Tag Archive | art

The 2015 Recap Edition

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This is my 2015 recap. I wouldn’t say that 2015 was a banner year. But I don’t have those. I think not having many major life milestones is a contributing factor. No wedding, engagement, babies or new businesses. So it was just like any other year. Two items of note:

  1. I barely blogged this year. I ended up in a very toxic, soul sucking work environment and all I want to do when I get home is collapse on the couch and work on lump status. Ironically, my last project at my previous job was conducting employee focus groups. I was so amazed at how miserable employees were. People would be near tears when we asked the simple question of “how do you get along with your boss?” Now I get it. Bad workplaces sap every ounce of energy you have.
  2. Being miserable at work caused me to reevaluate my life. I became very Shalina-focused. I decided to not spend much energy chasing behind other people. I realized that I put forth much of the effort in many of my relationships and that ceased. I didn’t call first, extend many invites or deal with much selfishness. I just didn’t have the energy. This also affected my Top Ten Life. Not as many outings to discuss.

So without much further ado, here are my Top 15 moments of 2015. This is no particular order as I am trying to be more freewheeling and doesn’t include events already discussed on the site.

  1. I was so artsy. – Crafts are a good release. I made Kente cloth, painted pottery, created jewelry, adult colored.
  2. I binge watched. – I am not a tv person despite being raised by an absolute tvaholic. I like leaving the house (hence this blog). However, as mentioned by the two items of note, I didn’t cajole people to hang out and didn’t want to be bothered, so thank you to: Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, Master of None, etc. for keeping me occupied. I saw some good ones and bad ones – I won’t mention Younger. So much shame.
  3. I did lots of road trips (on my Vision Board).- New York, three times! I went to Harlem (visited many places that I later saw reality shows either good or bad) and Brooklyn. I went to Hampton’s Homecoming for the first time in 10 plus years. I am now a big fan of all the suite parties! I went to Michigan twice. To quote Murtaugh, “I am getting too old for this.” That trip is getting harder and harder to do. I went to a Delmarva beach for the first time for an extended time (4 days, not a day trip) in the 20 years I have been here. While Dewey is nice, turns out honey doesn’t like sitting in the hot sun because he works outside all day.
  4. Afro Punk.- Grace Jones topless hula hooping. Lenny Kravitz jumping into the crowd. Enough said.
  5. D’Angelo returned to form. – However, he had the ridiculous idea that his 35+ year old fan base should attend a four plus hour standing show on a work day. Unfortunately, we needed to leave early as my honey’s feet were killing him one hour into his performance (four hours into the night). Apparently he performed for two hours. Standing shows need rules! Thou shall not have opening acts. Thou shall start promptly after doors open. Thou shall only book acts whose audience is 25 years old.
  6. Prince bestowed us with his presence. – Prince came to Baltimore and all was right. Actually not really because of the reason he was there after “riots” resulting from Freddie Gray’s death. I could talk about that issue for hours but will move on. So many funny things happened at the show just in the audience! One thing, Royal Farms Arena needs screens. I never knew who any of the “special guests” were and had to rely on sneak looks at my phone (phones were banned which caused some of the audience hilarity).
  7. I was considerate. – I did stuff that I really didn’t want to because I am a good person. I gave up Trevor Noah tickets (taping his Comedy Central special!) to go to my honey’s club event. I wanted to go to a wine festival but instead went to the movies with friends. There should be prizes given out for this behavior.
  8. Carefree outings. – I joined meetups. They are such an easy way to hang out. You don’t have to call people. You don’t have to endure being stood up. If you don’t have plans, you pick a pre-arranged event and show up! Honey thinks things are weird, but I came to love them. I golfed regularly. I zip lined. I sang karaoke. I grooved at Motown the Musical. Easy peasy.
  9. Childhood dream. – I hate to admit this but I’ve never seen a full New Edition show. As equally as Jill was moody, New Edition was fun. Damn they can still dance except Johnny who is turning into Eddie LeVert. Yay guys! I saw BBD on Valentine’s Day and they can work their 6 songs hard! Then I saw the full shebang at the Holiday Jam. So happy for me.
  10. Food and libations. You know what is fun? The Bourbon and Brew Classic! Bourbon tastings combined with horse racing. What a great idea. I ate the most divine Lobster Rolls (I wrote it down) at the Baltimore Seafood Festival. I drank so much wine at the Vintage Virginia Festival while dancing to Trouble Funk. I went to a violently okay wine festival at the Navy Yard though so they aren’t all silver and gold. I like these things a little too much.
  11. So fancy. – I was invited to not one but two tea parties. I am very elegant and this is the reason why.
  12. I got some cool deals this year. – Enjoyed the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down based on a random discount code. Took honey to a cool brunch. Found an okay hotel in Brooklyn. I still want my playlist, dammit! Vegas was a great hotel special.
  13. Celebrated Detroit. – Went to D.C. Loves Dilla for the first time with special appearance by Common who did one song though Dilla produced entire albums. But I digress. Though it’s weird seeing only two people in Slum Village. I was reminded of my dark dusty days at St. Andrews in the late 90’s. Remember this, rap battles are terrible. No, they weren’t good. They are terrible.
  14. One down, two to go. – So I finally went to Preakness. I just have Belmont and the Kentucky Derby to go. Plus, I need to start on the rest of my sports bucket list: U.S. Open, the Masters, and the World Series. The sky’s the limit. Hopefully, they will have less drunk people. Preakness has so many drunk people. But I had a great hat. That’s what is most important.
  15. Diner en Blanc. Last and my favorite. I worked hard on this. After seeing that the waiting list was in the five digits I decided to be creative. While I may not be the most social being (which is the key to getting invited) but I’m Cleva (shout out to Erykah). I created a fabulous infographic as to why I should be invited and voila, I was in. On paper it seems ludicrous but in practice, awesome.Honey was dubious. My friend bailed. But what a fun time for a tremendous amount of work. Plus as a treat, honey booked a room at the Marriott Marquis which isn’t as luxurious as it could be though it has the spa water with fruit in the lobby.
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The Art Edition

