CAAM  featured a series of three music documentaries. I had the pleasure of viewing one called “The Girls in the Band”. It is by director Judy Chaikin who was there at the museum to discuss the journey of Women in Jass, such as big band instrumentalists. The movies explored how women were and are an important aspect of this rich music culture. However, their special gifts have been overlooked, neglected, and or understated in comparison to their male counterparts. In the thirties and forties, hundreds of women musicians toured the country in glamorous All-Girl Bands. Nevertheless, by the mid-fifties female jazz musicians had disappeared from the arena; their names, their contributions to music, totally elapsed. These gifted women put up with sexism, racism and diminished opportunities while trying to preserve their place in herStory.

 
Some notable female musicians that were featured include the following: trombone player Melba Liston known for her jazz arrangements and compositions. Incidentally, she worked as a freelance arranger and composer for studio sessions of various artists including Marvin Gaye and the Supremes. I was first introduced to this musician’s music, in the 1970’s, through my mother that was a music promoter in the Caribbean community for over 30 years. Consequently, Liston spent six years in Jamaica on a music education appointment at the University of Jamaica and served as director of popular music studies at the Jamaica Institute of Music.

 
Some other inspirational female jazz legends that the film covered included the great Lil Hardin Armstrong. Ms. Armstrong was the most prominent woman in early jazz. She played piano, composed, and arranged for most of the significant Bands from New Orleans. In 1921 she met Louis Armstrong. In 1924 she became his wife and she is commonly credited with persuading Louis to be more ambitious and serve as his own band leader. The documentary also focused on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm Band. In fact, one of the first “white’ band member’s, Rosalind Cron, was at the event that CAAM sponsored. She spoke on her experiences as a traveling musician on a sleeper bus that was caught up in Jim Crow law, at the time. She went into further speaking on the code of Jim Crow.
In conclusion, I was so upset when my camera stopped working for the filming. The reason being, some great pictures would have been captured. Nevertheless, it was a great event. If you’d like, one can purchase a copy of this film on the following website;

The Girls’ in the Band

Stay tuned as I will revisit MOCA to explore their art-world…

 

The Tree of Life

July 5th, 2014

What is the meaning of LiFe?

That is the question. I would say that one of the most vital  meaning(s) is to achieve eternal life through the glory of bringing life into the world. When that creation is the FOCUS a certain energy FiLLs the SpiriT and reBirth can be found once again. It feels as if an explosion of stars fill the temple with a fire that just wont die out.

You see, through this metaphoric tree… its fruit is the “most precious above all other fruits,” and, it will take sacrifice and dedication to protect  diamonds from the harsh elements that the world has to offer those walking an honest journey. On this trek, Scavengers will roam … and try to steal the light that shines from sacred spaces.

I would like to express that coming out of seclusion, after years, has not been an easy task.  My privacy is no longer the luxury, and I must adapt to this intrusion; however complicated it may be. I must learn to re-connect to a world so FULL of preconceived ideas of others, categories that one should fit into, non-abstract thinking…it truly is preparing for battle.

Again, the most difficult realization is learning how to find balance in the midst of evil that exist in the world . Nevertheless, I continue to aim higher.

Can you imagine being discriminated against for your faith, speech, dialect, culture, ethnicity, hair-texture, color, skin-tone, economic status, and so much more? I try to teach my children that to be “rich” doesn’t mean one must have money or a certain level of recognition in this world. For example, to be rich means to be an honest person and to have faith, hope, and will…

Martin Luther King Jr.

I mean, is the physical self and its reflection really so much more important than the essence of the SpiriTual? I should think not. HOw does one prepare a child to battle such hate? Better yet, how do we rid ourselves from the perpetrators? We must still come in contact with them because prejudice still exist within the world. Does one ignore them or continue to sTand up to their ignorance? The most important question, how does another person’s hate effect innocent children? To be unique is nothing to be ashamed of-Jesus knew the torture of a mob-mentality-and what did he do? He sacrificed his comfort and stood his ground.

As we all know, he (the person) was nailed to a cross for his belief(s) and effort(s). A sacrificial lamb. I’ve longed admired his strength. And now, I take refuge in the “Spirit” aspect of him; she continues. Pure Energy never dies; it morphs and becomes resilient.

The late and great poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, said it best about the attainment of high-quality of a pure self?

It takes time to re-grow after roots have been upliFted. It takes time to nurture and receive again. But, anything is possible and achievable when we come to it…and, it’s not a race because Rome was not buiLt in a day.

Hope you all had a Happy 4th?It was for me. I spent it with my family. I keep a very small circle.

Art for LIFE

June 23rd, 2014

The brain responds to ART and Music in a way that is useful in therapy. Just like writing helps those that need to speak in a language other than verbal words. This is why it is vital that these crafts be kept in schools and made available to children, young adults, and wise elders. Thus, ART is for everyone.

