Hashimoto Contemporary: Showcases French Artist/Illustrator Petites Luxures.

On Sat Jan 5th I attended the opening of French illustrator Petites Luxures at Hashimoto Contemporary art gallery on the Lower East Side. In this inaugural solo exhibition the artist explores intimacy and sexuality in his signature minimalist style.

For the first time in New York, artist Petites Luxures mixed media installations and ink on paper at Hashimoto Contemporary art gallery.

The venue was packed as I arrived, with a very chic artsy crowd which even extended unto the sidewalk on Rivington Street. I found the artists work interesting, sexy (of course) as well as very thought provoking with many hidden (in plain sight) and witty innuendoes.

What was almost more interesting than the artists unique creations, was the fashionable artsy patrons filling almost every square inch of the gallery itself.


The exhibition will run through Saturday Jan 26. 210 Rivington Street New York, NY. I highly suggest you bring a date. Who knows, maybe you will be inspired into something………..”out of the box” for Valentines day!

Just a provoking thought……………

The Amazing Amanda Holley: A Rising Star whose Light and Music Will Heal the World.

On a spring like day in the middle of the week in February I find myself walking into a cozy and chic coffee-house in Gramercy Park to meet with the amazing Amanda Holley and her manager the legendary Ralph Cooper the 2nd, while they were enjoying a late brunch and sipping coffee. (yeah it was that kind of day). Upon seeing me enter the restaurant, they both invited me to join them. Sitting next to an iconic legend on one side and the beautiful Amanda on the other I felt like royalty (while ordering a large coffee)  for I definitely was in the presence of royalty. After catching up with my two old friends in some meaningful and intelligent conversation, I began my interview with Amanda Holley, who is a recording artist, musician, song writer, and a published poet.

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Amanda who is an east coast native (Born in Newark NJ) and spent most of her time “bouncing between Jersey and the Upper West Side of Manhattan when I finally met my aunt who actually was a songwriter who wrote for Stephanie Mills.” Amanda went on to tell me: “First and foremost I’m an artist. I make music because it’s who I Am, my mom told me that I sang even before I could speak, my Mother was a trained concert cellist and joked that she trained my ear in the womb. She went to the Manhattan School of Music, and my dad who I met later on in my childhood wrote for Sara Vaughan and he sang and played the piano, so maybe it came from my parents but I’ve always been a singer and will always be a singer, and the songwriting thing I was doing since I was about three, I started playing violin when I was two and a half and piano when I was around four, I started teaching myself (more self-taught with the piano, mainly forcing myself to play the piano to get all my song ideas out).”

I asked Amanda how does she work when she’s writing songs: “Mostly for me with the songwriting I always say the songs are in the air. I just pull them out of the sky, out of the ether. It feels like the music is always there at any given moment in time. Let’s say I’m going to fix breakfast now, than a song comes out. If I’m just sitting down like Ralph is sitting there, than like five, ten, twenty songs will just keep coming. I’m not saying that every single song is a pop song, or that every song is something I would play for like radio, maybe it would be more of a piece for theater or maybe classical.”

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(Photo Credit: Tian Qiu) 

Now anyone who really knows me knows that I love classical music. So I asked Amanda how she feels about Bach and Beethoven: “Classic music is awesome! Bach is my boo, Beethoven is my hubby, Sondheim is my second hubby. Sondheim is technically musical theatre, but I started playing violin when I was two and a half because I saw my mother playing in the orchestra pits, I was sitting with her in the pits and everyone had a violin, and I was like, I need one too.”

“Classical music is something that is in me, and I think that it’s really incredible that I landed an incredible musician for a mom, to go to her school and study. Classical music has a huge influence on R&B music, so it’s really cool to hear it that way, it’s also something that I may have taken for granted, when I was around ten years old my aunt went to Julliard and she wrote for Stephanie Mills and managed her for the first portion of her career, she discovered her at a talent pageant when she was 13, her friend was the director of the prep program, and I started working with teachers at Julliard and that was really an experiment for me to open my voice up to doing different things that I didn’t even know that was there, and I started singing a lot of classical music as well as playing it.”

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The most important thing to Amanda artistically is the purity of the music and really being who she is: “The music is the only place where I can be myself, and the stage is where I actually feel at home and free of everything, like that where I feel like I’m flying. I always say singing is like breathing to me, so like everywhere else in life I just feel real awkward, but when I’m making the music it feel like the real me. And when it comes to artistry the thing that always inspires me to be honest in my work is remembering all the great artists that inspired me and gave me hope and gave me the insight into life that I needed as a little girl, so inspiring others is a big deal for me.”

