” and I also started to read more about the men.

Both the Memorial to Captain Robert Gould Shaw and “Glory” are artistic interpretations of the bravery of Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment.  It’s always interesting to recognize how as a society we use our talents to process history.  Through literature, the visual arts and performing arts the efforts of these men will never be forgotten.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Art of Inspiration

"...of Prosperity," 2011 by Mary Sibande front and back view
To say art is inspiring is an understatement in my opinion. James Craft, an art professor, once told me, “Everything you see not growing was designed by an artist," which I agree with. And, I believe God is the artist of what is growing. So, art is a part of our daily lives.

During the holiday season, I was able to attend the opening reception for "Say it Loud!: Art by African and African-American Artists in the Collection" at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach on Dec. 27. The exhibition was organized by Cheryl Brutvan, director of curatorial affairs and curator of contemporary art at the Norton. It was made possible in part through the support of The Diane Belfer Endowment for Sculpture and the support of the West Palm Beach Chapter of The Links, Inc. Sculptures, paintings, works on paper, textiles and photographs by artists living in Africa or of African descent showcasing art in the Norton Museum's collection as well as new pieces spanning the 20th and 21st century are on display.

As we were guided in a tour led by Glenn Tomlinson, William Randolph Hearst curator of education at the Norton, the first piece of work at the entrance stopped us all in our tracks. It is a work of art by South African artist Mary Sibande made of fiberglass and cotton fabric. Named "...of Prosperity," the sculpture of a woman "Sophie" as well as her garments symbolize South Africa's colonial past and Dutch influence meeting the present democracy. Sophie also represents Sibande's family history as her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were domestic workers. Sophie does not represent a negative image of workers; rather she is confident and the center of attention with opulent garments.

Some of the artists featured in the exhibition also include Jacob Lawrence, Alison Saar, Faith Ringgold, Radcliffe Bailey and photography by Gordon Parks. I think the exhibition is inspiring, educational and beautiful. Although the Norton does have a permanent collection of African-American art in different locations throughout the museum, it was great to see an actual section dedicated to the artwork.

"Say it Loud!" will be displayed at the Norton through March 3, 2013. I might have to take a trip back before then.

Click here to see WPBT2's video of Glenn Tomlinson explaining the exhibit.

An attendee studies "Rio Dulce," 1993 by Alison Saar.
"Man with Flowers," 1954 by Jacob Lawrence