Research will show that one needs to stimulate their right brain in order to have a balance in learning. This is how the brain works! WE need both sides of the brain and should appreciate and nurture this large muscle to a point of a free expression.

This section brings me to an announcement in this post. I’ve respected Russell Simmons, for years, in his endeavors to help youth have access to an arena that public schools no longer really includes. Why is this?

Incidentally, this year marks the 15 annual gala for his ART for LIFE that supports art education and exhibition opportunities for underrepresented artists. If interested, one can purchase their tickets through the above link. It will be great to attend and report on one of these events in the future.

14th Annual Art For Life Gala: A Field Of Dreams at Fairview Farms on, July 27, 2013  in Bridgehampton, New York.

14th Annual Art For Life Gala: A Field Of Dreams at Fairview Farms on July 27, 2013… in Bridgehampton, New York.

 

Kimora and Kenzo

Kimora and Kenzo

A Memoir in Movement

June 14th, 2014

Carmen De Lavallade & Geoffrey Holder

I first had the pleasure of meeting the great Geoffrey Holder as a child. I can remember him being very involved in the Caribbean community that my mother and her peers succeeded in pushing forward. His energy, then, came across as a gentle giant. Therefore, I was pleased to discover an art exhibition that the California African American Museum currently has on display of him and his elegant wife, Carmen De Lavallade.

In fact, as a child, I knew him through his music composition/Calypso and his 1970’s 7up ads. And of course, who can forget him as Baron Samedi – in the Bond movie Live and Let Die. I recall his infamous laugh. It always ROARED across sound waves.

 

After walking through the collection I can, without question, say that it is dedicated to their LoVe. It’s FULL of photographs, images, paintings, sculptures, custom designed gowns, and Tony Awards, just to name a few things. In fact, when one walks up to the display of gowns a true impression is given of just how small and delicate this wonderful dancer’s form help birth a master artist.

In fact, De Lavallade began studying ballet at the age of 16 and after graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School. Her beauty is timeless and his class is evident.

In addition, there are four short films and tons of books and newspaper articles which transfer over as a rich his/her-story that will be left as a golden legacy. It’s evident that their individual and joint-bond help CreaTe a union in the arts that will last for eternity.

A most notable piece that struck me was a painting Holder did of his wife in 1980,oil and canvas. It was captivating.

The exhibition was originally curated by the DuSable Museum of African American HIStory and expanded by the CAAM (California African American Museum). It runs through July 6, 2014. I recommend viewing this very special genre of art. The impression will last forever in my memory and I appreciate  its tribute.

Museum Notes

June 13th, 2014

California African’ American Museum

Today, one of my sweetpeas and I took a visit to USC. She and I went to experience FILMS AT CAAM. While there, we caught a glimpse of some public art. It was entitled: Wishing on a STAR (2009), by Charles Dickson. It was made out of Recycled metal and re-purposed objects. It was something to sEE…there he was dancing across the sky…shooting stars. It was very impressive.

It reminded me of scene when my son and I were astronauts for the day. He and I explored California Science Center’s Pompeii and the Space Shuttle ENDEAVOUR, on the same day. It was as if we were traveling back in time on a space mission hubble!

Look at this very interesting piece from the Pompeii exhibit. I thought it so mind-blowing. Read the inscription:

There he was, waxed in time…shining under museum display.

Nevertheless, later that day we received complimentary passes to experience further Stars at this great space station:

This is the Endeavour.

I’ve had an unforgettable time enjoying some of the things I love to do for the past few days. Stay tuned for more on the inside experience of FILMS AT CAAM as I review- The Girls in the Band: Women Jazz Musicians.

Arts of Palm

May 21st, 2014

Beverly Hills is hosting a Display of Public Art

Behind Florida and the Caribbean, California is known for its towering Palm Trees. Incidentally, being that Los Angeles is a desert, it’s beneficial that Palms don’t drink a lot of H2o or tear up the sidewalks along major streets. So the question remains, “How did Angelinos get to experience the landscape of such beautiful trees known to symbolize victory, peace, and fertility?”


Well, back in 1932 Los Angeles had the opportunity of hosting the Tenth Olympiads. This prompted City Hall to launch a 10-year plan to set thousands of Mexican fan palm trees, native to Sonora and Baja, along major boulevards as a beautification project. In addition, land and home owners started to plant alike, such as Canary Island date palms. Pretty soon, California tourism was known for these statuesque beauties.

However, these lovelies, Mexican fan palms, don’t provide much shade from the burning California sun. Thus, in 2006 city councilors approved a policy not to replace the MFP once the older ones eventually need revamping.  The substitute trees, when new projects are launched within the city, consist of mainly QUEEN Palms. These types are native to South America, from northern Argentina north to eastern Brazil and west to eastern Bolivia.
What better subject to morph into a muse? Consequently, that’s what six renowned artists have done. They have created a temporary public art installation collection that includes sculptures, a mosaic and a book. All are available, as Public Art, to view until January 2015. The pieces are loose interpretations of palm trees. The project’s curator is Kate Stern.