(Photo Credit: Phyllis Meredith and  Sekou Diarra)

One of the many amazing things about Amanda is that one can tell that she is an old soul that is very spiritually connected to all living beings, just by listening to her talk, and when she sings it reverberates through the very core of your being. prior to the interview when we were talking, I discovered that we read the same books on spirituality by some of the same authors, ancient and current. She is truly aware of her own consciousness and how it’s connected to everything and everyone else which reflects in her songwriting and more so when she’s singing.

(Photo Credit: Nino Ignacio)

I asked Amanda what role she thinks an artist plays in society: “I think that every artist serves a different purpose. Artist’s are not just people walking around that decided to wear something cool and put a statement on their head, artists are extensions of the universe working through us (humanity) and for us, so each artist serves a certain purpose. Some are instigators, some are offering insight about fate, some might be allowing us to release our pain, whether it’s Metallica or Prince or Madonna, each artist serves its purpose.”

(Photo Credit: Steve Berebbi)

“I’ve always known my purpose, people would ask me to sing and they would cry or be happy. When I’m just living the music it allows people to get in touch with what their feeling or what they are holding back from themselves, and it frees something in them too, whatever it is, it could be passion or hurt, pain or love or whatever the feeling is. So emotionally I’m here to be a catalyst (a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change) for other people to live out what their feeling. Also to provide inspiration, ultimately when I get to where I want to be, I want to be here for people because my second love is for people, actually my love for both is equal, and children especially, I want to work with kids.” Her response to this question moved me greatly.

     (Photo Credit: Steve Berebbi  and Dan Culleton)

Amanda believes in the power of music to bring people together and to heal: “Getting people to sing together, and be together in that moment and get every age, color and ethnic background and their all going to come together in that one moment, in one song for those few minutes and all be transported to another zone, and to be able to be a conduit for that is a major blessing for me which just makes me happy. To me that shows the power of music. Music, frequency, and sound waves is what everything is created on. This makes my whole life worth it, to able to get up and tell my story, realizing that no matter where an individual comes from, each human being has lived the same story, just a bit differently, and the more that I’ve embraced that, the more that I’ve been able to let go of my own pain, and transform it.” Spiritual Alchemy indeed!

Holley, Amanda

January 2017 Hartford

 

(Photo Credit: Phyllis Meredith)

When song writing I asked Amanda what sort of themes does she pursue: “I’m a romantic so I write a lot about love in all it’s forms, love for people as a whole, love for that person I’m in love with, and love for myself which I’m learning to do everyday, and I’m getting close to that goal.”

Asking Amanda about what’s scary about the music industry, she had this to say: “The music industry is a pretty cutthroat industry, and you can have people who you think are your friends and those same people can turn around and do things to you that are painful and horrible. It can be scary at the time, like you can put your whole career in this persons hand and they went completely AWOL, and now I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, when someone does something catastrophic to your art, it’s hard to continue, but that was the moment when Ralph stepped in, and I knew from the minute I heard his voice, but I didn’t know just how instrumental he would be, and I was very blessed, because you have a lot of people in this business that talk and do things for you, but very few who actually care.”

(Photo Credit: Phyllis Meredith)

Concerning a real life experience that inspired Amanda, she told me: “Reuniting  with my father was a big deal for me, I only met him a few times, and I heard he was on his last leg and I went to talk to him anyway despite my aunt and people around me concerned that I would experience sadness or pain. I went to see my dad and this was the most conversation we ever had, but my father as a writer for Sara Vaughan whose work actually he was never compensated for, but his name is on the record as Greg Holley, which is something I’m working on now. My dad didn’t recognize me as I walked in the door, I told him who I was and he was like “Oh My God”, and I played him what I was working on, and the Grammys was actually on that night, people were on the red carpet. He listened to my music and said “There is so much passion in your voice” overjoyed.  The next day my father went into a coma, and he was out for two days, my uncle didn’t want to tell me fearing that it would upset me. I finally came to the hospital and I took his hand, with my aunt and the nurse there, and I played him my music that I played for him on the first visit, especially the one that I could tell was his favorite called “Work in Progress” which is a song that I will probably release on my third album. Upon me playing my song for him, my dad actually came out of the coma, sat up looked at me, smiled and said “I love you and I’m sorry”. That was the healing power of music which can reach across all circumstance and situations in this universe. Music healed my father, and he stuck around for about eight more months with only 20% of  brain wave function, he stuck around that long for me.” A true testament to the light working of this phenomenal woman’s music.

