of note....celebrating people of color in the arts ~ September 2

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   celebrating people of color in the arts

New York City, 1983
© julien de bock

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Emerging Playwright: Ione Lloyd

Ione Lloyd is the winner of the Best Play Award at the 2008 Downtown Urban Theater Festival for This Train is Bound for Glory, a tale of interracial love, sex, betrayal, war, and racism.  She talks with of note about what it means to be a woman of color,  the importance of flawed and imperfect characters in her work, and why she hopes to make her audiences just a little bit uncomfortable.

You identify yourself as a woman of color. How does that label function in your work?

A I don't like labels. But this is one I've definitely chosen for myself.  I don't know if I could choose another one. My work is very personal and very raw. As with any playwright, you write what you know. And I know about being a woman of color. Growing up in the Mid-West felt more like growing up in the 1950s. My father is black and my mother is white. There was a point where I was called nigger more than my name. And so I looked for something to replace. I use woman of color because it empowers me.

Q  Race is usually a significant theme in your plays.  How is that embraced in the business of theater?

A  There are expectations that you are going to do pieces about race.  And that is true. But in my experience, the pieces about race are expected to be different from what I actually present. There is an expectation that characters of color are going to be without flaw, that they will be completely the heroine or the hero. I think we really need to move past that.  You can be a person of color who is a hero to your family and your community and be flawed. We don't have to prove that we're perfect. This is a thread in my work that isn't always readily accepted. But I think it's necessary.

Q As a young and emerging playwright, where do you find mentorship?

A  A lot of possible mentors, even if they are established, are in the same place I am trying to get out of: a survival kind of mechanism.  And so there isn't as much of it as there should be. But mentorship for playwrights like myself is part of an obligation that should be happily accepted. 

Q How do we improve the ways in which emerging playwrights are seen and heard?

A  I find that a lot of theaters are now looking more for established names and less for development of emerging artists.  Putting on the work of more well-known playwrights is obviously a logical financial choice. But they should be paired with emerging artists as a package. Instead, what I see happening now is more and more celebrities choosing to write for theater but on the opposite end, there are no or little residency programs.

Q What sustains and inspires your work?

A  Awakenings. I'm always having awakenings and that gives me hope, they make me worry less about survival and more about the work I have to do.  For example, when I was growing up, to be political or to even vote wasn't something that my tax bracket did.  Government was something done to us.  This election year will be my second time voting. It will also be my mother's second time voting. Her last vote was for JFK.  These are the awakenings that keep me going.

Q What can we expect to see from you in the future?

A I have a piece on women of the Civil Rights Movement.  It deals with the misogyny of the 1950s and 1960s and the difficulty of seeing women in leadership roles as sexual. I'm also working on a musical on female domestic workers of color in New York City.

Q What impression do you hope your work leaves on audiences?

A Of course I want people to be entertained.  But also, I want my work to make them question-question something about themselves or something about their larger community. And I hope for that question to be a little uncomfortable.

Interview conducted & edited by Grace Aneiza Ali 


Paradox Lost and Found

Friday, September 5  @ 6 pm

When presented with modern dilemmas, how do contemporary multicultural artists address contradictions, ambiguity, and truth?  Global Fusion Art's presentation of  Paradox Lost and Found  explores these questions and investigates the boundaries between abstraction and representation, fact and fiction, order and chaos.  The participating artists engage with the uncertain and accepted assumptions in art and culture, presenting contradictions that are at times disconcerting, playful, and unexpected. 

Global Fusion Art is a collective group of multicultural artists and communities committed to supporting cross-cultural understanding through visual arts, music, performance, and multi-media.  Artists pledge 10% of the sale price of artwork and event proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. 

The Spark
161 West 22nd Street
btw 6th & 7th Avenues
New York, NY, 10011

Provocative Visions: Race and Identity
Currently on view

In Provocative Visions, the thirteen sculptures, prints, and drawings by seven contemporary African-American artists-Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, Glenn Ligon, Whitfield Lovell, Alison Saar, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker confront issues of racial heritage and identity.

1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198


Prague, Czech Republic

Invasion 68: Prague
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 4 @ 6 pm

On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Prague, Aperture Gallery presents Invasion 68 Prague, an exhibition of Josef Koudelka's remarkable work made during that one historic week.

