IN LIVING COLOR

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The Messenger by artist Darren Jackson

It is the distinctive characteristic found among the people whose ancestral connections are near or around the equatorial regions of the world. That emblazoned distinction is, COLOR.

Where I grew up the current vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris is called “dougla”, that African and East Indian conjugation product. In the United States she is South Asian. It has a better ring to it, when described as “une femme noire” (French).

DEJA BLUE, (David MCKENZIE)

Braids of hair, saris, lavish gold ornaments and clothing have always been identified with “people of color”; they just did not know until later, that there exist people of colder regions, who love color even more.

Why did the Queen Isabella finance Christopher Columbus journeys to the warmer colorful regions of the world? Gold, and other instruments of color.

Today color is in, and the originators, are not selling it as raw material, but as finished products. There are paintings, utensils, jewelry, clothing, shoes; were Queen Isabella alive today, no steals, unless she paid under the table.

I recently travelled to a mixed media event, hosted by a man of color (un homme noir) and artistry, DAVID MCKENZIE.

CHANGES AT THE BSO 

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Assistant Conductor, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, JONATHAN RUSH

Christmas 2021 is not going to be a repeat of 2020; not at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, housed at the Meyerhoff Symphony Auditorium. 

I am attending a performance by LESLIE ODOM, JR. He made it big starring in the musical HAMILTON, in 2016 (see pic below); and bled the hearts of women as legendary Sam Cooke, in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, the movie.

The Meyerhoff is not the Lyric, though both auditoriums are within kissing distance of each other. The crème de la crème attends the Meyerhoff, and appropriate dress is expected from the orchestra, attendants, et al. 

LESLIE ODOM JR (photo by Christopher Boudewyus)

Should I say, the attendees ran the gamut, and the concert seemed sold out. Odom does not have a hit record; he is not heard on the Black radio stations in Baltimore, and three years ago he was hardly ever known. He is just 40, married, with two children, so what is bringing out this crowd on a warm December? Is it Odom, the new Meyerhoff staff, someone, or something else? I remember the clean-cut altar server looking Odom, singing the Nationwide Insurance commercial. That too has changed. 

I would like to start with orchestra conductor JONATHAN RUSH. Tall, full of spirit, and doubled as the Master of Ceremonies, as he “turned up the volume” introducing his and Baltimore’s own, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and subsequently, the star of the evening, Leslie Odom JR. 

I looked at Jonathan dressed in the expected black, but not the customary tuxedo. He sported a pineapple dread hairstyle, that left “no doubt” it was the repeat of the 1968 Olympics, when two African Americans made headlines, “this is who we are !”. 

Leslie Odom JR., stepped out in white sneakers, a red suit, white tunic, and a boxed fade. He got standing ovations. In an open stadium he would have received flying undergarments in addition to the yells and kisses, this night. 

And get this, at the end of the show, evaporating snowflakes descended from the roof, as though we were “dashing through the snow.” 

Am I at the Meyerhoff? 

LESLIE ODOM JR among other songs, sang, Sam Cooke’s, A CHANGE IS GONNA COME. 

Change has come to the Meyerhoff, and the B.S.O.! 

NO DIGIDY, NO DOUBT 

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THREE GRACES, at the BATHERS POOL

By Robert Cloescott. (Baltimore Museum of Art)

The above phrase “No Digidy, No Doubt”, is unacceptable in any English class, Elementary, Middle or High school. In college only if one is writing a paper researching its origins, and whether such a phrase can be embraced by society at large. 

In 2013, BLACK LIVES MATTER, was launched, when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting death of a Black man Travon Martin. George’s father was well connected, and a former judge. African Americans went ballistic. 

Then came the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The anti-establishment fever got high pitched. Middle white America showed solidarity. Donald Trump dismissed the movement, when the Charlottesville Virginia incident was committed by white supremacists’ activists, with Trump saying, “all lives matter, and they were good people on both sides”. 

Was white America going to look the other way, as the owners of cotton fields did in the 1800’s? 

NO!!! 

The American white suburbia planted signs for all to see BLACK LIVES MATTER! Television commercials began using more black and Asian models, fortune 500 companies were quickly diversifying their boards of directors, and black art graced the entrances of museums, such as the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Double Lilly ll, by SHIRLEY GORELICK (Baltimore Museum of Art)

For the next two months, little known black artists took bows and curtsies as their works were displayed. It was hip-hop artists Dr. Dre and Blackstreet, who wrote the words, “no Digidy no, Doubt”. “I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT” has a different meaning in the “rap” song. These art works are for public scrutiny, at the BMA this month, with “must see” written emblazoned.