(Photo Credit: Tian Qiu) 

So was she sent to earth to help and heal humanity? A demi-goddess, angel-incarnate? I believe maybe a little bit of both. Whatever the case may be, Aretha Franklin thought she was special. While Amanda was at Coney Island Summer Series, she watched Aretha perform and backstage stopped to give Amanda compliments: “Aretha was super cool to me backstage, she would always come over to me and give me like three seconds to say things like “you’re gonna be alright”, “I love those shoes”.

At this point right in the middle of the interview, all three of our phones rang in tandem, It was Carl Van Neveus III, executive producer of CODE NYC Media Group/Code NYC Magazine, who was hosting the DJ Dougie Fresh radio show that day, calling us to give shout outs on the radio show. After Ralph, Amanda and myself took our turns taking on the show, we got back to the interview.

Not surprisingly, Amanda continued by talking about spiritual matters: “I meditate a lot, I love candles, angels, crystals. I love all traditions, I love to draw from almost all spiritual teachings. I’m very eclectic spiritually, like a hippie, except I don’t smoke weed, lol.”

I asked Amanda what super power she would have and why?: “I would have the power to fly, so I could fly around and save people, and be able to see  what’s going on in different parts of the world to be able to help.”

And just what would make this woman angry?: “Injustice, lying, and hypocrisy makes me angry.”

I then asked Amanda what would be her dream project: “To provide, feed, clothe and house every kid in this world actually, and all just love with no strings attached, and education that’s not indoctrinated, that’s my dream project.”

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Amanda’s most inspirational place is: “The first place is the Cloisters, I love the energy there. I love being in nature, waterfalls, on top of a mountain, and the third place is anywhere where there is beautiful shoes.”

     (Photo Credit: Kevin Michael Reede and Joseph Calinda )

 

Amanda released her first hit single “Feenin” in mid 2016, and music video, under contract with tommy boy records, and is planning a show at the W hotel in Manhattan on March, 29th. Also later this year will be the release of two more singles and music videos, that I got a little look at (everything is so hush-hush) but all I can say is that it will be amazing. Expect to see Amanda at shows and festivals all this year, including the Code NYC music events.

     (Photo Credit: Tian Qiu )

I hope one day in the near future I will get to hear Amanda play some classical music, or even do an album or classical show, which I’m sure I would die from the sheer brilliance of the composition of her music and siren-like voice, but I’m sure that if I do perish, that Amanda would simply resuscitate me with the octave of her voice from one of her beautiful and heavenly songs. Amanda is here to stay, for the next 300 years, and we are so lucky to have her.

 

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(Photo Credit: Steve Berebbi)

CREDITS:

Record Label: Tommy Boy Records

Manager: Ralph Cooper 2nd

Photo Credits:

Phyllis Meredith

Kevin Michael Reede

Joseph Calinda

Tain Qu

Dan Culleton

Sekou  Diarra

Nino Ignacio

Amanda Holley’s Mom

Nick Fowler and Natasha Komis : Perform at Chelsea Station for Code NYC Weekly Music Series.

On Wednesday Jan 11th Nick Fowler and Natasha Komis gave a riveting performance for the Code NYC weekly music series at Chelsea Station. Nick and Natasha played for a small and intimate crowd of industry people and performed some fantastic covers.

First, Sax player Geno Marriott  from the D.C area opened up for the duo playing a couple of amazing sets which was quite impressive.

 

Then “Nick and Natasha” played seven sets of covers, which included John Lennon’s “Imagine”, “Wonderwall” by Oasis, Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World”, Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69”, a tribute to the late George Michael’s “Father Figure”, and Gun’s and Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”.

The two then closed with another Bryan Adams song “Everything I Do” with Geno Marriott joining in on the sax, which really blew everyone away for a stunning final. Needless to say this was a rare treat for all that attended!

 

Javier Avila’s Gallery Exhibition “Be My Icon” Opening

Masterful artist Javier Avila has some never seen before drawings, as well as some new pieces at the Storefront Project on the Lower East Side. I had the honor of being received by the artist at the grand opening of his “Be My Icon” gallery exhibit.kimg12541

Icon Artist Javier Avila

Painting and never before seen Drawing by Javier Avila

 

Icon Liz Taylor and  The Storefront Project Gallery owner Gina Pagano with the artist Javier Avila.