April was for art. Unfortunately, Vegas had my mind pre-occupied and I never completed my purchase to see Toni Morrison, which was supposed to close the month. It was in the cart and everything. Then I got distracted. Then I forgot. Then I remembered two days later. And when I returned it was sold out. So I began my month with my favorite living poet—Nikki Giovanni. I pretty much stalk Nikki so I was excited to see that she was speaking on a panel following the premiere of Being Billie, a documentary on Billie Holiday in celebration of her 100th birthday. The film aimed to move beyond the portrayal of Billie as simply a tragic drug addict. I love my Billie, so my t-shirt emblazoned with her face and I were ready. I will admit two things. First, the event should have been in a bigger space more conducive to movies (too much light). Second, the film had excellent interviews but was really repetitive and could have used a keener editorial eye.

So I have three favorite contemporary artists: Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker and Mickelene Thomas. This month I saw two for three. We travelled up to New York to see the Kehinde Wiley and Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum. Sadly, an aversion to public transportation meant that we drove from Manhattan to Brooklyn and cabbed from the Brooklyn hotel to the museum. This took forever. This only gave us one hour to rush through both exhibits. I could philosophize on Wiley’s use of color but I am no art critic. I just like what I like. I love vivid colors and faces, so Wiley speaks to me. Basquiat was a hurried experience that just reminded me that I am not a huge Basquiat fan.

