Hola, my lovely readers! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated my site, but it’s because Ms. Baron has been a busy networking bee getting the latest scoop in arts and culture. Last couple of months has enlightened my perspective regarding the extensive community of Latino professionals in media and non-for-profit organizations – so with that said, onto my fascinating discoveries:
First discovery took place in my neighborhood of Washington Heights, NY. “Vine On Pine,” (a local shop offering the very best in imported wines) hosted a spirit tasting and fundraiser collaboration with The Insurgo Project and uptown’s chic restaurant Rusty Mackerel. At the start of the event, The Insurgo Project raffled a free dinner at Rusty Mackerel worth a $100 dollars to raise funds and shed light on their mission: to merge local farms, local restaurants, and local Chefs with local residents to sponsor environmental sustainability and economic growth.
The Insurgo Project is an uptown-based community collective committed to nurturing the “farm to table” movement in low-income neighborhoods throughout the country. They provide local communities with practical knowledge and financial means to eat from farm-to-table, from field-to-fork.
They’ve also partnered with health conscious organizations like CHALK, (Choosing Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Kids) and pioneering PR team La Gerencia to spread the word and reach the masses. To learn more about this incredible organization and/or future projects, please click here.
Next up: hello doc! The Dominican Film Festival is a Latino-based event providing a creative space for up-and-coming Latino directors to showcase their film chops – a rarity granted to a seldom few in Hollywood. This is their third installment, but before the actual festival kickoff, there was a preview screening at the Symphony Space (provided by the Global Foundation for Democracy Development). Now, here’s an interesting tidbit about myself: in all my years of living in New York, I’ve never stepped foot in the Symphony Space. Surely, I’ve passed by on occasion (on my way to the bank) but never have I experienced what I’m about to describe to you lovely folks. Now, knowing how the weather lately has been fickle (like a toddler going through the terrible 2s) of course, on the day of the movie screening there would be a torrential thunderstorm, right? We New Yorkers can never catch a break – but then again, it gave way to a very “Woody Allen-esque” feel to the movie – minus the “Oy veys.”
Met up with my lovely friend Mercedes; we were both soaking wet, (thanks a lot rain) but still giggling from anticipation. Thankfully, we found seats smack in the middle; beautiful and well conditioned seating by the way (perhaps a throwback to quality theatre viewing). We waited for the crowd to settle, and then the first sets of frames rolled onto screen. The movie’s title: “La Montaña“ splashes across the middle of the film projector, and instantaneously we’re enveloped. First scene, is a dolly shot on a bike swooping through narrow streets – revealing instances of an impoverished neighborhood in Nepal. Seconds later, the scene cuts to a temple, as we witness the protagonists of the film in the middle of prayer – and with that, we knew we were about to see something monumental. Without giving away too much, the film soon becomes a narrative for taking risks, sprinkled with moments of comedy and drama – much like real life. At moments, the film felt reminiscent to Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” but definitely had its own distinct voice. The film’s synopsis is as follows: “We filmed the first Dominican and Caribbean expedition to climb Mount Everest. The adventurous teams consisted of Iván Gómez, Federico Jovine and Karim Mella, all on their way to place their beloved Dominican flag in the highest of heights, and inspiring a new generation of expeditioneers. A group of young men who were inspired by the group climbing Mt. Everest, decides to venture out on their own to climb the highest peak in their native region known as ‘Pico Durate.'” The film is directed by Taba Blanchard and co-directed by Iván Herrera – their production house is La Visual Sonora.
Post screening, both gentlemen were present for a 45 minute Q&A detailing the labor intensive process; working long hours with no sleep, all with the aim of distribution. By the end, some folks were moved to tears, my friend Mercedes included – but here’s where the story takes an interesting turn: the fact that both filmmakers realized how their work had impacted her, and consoled her, truly showed a sign of humanity and humility. It was such a genuine moment, I just had to capture it in the picture featured below. Again, the movie is incredibly well told and is highly recommended for all audiences. Great job, gentlemen.
