Two Thousand and Thirteen: The Year of Uptown’s Illumination

"GWB" photo courtesy by ArtByDjBoy

“GWB” photo courtesy by ArtByDjBoy

Not since the early 1980’s (reminiscent of Patti Astor & Fab 5 Freddy’s Fun Gallery days) has there been such fervent desire for the undiscovered and the unknown. But here’s the catch: it’s not the Lower East Side that I’m referring to, but rather Northern Manhattan. After years of lurking in the shadows to our Downtown counterpart, Uptown is now on the rise and apparently in the middle of a renaissance – becoming its own distinct character. Flourishing with artistic expression and pulsating its influence into the veins of mainstream.

Starting 2013 with a big bang, here’s what Uptown has in store for you:

Do you know what is new in contemporary art? What galleries to hit in New York City? How to go about buying your first piece of art? If no is your answer, or if you’re simply curious, allow me to introduce the art blog making big paint splashes across Northern Manhattan. Sound of Art is a website designed to explore the ways in which social media and technology can help bring arts and culture to the masses. Its purpose is to bring together those working at the intersection of the arts and technology to share ideas, guidelines on how to buy art, sharing the successes and the challenges of being an artist.

To keep in touch of the latest art news, art shows, exhibitions and interviews, you can visit:

"The Perfect Play" for Mi Pepsi | NYGiants NFL Star Victor Cruz & also featuring Juan Bago & O

“The Perfect Play” for Mi Pepsi | NY-Giants NFL Star Victor Cruz & also featuring Juan Bago & O

What’s this? Has Juan Bago & O recruited New York Giants’ MVP star player Victor Cruz as their latest BagoBunch member? No, not really, but the comedic duo are indeed at it again. Michael Diaz and Oscar Martinez aka “Juan Bago and O” were recently asked to do a promo for Mi Pepsi featuring Victor Cruz; and after much success with their hilarious Youtube video spoofs (read more about it here: HOOKED ON THE HEIGHTS) the fellas were asked to show off their comedic stylings for the promotional spot. The official commercial is slated to run on January 7, 2013 **Update: January 21, 2013. The spot was written by Matt Barbot, writer for the online Latino culture and events guide

Click below for a quick behind-the-scenes video with the cast:

Eileen Lei's first solo show: "A Nation Can Rise No Higher Than Its Woman"

Eileen Lei’s first solo show: “A Nation Can Rise No Higher Than Its Woman”

Issues of gender has always had a huge presence in art. Stretching back to the decorations of Greek pottery or Persian tapestries, gender has always occupied an interesting space in the art world. And while most of these historical pieces were depicted by males, I am especially interested in the portrayal of women by women artists – and how their life experiences influence their work.

Eileen Lei, a Bay Area native, has recently moved to New York City in pursuit of her dreams and definitely appears to be well on her way. Her upcoming solo show entitled, “A Nation Can Rise No Higher Than Its Woman” will feature Ms. Lei’s interpretation of her transition to the Big Apple, her challenges and triumphs of rising against the odds, and her creative growth and evolution as an artist. Eileen Lei’s opening reception at the Emperial Gallery will be on Monday, January 7, 2013 from 6PM-9PM, with an after-party featuring guest DJ Bobbito Garcia from 9PM-1AM. Emperial Gallery/Camaradas El Barrio is located at 2241 First Avenue at 115th Street, El Barrio, NYC.

For more on Eileen Lei’s work:

For more gallery inquiries:

Wide Eyed Productions

Wide Eyed Productions

Are you in need of some Shakespeare in your life? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” comes Uptown and will have a free showcase on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM at The Underground Lounge, NYC. Enjoy a free high-energy performance featuring the talented cast from Wide Eyed Productions. The free staged reading also features fellow, and might I add very talented Uptownie, Amy Lee Pearsall. For more info on Amy Lee Pearsall’s work: Amy Lee PearsallReviews

Amy Lee Pearsall

Amy Lee Pearsall

The Underground Lounge Bar is located at 955 West End Avenue, NYC. For more information: The Underground Lounge | Bar

The Underground Lounge | Bar

The Underground Lounge | Bar

Now, leave it up to MTV to jump on the Uptown buzz bandwagon with its new unscripted drama appropriately titled, Washington Heights. Critics have dubbed the new series a cross between The Hills and Jersey Shore – with just enough grit to make it interesting. The show will follow nine precocious twenty-somethings in pursuit of their dreams and the hardships of city life. Apt.78 will host a viewing party of the season premiere on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 10PM. Apt.78 is located at 4447 Broadway, NYC. (between 189th & 190th St).

MTV's 'Washington Heights'

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’



For more info, you can visit: Apt 78

"Crime Against Humanity"

“Crime Against Humanity”

“‘Crime Against Humanity’ is a play based on the real life experiences of fourteen Puerto Rican political prisoners who spent more than two decades in prisons for seditious conspiracy – one of whom is still incarcerated. The production brings us into the U.S. prison system in a way no other play has, focusing on the politically motivated use of isolation, selective punishment, sensory deprivation and disproportionate sentences. After performing to over 5000 people throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, ‘Crime Against Humanity’ returns to New York.” -Press Release

Written by Poet and activist Reyes and former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Luis Rosa. Produced by the National Boricua Human Rights Network of New York.