On view through  Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street
4th floor
New York, New York

Lorraine O'Grady: Miscegenated Family Album
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 10 @ 6 pm

Lorraine O'Grady's iconic series, Miscegenated Family Album is her 1994 photo-installation of cibachrome diptychs. Originating from her 1980 performance work, Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline, this 16-part photographic series juxtaposes appropriated images from O'Grady's family history with images of iconic Ancient Egyptian sculptures. The image pairs draw uncanny aesthetic parallels, while weaving together narratives that connect personal stories with historical events.

On view through October 11.

Alexander Gray Associates
526 West 26 Street #1019
New York NY 10001.


Havana: The Revolutionary Moment
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 10 @ 6 pm

Havana: The Revolutionary Momentpresents  never-before-seen photographs by veteran Magnum photographer Burt Glinn, recording Fidel Castro's historic entry into Havana.

Photographs of Fidel thronged by his countrymen and women as he stopped to encourage them along the road to Havana, of troops embracing, and of fierce men and women alike taking up arms in the streets-are full of the revolutionary fervor and idealistic anticipation that characterized that moment in Cuban history.

On view through October 31, 2008
Umbrage Gallery
111 Front Street, Suite 208
Brooklyn, NY 11201


The Great Third Front
Opens Thursday, September 11

Chinese artist Chen Jiagang's The Great Third Front captures images of factories and industrial spaces created in Western China during the government's Third Front initiative.  The initiative saw the relocation of workers and industry to China's westernmost regions in an effort to protect China's infrastructure from possible military attack. Jiagang's works discuss the socio-economic implications of such a massive relocation as well as the subsequent social and economic anemia that resulted from the shuttering of these factories.

Edwynn Houk Gallery
745 5th Ave
New York, NY 10151


Provincial Japan
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 11 @ 6 pm

Guido Castagnoli's photographic investigation of the urban landscape of small Japanese towns takes us far from the stereotypes associated with contemporary Japan. There is no frenzied megalopolis, no rapidly expanding techno-city. Nor are there signs of the kind of extreme minimalism often associated with Japanese culture. Instead we encounter an atmosphere of quiet and refined suspension amid the somewhat surrealistic landscape of the Shizuoka district.

Although the settings depicted in the photographs will likely be unfamiliar to American audiences, the subjects, the focus on space and structures, and the conspicuous absence of people are reminiscent of the work of photographers like Stephen Shore, Robert Adams and others from the New Topographic movement.

On view through November 1

Sasha Wolf Gallery
10 Leonard Street
Tribeca, New York 10013


Frida Kahlo and the Mexican Renaissance
On view through Sunday, September 14

Frida Kahlo and the Mexican Renaissanceoffers a number of striking portraits of Frida Kahlo, and brackets these portraits with other works of photographs from an exciting and fertile period in Mexico. 

As talented and socially prominent artists, Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera were frequently the subjects of photographers the couple knew-and helped inspire.  The exhibit includes photographs by Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Hugo Brehme, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Emmy Lou Packard.

Throckmorton Fine Art
145 East 57th Street
3rd Floor
New York, NY 10022


Afghanistan: Art in Response to War

Afghanistan encompasses both beauty and tragedy.  Lately it seems, however, that the word "war" and Afghanistan are becoming increasingly synonymous. Breaking news of yet another terrorist threat have eclipsed Afghanistan's legacy of producing great artists, particularly writers and poets who continue to use art as a direct response to war.

Among the most notable of these Afghan artists was the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, whose eclectic poetry about love, culture, and mysticism has made an enlightening imprint around the world. His incredible influence still lives on today as authors such as Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer consistently refer to his work. Rumi's poetry highlighted the beauty, elegance, grace, and magic of a culture that has been in war for decades.  His poems transcended the boundaries of division. Similarly, Tamim Ansary, a contemporary Afghan author, celebrates both the beauty and struggles of our society.  His book West of Kabul, East of New York highlights his experience as an Afghan-American and speaks to the many trials and tribulations of emigrating from Afghanistan to the United States.

Rumi and Ansary demonstrate the value of  art as a catalyst for social change in the midst of war. The strength of their work, both in the 13th Century and present day, lies in their ability to eclipse war with humanity.

Amina Zamani

Dominican Republic

Junot Diaz: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Tao
Thursday, September 4 @ 7 pm

Ten years after his acclaimed short story collection Drowned, Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz returns with a lollapalooza of a debut novel centered on a grotesquely overweight Dominican-American teenager named Oscar. Lonely, loveless, and living almost completely inside his own head, Oscar is a "ghetto nerd" whose multiple obsessions include comic books, fantasy fiction, and supremely unobtainable women.