Later in the month, social media hipped me to the fact that Ava DuVernay would be at the Museum of the American Indian for a symposium called History, Rebellion and Reconciliation: Communities Mobilized for Social Change. But before that, I darted off to University of Maryland because I discovered that the David Driskell center was having a showing of Kara Walker. I adored her use of stencils and cutouts to tell and retell stories of African-American life and folklore. Sadly, most of her work was encased in glass so my photographs didn’t come out well. After rushing from College Park to The Mall and parking illegally, I made it in just in time to see Ava. I love Ava and she is gorgeous, gracious and intelligence in person, which is a huge perk. I have seen most of her limited work and she enlightened the audience on her creative process and what it means to be an artist in the 21th century. Amazingly she stayed and answered every question even the combative or rambling ones.

As mentioned, I forgot my Toni Morrison tickets. So Ava was the end of my artistic adventures. And I lost my newly purchased book of Wiley’s exhibit in some restaurant with delicious duck drumsticks.

The Shake Off the Blues Edition

Last week was not a banner week. In fact, it was a terrible week. It was the kind of week that reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. Somehow along the way, my job became not fun. There is no shame or anger in that; it is a grown-up job in a cubicle-land with pleasant coworkers. However, I needed outside interests that inspired me, gave me something to look forward to. Outings, friends, music always soothed me. That would need to continue in order to survive everyday life. So what did I do last week? Lots. Some fun, some necessary.

alice_smithFirst, I went to see Alice Smith on Thursday. People love her and I was oblivious, but the tickets were $25, so why not. I loved her too. I heard her new album “She” free on OkayPlayer. I will admit I am so glad that album previews are back. This is wonderful as I can hear and judge without payment. Yay! I liked the album (it will always be that to me) and was ready for the show. Boy, was that show late. On a weekday. Luckily, I was off on the following Friday. I dread opening acts now and another great thing: there wasn’t one. I had to google Ms. Smith, sorry for not being a devoted fan, to be prepared for banter or whatnot. There was no banter. I liked that the audience was very multi-cultural. It’s a weird statement. But I have a strong preference for soul music and the occasional hip hop. Therefore, my concert experiences are pretty homogeneous. 9:30 usually brings the multi-cultural and I found good parking. Viva la weekday shows! It was great. I adore Alice’s voice. It’s really a bluesy-rock voice that actually reminds me of Ann Wilson (Heart). I admire distinctive voices that are easy to recognize. She’s definitively on my list of those I plan to follow closely.

8-GO-GO-PosterFriday was spent getting one of two of my broken computers fixed (therefore, no post). After beautiful weather all week, Saturday had a bit of a chill, still sunny. I decided wrong-headedly to drive into the city for the free Corcoran day. This was terrible because everyone decided to drive into the city. It took more than an hour to get to the National Mall area. This may or may not be due to something called cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms were a little anemic on Saturday. I understand full bloom was Tuesday. I admit that I am one of those cheesy people that loves cherry blossoms, but there weren’t many to see. Then onto the Corcoran to see the Pump Me Up exhibit. I have another confession. I don’t believe that D.C. is a great indigenous music town. There are some good local acts but would I call the music subculture vibrant, no. My friend who has lived in DC since the 1980’s didn’t like that viewpoint, but oh well. It was interesting seeing what DC was like then, as DC in the 80’s, except for 227, seemed like a scary place. Of course I grew up in the metro Detroit area, so I can say this without judgment. The exhibit felt cold and detached as if the curator thought of DC as some faraway thing and not a place s/he loved. I really thought the exhibit could benefit from some multi-media. It was the 1980’s, not the 1880’s. How about some music, videos, documentaries? I didn’t feel that DC was too different from the movies I saw about the East Coast in the 80’s save Go-Go. Punk is punk, hip hop is hip hop.

drink the distictFinally, after a lot of walking, I decided to walk around some more gathering wine samples. I went to Drink the District. I wish it was warmer. I purchased the evening ticket from Living Social because I knew there were things I wanted to accomplish that afternoon, but the sun went down and the wind by the water kicked up. So it was cold. As an aside, in the early 2000’s I worked at the Navy Yard. The changes that have been made to that area are remarkable. When I worked in the area, there was a working crack house on the corner and now there is a Gordon Biersch. If only a sushi restaurant, a Potbelly, a trapeze school and other cool amenities were there when I was saddled into that spot. Back to the wine tasting, I didn’t like many of the wines, which is really rare. I decided that I really like Naked Grape products and some Moscato wines, because Moscato wines are tasty, which is why it is a dessert wine. I loved the concept and hope they do another one when it’s warmer.

