June 10,  2008
of note

 Ispahan, Iran
© julien de bock  www.juliendebock.com

of  note 
 celebrates the arts of our  diasporas. It is a space where art meets activism, empowerment, and social  responsibility.

 Editorial Director
Grace Aneiza Ali

Executive Editor
Art & Film Editor
Sandrine Colard

Photography  Editor
Julien De Bock

Film Contributor
Shahnaz Habib

Book & Music Editor
Clarence Haynes

Dance Editor
M. Soledad Sklate

Theater Editor
Stella Vincenot-Dash


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June 2, 2008

Spotlight  Iran

Art and Satire in Iran
Ardeshir Mohassess' drawings express the ironic and absurd in the human condition as witnessed both before and after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Join Iranian American artist  Shirin Neshat and noted Iranian poet Esmail Kho'i  for a  panel discussion on his work.

Asia Society
Tuesday, June 10 @ 6:30 pm


"Two worlds just across the street."

Somini Gupta, who writes about India for the New York Times, recently published an article, "Inside Gate, India's Good Life; Outside, the Servants' Slums," on the diminishing geographic divide between India's rich and the poor who serve them.  Gupta touches on the very thing I wrestled with immensely while I lived there: the seemingly perfect marriage between wealth and poverty. 
India is always toiling in contradictions. In the Begumpet neighborhood in the  city of Hyderabad where I lived, I bore witness to these two worlds. Surrounded by towering high-rise apartment buildings and the luxurious Kakatiya Hotel, was one of these small "slum" communities. As Gupta's article explains, the juxtaposition of poverty with luxury is remarkably present and increasingly normalized in many places in India.

But despite the heartbreaking markers of destitution, what I found most notable was the importance of community within the borders of these "slums."  Families went about the hustle and bustle of their daily rituals. And on Sundays, mothers sat outside the doors of their patchwork homes to wash, oil, and comb their daughters' hair. While "community" was kept neatly tucked away inside the gates of the high-walled apartment complexes, it was visibly beautiful outside those walls.

After being away from Hyderabad on a month long trip, I came home to find this site of comfort and familiarity completely leveled. My first conclusion was that these families had been displaced or rendered homeless. Nothing lay behind but rubble and ashes-remnants of lives lived on borrowed space.

Later I would find out they had been relocated to Jubilee Hills-a small affluent enclave in the north of the city. They had been transferred from one borrowed space to another.

Grace Aneiza Ali


Cameron Hayes:

On view through Saturday, June 28

Cameron Hayes, an Australian artist, will exhibit several large-scale narrative paintings and a soft sculpture installation, which are based on allegorical stories. The wildly inventive stories relate to White European and indigenous histories and describe a world that is both comic and bleak.

The exhibition features a series titled The Incomplete History of the Millikapiti, which recounts the disastrous effect of the white culture upon the Aboriginal community, even when well-meaning. Disturbing and often violent scenes document the community's loss of innocence related to the irrelevance of their former life in modern times and to the introduction of alcohol and sugar.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
31 Mercer Street
Manhattan, NY 10013

Charles Ethan Porter: African-American Master of Still Life  Stories

On view through Sunday, June 29

Charles Ethan Porter (c. 1847-1923) was celebrated in his day as a skillful colorist and was one of the first black artists to exhibit at New York's National Academy of Design. The Studio Museum features dozens of Porter's still lifes, landscapes and portraits, and introduces audiences to this shadowy painter who deftly combined the American luminist tradition with that of the French Barbizon school.

The exhibition will elucidate Porter's skill and the unsettled biography of an artist whose brilliance is only now being inscribed into the annals of American art history.

The Studio Museum
144 West 125th Street
Manhattan, New York 10027

Kerry James Marshall: Black Romantic
On view through Thursday, July 3

Kerry Marshall sums up this exhibition by stating "It's all about love!" Embracing sentimentality and notions of romance and love in black popular art, he gives in to representational impulses that rarely satisfy perceived critical weaknesses in the genre.

Taking his show title from Thelma Golden's 2002 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in which Golden explored populist notions of "Black Art" and the uncritical realm of image making, Marshall uses Black Romantic as a point of departure to continue his exploration of representation of the black figure in pictorial space.

Jack Shainman Gallery
513 West 20th Street
Manhattan, NY 10011

The Real Pepsi Challenge: Breaking the Color Barrier in American Business
On view through Sunday, July 27, 2008

Years before the Civil Rights Movement, the Pepsi Corporation boldly took steps to integrate corporate America from as early as 1940. Based on Stephanie Capparell's groundbreaking book, The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier in American Business, the exhibit showcases the plight of the first African-Americans to hold professional corporate jobs in this country.

