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  • invite_banner_basel Miami 16

    “NYC based arts organization Art for Progress (AFP) teams up with local Miami artists to celebrate the link between Cuban and South Florida culture for Art Basel 2016.”

    NYC based arts organization Art for Progress (AFP) teams up with local Miami artists to celebrate the link between Cuban and South Florida culture for Art Basel 2016.  The events will take place in South Beach with an art exhibit opening on Friday evening and a rooftop- fashion, music and performance art event titled, Cosa Rica is set for Saturday night.

    The art exhibition, “P.U.E.N.T.E.” which opens Friday evening (6:00pm – 9:00pm) December 2nd, will feature eleven artists (Nestor Arenas, Willie Avedano, Orestes De La Paz, Michael Gray, Catalina Jaramillo, Brandy Lynn, Guido Mena, Cristina Victor, Sterling Rock, Belaxis Buil)working in various mediums (paintings, sculpture, installation, textile and drawings).

    After many decades of frosty relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the recent positive developments have brought a feeling of excitement and hope to the Cuban people of both South Florida and Cuba. The exhibition observes the relationship of the artist to their environment- changing landscapes and ability to adapt-retreat, refuge  and escape. The show which will run through Sunday, December 5th and is curated by Belaxis Buil whose work has been exhibited in “Intersectionality” and “Taz” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, Art Shanghai, China, Tacheles Museum, Germany and Art Basel Miami.

    michael_gray-paintingMichael Gray

    On Saturday, December 3rd, AFP will host a night of fashion, performance art, dance theater and music overlooking Miami Beach.  A site~specific fashion show featuring Belaxis Buil designs (contemporary Cuban inspired, ready to wear) will highlight the evening, but Cosa Rica will also feature provocative performance art, video and sound installations from Daniel Maldonado, Willie Avendano and Orestes De La Paz as well as a dance performance by Hellektrick Danse Theatre.  The music for the evening will be curated by NYC based DJ/Producer Gatto.  This special night is a celebration of identity- revival and reinvention of the Cuban- Cuban American identity. The event is 8pm-12am, rooftop at 1052 Ocean Drive Miami Beach.

    Tickets for “Cosa Rica” can be purchased here. Advance tickets only.

    Belaxis Buil DesignsBelaxis Buil Designs

  • doc-nyc-logo
    Documentary lovers, take note! The seventh edition of DOC NYC, America’s largest nonfiction film festival, begins this week, with screenings at Manhattan’s IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Cinepolis Chelsea. The 2016 festival, which runs from Thursday, Nov. 10, to Thursday, Nov. 17, boasts over 250 films and events overall, including 110 feature-length documentaries. Included are 18 world premieres and 19 U.S. premieres, with more than 300 filmmakers and special guests on hand to present and discuss their films. Notable documentarians will be honored at the Visionaries Tribute Awards on Nov. 10, including Jonathan Demme and Stanley Nelson, who are receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards.

    Opening Night film will be Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, directed by Matt Tyrnauer, about writer and activist Jane Jacobs and her fight against NYC’s most ruthless power broker, Robert Moses. Closing Night film will be Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, directed by John Scheinfeld. In between the two is a dazzling variety of docs divided into several categories: Viewfinders Competition (directorial visions), Metropolis Competition (NYC), American Perspectives, International Perspectives, Fight the Power (activism), Jock Docs (sports), Sonic Cinema (music), Modern Family (unconventional clans), Wild Life (animals), Docs Redux (classics), Art & Design (artists), Behind the Scenes (filmmaking), DOC NYC U (student work), Shorts, plus two new sections, True Crime and Science Nonfiction.

    Here are just a few highlights out of the many worthwhile films on view during DOC NYC 2016:

    Elisabeth Dare

    Photo: Elisabeth Dare

    Unseen (True Crime)
    A sad and deeply unsettling film by Laura Paglin, Unseen recounts the disappearance and murder of 11 African American women in Cleveland’s crack-ridden Mount Pleasant neighborhood at the hands of serial killer Anthony Sowell. Told through first person accounts of victims’ family members and, most chillingly, survivors themselves, the film shows how carelessly violent crime is often investigated in marginalized communities. Though missing persons reports were filed and a few women who managed to escape Sowell’s house of horrors reported their experiences to the police, there was little follow-up. This enabled Sowell, who lived and operated right in the neighborhood, to claim yet more victims until his eventual arrest in 2009. Unseen gives faces, names and lives to these women. (NYC Premiere)
    Friday, Nov. 11, 9:45 pm (Cinepolis Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St.)
    Thursday. Nov. 17, 12:30 pm (IFC Center, 323 6th Ave.)
    In person: Director Laura Paglin


