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The National Women’s History Museum isn’t even a museum.

How is that possible?  On Saturday I attended L.A.’s “Women Making History” Brunch to support and bring awareness to this museum’s heroic efforts to be recognized on the Mall in Washington D.C. Whenever I attend events like this I try to do my homework beforehand:  I pulled the website and scanned the list of trustees, board members, honorary board members and ambassadors to see how they are raising awareness and funds for the museum.  While doing so I was stunned…  The NWHM isn’t a museum yet.  (more importantly, I was embarrassed that I wasn’t aware of this fact). During the brunch the hosts showed a video featuring the hilarious duo Frangela, who wryly made the same observation.  Turns out I was in good company. Among the professionals, documentary film makers, actresses and writers that I met this weekend, many were unaware of the fact that a quiet political battle was being fought to break ground on an important historical cultural institution.

The Mission of the National Women’s History Museum is to “educate, inspire, empower, and shape the future of women by integrating our distinctive history into the culture and history of the United States”.  This got me thinking about how poor my knowledge of Women’s History is.  I grew up going to very conservative schools where African-American and Women’s History were completely ignored in my textbooks.  In college I became a sponge making up for lost time by learning and embracing my history as an African-American, but I never gave significant thought to the fact that I hadn’t done the same with Women’s History.  Sadly in the 25 years since I’ve graduated from High School, not much has improved. In fact, only 10% of the historic figures represented in history textbooks are women, despite women comprising 51% of the population.

While this disparity is daunting it need not be debilitating.  I am encouraged by the inroads the STEM community has taken to reach out to girls and encourage them to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  While our girls need to be encouraged that they CAN do whatever they want, they also need to be shown that they DID. They need to know about those that paved the way like Grace Murray Hopper, the creator of one of the earliest computing programming languages, COBOL, or 30’s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr who had a surprising side hustle of creating anti-jamming communications technology that served as a conceptual foundation for WI-FI (enabling wireless communication technology used today).

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Back to the museum.

In order for a museum to be built on the National Mall, it must pass through Congress. For the NWHM to even be considered, a commission must be formed to establish site specifications, organizational governance, operational protocols and fundraising (coincidentally the NWHM would be solely funded through private funds without taxpayer dollars).  A bill to create the commission was overwhelmingly passed by the House, yet is apparently stuck in the Senate with two holdouts.

While the brick and mortar efforts appear to be in temporary stasis, their digital repository is robust and includes bios of pioneers in Education, the Arts, Politics, Civil Rights, Activism, Technology, the Military, etc.  This effort should be celebrated on its own.

I’m a firm believer that roadblocks present opportunities and I think the NWHM has a unique opportunity to leverage technology to encourage dynamic engagement and exploration of its site to fulfill the museum’s mission.  In the meantime I applaud the efforts to expand awareness through the museum’s ambassador network, and yesterday’s event honored 3 women who have made history in their own unique ways, with each one making a difference in the lives of others.

Why do we need a Women’s Museum?  Because we are organizers, innovators, supporters, moguls, trailblazers, soldiers and creators whose stories and contributions to the world deserve to be told, heard and never forgotten.

For more on the museum and how you can get involved, click the link below.

http://www.nwhm.org/about-nwhm/

I’m dedicating this Rewind to someone who despite the gravity of recent days, had a GREAT week.

Jeff Goldblum has had a bit of a Renaissance of late.  For me I guess it goes back 10 years when he played Alistair Hennessey in “The Life Aquatic” wearing that fabulous “I’m a Pepper” shirt.

From then on, I’ve been utterly smitten with the quirky, campy roles that he convincingly plays with unbridled enthusiasm.

I’m still trying to find artisan knots…

Earlier this week I came across the picture he took with the wedding party that re-created Jurassic Park. Classic.

Today, NPR’s Morning Edition re-aired a piece about Goldblum’s Jazz band that regularly performs in Los Angeles.  Of course he’s a Renaissance man!  I’m now on a mission to catch one of these performances!

http://www.npr.org/2014/08/14/340289238/you-know-him-as-an-actor-but-jeff-goldblum-is-a-musician-too

Cheers to Jeff Goldblum!

 

Photo Credit, NBC Washington, and @The_Blackness48 on Instagram

Photo Credit, NBC Washington, and @The_Blackness48 on Instagram

I am not alone in feeling the weight of this week. I don’t think there are enough words to express my frustration with what is happening right now in Ferguson, MO, however when I see this picture today taken at a Freshman orientation at Howard University, I am reminded of the realities of the unspoken burdens we bear just by living in our beautiful skin.  My post is not meant to be political or racial, but I would be remiss if I did not express my feelings through this forum.  I am seeing too many eerie reminders of our inability to learn and grow from our past.  Generations before us worked too hard and sacrificed too much.  It pains to me see History repeating itself in subtle ways.

Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike, 1968.  Photo Credit:  Huffington Post

Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike, 1968. Photo Credit: Huffington Post

In using art as some form of catharsis, this piece by Glenn Ligon is an apropos nod to Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”.