Pepsi's black sales team were traveling salesmen in the time of Jim Crow segregation laws, which forced them to sit at the back of buses, travel in separate train cabins, eat behind screens on trains, and find hotels and restaurants that would serve them. In its effort to exploit the untapped special market, the team hired professional black models and designed advertisements to portray blacks as middle-class citizens enjoying the American Dream.

Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Carona Park
Queens, NY 11368


Barkley L. Hendricks: Thank You Mr. John
On view through Friday, June 13

The Project presents Barkley L. Hendricks' second solo exhibiton at the gallery, a series of photographs dating from the late 1970's to 1996. Though he has always worked across mediums and styles, this is Hendricks' first exhibition dedicated to his photographs. Born in Philadelphia in 1945, Hendricks enrolled at the renowned Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before attending Yale in 1970. During these formative years, Hendricks began his admired portrait paintings of African-American individuals.

The Project
37 West 57th Street, 3rd Floor
btw 5th & 6th Avenues
Manhattan, NY 10019

Julio Bittencourt: In A Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building
On view through Sunday, June 15

"In A Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building" is a new photographic series from Brazilian photographer, Julio Bittencourt. This project is based on a series of windows and the people who live through them. Bittencourt grew up in São Paulo where he got used to people communicating across windows as family and friends lived on top of and next to each other.

As such, windows were always a significant part of Bittencourt's life and this is what drew him to create this project. He says, "My intention was to show a symbolic and a physical 'barrier,' the decay of the materials, the dignity of the people who survive behind them and the decay of a system that doesn't integrate its inhabitants into society but moves away from them making these 'barriers' each time bigger."

Point of View Gallery
638 West 28th Street
Manhattan, New York 10001

Jose Picayo: Mug Shots
On view through Sunday, June 22

Naturally expressionless and glowing with life, Jose Picayo's photographs catch his subjects in a fleeting moment, exposing an unprepared, almost vulnerable honesty that we are unaccustomed to witnessing. In this spontaneity, an authentic interpretation of beauty and a deep sentiment is conveyed. "Despite the physical diversity of features and race, they are united by this common perception," says the Cuban-born photographer,  "we are all human, we are all the same and we are all beautiful."

Thousands of faces will encircle viewers as they enter Picayo's installation, which features unframed, brown mug shots, hung edge-to-edge in the Robin Rice Gallery. Using the mug shot format - a split screen image that shows both full face and profile - Picayo is papering the walls with humanity.

Moved by a makeshift war memorial, which featured the faces of American soldiers lost in Iraq, Picayo was impressed by how much of their "soul" the simple mug shots revealed.

Robin Rice Gallery
325 West 11th Street
West Village
Manhattan, NY 10014

Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan
On view through September 7

"Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan" will present the exciting and highly individualistic work of a new generation of Japanese artists who have come of age following the Asian economic crash of 1990. For the last several years, China has been the focus of attention for contemporary Asian art, while the remarkable and distinctive younger generation of Japanese artists who are working today has been largely ignored.

Image: © Hiroh Kikai

International Center Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
@ 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036


center stage

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
On stage through Monday, June 15

What makes New York City a vibrant art scene is its capacity to attract the best international works. A fitting example is last April's presentation of the brilliant and tragic Irish comedy "The Walworth Farce" at  St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn.  Similarly, the current 2008 Spring season of  Cedar Lake  Contemporary Ballet showcases Lasting Imprint by Nicolo Fonte and the breath taking  Annonciation by Angelin Preljocaj, the French choreographer of Albanian descent.

In the latter's case, the desire to bridge the gap between American audiences and the global art scene is the vision of Cedar Lake's Artistic Director, Benoit Swan Pouffer. A former dancer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1997 to 2004, French choreographer Pouffer has kept the mission of giving dance back to the people.

Annonciation (Bessie Award, 1997) stages the ambiguous intrusion of an angel in the space and body of a young virgin- accepting as she is rebellious- in a disruptive fertilizing moment. Scored by the powerful electronic music of Stephane Roy and Vivaldi, Annonciation is as much dance-theater as it is disturbingly suggestive modern dance.

Stella Vincenot-Dash

The Urban Mbongi
Saturday, June 14 @  7 pm 

The Urban Mbongi, Ifetayo's 19th Annual Cultural Arts Showcase, is a prodcution of performing arts and culture. Mbongi is a community structure committed to validating each and every member's voice. Through this creative journey presented by our community's youth, Mbongi creatively proposes how we have brought and can continue to bring this transformative method into the 21st century.

For communities and families in need of healing, Mbongi  may appear as innovative and seem newly invented, but it is actually an ancient treasure.  Celebrate an artistic journey dedicated to the traditional system of building and healing community.