    The Lure

    The Lure (Viewfinders)
    Tomas Leach’s atmospheric film follows several participants in the modern-day treasure hunt orchestrated by eccentric art dealer Forrest Fenn, who buried a cache of gold and gems worth millions somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Amid news updates, gorgeous shots of majestic scenery, and recitations of Fenn’s cryptic, clue-containing poem, Leach tells the stories of various individuals who have made the pursuit of the treasure their life’s work, ranging from  the computer-programmer-turned cowboy who simply wants the bragging rights of discovering the box to the cancer patient who has found something to live for in the hunt. We also hear from Fenn himself, who got the idea after a devastating medical diagnosis and who communicates regularly with the fortune seekers on his blog or in person. Whether it’s the thrill of the chase or the healing effects of the land, everyone involved finds something valuable in their search for the treasure. (World Premiere)
    Sunday. Nov 13, 7:45 pm (Cinepolis Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St.)
    Tuesday, Nov. 15, 3 pm (IFC Center, 323 6th Ave.)
    In person: Director Tomas Leach

    Winter at Westbeth

    Winter at Westbeth

    Winter at Westbeth (Metropolis)
    Rohan Spong’s poignant doc tells the story of the West Village’s Westbeth Artists Housing complex through the eyes of three longtime residents: 82-year-old poet Ilsa Gilbert, 75-year-old contemporary dancer Dudley Williams, and 95-year-old filmmaker Edith Stephen. When the former Bell Labs building was converted to rent-controlled housing/studios for artists in 1970, it became a haven for these and other creatives, especially as the Village (once a magnet for artists of all stripes) became increasingly unaffordable. Spong includes old photos and early film footage of his three principal subjects, showing the evolution of each artist’s life and work. We learn that though each survived difficult periods, they continued to create and thrive at Westbeth. The film is the ultimate proof of art’s power and a confirmation of its capacity to literally make life worth living. (North American Premiere)
    Wednesday, Nov. 16, 5 pm
    Thursday. Nov. 17, 10:15 pm (Both screenings at IFC Center, 323 6th Ave.)
    In person: Director Rohan Spong

    For a full listing of documentaries and screening/event dates, click here.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Slothrust, Everyone Else

    Brooklyn’s Slothrust will be releasing their second full length album later this week (October 28th) on Dangerbird Records, and if you’re unfamiliar with this trio, it’s time to give them a listen.  The new album titled, Everyone Else grabs you immediately with a surf rock instrumental track that makes you wonder what’s coming next, and then you hear the melancholy vocal intro of track  two- “Like a Child Behind a Tombstone.”  It’s a slow build up into a guitar driven rocker with metaphors abound, and now you’re hooked on lines like, “I think my face looks like glass, but my body feels plastic” and “I feel like a child hiding behind your tombstone.”

    As impressed as I am with Wellbaum’s eloquent lyrics, musically the band has great range. From the punk-esque, Violent Femme’s like, edgey cut, “Trial and Error” to the bluesy “Horseshoe Crab” and the jazz influenced “The Last Time I saw My Horse,” they achieve a range of music that isn’t often heard from today’s one trick pony, cookie-cutter bands.  And if you’re into the more classic rock sound, “Mud”  takes you on quite a journey with a blues inspired intro, to a classic guitar driven, drum heavy rocker. Dare I reference the greatest of the greats Led Zeppelin?

    This is an album for music lovers who can appreciate the achievements of a band that’s hitting it’s stride and has the ability to capture the best of rock, jazz and blues on one album.

    –Frank Jackson

    You can see them live at Irving Plaza on Saturday, October 29th and Rough Trade on Tuesday, November 1st.

    “In comparison to previous albums, it’s slower, more introspective, and patient with itself. The hard, riff-centered jams Slothrust does so well are still there, though this time they feel  more like a means of procrastination.” – Noisey

    “…a rip-roaring quick hit that places Leah Wellbaum’s gravelly voice over some ferocious-sounding guitars.” -Stereogum

    “Listen to songs by Slothrust, and you’ll hear aggressive sounds that hearken back to early-’90s rock bands like Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. Listen more closely, and you’ll also hear elements of the blues that the band’s members learned when they met in their college’s jazz program.”NPR MUSIC

    “Slothrust exemplify how colorful, fun and insightful rock music can be. The best kind of weird.”CLRVYNT