Glenn Ligon, "Invisible Man".  Photo Credit: MoMA

Glenn Ligon, “Invisible Man”. Photo Credit: MoMA

 

Text:

“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of those Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.  Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination–indeed, everything and anything except me.”~ Ralph Ellison

 

Garry Winogrand

There’s so much wrapped up in this one picture, I don’t know where to begin.  His quote is priceless and it brings so much depth into the shot.  If I taught a creative writing class, I’d have my students write a story stemming from this one picture. Alternatively, if you had to sum up this picture in four words what would they be?

 

My Answer?

Ten minutes on Facebook.

Happy Monday!

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UPDATE 9/29/14:

I was beyond excited when I ran into this same photograph at MOCA L.A.  It was serendipity.

From "The Social Landscape" at MOCA Los Angeles

From “The Social Landscape” at MOCA Los Angeles

 

Here’s my weekly recap of my favorite discoveries found online this week.

Duro Olowo's "More Material" at Salon 94. Photo Credit: Vogue

Duro Olowu’s “More Material” at Salon 94. Photo Credit: Vogue

Duro Olowu’s “More Material”

I’ve been so preoccupied with work, life, drought-proofing our yard (we removed 2/3 of our lawn, *self-aggrandizing pat on back*), that I’m having gallery withdrawals.  If I could transport myself to any show, here’s where I’d go right now.  Designer Duro Olowu pulls from many inspirations in music and art in his fashion which is why his show “More Material” at Salon 94 in N.Y. is a sensorial parade.  Olowu’s group show features a collective of artists, photographers, designers, and entertainers whose work touches on the duality of femininity and rebellion. I love how this show assembles a diverse group of artists whose work connects to Olowu’s vision for the show, while also serving as a platform showcase for the designer’s Spring 2014 line of intricately designed capes.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a cape!

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“Disco Bomb” by Martin Kippenberger, MOCA, 2014. Photo Credit: CultureShockArt

Panic in the Disco

“Let’s Dance-How we turned DJs into Superstars” by Ian McQuaid

I spent my 20’s in underground clubs, where in the 1990’s in San Francisco there were an overabundance of house, hip hop, techno and acid jazz venues.  During that time the DJ was the architect of the evening and these “inscrutable masters of records” held the power to levitate a room.

Tank Magazine recently published this fantastic essay on the state of dance music and it’s transformation from group transcendence to performance art.  In a technological age of social media that enables detachment from the physical world, I am not surprised that the role of the DJ has been recast from the behind the scenes “experience maker” to becoming the experience themselves.  “Silent Disco” is a perfect example of detachment while the proliferation of the celebrity DJ plays into shift in focus over music (I was so tempted to name names here, but you know).  Music no longer becomes the shared experience, the shared experience comes from the uniqueness of the delivery. Speaking of experiences, I suggest playing Barbara Tucker’s “I Get Lifted” while you read this article and you may get a feel for the good ol’ days this piece transported me back to.

http://tankmagazine.com/issue-60/radio/let’s-dance

No Touching!  Ovation’s New Web Series “Touching the Art”

Ovation TV just launched a new web series that tackles the ever vexing question, “What’ is Contemporary Art, and why don’t people get it?”  In an irreverent, tongue in cheek format, Ovation’s new series attempts to bring humor and accessibility to pressing issues in Contemporary Art, bridging the gap between art insiders who deal with these themes and outsiders who may be intimidated by the art world.  The premier episode aired today, and I loved that the all female panel (particularly their reasons for it).

As an outsider who loves Contemporary Art, I really loved the show; I think it will resonate with “Franconian” millennials who would like the pacing and dry wit of the moderator who shifts between the roles of artist and skeptic (plus it’s only 5 minutes; why are web series so short?).  The themes were solid and the topics entertaining.  While they tried to appeal to multiple demographics, you could tell Ovation wanted to keep the show self-aware enough to avoid dumbing down the content. As a result, there’s still quite a bit of insider art world lexicon that will likely turn off people not following Contemporary art in Los Angeles or New York, on the flip side it’s rapid pace and quick fire responses will give outsiders a glimpse into the evolving dynamics that shape the artistic landscape of L.A., and it just may encourage people to do a deeper dive on their own. I think it’s a fantastic forum that delves into the many topics I see explored by my favorite arts writers on Twitter, and I think it’s great that they have a new forum for them to share their ideas.  Can’t wait to see more!

http://www.ovationtv.com/touching-the-art/

I’m trying something new.  Here’s my Friday round up of my absolute favorite posts from last week in Fashion, Music, Art, and Food.  All posts are inspired by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.  So let’s jump in!