The Walt Whitman Theater
@Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Brooklyn College
2900 Campus Road and Hillel Place
Brooklyn, NY

Souls of Our Feet People of Color Dance Festival
Monday, June 16 - Tuesday, June 24

This season Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) shines its spotlight on eight newer dance companies on the scene, in all their varied creative visions, debuting entirely new works alongside two companies THPAC has helped nurture during its formative years. Scheduled performances are:

Monday, June 16, 7:30 p.m. -  Urban Bush Women and Ase Dance Theater (debut)

Tuesday, June 17, 7:30 p.m. - Ron K. Brown's Evidence, A Dance Company: Edgeworks Dance Theater (debut)

Sunday, June 22, 7:00 p.m. - HUNTERDance Theater and The Smoke, Lilies and Jade Arts Initiative (both debuting)

Monday, June 23, 7:30 p.m. - abraham.in.motion, T. Lang (both debuting)

Tuesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m. - Purelements: Asase Yaa 

Photo: The Smoke Lilies, Gabriel Bienczycki

Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts
1 University Plaza
Flatbush & DeKalb
Brooklyn, NY 11217


Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Tuesday, June 10 @  7 pm

The acclaimed Nigerian short-story writer discusses his life and reads from his debut collection, Say You're One of Them, which captures in a straightforward and deeply empathetic voice the diverse hardships and horrors faced by some contemporary Africans.

Housing Works Bookstore Café
126 Crosby Street
Manhattan, NY

Poets in the Galleries: Tina Chang
Sunday, June 15 @ 5 pm

This spring, the Queens Museum of Art announces its second season of Poets in the Galleries, the interdisciplinary poetry series that utilizes the Museum's exhibition space as an invigorating site of exploration, interactive readings and discussion. 

On Sunday, June 15, poet Tina Chang will conduct a lively presentation in response to the Museum's current exhibition. This Case of Conscience: Spiritual Flushing and the Remonstrance lends itself especially well to the series by creating an open-ended forum in which all participants can explore the links between art and poetry, as well as related themes of religious freedom, mutual respect, diversity and spirituality.

Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY  11368


Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
Thursday, June 12 - Thursday, June 26

In recognition of the power of film to educate and galvanize a broad constituency of concerned citizens,the  Human Rights Watch's International Film Festival has become a leading venue for distinguished fiction, documentary and animated films and videos with a distinctive human rights theme. Through the eyes of committed and courageous filmmakers, the heroic stories of activists and survivors from all over the world are showcased. The works put a human face on threats to individual freedom and dignity, and celebrate the power of the human spirit and intellect to prevail.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
Manhattan, NY 10023

Now playing

"Mongol follows " a young warrior named Temudgin (played by the Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano), from boyhood to the eve of world conquest in 1206, when he would become the Genghis Khan known and feared by millions. The portrait that emerges is of a reformer and a unifier, a leader who consolidates rival tribes and factions and who modernizes some of the traditional Mongol ways.

"Mongol" moves solemnly across the decades, accumulating rich ethnographic detail and enough dramatic intrigue to sustain a viewer's interest through the slower stretches. While it takes a sympathetic view of young Genghis Khan - whose name, in the West, is a synonym for rapacity - it does not force him into conformity with modern sensibilities. His world feels authentically raw and refreshingly archaic, and also strangely beautiful."  A.O. Scott, New York Times

Image: Tadanobu Asano, right, as Genghis Khan in "Mongol." (NYT)

On the Rumba River
Now Playing

On the Rumba River is a musical tribute to the Congolese people, who despite desperate poverty, a history of oppression and an ongoing civil war that has killed nearly 4 million people, continue to be sustained by music. In the 60s, Wendo - the first superstar of Congolese Rumba, expressed the hopes of a newly independent nation, when all dreams seemed like they could become reality.

As the Congo suffered for nearly three decades under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, his music remained as a manifestation of the joyous spirit of the Congolese people that could not be taken away. Rediscovered several years ago after having been reduced to beggarhood, Wendo made a comeback under the new regime in 1997.

Village East Cinemas
181 2nd Avenue
@ 12th Street
Manhattan, NY 10003

Derek: A Film by Isaac Julien
Playing Monday, June 9 - Monday, June 16

British filmmaker and media artist Isaac Julien collaborated with the award winning actress Tilda Swinton to create this collage-like biography of the late Derek Jarman, a maverick film artist whose short films were among the first to be shown in London art galleries.

Jarman's wholly original feature films (often starring Swinton) reimagined narrative while helping to establish a canon for Queer Cinema. Using rare interviews with the artist, archival films and photographs, excerpts from Jarman's films (many of which are rarely seen), and new footage scripted by Swinton, Julien provides a spirited view into the mind of an ever-surprising and adventurous artist.

Photo: Derek Jarman

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
btw Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Manhattan, NY 10019

Ornette: Made In America
Monday, June 9 -  Tuesday, June 10

"Ornette: Made In America" captures the epic film of composer Ornette Coleman and  his evolution over three decades. The film chronicles his boyhood in segregated Texas and his subsequent emergence as an American cultural pioneer and world-class icon.