  • The title of A Stray, a sharply observed and gracefully filmed drama written and directed by Musa Syeed, refers to its teenage protagonist, Adan, a refugee living in Minneapolis’s large Somali community, as well as his canine co-star, Laila, a soulful terrier he reluctantly befriends. Visually, the film is both naturalistic and artful, featuring beautifully framed scenes shot throughout the city.  A Stray seems to be a bittersweet valentine to Minneapolis, whose buildings, bridges, and landmarks (such as the iconic Pillsbury Best Flour sign) are featured prominently. In addition to its glimpses into Somali culture and the day-to-day lives of this particular refugee community, the film has a strong undercurrent of spirituality, with several scenes taking place in a mosque, and various prayers discussed and recited.


    The story concerns the headstrong Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman, one of the pirates in Captain Phillips), who is thrown out of his mother’s place after she suspects him of stealing jewelry, then flees a temporary crash pad after getting on the nerves of his disreputable friends. Adan initially finds sanctuary in a mosque where a kindly imam lets him stay in exchange for cleaning up the place. Adan asks for advice and a prayer to help him stay out of trouble.

    He finds work at a restaurant through Faisal, one of the mosque’s congregants, but loses the job when his car hits a dog en route to a food delivery. (The zealous Faisal is horrified when Adan brings the pooch back to the mosque, as dogs are traditionally considered impure in Muslim culture.)  The local shelter is closed for the night, so Adan is stuck with the animal, the beginning of their thorny relationship. It’s anything but the typical boy’s-best-friend scenario, complicated by Adan’s religious beliefs and the cold reality that he himself doesn’t have a home or money, let alone resources for a pet. He tries not to touch Laila, but can’t bring himself to abandon her either, spending much of the movie fruitlessly attempting to find her a home.


    Traversing the city in search of shelter and work with dog in tow, he meets with an FBI agent who gives him money and promises a new phone as well as an apartment in exchange for information about his acquaintances’ ties to Somalia. Adan drops in on his little brother at their mother’s apartment, visits an old girlfriend at a college dorm, and goes to a community center, where a young female volunteer befriends him. At one point he tries to bed down at the Somali Museum of Minnesota, and checks out the Nomad World Pub, among other locales, adding to the film’s travelogue vibe. When Adan stays with a group of homeless American Indians one night, an interesting conversation ensues about his right to be in the U.S., compared with theirs. Under Syeed’s direction, we see beauty in even the most desolate parts of the city.

    Adan finally makes an important decision about what he must sacrifice for a place to call his own. He returns to the mosque and defends himself against Faisal’s accusations. The wise imam–clearly a good guy who sees the good in Adan–tells a parable about a man who lets a thirsty dog drink and is granted heaven. Things begin to look up for Adan, who, though a stray himself, finally believes that he is home.

    Though rambling and directionless at times, A Stray is poignant and evocative, buoyed by Abdirahman’s natural portrayal of a struggling young soul looking for solid ground. It also affords a (rare) illustration of religion practiced fairly and compassionately. Also, and not least, the film shows the invaluable bonds that humans form with animals, and how we can learn about ourselves through them.

    A Stray opens at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP (20 John St., Brooklyn) on Friday, October 21, part of IFP Screen Forward Presents series.

    Marina Zogbi

  • It’s official. The Obamas will be vacating the White House soon. And at their last state dinner, the first lady Michelle Obama wowed the world with a custom, rose gold Atelier Versace gown, made with chainmail.

    President Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama


    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

    This gorgeous number can now be added to a long list of stunners FLOTUS has worn over the years. And from Jason Wu to Vera Wang, Mrs. Obama has represented her country flawlessly decked out in memorable American-designed creations.

    She has also incorporated high fashion from international brands, including Versace.

    President Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama


    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

    Donatella Versace says in a statement: “I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to dress the first lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Thank you, Michelle, for all of the things you have done for America and for the rest of the world, for the women in the United States and the rest of the world.”

    As E! Online points out, rose gold is on trend thanks to Kylie Jenner’s dyed rose gold hair, and actresses Blake Lively and Emilia Clarke’s gown selections (coincidentally both by Versace) at the recent 2016 Emmy Awards.

    Blake Lively

    rs_1024x759-160511125855-1024-blake-lively-best-dressed-cannes-2016-red-carpet  David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

    A final thought: Will Michelle Obama’s stunning look serve as a hint to potential daring numbers a FLOTUS might wear in the future? Who knows.

    But one thing is certain: First husband Bill Clinton will not be wearing any future-forward numbers in the near future, and I, for one, am ok with that.