My Sunday was spent running errands, being locked out of yoga and getting computer #2 fixed before settling into the return of Mad Men. Then back to the weekday grind.

The Art for Art’s Sake Edition

Last weekend, I realized that I am creative but not artsy. Ever since I was a child, my cousin and I created songs, plays, short stories. In fact, my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Firestone, would spotlight my short stories on a regular basis reading them to the class because she found them hilarious. The problem with me is that I don’t live and breathe artistic expression. I have stories, scripts, and melodies floating around my head that I never put to paper. After my creative writing class in high school, I haven’t finished a short story since. Started many, but finished no. My creative writing course in college wrongly focused on poetry. I am quite a terrible poet and what should have been a forcing mechanism to get me to finally put thought to paper, failed me. Thus, I left with no wonderful collection of stories to share with the world.

Photo Courtesy of Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Photo Courtesy of Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

How did I come to this realization? Last weekend I went to the Festival of New Works, a series of one-act, one person plays by graduating University of Maryland MFA students. A friend of a friend of a friend (an extremely ghetto connection) wrote and starred in one play while my dance instructor choreographed the other play being presented. The plays were vastly dissimilar. The first centered on a young girl who receives visits from Krishna because he wants her to help him with an epic battle. The second served as a celebration of the life of Florynce Kennedy, a real life lawyer and feminist.

To me, the first work did not lend itself to a one person show. I loved that music accompanied the action as I believe that music should accompany even going to the bathroom. However, the fantastical tale required a great deal of imagination, which is not everyone’s strength. The play demanded that the audience 1) believe an adult as a child 2) see through a child’s eye of intricate dreams and 3) understand that all of the challenges are allegories for other things. As an imaginative only child, this was a slam dunk.

Quite obviously, the audience preferred the second work, mainly because the protagonist is brash, smart and profane. However, I ran intoa personal quibble with this work: I am not a fan of auto/biographies. This started when I read Dreamgirl in elementary school, a book my Motown devotee mom picked up. People tend to leave out critical details about themselves or others in these works that make them more human—failings, mistakes, ill temper, etc. Mary Wilson gave a wonderful account of the music scene in the 1960’s but glossed over her unexpected pregnancy, vanity and passivity. Filmed or reenacted plays often give you set pieces and events, but rarely tell a complete story. As the completion queen, I like a beginning, middle and end. The story of Flo Kennedy recounted her childhood, her law career and her feminist radicalism (sorta) but never let me know how she earned enough to live in the Upper East Side, why she became so outspoken, etc. I recently read Olive Kitteridge, the Pulitzer Prize winning collection of stories about a single protagonist. While infuriating, the heroine, if she could be called one, reminded me of people I actually knew. Flo could easily be someone that I could see myself in on the surface but didn’t, because I didn’t get to know her just events throughout her life.

This is why historical films rarely work (see: Red Tails). You need to hit all of the events, so things move quickly, often too quickly. If the author attempts to add possible motivation for action, someone, somewhere will cry foul and let you know that the person never wore blue socks, or always said “Hey” instead of “Hi.” Thus writers have little leeway in terms of creating an interesting story. Not that the play wasn’t interesting. It was. But it didn’t give me anything to hold onto.