 

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A Testament to the Artist by Gabriel de Guzman

The“Be My Icon” Exhibit runs through December 10, 2016. Be sure to stop by the Storefront Project at 70 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and meet the Artist Javier Avila and the gracious Gino Pagano and, see the fabulous art culture of the Icon himself Javier.

The Incredible Nick Fowler: An Artist for the 21st Century

 

I was invited to a photo shoot in midtown Manhattan by Top Physicians Magazine to write an article on Nick Fowler and Natasha Komis. As I mingled with some of the invited guests like Amanda Holley, Ralph Cooper, photographers, music and video producers, make-up artists, stylists, and art directors, I met Nick Fowler, who has a very impressive career in the creative arts. Actor, Writer, Poet, Singer, Songwriter, and Rock Star. A true artist for the 21st century.

(Ralph Cooper, Amanda Holley, Nick Fowler, and Art Director Tian Qiu)

In short it is very hard not to like Nick Russel Fowler. Despite his good looks and gentle mannerisms, and aside from being a published novelist, journalist, animal lover and humanitarian (he believes in the healing powers of music, performing his songs live for sick patients in hospitals for the charity “Musicians on Call” on a weekly basis) Nick has a very deep connection emotionally with himself and others, and is not afraid of this essential part of him.

Nick’s first novel, “A Thing (or Two) About Curtis and Camilla”, was published in 2002 by Pantheon Books in the U.S. and across the pond in the U.K. by Hodder & Stoughton and became a best seller.

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Nick’s poetry has been published in the Tribeca Review, and has written articles for GQ magazine among others. Nick Fowler has also taught fictional writing courses at NYU in New York, his creative talent seems endless. Graduating from Cornell University, were he studied Music and Creative Writing and was front man for the band “Proven Guilty”.

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Nick Fowler also founded the pop band “Tonto Tonto” after moving to New York along with producer and guitar player Gregg Wattenberg and base-player Greg Smith who has worked with the likes of Alice Cooper and Alan Parsons. Nick Fowler has performed live with Steve Stevens of Billy Idol fame in 2011.   Nick has appeared as an actor in the tenth episode of the HBO series The Sopranos. “A Hit is A Hit” as well as composing the music for that episode with Gregg Wattenberg. Nick has had his song “You Don’t Remember” featured on the T.V series 90210 in 2010, as well as others featured in television commercials and motion pictures.

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Nick’s latest project is his collaboration with former American Apparel model, Rock-Singer, writer and video producer Natasha Komis. Natasha Komis’s music/EP can be found on iTunes which includes the song hit “Party of the Year,” produced by Anthony Fonseca.

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The rocker Natasha Komis has toured her music opening up for iconic 80s bands like LA GUNS, KIX, Bang Tango, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row and shared the stage with Frank Ferrer of Guns N Roses, appeared on MTV and VH1. Holding a bachelor of Communications and Fine Arts from Seton Hall University, she spends the rest of her time writing and producing PSA video projects, like the “Save Art and Music,” campaign which focuses on keeping art and music within the public school systems. Her latest sci-fi music video production, “Glam Rox,” directed by Gerard Mendez, was entered into the Winter Film Festival of 2016.

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We will be seeing more of the “Natasha Komis and Nick Fowler,” project with their up and coming band, “CLASS X,” performing both originals and classic hits. This musical duo seems to complement each other in various ways, the look, the sound and contrast and the interaction between the two. I had the opportunity to hear them sing together, and the wonderful strumming of Nick on the guitar.

During my interview with Nick I asked him why the two decided to team up, and he told me Nick: “When we write together we kind of become one person, one singer. And some of the songs I write have a higher pitch that I can’t reach, but she can”.

Natasha: “We both are trying to find ourselves again musically and personally, we both sort of fell off for a while which is a very scary thing.”

Nick: “Yes, if I’m not being creative, if I’m not creating stuff it really affects my health, I become physically sick.”

From what I observed while watching them perform and taking press photo shots as well as talking with the both of them together and individually, I see what they are trying to create from their combined efforts, a Neo-Punk-Rock-Pop Romantic sound that’s just ripe for the 21st century.kimg12451

Elaine Romanelli: A Most Outstanding Singer, Songwriter, and Composer. Folk Music at it’s Best.

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Elaine Romanelli is a singer songwriter, and composer who also plays guitar and the piano. With a degree in music Elaine has been singing her whole life, and just recently has started playing instruments, though you would not believe such a thing if you happened to sit for one of her performances which I’ve had the pleasure of doing on a few occasions. Her voice and piano playing have a smooth and soothing effect on you, which is the perfect setting for relaxation and introspection, transporting you to a realm both familiar and new.