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Today, I had the pleasure of having some time in order to view this exhibition.

Not Socrates, The Other Guy by Brad Howe

I truly admire such an accomplishment by an artist. The reason being, to be encapsulated into time by having one’s creation publicly displayed is a mark most noteworthy.

 

Reckon by Brad Howe

 

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Zenobia

Did you Know…

May 19th, 2014

TRIVIA

 

The figure of Thomas Jefferson was originally started on Washington’s right side. After 18 months of carving the sculpture of Jefferson it had to be blasted off the mountain and restarted on Washington’s left side. An unforeseen crack in the granite forced the artist to turn the second Jefferson sculpture five degrees. Thomas Jefferson was not completed until 1936.

Mount Rushmore is also known as the President’s Mountain. It is located in the Black Hills of  South Dakota.  The sculpture cost $989,992.32 to build. Incidentally, the Mount Rushmore National Commission began a project in 1933 and it became part of the National Park Service. It took 14 years to complete Mount Rushmore.

Kids Ocean Day 2014

May 16th, 2014

This past Thursday, as a parent, I was invited to attend a wonderful event. It was 100 degrees in Los Angeles on this day as I watched over 3,500 students from 33 area schools participate in an Ocean Clean up Day. Apparently, this yearlong school prep-program, led by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, has been active for 21 years. And, Thursday, May 15 was the Annual Kids Ocean Day event at Playa del Rey’s Dockweiler State Beach. Michael Klubock is the event’s founder and executive director of the Foundation.

 

While sweeping my feet across the burning sand I saw a mirage of children preparing to do their part in keeping Mother Earth clean. I went to speak to some of the volunteers and discovered the children would be separating their trash pickup into big bins marked to recycle, where need be. Also, the children were scheduled to create a piece of aerial art after their lunch. The masterpiece was available to a helicopter above that photographed it.

 

Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

In fact, I spoke to a few children from Hancock Park Elementary and they told me students from their school were instructed to wear blue shirts to be involved in taking a picture for the Kids Ocean Day event. They were all pleased to discover their unspoken message to the world about the care of the precious waters they make up our oceans and sands.

It’s important to notice and be pro-active in eliminating the pre-warnings that are washing up on the shores and floating in the oceans. Everything is connected and thus can affect our own health. You see, when enjoying the waters, it’s also important to consider that our skin is the biggest organ and can and will soak up the toxins that float in the water. The next time you are bathing in the sea look around to notice how vital the situation is.

Kids Ocean Clean Up Day 2014 Dockweiler State Beach

Kids Ocean Clean Up Day 2014 Dockweiler State Beach

This event was sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program and its Board of Public Works, as well as the California Coastal Commission. I love the idea of helping to keep the oceans and waters around us clean and plan on doing more volunteering in this sector to help this precious cause.

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Zenobia

 

 

The Tao of Physics

May 7th, 2014

I have recently finished reading a book by physicist Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics. The subject matters include the parallels between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The book explains the view of modern physics in that everything in the universe is connected and that everything is the consequence of the rest. The Eastern view that to free the mind from words and explanations is one of the main aims of mysticism. The author goes on to explain that both Buddhists and Taoists speak in a network  of words and or concepts-thus extending the idea of interconnection, the realm of the intellect. Furthermore, to transcend words and explanations means to break the bonds of karma and attain liberation.

An excerpt from the book reads as follows:

“Zen is a unique blend of philosophies and idiosyncrasies of three different cultures. It is a way of life which is typically Japanese, and yet reflects the mysticism of India, the Taoists’ love of naturalness and spontaneity and the thorough pragmatism of the Confucian mind. Zen is Buddhistic in its essence: the attainment of enlightenment, an experience known as satori. The enlightenment experience is the  essence of all schools of Eastern philosophy, but Zen is unique in that it concentrates exclusively on the experience and is not interested in any further interpretations. This very same experience transcends all categories of thought. Zen has no special doctrine or philosophy, no formal creeds or dogmas, and it asserts that this freedom from all fixed beliefs makes it truly SpiRitaL.”

The book further goes into physics and describes space and time in regard to Eastern mystics notions of states of consciousness and the theory of relativity. Incidentally,  in relativistic physics a new situation arises. The reason being, time is added to the three space coordinates as a fourth dimension. From here, the book moves into the link of space and time in regard to astronomy and astrophysicists. For example, in the fields mentioned,  the velocity of light allows observation of the evolution of StaRs by looking back into time. I like to call it the Ancient Future.

It’s a great READ and I highly recommended it.

Z

 

EDITED