Cast includes: Albania Matos, Graciano Matos, Christina Pagan, Michael A. Reyes, Natalia Rodriguez, Jose Roldan Jr, and also featuring Caridad De La Luz (LaBruja)

Play will make its debut on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at at 6:30 PM at The Red Carpet Theatre: 240 East 123rd Street, NYC.

Price of admission: $10-$20.

For tickets and more info, please visit:

"El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom"

“El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom”

 El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom
“Alex, a comic book artist recently out of work because his ideas might be ‘too Puerto Rican,’ has taken on the trappings of one of his creations: El Coqui Espectacular, a hero that gets his powers from an enchanted carnival mask. When his brother Joe is fired from a project for not being Puerto Rican enough, the two – with the help of a young photographer – hatch a plan to debut El Coqui at the Puerto Rican Day parade and redeem themselves.” -Press Release/Synopsis

Play is written by writer and actor Matt Barbot. Matt has dual BAs in Theatre and Creative writing from Franklin and Marshall College. He is the author of Infallibility, El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom, End Times, Drown my Book, and Boldly Go; his plays have been performed in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania. He is currently a member of the The Flea Theater’s resident acting company, The Bats, with whom he performed in Jeffery M. Jones’ A Letter from Omdurman, as well as the Drama Desk Award nominated and New York Times Critics’ pick The Seven Sicknesses. He’s also a contributing writer to and former City Editor for the online website / -Bio

Written by Matt Barbot, directed by Jose Esquea.
Price of admission: $5 at the door and get a glass of “vino”
Play will make its debut on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at 7:30PM at the International Theater Arts Institute (IATI) located at 520 8th Avenue, 3rd Floor, NYC.

Graphics above by STUDIO EDGARDO, LLC

Art Director/Costume Design, Illustration and Title Design: Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.
Inker/Embellisher: Phil Jimenez
Digital Colorist: Jose A. Gutierrez Rivera

For more info: Teatro IATI

"Trouble In The Heights" Directed & Produced by Jonathan Ullman

“Trouble In The Heights” Directed & Produced by Jonathan Ullman

2013 ushers in enthusiasm of the cinematic experience – Uptown style. The Untied Palace Theatre in Washington Heights was built in the 1920’s as a vaudeville/movie Palace. The architecture inside has a stunningly beautiful well-preserved Neoclassical/Moorish/Rococo style – and yet imparts a warm and intimate feeling amongst its guests. Since the early 1980’s this establishment has solely functioned as a church and music venue – but as of now it is returning to its movie viewing roots. Uptownies will no longer have to brave the cold and suffer through hours of transit to view their favorite independent films.

The United Palace

The United Palace

Kicking the year off right, is the world premiere of “Trouble in the Heights – a gritty dramatic thriller set in the Washington Heights area. The film explores the lives of a tightly knit family of two brothers who find themselves in quite the predicament with a notorious drug kingpin. The real heart of the story are its characters and how through them, we the viewers see a unique ethnic enclave of sights, sounds, colors and energy of this often forgotten neighborhood.

“Ultimately, [it’s] a mashup of sorts, a Latino-oriented gangster film with strong human interest elements, a heavy Dominican flavor and a poetic feel for the neighborhood north of 155th St.” -NY Daily News, August 3, 2011

“Trouble In The Heights” premieres on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7PM at The United Palace Theatre. For more info: United Palace Theatre

"In The Heights"

“In The Heights”

In 2008, “In The Heights” took Broadway by storm garnering rave reviews and winning 4 Tony Awards including Best Musical. On February 11, 2013, composer-lyricist and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda along with Broadway League‘s Viva Broadway Initiative (an organization started to increase Latino audiences for theatre around the country) will reunite with members of the original Broadway cast and additional Broadway and first national tour cast members, for a ‘One Night Only’ benefit concert bringing the music of  “In The Heights” back to the Uptown neighborhood that inspired it all.

The United Palace Theatre is located at 4140 Broadway (between West 175th St. & West 176th St). To purchase tickets, please call: (212)569-5800, or you can visit: In the Heights: In Concert in 2013

Q-TIp @ Apt.78 / 02.14.13

Q-TIp @ Apt.78 / 02.14.13

Aside from the decor, the good service, and pleasant ambiance (perfect for social gatherings) Apt.78 is gaining momentum in their impressive list of guest DJs. Apt.78 has two years with a remarkable roster of legendary talent (i.e. DJ Premier, Talib Kweli, ?uestlove, and that’s just to name a few) blessing the turntable – and this year is proving to be no different. Owner, Jose Morales, has taken huge strides to bringing nothing but exceptional talent to the community of Washington Heights – and for the month of February we are in for quite the decadent treat. None other than legendary hip-hop rapper/artist Q-tip will make his first appearance on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Make sure you bookmark the date; it is definitely going to be a night to remember. (scroll up for contact info)


New exciting projects to come:

Concert | El Museo del Barrio New York
Nina Sky with Juan Bago and O – El Museo del Barrio

Nina Sky

Nina Sky

“The eclectic twins return to El Museo with their new Album, “Natalie and Nicole.” Nina Sky brings the full force of the wide-ranging sound, self-described as ‘R&B-based with the influence of every other genre under the sun.’ to El Teatro. Juan Bago and O, comedic duo and masters of the music video parody, will bring on the laughs with an opening performance and premiere of their next hit video!