 

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Elaine has been performing for over 15 years as a singer, she decided to write song 10 years ago. during my interview with Elaine she mentioned that besides playing guitar and piano, she would also like to learn to play the harmonica. Being half Italian and Irish Elaine’s parents was fond of singing while taking road trips, she sang in the choir at church, at camp and while washing dishes. With a background in musical theater in San Francisco as well as singing chamber classical music, it is no wonder that her enchanting and well trained voice can suspend you in time along with her intriguing melodies. “Singing chamber music is so beautiful and fun, I really love it” Elaine told me.

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With musical influences like Yo-Yo Ma, “He is so expressive, with what he can do with the cello, pushing boundaries.” Carol King, “so many hits.” The female classical pianist Sara Bareilles, The folk music songwriting of Star Williams, and most recently Taylor Swift.

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Elaine attended an after school music instruction program since she was 4 years old until she was twelve, composed songs in high school, and went on to study music at City College in San Francisco. She says “There is some value in surrounding yourself with those that are better than you.” “Music is a non-rational thing, exciting and stirring; anyway to get to music is a good way.”

Elaine Romanelli is one of those rare musical talents that easily blends classical and folk music to create a mood and emotion that relates to the unique and pure nature of storytelling in her songwriting, which she is able to bring out with remarkable ease in her performances.

tt“Music is fundamentally a collaborative art, the exchange between the performer and the audience.”

d048e5318389cb0f9e6c6f960344931d83b4619aElaine told me that she “would love to find a musical partner that would be a perfect match for her, that would get along with her husband”, when I asked her what would be a dream project for her.

 

 

Elaine has three CD’s under her belt, the first album: “Better by Far” (2006) in which she only sang didn’t play any of the instruments with original songs like (“Fly”, “Better by Far” and “One Small Drop”), “Real Deal” (2010) includes all original songs such as (“Song about the Trees”, “Faust Revisited”, and “Naughty Lola”), and the third “The Hour Before” released in 2015, she played only one instrument on each song. Her latest album “The Hour Before” includes wonderful songs Like (‘25’, “Forty Back” and “Starting Over”). I could easily see one of her songs as a soundtrack for a Hollywood or television movie. Don’t be surprised if you see her performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center in the near future, such is the high caliber of her voice and songwriting.

 

For more info of her amazing work check out her website: http://www.elaineromanelli.com.

Elaine will be performing:

In Philadelphia in Nov 2016

Chicago in March 2017

Elaine also does house concerts and is available for bookings.

Check out her website for more details and contact information.

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Exclusive Interview with Producer and Apollo Theatre Icon Ralph Cooper: Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot with Amanda Holley.

Ralph Cooper the 1st was born on January 16, 1908 in Harlem New York City. He was an African American actor, screenwriter, choreographer, dancer and entertainment administrator who is best known for starting the Amateur Night at the Apollo theater, not only as the founder of this event at the historic venue, but also as the original master of ceremonies in 1934. Ralph Cooper the 1st, was cast in Hollywood feature films in supporting roles such as the 1932 movie Blonde Venus, and Lloyd’s of London and White Hunter in 1936. The film “Poor Little Rich Girl”, staring Shirley Temple, was choreographed by Cooper also in 1936.

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Ralph Cooper the first, known as “Dark Gable” in the 1930’s is due to his courteous good looks, he stared in several African American Films alongside the likes of Lena Horne and Duke Ellington.

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The author of over ten screenplays, and involved in the business side of music, he was “special consultant” for the film The Cotton Club in 1984.  His son Ralph Cooper the 2nd took over as master of ceremonies at the Apollo Theater when he fell ill and eventually died of cancer on August 4, 1992.

 

Ralph Cooper the 2nd not only continued his father’s legacy at the Apollo, became a mover and shaker as a producer in music and the entertainment industry. I had the privilege of conducting this exclusive interview with Ralph Cooper at a private photo shoot of his current rising star and amazing singer Amanda Holley at Hudson Pine lofts in midtown Manhattan.

Ralph Cooper grew up in a very famous New York theater music legacy, his father invented Amateur Night at the Apollo and found the icons of American music, who came up with the idea in 1933 and put the show on in 1934. His mother was a singer in the 1940’s who was the leader and drummer of her band, “Which was very unheard of for women at the time whether black, white or any ethnicity, it was just anti-woman as far as the music industry and women working was concerned.” Ralph said to me that he “feels from the bottom of his heart that he is very blessed to have been raised by pioneers.” His father as “a producer, invented shows, launched careers, made things happen, looking back on American history where would our whole culture be without Ella Fitzgerald or Billy Holiday? These were the icons, the base of American music, I like to say I’m a freedom fighter, a pioneer, I want to blow open the doors, I’m an artist, but I use that art to further the culture.”