SALVATION, by KARA WALKER. (Baltimore Museum of Art)

CABARET WITH A DIFFERENCE 

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SARAH JACKSON a.k.a DOLLY PARTON (MD. Art Place)

I have not attended many cabarets; however, my recollection saw most attendees bring food and drinks, silverware, cups, plates and tablecloths. I’ve seen individuals set up for sale to others, of what they brought to the cabaret. 

I have never attended a white cabaret, except for the movie Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman (2001). 

Why is it called a cabaret anyway? Originally titled La Cabaret, The Club, to distinguish itself from The Tavern. Some people wanted to upgrade their surroundings while having a “drink” and not be uninterrupted by the overly indulged i.e (drunks). 

The separation became more acute when club owners added music. From the piano, the concept morphed to live bands, comic acts, and new fashion outfits. In the black community, it was reliving Harlem of the 1920’s

ERVENA CHLOE and NUMI VAN (MD. Art Place)

Josephine Baker, an African American from St. Louis, Missouri, won the award (in the public’s mind in the 1920’ s) before Nicole Kidman, with moves to the Cancan musical genre, very few could successfully imitate. The French male population had mental seizures watching her perform. 

MICHELLE BLUE (MD. Art Place)

Two weeks ago, I attended a cabaret in downtown Baltimore MD. M.A.P. : Maryland Art Place. It was entitled A 14 KARAT CABARET: 

FOR SOME, LIFE IS A DRAG

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KENDRA

In the original sense, it was something tedious, boring, ..like sitting through a rehearsal with participants who kept forgetting their lines and falling out of character; for some, sitting on a stoop waiting for something, anything to happen to break the monotony. 

EXTASY

For others its going downtown in a fancy car, dressed up riding along the main street, the main “drag”, watching the world lose its mind going in and out of stores, eating ice cream, playing loud music; street vendors hacking their wares! 

KATIE

“Brother can you spare a dime” got replaced with a “drag” on that “cig” (cigarette). That drag was a “hit”, to settle the nerves that called for that nicotine infusion. Today it’s a drag on a “blunt”. In the 1960’s, high schoolers of the PEYTON PLACE era, described their female dates, as “drags” for the night. 

Then there is the dress-up person, usually a male, who has become so enamored with a female celebrity, he impersonates her in the way she walks, talks, dresses, and apply make-up. He then is said to be in “drag.” 

The person being impersonated must have a measure of dominion over her followers, she then is attributed the title QUEEN, thus the morphed phrase, DRAG QUEEN. 

Black men have made drag queening very famous, where they have become more celebrated than the ones they are imitating, the most famous drag queen in the world being Rhu Paul. 

As one who covers culture in and around Baltimore Maryland, I heard there is a thriving community of Drag Queens in Baltimore, and their post pandemic party was being staged at the world’s oldest theatre, THE ARENA PLAYERS, playhouse. 

This is what I saw: 

THE SULTRY ENCHANTMENT OF WATERCOLOR 

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REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST (J.K. Murtha)

If I were to mention names like van Gogh, Geogia Okeefe or Dean Mitchell; for those familiar, the light bulb flashes will blow up in their minds, for I am talking about famous watercolor painters. 

The 20th century witnessed the advent of acrylic painters. Acrylic allows for more versatility; the artist /painter, can use this on multiple surfaces, paper, wood, canvas, glass, metal, plastic

ALINA KURBIEL (Naval Academy Chapel)

The watercolor artist is “more or less” limited to a white surface; however, the next day, that landscape or portrait can be changed with relative ease, unlike the acrylic painter.

KAYAKS (April Rimpo)

Hence the watercolor artist/painter, spends enormously more time at the craft than the acrylic artist; removing that upturned lip in the portrait; catching that subtle shade, the moment the cloud passed over the mountain top, the froth at the top of the wave in the Atlantic Ocean. Sultry enchantment.

 

FLASH of SUMMER (Julia Rogers)

Through December 4th, 2021, the Baltimore Watercolor Society enjoined with several acrylic artists to display their new works, at the McBride Gallery, on Main Street, in Annapolis MD. I made an appearance. 