1.  Kara Walker-Indypendant Article

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The Kara Walker Domino Sugar Factory exhibit has closed, and I have to say I had mixed feelings about this particular project.  I’ve long admired Kara Walker’s work, her creative process and the sheer emotional gravitas behind this immensely profound project.  But there was a nagging part of me asking, “is this just provocative?”  I came across this piece written in the Indypendent that touches on the sensitive nerve that is exposed when I think about this piece.  In a society obsessed with selfie opps, I am appalled by how many people chose to experience this work.  The article sheds some light on that ennui that surely would have detracted from my experience had I been able to see it in Williamsburg.  I’d love to hear Kara Walker’s reaction to the article and wonder if it was all an expected element of the experience.

http://indypendent.org/2014/06/30/why-i-yelled-kara-walker-exhibit

2.  JR’s container project in La Havre

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Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Does this man ever sleep?  I’ve been really impressed with how JR has been able to push his creative expression into new mediums.  Last week the artist culminated his “Women Are Heroes” series by covering a container ship with eyes from one of the women featured in the 7 year project, then took some amazing shots of the container ship sailing the seas.  He also continues his exploration of ballet by photographing and pasting dancers in and on shipping containers.  There was even a brief Yessin Bey/Mos Def cameo, all of which were chronicled on Instagram this week.  If JR stays true to form, there will be a documentary on the unfolding of “Heroes'” last days.  Read more about the project here.

http://www.complex.com/art-design/2014/07/jr-finishes-his-women-are-heroes-series-across-150-cargo-ship-containers-in-port-of-le-havre-france

3.  When the beautiful Caroline Issa recently Instagrammed a picture of herself surrounded by an equally beautiful canopy of Orchids at the Dior Couture show this week, I had to see the show.  Not only was the set design stunning, I will be dreaming about each and every one of these coats! In addition I now want a belt, make that ALL of the accessories, bone straight hair with a middle part and white eye shadow.  I think I can make the last two happen :)

 

4.  This week’s iTunes download:

My advice to you this weekend? Find a dollar, download this song, get in your car Saturday morning, and go find an adventure… and when you do, please tell me all about it.

 

Have a FABULOUS weekend everyone!

Storytelling plays such an essential role in our lives because they create a level of connectedness that’s achieved through relatable or shared experiences.  Great stories provide the bridge between our imagination and reality in remarkable ways.  When I have a strong emotional response to art it is usually associated with a story that I immediately attribute to a piece.  The story that I conjure allows me to relate to the piece in some measurable way.

If you have been following my blog for the past few years (and if you have THANK YOU) you may know that one of the founding artists featured on my site is JR.

I have some of his work in my collection, however if I could own a single piece, it would be a print of this.

Rafael Lorenzo y Obdulia Manzano, Cuba, 2012, JR and Jose Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Rafael Lorenzo y Obdulia Manzano, Cuba, 2012, JR and Jose Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

The mural was created in Cuba through a collaboration among JR, José Parlá and the Havana Biennale in 2012.  The two artists fused their very different creative styles against the aging canvas of old buildings in Havana. Conceptually, JR and Parlá wanted to tell the stories of regular people and their lives in Cuba.  JR’s photos were wheatpasted onto walls and combined with symbolic calligraphy scripted by Parlá.  The result is a visual representation of the subjects “telling their stories”.  The project included 25 murals constructed throughout Havana, and up until that point any public images previously shown in this manner were primarily of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

“I guess there’s always politics in putting up a photo” ~~JR 

The duos creative synergies were captured in a 30 minute short film documenting their process and the people photographed in this project.  While JR and Parlá did not intend to bring politics into this project, this video brilliantly captures the essence of the individuals featured with some very interesting byproducts.  The interpretations of the people in the featured communities reflected the realities of their neighborhoods and living conditions.  The lens through which they view the work was influenced by how the society at large reveres art as both a creative expression and a vehicle for political communication.  Only politicians and celebrities were put on display in this manner, suggesting that they were the only ones with the right to have likeness shared publicly; the inference being that only the stories of celebrities, musicians and politicians are worth sharing.  You could see the paradigm shift taking place once they saw their neighbors highlighted in this way.  Their observations were intriguing, however the reactions of the featured subjects themselves were beautifully showcased in the film.

Alfonso Ramón Fontaine Batista, Cuba,2012, JR and    José Parlá.  Photo Credit:  JR-Art.net

Alfonso Ramón Fontaine Batista, Cuba,2012, JR and José Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

“They are the same.  The man is damaged and the wall is as well.  The only difference is that the wall isn’t laughing.”    

With their aging inextricably linked, the juxtaposition of the aging walls with the aging models were accentuated through Parlá’s technique of ripping through pieces of the portraits revealing the fading facade of the building underneath.  The result was a compelling commentary on fading memories accompanied by a visual representation of oral history.

I first heard about this short film during the celebrity saturated media circus that is Art Basel Miami.   The documentary was released at an exclusive Basel party at the Standard in 2012.  It is refreshing to view this film long after the media hype surrounding JR and the celebrity that he has amassed over the past 2 years. This is a humbling look into the creative process between two artists and the influence of their work on people who deserve to tell their story.

To see the full short film, see the video below or click here.

 

P.S. I had to share the video for one of the songs featured in the film too.  “Yo Aprendi” by Danay Suarez is now on summer rotation in my music collection!

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