 

I asked Ralph why does he do what he does? “Less and less people are doing it, in a digital evolution revolution, less people that can stand and really create something out of nothing. I think the digital revolution allows us to be very creative. The money faster, the communication is faster, and the ideas can travel longer; but you still need the human nature of being able to stand in the storm, be a lighthouse, stand out and create your own math, create your own island and create your own dream making it a reality. There is less and less of those people around, so I’m very blessed and thankful that I’m able to still do that in various forms of the arts, music, film, television, and by de-facto you are creating a lot of jobs. “Not only are you telling a lot of stories, your employing a lot people long term, and many people who have worked for him in productions have told him that they were very thankful to be working because they to are artists and without this opportunity to express themselves they might not have a platform to do so. The digital outlet can be a very crowded digital highway.”

I asked Ralph about his experience at the Apollo and he had this to say. “I grew up there as a child as a baby crawling across that stage, I heard that stories in the background as a kid growing up, which was an ongoing evolution. I experienced being on the laps of some of the greatest of the greats, but it is a piece of history that I know extremely well. I was very happy to produce alongside my dad, and actually learn from him in a way. I was with him all day everyday as a kid, so I was able to really learn things, which have hit me later on in life. I mean even after being 30 or 40, and was wow, that something I learned back when I was 12 because I sat in on a situation or this piece of history means something to me and is motivating me to do this, because I was there as a kid when Martin and Malcolm met, and I know that the American Black Culture is being directed  towards something here, there or everywhere.  The Apollo being the lighthouse beckon of black entertainment worldwide is very important to me not only growing up in the legacy but to continue the legacy.”

During my interview with Ralph, I asked how he came about managing and producing Amanda Holley, and what he had to say was very inspiring. “I sort of made a left turn, after signing a lot of act’s and after getting a lot of record deals over a period of time during my career, with Island records, signing Ice-T with Sire, having my own label with Universal, Amanda came to me at a time I when let the label go at Universal. I had made a left turn in motion pictures, I moved to L.A. then moved back to New York, I had totally retired from music managing, I was not doing it; I had my rap group on Capital. I had done everything in that business that you can do. I heard Amanda’s signing, and her artistry, and the people that contacted me about her were overwhelmed, and did not know what to do, and I was blown away. I said to her, you are an immortal artist. You can have a legacy like Aretha Franklin or Billy Holiday.”

“So I was literally brought out of music management retirement to help direct a career that I thought was a huge legacy art, that 50 or a100 years from now people would know her name and if they didn’t know her music exactly they would at least know who that artist was and what that artist represented. The way that we can stop a 21 year old and millennial on the street and say “Billy holiday” they might not be able to recall any of her songs, but they will know who Billy Holiday is.

That kind of over art, that kind of immortal art, is where I thought everything was with Amanda. She is an amazing talent, in an amazing time, she’s an old soul, she’s got a five-octave range, she’s got perfect pitch and sounds like nobody else right now. She sounds like someone twice her age, with how she writes, how she sings it, what she feels and how she approaches a song. She too young to know the depth of the pain that she writes about. She grew up with a songwriting father and a mother who is a concert cellist, so I believe it is all channeled through her. I think her depth of writing will have a worldwide impact and surprise on pop culture. Amanda’s poetry has been, published by Columbia press at the age of 14, and sang with Les Paul. Amanda vocal trained Lauren Hill, who sought her out for lessons.” All this from a young woman who had a rough childhood.

 

Credits:

Elevation Media

Code Media Group Inc.

Amanda Holley’s Photographer: James Weber

Hudson Pines Lofts

Record Label: Tommy Boy Records

 

 

 

Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center: the last black owned bookstore in Harlem

 

I met with Janifer P. Wilson Owner and Visionary of Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center, Inc. Janifer was a health care professional for over 30 years as a physician at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in the department of surgery, and recently retired. After retiring from health care Janifer had a calling and opened up Sister’s Uptown Bookstore in 2000, which specializes in Afro American Authors, and added the Cultural Center in March of 2007.  Janifer grew up in Georgia in the south, and felt that she was invisible due to the lack of black young woman or men for that matter being depicted in schoolbooks, which led her to question “Who I’m I?” As it would happen, circumstances enabled Janifer to move to New York where she “contemplated opening a business”.