The reason I realized that I am not artsy delves into after the show. We hustled to dinner with the cast (of one) of the first play and friends. And the friends were artsy. Irritatingly artsy. With weird avant garde projects that seemed intrusive and wrong headed (let’s film at risk students and watch them flounder) or huh? (I’m doing a thought piece on community by inviting the audience to build a house). These people live and breathe art. The kind of art that me as an actually creative person finds annoying. I am practical. Not so practical that I don’t know what an allegory is, but practical enough that I don’t like artificiality. This highlights another struggle of mine—action movies. The crux of genre is incomprehension. Nothing that happens make sense or even has a beginning, middle and end. I am supposed to care about Bruce Willis’ dead wife that we rarely saw because it helps a complicated premise (see: Looper). This is why I avoid interactions with creative types. You never know what you are going to get and I like to let the work stand on its own.

Third Week of November

My third week in November—second on a $30 entertainment budget—included only one outing. I was scheduled to attend an Omega Psi Phi Founders Day event for the odd price of $16.24; however, plans changed. A friend of a friend’s mother died, which required immediate attention. 2012 forever will be remembered for me as the year of parental death. So many of my friends and former classmates had parents die this year. This is especially difficult because childhood friends’ parents have more of an indelible mark on your life than current friends’ parents, due to the fact you remember eating at their houses, seeing them at outings, watching them drive you around. It’s a different relationship.

Gentleman Jack Logo on the Andrew Mellon Auditorium Ceiling

For my lone outing I attended the Gentleman Jack’s Art, Beats + Lyrics. I typically never wait in line, outside for anything. Even, Black Friday (post forthcoming), I just arrive right before doors open and just glide in. So this event tested my patience. I arrived not at the start, 7p, because I heard the lines are long and figured that arriving later would allow for the line to die down. This was remarkably untrue. I began to lose my patience after about 30 minutes of waiting in the cold and my lack of knowing anyone important enough to let me cut the line. However, I discovered that friends were slightly ahead of me and got an impressive 30-40 people jump, which isn’t worth telling. The event was a mix of art, music and drinks. Free drinks have an amazing ability to go quickly. Upon entering, we immediately entered the drink line, where we received the last of the last of the specialty cocktails. Good thing for that 30 person jump.
The first act was Mansions on the Moon. A casual onlooker remarked that they sounded a bit like U2. I could hear that slightly. They had a rhythmic guitar sound that is reminiscent of the Irish band. It made for great background music to view the art on display. Next, was Shock G of Digital Underground, the fun hip hop group from the 90’s, which sadly is best known for launching Tupac. He prompted a contest amongst my friends to name all of the Digital Underground songs that we could. Boy, was that a sad output. He could actually play an instrument, which impressed me more than his attempts to get people to jump up and down. People waited in line too long in the cold for this to actually happen, maybe if it was a beach concert. He did more songs than we remembered as we forgot Kiss You Back, which is shocking (no pun intended) because I owned that song in high school, back when you could buy singles on cassette for .99 cents, pre-iTunes.
Finally, we were treated to Scarface, whose songs I definitely remembered. He came out playing the guitar!!! This was awesome. Then he sang some Led Zeppelin, thanks Twitter as I don’t know 70’s rock music at all. It really is a black hole of my music knowledge. This was not as awesome. I became concerned that since this was a free event we would be treated to those weird artistic shows that Billy remarked on in Purple Rain that only satisfy the artist. However, Scarface said that he was just bullshitting and moved on to the hip hop he was famous for.

As for the art, it wasn’t my taste. It verged a bit on the kind of artwork you see on t-shirts at festivals and fairs. However, I love faces and these items were my favorites. I thought Mansions on the Moon made a better backdrop for perusing arts, as Shock G and Scarface took attention away from the exhibits, the make your own art installation and the not sure if it was ironic opportunity to take a group picture (the kind you saw in clubs in the 90’s and that my college crew refused to take). Meanies! Now, I have absolutely nothing capturing that part of my life.

I might go again if I can find the will to stand in line again. However, it was free, which means more money for next week. Yay!