In a story that moves back and forth between the Dominican Republic and Paterson, New Jersey, Diaz illuminates the tragic arc of Dominican history (especially under the brutal Trujillo regime) in the lives of Oscar's sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt. Written with witty cultural footnotes, scabrous slang, and touches of magic realism, this heartbreaking family saga is a work of brave originality.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Union Square
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003

Wynton Marsalis: Moving to Higher Ground
Tuesday, September 9  @ 8 pm

Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer Wynton Marsalis explores jazz and how an understanding of it can lead to deeper, more original ways of being, living, and relating-for individuals, communities, and nations.

In Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life, Marsalis shows us how to listen to jazz, and through stories about his life and the lessons he has learned from other music greats, he reveals how the central ideas in jazz can influence the way people think and even how they behave with others, changing self, family, and community for the better.

92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128



Bhutan, South Asia

Cham! Ritual Dances of Bhutan
Saturday, September 13 - Sunday, September 21

http://www.rmanyc.org/programs-events/bhutan.xml?context=programs-events/bhutan.xmlThirteen monks from the monastery fortress of Trongsa in central Bhutan perform the mesmeric ritual demon subjugation dances in public spaces in and around New York City. The serene spectacle of these ancient practices known as cham is performed in elaborate, brightly colored costumes and masks.

Various locations. See Full Schedule.


Dance Festival of India 2008 at Carnegie Hall
Saturday, September 20 @ 8 pm

The most comprehensive program of Indian classical dance ever presented in the United States will take place during the Dance Festival of India 2008 at Carnegie Hall.

The roster of 74 dancers and musicians hail from Kerala, Manipur, New Delhi, and Tamil Nadu, India. Performances will include the Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu, Kathak,  Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and Odissi, representing each of the six distinct types of Indian dance. The six-part concert is America's principle honoring India during her 60th year celebration of Independence.

Carnegie Hall
881 Seventh Avenue
@ 57th Street
New York, NY 10019



Youssou N'Dour: Return to Goree
On screen through Thursday, September 4

Return to Gorée tells of African singer Youssou N'Dour's epic journey following the trail left by slaves and by the jazz music they invented. N'Dour's challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire and to sing those tunes in Goree, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and stands to commemorate its victims.

Two Boots Pioneer Theater
155 East 3rd Street
@ at Avenue A
 New York, NY

Water Flowing Together
Saturday, September 6 @ 3:45 pm

Water Flowing Together  is an intimate portrait of an important American artist, New York City Ballet's Jock Soto, one of the most influential modern ballet dancers. Soto graced the stage of the New York State Theater for 24 years. On the eve of his retirement in 2005, The New York Times wrote: "Ballet is a man called Jock."

Born on a reservation to a Navajo mother and a Puerto Rican father, Soto was raised in a time and place where ballet dancing for boys was virtually unheard of. The film presents a  journey through the disparate worlds which inform this artist. As Soto reflects on his uncertain future, he also attempts to connect with his past, revisiting his Navajo roots and the cultural heritage to which he is at once detached and devoted. Soto's story defies stereotypes in the same way that his dancing transcends the expected.

ACE Film Festival
@  New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019

Cape Verde

Casa de Lava
Saturday, September 13 @ 6:50 pm

This documentary-inflected, dream-like narrative follows Mariana, a young Portuguese nurse as she accompanies a comatose Cape Verdean migrant construction worker back to his barren, economically depressed island homeland.

As she struggles to fit in and piece together the man's elusive history, a larger, shared discourse of displacement surfaces, accompanied by the ghosts of a complex post-colonial history.

Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

About Us

of note celebrates people of color in the arts. It is a premiere online space where art meets activism, empowerment, and social responsibility. The artists and artistic works presented by of note demonstrate a commitment to global citizenship and social change.


of note
serves as a bridge-builder between the contemporary arts and audiences of color. Although people of color continue to make great strides on the stage, screen, gallery walls etc., often they are not equally represented in the audience. Out of that absence, of note was created.

Our mission is two fold: to increase participation in the arts that celebrate people of color and to improve access to the arts for low-income families and under-served communities. We believe that greater involvement in the arts can strengthen families and foster stronger relationships within communities.

 Founder and Director
Grace Aneiza Ali

Executive Editor
Art & Film Editor

Sandrine Colard

Design & Photo Editor
Julien De Bock

Film Contributor
Shahnaz Habib

Book & Music Editor
Clarence Haynes

Dance Editor
M. Soledad Sklate


Amina Zamani

Contact Us

For  information on of note's editorial contributions and our Media Kit contact  Grace Aneiza Ali at grace.ali@ofnotemagazine.org.

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