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Janifer searched uptown Harlem at the age of 17 and looked for bookstores that represented black culture and our black history, and found the “Tree of Life” Bookstore on 125th street on Lenox Ave, “Black Books Plus” on 94th Broadway, “Liberation” Bookstore on 134th and Lenox Ave. Janifer would always find herself at the “Tree of Life” bookstore on 125th street because “that’s where all the elders in the community would gather, and talk current events and trying to make changes to better the plight of African Americans. “There was a kind of energy back then, and the elders would tell stories about how things were as they were growing up”. This “oral tradition” that these elders passed on in the late 70’s to the younger generations was of a vital importance.

Janifer feels that her mission is to be a “beacon of light”, because when she first opened the bookstore in 2000 the area in “Sugar Hill” was a dark and drug infested place, and while the few professional that lived there moved out of the neighborhood to New Jersey or elsewhere, she vowed to stay and educate, to pass on the importance and vibrant history of African Americans.

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After speaking with this Highly intelligent and Spiritual woman I realized that now she has become one of the elders of Harlem that she would visit and listen to so often as a young woman. Janifer’s aura and reassuring nurturing  voice not only inspired me, but raised in me a sense of pride about my heritage in a way that I was unable to achieve before, simply by being in this woman’s presence.  I listened carefully to her words as she told me about the parts she played in the civil rights movement which is why her family sent her to New York, because they thought she would be killed in the south, and how she emulates the feel and vibration of the “Tree of Life” bookstore of her youth.

 

Janifer has a keen allegiance with independent Artist, Authors, and Jewelry makers. She sells jewelry that is one of kind, and made by local merchants. Partners with self published authors; allowing them to have book signings free of charge, so that authors can make some money from their literary works. Aside from selling books on black history and culture, but there is also a café, that boosts vegan cakes, herbal tea, fruit smoothies, sugarless soft drinks, which rounds out the whole Holistic feel of the place that is of course very Afro Centric.

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I highly recommend local Harlem residents to visit this hidden gem in the mists of Sugar Hill, even if it’s to have a cup of coffee or herbal tea, and have a chat with the wonderful erudite woman who is so full of knowledge and warmth.  Or attend one of their events at the cultural center; they have Gong meditation on the last Tuesday of every month with chimes and sound. Jazz on the 3rd Tuesday of every month; a Sisterhood mediation which meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

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Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center is located at 1942 Amsterdam Avenue, 156th Street, New York, NY 10032. Or check out their website@ http://www.SistersUptownBookstore.com

 

“Knowledge of Self is the Key!”

 

 

The Amazing Abstract Art World of Anthony Boone: A Boone for the Art World

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Anthony Boone who resides in Jersey City NJ describes himself as an Artist, Father, and Rail Road Conductor, who started painting in 2005. It all began as a hobby, painting for himself to simply beautify his home, and when he invited guest over, they all greatly admired the art he created and urged him to pursue his natural artistic talent. Anthony has been working as a railroad conductor for about 25 years, and as a self taught artist for the last 16 years and has been creating sculptures for the last five years.  Anthony was very gracious to make time for my interview with as he was on his way to drop off one of his art works for a charity gala on Park Ave slated for June 6th 2016 at the request of a Miss Melissa Jane with “A Party for a Cause.”

 

Anthony Boone told me that he feels that “Art choose him” and has a “very unorthodox” approach when it comes to creating a work of art, a bottle of wine and his favorite music aids him to create from raw emotion. Anthony just” pulls out all his paint and materials and just begins to paint, without knowing what colors he is going to use”, nor a concept in mind, he just “Throws himself in.” Never quite sure when one of his works are finished, he “walks away for a day or two to think, and when he comes back knows if the work is finished or if he needs to add more or not.”

Anthony feels that it is very integral in his work to produce “good quality work”; “If I can get someone who is not really into abstract art to stop and be curious about one of my works” is of the utmost importance to him, he told me. “I think that artists are much needed in the world to express and reflect what is going on in the world around us on a global scale, including politics.”

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A very seminal experience for Anthony is when a young woman and mother contacted him on Instagram, when he was doing his “150 series” which went viral on the internet while promoting his T-shirt line, told him that she really didn’t know that much about art but his work really spoke to her, and had a profound impression on her two year old son and which inspired him to draw, and sent them to Anthony, who was very deeply touched.