Juan Bago & O

Juan Bago & O

Music critic Georgette Cline joins Nina Sky and Juan Bago and O in conversation following the concert.” -Press Release

Date: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Time: 7:00PM – 9:00PM
Place: El Teatro
Admission: Free/RSVP required

For more info: El Museo del Barrio

People’s Theatre Project

People's Theatre Project | Northern Manhattan

People’s Theatre Project | Northern Manhattan

“People’s Theatre Project, a vibrant 501(C)(3) non-profit organization in Northern Manhattan, began in 2008 as a shared dream between Dominican theatre artist and educator Mino Lora and New York City based actor Bob Braswell. Both proud residents of Washington Heights since 2005, the founders had long wished to fuse their passions for theatre and social justice and decided there was no better way to do it than to engage the people in their own neighborhood. Since its inception, the organization has grown tremendously to reach over 1,500 people each year; sharing the struggles and triumphs of the diverse community members ages 5-95. Thanks in great part to the support of many wonderful community organizations, this work has been recognized by the 2010 Union Square Awards for arts and social justice, State Senator Bill Perkins’ Creative Power of Women Award and has been featured in the New York Times, The New York Daily News, the Associated Press, NY1, Fox News Latino, El Diario NY, Listin Diario, The Manhattan Times, Mujer Unica, Bostonia, Al Rojo Vivo, and recently NBC Latino.” – Press Release/Bio

Stage performances will resume on Friday, March 22, 2013, at 5:30 PM.

*Location: TBA

The Rat Collective:

The Rat Collective | Feed The Rats

The Rat Collective | Feed The Rats

“The Rat Collective is a New York City-based initiative committed to empowering youth through arts, media, technology, and action sports. The Collective does not only focus on skaters in the Northern Manhattan area but also reaches out to the youth in the Dominican Republic by sending goods to skaters in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

On Sunday, December 16, 2012, The Rat Collective and 596ArtistUnion gathered at La Sala 78 for a screening of the new film ‘Pretty Sweet’ from female skate crew Girl and Chocolate. The uptown film screening was an occasion on which the Collective sought to draw local skaters to a nearby venue and present a film they might otherwise miss.”-Founder, Rainey Cruz. / Manhattan Times, January 02, 2013

*Future film screenings: TBA

For more info on the Rat Collective and how to make a donation, please visit:

For more info on 596ArtistUnion, please visit:

5IFTY5IVE CREW: “Not just a party. A movement.”

5IFTY5IVE CREW | "We're not promoters, we're FUNraisers."

5IFTY5IVE CREW | “We’re not promoters, we’re FUNraisers.”

The 55 Crew is a Collective of House music enthusiasts bringing House music to another level. “Maury Matos, who works as Marketing Manger by day, came up with the 55 idea with a group of friends who loved the diversity that House music has from techno to Afro-Latin funk. The parties, which were rocked by DJ E and DJ LES/537, brought together many house music fans from across the city in a chill environment where nothing was expected from them but to just have fun.”  -Claudio E. Cabrera,

This past month, the 55crew celebrated their first successful year of bookings – and from the looks of it, they don’t appear to be slowing down. Check out the teaser below to see what 2013 has in store:

*Future events: TBA
For more info on the 55crew, please visit:

And last but not least (as pictured above):

Observe The Heights | Art By Dj Boy

Observe The Heights |

Observe The Heights |

“A look at Uptown…one corner at a time.”  -ArtByDjBoy

Observe The Heights is a photo journal of city streets and census of Northern Manhattan. Its purpose is to provide a window into this beautiful and often overlooked neighborhood, catalogue its inhabitants, and magnify its rich and diverse history.

Observe The Heights is a project initiated by Emmanuel Abreu (aka Art By Dj Boy) and is sponsored by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) Creative Grant Program, in conjunction with JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation.

The possibility of this project turning into an exhibition is still in the works, but don’t despair; all photos are currently on display on Mr. Abreu’s project website at:

So, there you have it folks! A great group of multi-talented Uptownies doing big things for the city of New York, and this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more.

-Roz Baron


4 responses to “Two Thousand and Thirteen: The Year of Uptown’s Illumination

  1. How sweet are you?! Just a quick note: Tomorrow night’s reading of “The Taming of the Shrew” is free, but drinks sadly are not (that said, they are available at the bar for purchase, and we encourage you to do so)! Would love to see you there!

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