Monday, January 25, 2010

African Modern Art Show

A cacophony of wind and rain beats against my windows and walls, sometimes making me think a guest other than the elements have arrived. Twice, in anticipation of an unexpected visitor's arrival, I've gone to the door to see nothing but gloom pouring over the grounds. Gone are the frequent guests in sunny dispositions and the even sunnier weather from just the week before in Salvador. But being back home has brought me the only real connection to my source of existence that radiates throughout me even in the bleakest of climates. I am once again painting and writing and enjoying Joe's inimitable chortles that warm my heart like logs to a fire. I am working on the complicated color story of a pleasant sunrise scene of boats, still at rest, on a Vineyard morning. And the recall of my life as I plod through the retelling of it in my book makes me realize that none of it has been in vain.

In the midst of this bonhomie, I am preparing for my participation in The African Modern Art Show and fundraiser to be held February 11th, in Harlem at the Casa Frela Art Gallery, 47 West 119th Street. This fundraiser will benefit Project Enterprise whose mission is to develop under-resourced businesses and entrepreneurs in New York City. This exhibit is the brainchild of the talented Genita Ingram, who also curates the show and Lawrence Rodriguez, the director, who has designated a portion of all proceeds to benefit the survivors in Haiti. For a small contribution of $35 you can contribute a bit more to causes I'm sure you already support.

For some of you who have not had a chance to see my work in person, this will be a great opportunity for you, right here in Manhattan. Hopefully you will want to take something home with you. You will also get to see the silk artistry of PJ Cobbs and the abstract art of Mago. For those of you interested in tribal art you will find the collection of Bangally African Expo of New York. Please join us for this evening of art and culture and let your friends know by forwarding the info to them too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beautified by the Sun

As I lay upon my undulating blue green mattress of warm salty water in Baia Tudos Os Santos, peering up at a cloudless blue sky, I am roused from my revelry as a beautiful swimmer almost collides with me, as he makes his way across the bay using a freestyle stroke. No sooner does he past than another beauty swims by in the opposite direction wearing white trunks with "bronzado" skin and hair slicked back by the water. And so it goes here in the land of infinite beauty. No sooner have your eyes adjusted to the unimaginable than something arrives in its wake more stunning than before. As I walk onto the shore a beautiful young girl is trying on sunglasses that the vendor displays before her on a large canvased board covered in sunglasses, that he carries from person to person on the beach. Though she tries on the glasses to protect some of the most beautiful eyes you'd ever want to see, it seems a shame to cover them even for an instant.

On a quiet weekday the beach is still filled with all manner of people who are splayed out on the ground in the tiniest of swimsuits or languidly perusing the landscape of beauties from beneath supplied umbrellas. The buffet of choices continues with a parade of people fully prepared to sell you anything you may desire on or off the beach. There are many who have only personality to sell which is a charming commodity here that has many takers. Oh, another beauty passes by and is exhaled from your view, and then, just as easily, you inhale the appearance of another. Wherever you go here every person seems to carry their time spent on the beach on their faces. I would think it very hard to find anyone here but the severely infirmed that doesn't make their way to this grand amusement park by the sea each week.

I know for the past two weeks my days have included some promenade to these shores where the waters marinates you and the sun beautifies you. Three young girls in string bikinis walk past a young man on his cell, all making plans to show off their splendor after the sun sets. A charming tradition of applauding the sunset occurs on days like this when the sky is so clear that the sun remains in view until its disappearance. Like the ever returning sun, I plan to come back as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dreams carry on

If there was a dream way to bring in the New Year, it was as we did so this year. After spending the first quiet anniversary evening in 19 years together, we spent the first day of this new decade connecting with old friends and meeting new people in New York, some who will hopefully become new friends. New opportunities almost always come in the form of new people, whether they spring from your past or emerge from your future.

Our friends Pat Cummings (whom I have known at long as anyone I can think of) and her husband, Chuku Lee, (founding member of NABJ) revived their annual New Years Day get together at their expansive loft in downtown Brooklyn. We were early supporters of one another and always believed in each others' potential. As they say, "Birds of a feather flock together". The party was filled with wonderful artists and authors, including the acclaimed duo, Leo and Diane Dillon, who lead the children book world in honors and prestige, and were pioneers in their personal lives in many ways.

We followed up the evening with another literary soiree at the New York home of the distinguished authors Jill Nelson and Flores A. Forbes, which was also filled with interesting people having fun and sharing positive energy. I was pleased to have reconnected with the photographer and jewelry impresario Coreen Simpson, whom I first met at the arc of her career in the 70's. Faith Childs, the well-known literary agent, shared delightful thoughts on the world of fashion art and design with me, encouraging my pursuits of a book on the subjects.

Just because the last year has ended doesn't mean we can wipe it away for a fresh new year, like an evaporating dream from the night before. The results of what we've done or not done from last year will hang on to us, like a cloud clinging to a mountain after a heavy rain. Our past efforts will always move us forward, whether we consider them to our benefit or not...the opportunity being to learn from them. Even some of the things we feel are disastrous are actually the key to a new opportunity that would not have materialized otherwise.

When "bad" things happen, I always remember the time, upon graduating from high school, when I broke my leg in a car accident, just before I was to go off to New York to attend FIT on a scholarship in fashion design. Devastated by the postponement I went on to apply to Parsons School of Design in fashion illustration, my original choice, which my guidance counselor had told me I wasn't strong enough to even apply to. Not only did I receive a scholarship to the school, but the doctors had discovered a cyst in my leg, that they said would have advanced, if untreated, to the point of needing to remove my leg. What initially was a entirely negative event became a fortunate miracle that changed the course of my life. Of course, one needs to step much further down the road to see how things can conspire to make your life what you dreamed.