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Anthony Boone told me that he has a certain type of relationship with his art works, “I actually work with the paint, and it takes on a life of its own, I watch the paint dry and have a deeper understanding of the different types of paint that I’m working with”.  One theme that Anthony has been thinking of doing for some time now is a “Jimmy Hendrix” series which is very taunting for him as the subject is so powerful and he wants to do it justice.

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This abstract, impressionist artist admires other artist such as “Hebrew Bradley” an airbrush artist from Chicago, who sold his painting “I’m Scared” to Jay-Z and Jackson Pollock.  In 2009 the murder of Anthony Boone’s brother, who suggested to Anthony before his passing that he should sell his art on clothes and inspired Anthony to do just that is an example of a real life situation  that can drive an artist’s creativity.  Anthony Boone is a very shy person and you would not think that by the powerful impressions his art work radiates, but he is afraid of public speaking he told me.

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Anthony Boone’s artist outlook on life is “the total freedom to enjoy life, the only thing that I can control in life is my art. you can’t define art.”  Each creation by Anthony is considered as “his children” and is very hard to part with sometimes.”  Anthony really likes the “movement and texture of his work and his dream project is to have the rail road fund him a box-car and have a moving art show from Miami to Florida showcasing local artists work “A moving art show”.

 

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The best teacher Anthony believes is traveling, “When I went to Italy, I learned much about the food, daily habits, culture of the country, the family value’s and the simple way of life they live, it makes you well rounded.”   The abstract art works of Anthony Boone are unique and thought provoking, in the sense that they stimulate activity in the right side of the brain which controls visualization and creativity which is why one of the chef’s and Mixologist at Red Rooster, Tony Santana requested Anthony to create an apron featuring his art work for him to wear, which Anthony did for free, and actually created two for him.

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The Stylish and Artistic works of Javier Ávila: Beauty and Style in Art.

The very Stylish artist Javier Ávila always loved fashion as a child, in fact he “Love’s all things beautiful and stylish.”  Born in Mexico, Javier moved to San Francisco Ca where he started painting at 16 years old, worked as a dresser for a theater company. And at 18 became an apprentice to a milliner from New York who taught him to make hats, later to break away and start his own hat business catering to an exclusive clientele in San Francisco for about four years.

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( Javier and his portraits of Josephine Baker) Photo credit: Will Vaults

 

Javier worked in theater production, fashion hat accessories, and segwayed into costume designing before moving to New York where he started interior design, but was encouraged to return to painting after a short hiatus by his friends. Painting a portrait of his mother in 2006 “rebooted” his painting and he has been going strong ever since.

Loving to paint elegant and stylish portraits of famous and iconic women, Javier has created a series of very beautiful and influential woman of the arts such as Josephine Baker, Audrey Hepburn, and Jennifer Lopez.

Before starting a work of art, Javier loves to conduct deep research on his subjects. Being self -taught, his lets his inspiration flow into his work, usually while listening to music and surrounding himself with objects that relate to the subject he’s working on.

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(Sophia Loren, Maria Felix, Audrey Hepburn, and Cher by Javier Avila) Photo credit: Will Vaults

Javier feels that artist play an important role in making people think, not just about the beauty of the world around them but also the beauty that is within them.  Javier told me that his work has evolved over time becoming, “more fine tuned”, but sort of stayed the same in a way. Experimenting more with different techniques, his work has become “more-clean” and refined “producing a stronger statement.”  Inspired by the great masters like “Gustav Klimt” and “Diego Rivera” he likes to combine his love of fashion, jewelry, and clothing in his work, despite the fact he is regarded as a “pop-artist.”

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(Maria Felix Portrait by Javier ‘Avila) Photo credit: Kenneth Norwich

The next collection of paintings that Javier is working on is the “Chanteuse Collection” which will feature “Sade”, “Amy Winehouse”, “Grace Jones”, “Billy Holiday” and “Anna May Wong” the first Chinese American female movie star! This series will explore the darker side and concepts of love, which will have a more 1950’s spin.

Javier Avila loves the fact that his work is fun and makes people happy, especially when people notice the hidden signatures in his painting as well as the story behind some of jewels or clothing the subjects in his paintings are wearing.

When Javier is creating, he is usually by himself so “the artistic life can be a bit lonely.” To counteract this he told me he just goes to parties.  A big turn off for Javier is “bad manners and rudeness” and people who have no compassion.”

This charming, intelligent, and fashionable artist reflects these attributes in his work and is certainly bound for fame A’ la Andy Warhol!

(Feature Photo credit: Kenneth Norwich)