“the little lady is dope”. (La petite femme est dynamique!)

Works by Mirlande Jean-gilles

You are an artist, more specifically a collage artist, when one of the most prominent playhouses in the city comes knocking.

Set decorations in stage plays can enhance the overall concept, and magnifying the entire production. When Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, there was no idea it would be in musicals, handkerchiefs and tattoos.

Mirlande Jean-Gilles

Da Vinci, an Italian had moved to France where he finished that painting. Napoleon treated it as his own treasure. It is a premier showpiece on the wall of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The Mona Lisa is “dope” for many, she even smiled in an American commercial. I can hear the African American super balladeer, Nat King Cole sing the lines, “Do you smile to tempt a lover, Mona Lisa,..Or is it your way to hide a broken heart”?

Baltimore Maryland has a little lady that is likewise “dope”. MIRLANDE JEAN-GILLES, is Haitian, French, an artist with a bigger smile than Mona Lisa, and much more talented.

When Center Stage’s newly installed artistic director, Stephanie Ybarra, knocked on Jean-Gilles door, she was not asking her to paint a backdrop for one play, but six. Jean-Gilles smile and scream  bellowed across the room.

And here are the names of the plays: MISS YOU LIKE HELL,… THOUGHTS OF A COLORED MAN,… MEN ON BOATS,… RICHARD & JANE & DICK & SALLY, WHERE WE STAND,… BAKKHAI.

HOLD ON I’M COMING!

Picture from Reuters Marco Bello.

No, this is not the “middle passage” where slaves from Africa were forced into ships to travel against their will, heading to North America (the 13 colonies, in the 1600’s).

Abaco island, in the Bahamas, is one of many that some considered paradise. Now that paradise is lost, demolished by hurricane Dorian, what to do? Thousands for years, have reaped the sweetness of paradise, served by people like those in the above picture. There they  are, in the “belly of the whale”.

The Grand Bahamas ABACO Islands (Baltimore Md.) relief Committee, for the help of our brethren in the Bahamas. Of the 12 members, present today from (L-R) Laughton Sargeant, Reynold Small, Senator Larry Young, Owen Charles, Travis Winkey, and Dr. Elaine C Simon .

Here in Baltimore Md., the Grand Bahamas Committee has been formed, chaired by Dr. Elaine Simon (Caribbean Festival); Larry Young (former senator of MD.); Rick Nugent (Jamaica association of MD.); Delegate, MD. House: Regina Boyce; Dr. Joy Bramble, Baltimore Times; Owen Charles (Trinidad & Tobago Association); Reynold Small (a.k.a. Golden Touch, promoter); Kevin Wallace (Printworks MD.) George Mitchell (Langston Hughes Community Center); Patricia Harracksingh (Peace in America); Travis Winkey (Premier Fashion Consultant);Angelo Carter (Island Code); Laughton Sargeant (Image Band).

Folks are holding on, let’s get in line, forming that step ladder to revitalization.

Billie Holiday! Meet THa MuthaFunkahoIX!

Pennsylvania and North Avenues, Baltimore Maryland. Go North on Pennsylvania, there exists Baltimore City’s biggest Mall, MONDAWMIN; head South, University of Maryland Hospital, home of the famous SHOCK TRAUMA wing.

The pivot of these two sides is THE ARCH SOCIAL CLUB, which continues to represent black or African American entertainment, surviving segregation and integration.

“Back in the day” the famous frequented “the Avenue”, RED FOXX, CAB CALLOWAY,  and later, the adult, BILLIE HOLIDAY, whose mother had a restaurant in the area, Billie, a teenager at the time.

Her interest in the blues, jazz, and comedy reached heights in New York, where her mother moved to; but her cognitive years were here in Baltimore, Md.

To revive history and create an African American Arts District, what better place to start, than Penn/North!

Arch Social Club, Pennsylvania at North, Baltimore Md.

This area is frequented with the fist  of the African American population. Baltimore is competing for that trophy, MURDER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! It is time to bestir the population’s pride, and one of many projects has emerged, the BILLIE HOLIDAY MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL! August 31, 2019, became the inaugural.  

Sadly, the surrounding population, Upton, Sandtown, did not attend the festival in significant numbers, why?

I think “what we have here, is a failure to communicate”. Authorities have to answer the question, how do you give the common man his pride back? Certainly not, by giving him cotton candy.