To see the Q& A with Taba y Ivan, click on the YouTube link below:
My next adventurous discovery took place at 3D Heights Printing. 3D Heights is currently the only techie hub that is thriving in Northern Manhattan – providing all things innovative to the Uptown community, and beyond. Their latest gadget is known as “The Bobble Shop,” a 3D scanner that takes full facial scans of ones face; immortalizing you for any special occasion, or just because. Before, one would have to reach Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera to feel like a VIP – but now, with the help of readily available technology, you too can feel fancy-schmancy! Just take a gander at my cutie bobble heads below. By the way, which hair color do y’all think suits me best? I like the blonde in the middle, ’cause you know what they say about blondes… they definitely do have more fun. 😉
Next up: The Ildiko Butler Gallery / Lipani Gallery. This gallery is an incredible space where Fordham University students, grad students and professors can showcase their latest and greatest. “Sterile Beauty” is the name of this incredible body of work (pictured below) by the talented Alexis Parente – a Fordham University undergrad exhibiting her senior project. In the pic below, you see the labor intensive process it took her to construct all these gowns, (period pieces mind you) all made with medical supplies. She admits that the inspiration came from her mother who works as a registered nurse; and thought, wouldn’t it be something to see these mundane objects turned into something extraordinary. Who would’ve thought a dress made from biohazard bags could look so good? I’m glad I was able to meet her at this precocious stage in her life, because I’m certain post this exhibition we will be hearing a lot more from Ms. Parente.
“I hope to challenge the concept of beauty by creating a relationship between these unusual design materials and the world of fashion.” -Alexis Parente, Fordham U. Grad, Class of 2014.
Next up: Pulse Contemporary Art Show! This year’s exhibition took place at The Manhattan Pavilion with countless square feet filling every nook and cranny with contemporary art. Being a freelance writer, I’ve already reviewed my experience via SOALife.com (to read full post, click here) – but for my own site, I’ll review two artists that I either I didn’t get a chance to cover, or their artwork bares repeating.
First up, Oscar Murillo, a contemporary artist with a bit of a sweet tooth, would be the best way to describe his latest and greatest. His work was not on display at Pulse, but rather a subtle tasty discovery I found in my big ol’ Pulse tote. Oscar is a Colombian native, now London-based artist whose speciality is abstract art – his last abstract piece sold for approximately $401K. However, not wanting to be pigeonholed by his preferences, he took a different approach to his style of expression. Wanting to pay homage to his family history, he turned a New York City gallery (in LES) into a fully functional chocolate factory… I guess making him the first Colombian Willy Wonka? 😉 This yummy treat contained three small morsels of marshmallow infused chocolates. The packaging was this adorable smiley face, that I will admit, made me curious – and then, I fell down the rabbit hole.
With some diligent digging, turns out that the name Mr. Murillo used to print on the cellophane, “Colombina” is part of his family’s legacy: “Colombina was founded in 1928 in my hometown of La Paila. I wanted it to be more than just a factory. The idea was to bring about a conversation about the people I grew up with and my family, going back a hundred years.” – Oscar Murillo
Second artist who stood out for me, is of “ARE YOU YOU or YOU ARE YOU” fame, Shantell Martin. Her words and presence stood out for all the right reasons. She confesses to being a lost soul, trying to find her way in this chaotic world. However, amongst the madness, she found solace and purpose in her art. Her artwork recognizes no boundaries (literally) and gives way to creativity that are limtiless. Check out this amazing video Q&A as she describes her journey into the art world.
Next up: Happy Anniversary, Wordup! WordUp Bookstore (located in the art and literary hub of Washington Heights) celebrated its third year anniversary in exsitance – and, their first year anniversary at its new location of 2113 Amsterdam Avenue. Word Up Books is a community based shop where the staff volunteers its services and years of expertise to its clientele. We uptownies support their grand efforts in educating our youth, supporting local small businesses, and showcasing artwork from local artists. We salute you awesome folks and praise your contributions to our community. Now make a wish! 🙂
Mid June, I was sent on assignment to cover the highly anticipated “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective “ at The Whitney Museum. I’ve already covered and reviewed the press conference for SOALife.com (to read full post, click here) – but what I will say for my own site, is how amazing my experience was to meet Mr. Koons. I was not expecting such a humble being. He was approachable and courteous, that I scored a detailed autograph – which will now forever remain in my archives. PS: can you spot me geeking out in the pic below? 10 extra points if you can.
And just to prove even further the extent that this city has to offer, allow me to introduce to you the future: Bienvenidos al WebCongress NYC. A full day conference focusing on major corporations with the biggest monopolies dominating the social media realm. Keynote topics consisted of management and growth via online sales, user engagement, conversation optimization, and tons of networking. The brainchild of Founder and CEO Ouali Benmeziane, who has mastered a cornerstone for himself under the umbrella of web-seminars – stretching from both hemispheres of the globe. His mission: to engage as many people with their infinite possibilities via web.
Start of July translates to a delicioso delight for the palate and sight. Copacabana 1940 Anejo Rum kicked off its NYC launch of the smooth tasting elixir at the legendary night club located at their Times Square location. Several celebrities were in attendance like celebrity Chief Alex Garcia and Restauranteur Spencer Rothschild – partners of Barrio Spirits. Featured artist of the night was Wonder Lee 123 – showcasing her new line of bowties and Copacabana Anjeo inspired fashion accessories.
As the sun started to set, the dance floor was the main attraction. Samba dancers and beautiful ladies with exquisite feather headdresses filled the space. And let’s just say, if they were looking to impress patrons with that whole “retro 1940s Cuba” vibe, their execution was flawless.
Oh, and by the way, that Copacabana Anejo really packs a punch, let me tell ya! 😉 This golden rum is made in one of the most important distilleries in the world, Las Cabras in Panama. The rum offers a rich, balanced taste with strong hints of citrus and a light caramel and almond finish. Their theme party drinks all had these adorable names, and incredible mixes to get your taste buds going. My favorite drink of the night was “The Showgirl” – a flavorsome concoction of coconut milk, fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, and of course the Anejo – DEELISH! Highly recommended.
Next stop was a press conference hosted by the The Stellar Collective at the New York Times headquarters building.
The Stellar Collective is a group of innovative thinkers looking to spread their extensive knowledge and resources to the next wave of Latino professionals. The creative team is ran by Deyvis Roberto Rodriguez (CEO of Stellar Collective and Digital Account Supervisor at independent marketing firms) and Leomarlis Idalisa Bojos (Director of Community Relations for Stellar Collective and a visual artist). Both are looking to expand their brand by hosting a number of events that fosters creative synergy. Their latest event was held at the prestigious New York Times, where a number of Latino journalists (myself included) were in attendance. Key points covered: the “how’s and the “how to’s” when targeting Latino professionals, who account for huge numbers in sales regarding revenue. The conference ran about an hour and a half, but the minutes just flew by due to the nature of discussion. I’m already eagerly anticipating the next one. Bien hecho mi gente, bien hecho.
And lastly, I had the pleasure of having a great friend Audrey (aka Ms. Audio) introduce me to this remarkable exhibition unlike any other I’ve seen before. Kara Walker’s ” A Subtlety,” is the first of its kind, in large-scale for public consumption. The space allotted was Brooklyn’s legendary landmark The Domino Sugar Factory. The massive installation was a sugar-coated sphinx surrounded by small replicas of what appeared to be children (made of sugar, chocolate and thick molasses) in the midst of hard labor. The work was jaw-dropping (to say the least) and incredibly pensive. Ms. Walker’s artwork is known for its controversial nature, but nonetheless still very powerful in its “subtle” context. And although, it did cause quite the stir – some journalists felt outraged by how touristy the exhibition had become – but for me, the piece stood out for its beauty. Of course, the history is prevalent – a history enveloped in cruelty and abuse – which will always be embedded in the fabric that is The United States. However, I still felt as if Ms. Walker was trying to give her pieces a sense of pride that isn’t often communicated enough in history books, or in media today. My initial thoughts of the “Sugar Baby,” was ‘wonder if there was a correlation between this powerful piece and renowned poet Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why).'” Both poem and installation are impressive bodies of works that should be greatly admired.
“I mean… I … can fly… like a bird in the sky.” -Nikki Giovanni, Ego Tripping
And with that, my lovely readers, is the latest and greatest from Roz Baron and the City. Keep a look out for the much anticipated photo project that I am beyond excited to share with you very, very soon. It’s a group effort with an incredible team of ladies that will surely keep you on your creative toesies. 😉 To see all pics from the adventures described above, por favor scroll down. Again, hasta la proxima my beautiful peeps.
Artsy besos. :*
— Roz Baron