A portrayal of the inner life of an artist-innovator, the documentary focuses on the struggles and triumphs of Coleman's life as well as on the inspired intelligence that spawned his creativity and ensured his success. It's commentary illuminates  the history of jazz and the fertile creative exchange that highlighted the 60's and 70's in America.

Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Take Out
Now playing @ Quad Cinema

Take Out is a day-in-the-life of an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. After borrowing most of the money from friends and relatives, Ming realizes that the remainder must come from the day's delivery tips. In order to do so, he must make more than double his average daily income.

In a social-realist style, the camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, Take Out presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City.

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street
btw 5th and 6th Avenues
Manhattan, NY 10011


music matters

A Tribute to Bo Diddley: "the rock that the roll was built on"

I'm one of those music aficionados who doesn't need an obituary to  appreciate the legacy of our Black American rock and roll pioneers. 

Yet, upon reading a New York Times  article  on Bo Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel), who passed away last Monday, I found myself embarrassed at how much I did not know about this revered rocker. As his former bassist Debby Hastings said at his memorial service, "He was the rock that the roll is built on."

Making his recording debut in 1954 with Chess Records, Mr. Diddley had hits like "I'm a Man," "Road Runner," and "Mona." Yet it is his syncopation that might be his most popular legacy.  As Allmusic.com points out in their biography, "the Bo Diddley beat - bomp, ba-bomp-bomp, bomp-bomp" is a trademark rock rhythm. We hear his sound in tons and tons of tunes from White rockers, including the Stones, U2, Springsteen, the Beatles, and George Michael. (Yes I said George Michael - the song "Faith" is all Diddley.)

Didley was known for being an electrifying, energetic performer, and his innovations included his handmade square shaped guitar and his fluid tremolo guitar distortion effects. He also had female guitarists in his band in an era where women in rock were few and far between. I'm encouraged to continue to explore the origins of popular music, to give props where props is due, and to not forget our roots.

Image:Mr. Diddley, far left, and Chuck Berry perform at Madison Square Garden in the concert movie "Let the Good Times Roll" on May 6, 1972 in New York City. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images )

Clarence A. Haynes

Vision Festival XIII
Tuesday, June 10 - Sunday, June 15

Arts For Art, the host of the annual Vision Festival, builds awareness and understanding of avantjazz and related expressive movements while encouraging a sense of community amongst artists and their audiences. Through the presentation of innovative, creative music, dance, multi-media performances, spoken word, and the exhibition of visual arts, Arts for Art is  dedicated to the presentation of experimental american music from an afro-american perspective and traditions.

From the beginning Arts for Art and the Vision Festival have carried a message of clear social awareness.  We hold to the belief that art really moves people and that to move people is a powerful political act.

Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk St.
@ Rivington St.
Manhattan, NY 10002

Omar Sosa Sextet
Tuesday, June 10 - Sunday, June 15

Omar Sosa fuses a wide range of world music and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original urban sound - all with a Latin jazz heart.  Sosa's latest CD "Mulatos" is an adventurous, finely wrought, and wholly delightful mélange of Cuban jazz, Latin dance grooves, French chanson, North African trance music, and European folk. It dances with rhythmic inspirations of Indian tabla, jazz drums, and studio mixing. Also featured is the delicate voice of the Arabic lute, the oud, and the composer himself on marimba. "Mulatos" was recently nominated for Latin Jazz Album of the Year by the NYC-based Jazz Journalists Association.

Blue Note Jazz Club
131 W. 3rd St
Manhattan, NY 10012

Mavis Staples and Stephanie McKay
Friday, June 13 @ 7 pm


Single Black Female
Tuesday, June 10  - Sunday, June 29

Lisa B. Thompson's Single Black Female takes a comic look at the pleasures and perils of being a single middle class black woman. The play mines topics such as dating,  family gatherings, shopping, racial bias, white folks and, poignantly, the odd sense of loss a black woman feels when she does find a mate and leaves her single sisters behind.

The Duke on 42nd Street
229 West 42nd Street
btw 7th and 8th Avenues
Manhattan, NY 10036

About Us

For many of us, the arts are central and inspirational to our life, work, and activism. As people of color, we are making great strides in terms of our representation on the stage, yet we are not equally represented in the audience. Even when it is work celebrating our histories, experiences, and cultures - we are often scantily present in the theaters, auditoriums, galleries, etc.

Out of that absence, of note was created. Its mission is to increase our access to and participation in the arts that celebrate people of color. The artistic works presented by
of note demonstrate a commitment to global citizenship and social change.

Grace Aneiza ali

Sandrine Colard

Julien De Bock

Shahnaz Habib

Clarence Haynes

M. Soledad Sklate

Stella Vincenot-Dash


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