LADY in RED (Victor Nizovtsev) acrylic
SERENITY (Victor Nizovtsev) acrylic

THE LANGUAGE OF SOUL 

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A summer’s Day

WHEN ONE TALKS ABOUT THE “SOUL” OF A MAN; MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IT REFERS TO THE CONSCIENCE of the BEING; THE MOTIVATION.

THEN THERE IS THE RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION OF “SOUL”. Some BELIEVE THE SOUL DIES, while others, that the soul is immortal

MY SOUL

Outside of philosophy and in particular religion, “SOUL” is often spoken of in the context of ART. 

This is more apparent, because whether it be music, poetry, still or performing art, it is how that individual or the collective see life or have experienced it. 

SOUL BROTHERS
SOUL SISTA

In this edition you are looking with me at two women, who have decided to place their language of “SOUL” on public display. 

I’M EVERY WOMAN

First, MEGAN LEWIS. She wanted to share her “joys, frustrations and prideful moments of Black women”. For that, her “language of soul” became her emotional expose: the thickness of black women: lips, noses, eyes, and the unabashedness with which black women embrace color. Too dark for Yellow or Fuchsia! Not anymore! 

LGBTQ?

Next is Mayble LEE, A JAZZ DANCER AND SINGER, born in Atlanta Georgia. And what is she to Baltimore, MD.? 

For this, welcome the voice of DEREK PRICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUBIE BLAKE CULTURAL CENTER: 

These two exhibitions are currently at the EUBIE BLAKE CENTER, on HOWARD STREET, in Baltimore MD. 

HENRI MATISSE REVISTS BALTIMORE 

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MATISSE , on the lake in France

It is hard to believe that a man coming from a rich background, who later studied law, gave it all up for the “love of art”. 

As can be imagined, he felt the askance look of his parents, who probably said in local parlance, “what the heck?!” 

MATISSE (his curvaceous model)

Without their blessing he went back to Paris to study art. The magic did not envelop until he was introduced to the works of the now famous Van Gogh, who loved portraits. This became MATISSE’s raison d’tre. He later, had a child with one of his models, got married to an aristocrat, with whom he had several children. 

MATISSE (in living color)

This fascination with the female body form apparently made him popular with women, among whom were the socialite CONE sisters of Baltimore Md., CLARIBEL and ETTA. As MATISSE rose in popularity, he became more than an artist to the CONES, they were friends, so much so that he was invited to Baltimore by the sisters, and it is believed, he generated the attention to that of a rock star visiting the Meyerhoff Concert Hall. 

MATISSE is again in Baltimore, starting this month (October 2021) at the BMA.

ETTA CONE by HENRI MATISSE
MATISSE interpretation of Jazz.

MATISSEE DIED AT 85, in 1954, at the height of the Jazz era. He was impressed. 

LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE 

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COLDSPRING JAZZ QUARTET (Picture from Facebook)

Wines for the summer of 2021 have been rated and chosen, “Clos de la Roiulette fleurie” is overall best. For twenty-five dollars, the experts rave about the notes of strawberries and cranberries, and smokey earth. 

In Maryland, Big Cork Vineyards (Washington County) took home the trophy at the Governer’s Cup in 2019. Their Chardonnay is under twenty-seven dollars. 

I have not been invited to any summer parties with homemade wines, or have I had some without being told? 

Usually, such wines are served at home get-togethers, or outdoor events. 

I attended a summer event that tasted like the last of the summer wine. Musical apothecaries, who have toiled at their craft, got together, and invited the neighborhood to a taste. 

THE COLD SPRING JAZZ QUARTET:

GOD IS GOOD

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THE IAN TRUSHEIM GROUP (photo from An die Musik)

It is not an unfamiliar phrase, and is often followed by, “how great though art”! A melodiousness with pleasant tones, that can transform your being to a higher state of consciousness. 

This psychological transformation is not often experienced by all mankind, and knowing this, it has been manufactured and sold like chicken nuggets to the emotionals. 

Western civilization looks at this experience quite differently to those in the East. Many of us are familiar with the male resonant bellow, “God is Great!”, often heard on the battlefield, just before many of the echoers die, for what they believe will come glorious rewards. 

The truth is, God is really good, if you live by the Biblical words of Psalm 34:8, and John 3:16. “HE” has endowed mankind with gifts, that produce wonderment: spaceships, vaccines (Luke was a physician), and musical geniuses, great and small. 

The IAN TRUSHEIM GROUP did that towards the end of August 2021. This group created and performed their version of GOD IS GOOD at An Die Muzik, in Baltimore MD. 

I first talked with Ian about his bass playing artistry: