Saturday, March 29, 2008


Ms Ruthanna Boris was Ruby Taylor (My friend with the broken leg) and my ballet teacher when we were student at the University of Washington.

This, I can honestly say is the only MASTER CLASS I had in my whole life. She was a powerful, dynamic artist & teacher. I have never met any other artist that had the full hearted passion for her craft as Ms Boris had.

She gave us, (her student), all that she could give. I am still reaching to live up to her standards. She truly left her amazing mark on me... She was small, but she was mighty....

She could be like cracking thunder when she stood front and center and commanded our class. With 50 some odd student in the class, she saw everything that each and every student was doing, and she would not hesitate to call you out. She know how to get the results she desired from her student, no matter how you came to class feeling.


By Sheila Farr
Seattle Times Art Critic

When Ruthanna Boris began teaching ballet at the University of Washington in 1965, there was no dance department, no dance studio and no musical accompanist. Those of us who attended her classes on the drafty upper floor of the old Armory building in the early '70s had to compete with the sporadic banging from the ROTC rifle range downstairs. The sound of target practice didn't faze Miss Boris, who simply shouted over the noise and whacked out the beat more insistently on her drum.

Occasionally, when things got really bad, she would strike back. Rather than demand the usual soft, quiet landings for our entrechats and jumps, Miss Boris — with glee in her eye — authorized revenge on the military. "Land hard," she would say. "Let them have it." And 50 strong young bodies would leap and leap with the resilience of pogo sticks, pounding our feet on the wooden floor until the rickety old building thundered and a stunned silence echoed in the room below. Miss Boris was 88 when she died last month at her home in El Cerrito, Calif., and decades had passed since I last saw her. I imagine her feisty to the end.


A glowing obituary in The New York times touted Miss Boris' career as a dancer and choreographer. She was one of the great choreographer George Balanchine's first students in this country and performed in the 1935 debut season of his American Ballet. She went on to dance in Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan in 1936-37 and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1937-42, before joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she was frequently partnered by the renowned Leon Danielian. She choreographed for the Ballet Russe and the New York City Ballet, and her popular ballet "Cakewalk" of 1951 was later restaged by the Joffrey Ballet.

The 18 years Miss Boris spent teaching at the University of Washington were a small blip on her résumé, but for Seattle, her presence was earthshaking. The local dance scene burgeoned during her reign. Hannah Wiley trained with Miss Boris during that period and went on to chair UW's dance department and to found Chamber Dance Company.

An advanced dancer when she came to the university, Wiley remembers being stunned and embarrassed when Miss Boris required her to go back and take 100-level classes. "In my early years, I had been skilled and had moved up probably faster than I was absorbing material. As painful as it was when she forced me to go back to basics, ultimately it was good for me," Wiley recalls. "It actually helped teach me how to teach dance."

Miss Boris made lasting contributions to the way dance is taught in universities, Wiley said. "She was teaching dance in the academy when [administrators] were not sure where it was supposed to be. Ballet was in the drama department, and modern dance was in physical education." Miss Boris helped elevate dance to the status of other studies, "and that was extremely important not only here but across the country," Wiley said.

Those were contentious times in the university's budding dance program, and Miss Boris' strong personality didn't sit well with everybody. She was a demanding teacher and an assertive administrator, and her views were at times publicly at odds with others on the dance faculty. But her forcefulness served the dance program well during the planning of Meany Hall, when Miss Boris took charge and made sure that dancers finally got a functional place to study — three magnificent dance studios with changing rooms, showers and lockers. "That was huge for dance at the university," Wiley said. "Huge and ongoing."


I was 18 when I first stepped into a class with Miss Boris. I had been taking dance lessons of one sort or another since I was 5, but none of it prepared me for her. Miss Boris was a force of nature. Small in stature, with a trim hourglass figure and an utter command of her audience, she walked slowly, each step requiring a slight swing of her body and the placement of a metal crutch. Degenerative arthritis had ended her dancing career in the 1950s, and she endured metal hip replacements, a primitive measure at that time. No doubt she was often in pain but, veteran dancer that she was, she never let on.

Many of the students who signed up for her classes had no serious career intentions. Some were drama students looking to enhance their stage skills; others may have had romantic notions about gracefully wafting about en pointe or, better yet, not having any homework. Some of us just loved to dance. Miss Boris didn't seem to care what brought us there, as long as we were prepared to work. Our daily classes were deep and comprehensive. We didn't start at the barre but with a measured series of stretches that opened the spine and focused the mind, a moving meditation. I loved the discipline of her class. There was no standing around chatting, no wasted time. We worked silently, with damp, flushed faces and quivering muscles.

Miss Boris kept high standards, for herself and others. When the university began to provide piano accompanists, she had no patience for those who couldn't keep up with her. She expected the music to be right — and right now. And she pushed her dancers, some a little too hard. Occasionally, a student would leave in tears. At the barre, you could hear the click of Miss Boris' crutches coming up the row behind you, always daunting, as she quietly corrected the placement of an arm, an arabesque. On those rare instances when Miss Boris paused in her rounds to nod and whisper "good," you felt blessed.

I began to appreciate what drove her one day in April 1971, when Miss Boris stood solemnly in front of class and waited for silence. With her usual dramatic flair, she made an announcement: The great maestro Igor Stravinsky had died.

The significance of that took a moment to sink in. But for the next few minutes Miss Boris held us spellbound as she talked about her days as a young dancer, rehearsing with Stravinsky at the piano and Balanchine working through his choreography. Rehearsing with Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine? As far as I was concerned, our teacher had lived in the company of gods. It was awe-inspiring.

Speaking of higher powers. In dire situations, Miss Boris would lift her eyes heavenward and invoke the Almighty. When she used the word "God," it was always immediately followed by a knowing look and the pronoun "She." That delighted us. At other times, Miss Boris called for the assistance of Terpsichore, the muse of dance, who no doubt shook her head and shrugged in disbelief as she looked down at a motley bunch of undergraduates pounding away above a rifle range.

Many of Miss Boris' students attended in August 1971 when the Joffrey Ballet performed her "Cakewalk" at the Opera House. It was a hit. And after the dancers had taken their bows, the audience leapt to their feet cheering as a small woman — I picture her in a white dress — slowly entered from the wings. Miss Boris stepped lightly and deliberately, a radiant smile on her face. Her arms were gracefully spread, and some of the audience knew why: to hold her precarious balance. Miss Boris refused to walk on stage with crutches.

Friday, March 28, 2008


As my home girl Ruby Taylor continues to heal from her broken leg, I'm going to do a little DIGITAL MEDICINE SHOW to help heal a Sistah... to make her rise from that bed of affliction and DANCE!!!!.
Here is another note worthy ART THERAPY article I found on the development of the healing arts. sorry for the length of the article, but there really is some good info here.

By Christine Larson

One day in March, Judy Nguyen's beeper went off at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. A 2-year-old needed an echocardiogram, an ultrasound image of the heart. Nguyen rushed to the waiting room, where she met the patient and his family. Then she showed the toddler the tools she'd be using throughout the procedure: a guitar, a puppet, and a drum.

As one of two medical music therapists at the Florida hospital, Nguyen provides 350 to 400 music therapy sessions a month to patients. On this particular day, she sang songs like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" as she waited with the boy and used a puppet to show him where the transducer and heart monitor would go. "I told him how he'd have to take off his shirt and show us his muscles, and about the ooey-gooey jelly we'd put on him," says Nguyen. While the technician ran the test, Nguyen strummed her guitar and the youngster played along with the drum. The result: no wiggling and squirming, but a calm patient who helped make the procedure go more smoothly.

Nguyen is part of a growing trend to incorporate music, writing, and visual art into the clinical treatment of patients. While the use of the arts in healing can be traced back centuries through religious practices, a growing body of evidence now shows that the arts do far more than simply soothe the savage breast. New clinical research is quantifying the health benefits of the arts, from pain relief to faster recoveries. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations did its first survey of arts in 2004 and found that about 2,000 hospitals around the country offer some kind of arts programming. It's not just in the therapy realm. Medical schools now offer courses in the arts, literature, and humanities, and hospitals are adding healing gardens and art galleries and allowing patients to select artwork to decorate the walls of their sterile rooms. "There's very good evidence that engaging patients in art and music is a way to make the burden of illness and periods of care more tolerable," says Harry Jacobson, a nephrologist and vice chancellor for health affairs at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which brings artists to patients' bedsides.

The trend has spawned new undertakings like the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, which opened in November. Part of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, it provides medical music therapy and researches its effects on children with asthma and adults with cardiac and pulmonary problems, as well as treating medical problems specific to musicians. In the October issue of the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, Joanne Loewy, director of the center, reported that singing lullabies slowly and softly, timed to breathing rate, was more effective than a sedative in getting infants and toddlers to sleep before an EEG, a brain scan requiring electrodes on the scalp. "Medication was either not needed or worked a lot faster if music therapy was offered," says Loewy.

Once a fixture at large hospitals, art and music therapy were largely banished as managed healthcare became more prevalent. But in recent years, patients and doctors alike have looked for ways to make medicine more human. "Medicine has become so technologically focused that the human aspect was set aside," says Nancy Morgan, director of arts and humanities at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington. Lombardi offers patients therapeutic dance sessions, writing groups, and workshops featuring quilting, clay sculpting, and painting.

Both writing and visual art can play a role in reducing pain and decreasing physical symptoms of illness. Perhaps that's because they allow patients a way to release stress and process trauma. Indeed, two decades of research link writing about trauma to improved physical health.

In 1986, James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas-Austin, found that students who wrote about a traumatic experience were much less likely to visit the student health center in the subsequent four months. Since then, a slew of studies have shown that writing about trauma improves the health of people with chronic disease. The evidence is so compelling that Pennebaker expects to test his method this summer with soldiers returning from Iraq.

No wonder hospitals around the country have launched writing groups to help patients heal physically and mentally. Sutter Health system in Sacramento, Calif., for example, offers six writing groups a week through its Literature, Arts, and Medicine Program, launched in 2002 for patients, caregivers, and community members. The 12 to 15 participants in each group write fiction, essays, or poetry, then read their work aloud. The other participants are invited to comment, but they're asked to treat all revelations as fiction and to refer to the writer as the narrator--techniques designed to make the writers feel safe and uninhibited. "I have one patient who has really severe asthma and chronic lung disease," says Maxine Barish-Wreden, an internist in Sacramento who has referred many patients to the group. "It certainly hasn't cured her, but it has improved her symptoms and well-being."

In the body. Recently, scientists have been taking a closer look at what exactly is going on in the body when patients write a letter, paint a self-portrait, or listen to a favorite song. A series of studies by psychologist Denise Sloan at Temple University in Philadelphia show that after writing exercises, subjects demonstrate lower levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone that may affect immune levels. And in 2004, a study showed that AIDS patients who completed writing exercises had higher levels of T-cells, which play a significant role in cellular immunity. It all ties together in the way art affects the brain.

"We believe music can cause neurochemical changes in specific parts of the brain," says Mark Jude Tramo, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Institute for Music and Brain Science in Boston. Those particular areas are related to the brain and body's "feel good" systems--the endogenous opioid, dopamine, and cannabinoid systems that are also affected by drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

"Music is a powerful auditory stimulus," Tramo says. So powerful, in fact, that it may cause cells to release substances such as endorphins, which suppress pain, and immunoglobulins, which help fight disease.

Likewise, in a study published in May's Journal of Psycho-Oncology, Daniel Monti, medical director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, looked at 111 women with different types of cancer who took part in a support group called Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy. The group combined meditation training with art tasks, from sketching self-portraits to sculpting with clay. Women in the group experienced significant drops in their stress levels and improvement in their health-related quality of life, including less pain, better sleep, and fewer general physical complaints. The results were so convincing that the National Institutes of Health has provided Monti an additional grant for a five-year study of more than 300 cancer patients, which will look closely at specific markers in the immune system.

Cutting costs. Evidence of the power of art comes at a time when hospitals and healthcare companies are cutting costs, and studies show that in some cases, the arts can indeed help the bottom line. Using music instead of medication to lull children to sleep, for example, can substantially reduce the cost of echocardiograms by eliminating the need for nurse supervision of medication and reducing procedure time, according to a 2002 cost-benefit analysis at Tallahassee Memorial. Live music played in neonatal intensive care units can send premature infants home up to 12 days earlier, saving an estimated $2,000 a day, according to Jayne Standley, a professor of music therapy at Florida State University. Music helps preemies breathe better and gain weight. And a 2005 study published in the European Journal of Anesthesiology showed that patients who listened to music after hernia surgery required less morphine to control their pain.

To be sure, the arts are not a replacement for medical treatment. "The effects are modest," says the University of Texas's Pennebaker of writing exercises. "But so are the effects of a lot of medical techniques." Says Christopher Rumana, chief of neurosurgery at Tallahassee Memorial, who has studied music therapy before and after brain surgery: "People by and large were happier, but it didn't make someone who was going to die live." Still, he believes music therapy is worthwhile, as it might make patients more comfortable with their doctor and willing to go ahead with treatment. Since his study, all surgical patients at Tallahassee Memorial have been offered an MP3 player so they can choose their own music to listen to before and after an operation.

ART THERAPY isn't something just any well-meaning virtuoso or painter can provide. It requires extensive training not only in the arts but also in their particular application with patients. Board-certified art therapists, for example, must have a specialized master's degree followed by one year of practice before they can take their exams for certification by the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

All the same, there still is resistance among the medical establishment. "In the beginning, we had a few doctors say, 'If we didn't have this arts program, we'd have another MRI machine,'" says Elaine Sims, director of the Gifts of Art Program at the University of Michigan Health System. The program now sponsors four bedside musicians, nine art galleries, rolling art carts that let patients choose framed artworks for their rooms, concerts, and visiting performers like the Royal Shakespeare Company.

While the growing acceptance of the arts has been grounded in research, its acceleration may be based on far more personal phenomena: More doctors are gaining firsthand experience. The Arts and Humanities Medical Scholars Program at Stanford University encourages its students to examine the intersection between art and science, while the narrative medicine program at Columbia University's medical school in New York trains doctors to write "parallel charts," where they record their own reactions to patients.

The art of medicine is also being used to help doctors and nurses manage their own stress and avoid burnout. The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, for example, offers music meditation for oncology nurses--group sessions where nurses sing, listen to live music, and talk about their tough experiences treating cancer patients. And every other week, groups of residents at Beth Israel Medical Center convene in the center's music studio to play the drums, progressing from simple to more complex beats and working out their tension along the way. It seems that the arts can heal not just the patients, but the healers as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I got a call yesterday morning from my home girl Ruby Taylor who lives in Oakland California. The call came at 6:00 am California time, so I prepared myself to hear the content of the massage. First thing she said was, she was in the hospital, that she had fallen & broken her left leg in two places the night before at her home. After her telling me all the details of the situation, she told me she was going into surgery today at 12:00 pm California time.

I told her I would be in contact with her as soon as she got out of surgery and that I would send GOOD VIBE'S & PRAYERS her way for a speedy recovery... So, I'm going to open this whole thing up, to everyone around the world reading this post, to send Ruby Taylor GOOD VIBE'S & PRAYERS FOR A SPEEDY AND HEALTHY RECOVERY...

OK Folks,.. I just spoke to Ruby (sounding very drugged) after her surgery on her leg, her sister from Seattle is with her at the hospital, her sister said Ruby is doing well. We all can continue with the GOOD VIBE'S & PRAYERS for Ruby Taylor's speedy & healthy recovery. Thanks Everyone.

Lately I have been thinking about and searching for articles on mental health & Art Therapy, I found this interesting article I would like to share from a Artist named Robert J. Simone who lives in Florida.


Art often has a remarkably therapeutic effect on the quality of artist’s lives. Salvador Dali suffered paranoid delusions and hallucinations as a youth. In his autobiography, The Secret Life, Dali credits painting daily with his recovery and ability to function in life. In that volume he states that his quality of life was such that he woke up each morning excited with anticipation wondering what this Salvador Dali would create that day.

The famed American artist Robert Henri, in his book The Art Spirit, wrote about coming to the easel some days feeling fatigued or under the weather only to be filled with energy and well being after painting for a short time. He also wrote of his belief that the mental activity of painting contributed to health and longevity of artists.

Vincent Van Gogh’s life would have been of little consequence were it not for his art. Suffering a variety of mental problems, Van Gogh found relief from the institutional life through painting and writing about his painting in letters to his brother. When living outside of institutions Vincent derived a sense of purpose from his art that helped him cope with his depression and psychiatric problems. Without art the unfortunate circumstances of his death would surely have happened sooner. And today, more than one hundred years after his death, he is worldwide household name. His work has universally recognized like no other.

In my own life I found that rediscovering my passion for art was the key to recovery from a series of anxiety attacks which occurred in my mid to late thirties. I hadn’t done any artwork for nearly twenty years when my living circumstances changed as a long term relationship ended. I had great difficulty adjusting and suffered high levels of stress and anxiety. I consulted two different therapists at Catholic Charities in Tampa. One was a lay woman and the other a Catholic Priest. Both off-handedly referred to me as a “frustrated artist”. That started me thinking about the real love lost in my life, my passion for oil painting.

Eventually I got my self together enough that I invented a system for dating (more on that in a future blog) which led to my marriage to Penny, my best friend, companion and lover. Penny and I viewed, and still do, our wedding as “the beginning of a great adventure”. (We credit Lou Reed for that line). Even so I still experienced, with some frequency, a gnawing ache of anxiety in the area of my diaphragm. I guess Penny saw the frustrated artist in me too because she started encouraging me to take some painting classes, which I did. Eight or Nine years later I am deeply immersed in the study and pursuit of oil painting. I paint almost daily, teach regularly and participate in both indoor and outdoor shows. I haven’t felt that gnawing ache in my side since, well, I don’t know when. One thing I do know is that I am happy and never have to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Art is therapy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Today I went to see the WHITNEY MUSEUM BIENNIAL 2008,... Veeeeeery interesting. I really wanted to view the Spike Lee Film on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for a longer period of time, the film is 200 and some odd minutes long, I have to go back to see the complete film this coming Friday..

THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL 2008 has a very informative website

The site is great, I love the "Bootleg" video's of the exhibit, the list of artist, interviews, articles, reviews, funders info, blog. this site is very well packaged and a excellent study. Time well spent!!!

I spent the rest of the day doing PR. computer work for the exhibit (RE)POSSESSED. I have to put together some educational events to go with the exhibit. Rita Salpietro the Public Relations Person at the Jersey City Museum took these great photo's of some of the works in the exhibit.

You can't see how beautiful the chandeliers are from the photograph, you really have to see them in person, Dorian the chandeliar designer has all these colorful crystal flowers and berries all up in these "FUNKY CHIC" chandeliers. Also you can't imagine how the jazz soundscape that is playing in the gallery fills the room so beautifully. I really love the feeling this group of artist & designers works created for this exhibitl

Missing are images of two mandalas, and the display of the teaset and the wholesome Caranda Tea collection from Africa.

The Jersey City Museum has one of my crochet mandalas in their permanent collection.

All of my art work in the exhibit is single stitch crochet, the pink pointed headdress in the bottom image is my THINKING HAT, This was the first piece of art created for this body of work, I had to make this "Thinking hat" for myself to wear when I first started creating these large crochet works. I got that from a elementary school teacher that used to say, ok class, let's put on our "thinking hats" and get started on our class work... I always wondered what a "thinking hat" looked like, where one could be bought and how much they cost?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The exhibit finally had it's opening, it was really wonderful, over 600 people attend, there were about 45 artist that were opening in the Jersey City Museum that same night, I thought there were going to be more people than 600. I did not take any photographs.

The museum had a press conference with the Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, (who is a wonderful supporter of the arts in New Jersey) and the beautiful & brilliant Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells. I will post photo's of the exhibit in a few days.


In celebration of Women’s History Month, Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells, Jersey City Mayor Jeremiah Healy [unconfirmed], artists and dignitaries will gather at the Jersey City Museum at 3 p.m. today to celebrate the unique contributions of New Jersey’s native daughters to the fabric of Americana in the arts, history, science and public service.
“Our goal in promoting Women’s History Month is essentially twofold: celebrating the rich legacy of the past and fulfilling the great promise of the future,” said Secretary Wells. “In reminding people of the invaluable contributions of New Jersey women from all walks of life, we want to aggressively showcase how this legacy is being both nurtured and advanced at our world-class museums and galleries, performing arts and cultural centers, and our amazing history venues. The Jersey City Museum is a premier example of these rich resources.”

Underscoring this considerable legacy, the highlight of the program will be an exclusive preview of (RE)possessed, a new exhibition that will run at the Jersey City Museum from March 20 through August 24. Featuring the renowned work of noted artists Xenobia Bailey, Dorian Webb and Barbara Garnes, the exhibition will “transform the museum’s Project Gallery into an intimate and enchanting environment which the artist calls an “ ‘urban tea ceremony with a twist.’”

(RE)possessed includes several of Bailey’s signature hand-crocheted and embroidered work amid breathtaking, custom-made chandeliers of Dorian Webb, a decorative tea set by Barbara Garnes, a collection of fine African teas by Caranda Fine Foods and a evocative soundscape provided by jazz musician Rene McLean.

“We commend Secretary Wells for raising public awareness of the work of women artists, like Xenobia Bailey and Dorian Webb, who create meaningful works that inspire and engage us,” noted Marion Grzesiak, Executive Director of the Jersey City Museum. “Like Secretary Wells, the Jersey City Museum is committed to celebrating the achievements of women artists—not only during Women’s History Month—but throughout the year.”

Today’s event coincides with ongoing efforts by the Department of State, begun earlier this month, to showcase Women’s History Month celebrations throughout the state. The cornerstone of these efforts was the launch of the Department’s webpage, Detailing an extensive collaborative partnership with the state’s museums and cultural and historic institutions offering free and discounted events throughout March, the website allows visitors to navigate quickly and effortlessly to locate events celebrating women’s history at dozens of venues mere minutes away.

As the Department of State encompasses the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Cultural Trust, Historical Commission, State Museum, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and the Division of Travel & Tourism among other divisions, the website will have its finger squarely on the pulse of a fluid and dynamic statewide events calendar.


Really busy day today, I had to run to Brooklyn to get two jars of Formula #1 Green Life Formula from Queen Afua. I have to start my mornings with a table spoon full of this health drink in fruit juice with a banana and sometimes added strawberries, depending on the price of strawberries. I get a real good energy boost from this this mixed drink.

Watkins Health Food Store on 125th St. in Harlem always seems to be out of stock of this of the Green Life Formula, so I have to travel all the way to Brooklyn on the local C train to Kingston and Jamaica Ave to get a few bottles.

Coming back into Manhattan from Brooklyn, I stopped off in China Town to bargain grocery shop and get some salmon steaks, bananas and strawberries which were $1.00 a basket (they are so ripe, I have to eat some and freeze the rest).

I walked over to Whole Foods on 14th St. to get my food samples and purchase a large bottle of lemon aid, I walked over to Trader Joes down the block to get some Trader Joe's discount vitamins. I needed to go to Pratts Manhattan Computer Lab to start on the website for the exhibit (RE)POSSESSED.
A couple of months ago, I was at a Sunday private gallery viewing of Artist Shinique Smith’s wonderful artwork. I think she is doing some really interesting and important 2-3D soft sculptural sketching & exploring of her art work, there is a very natural feel to the way that she has evolved into and chosen her (found objects) materials, the compositions that she comes up with are very well balanced in time, experience, new thought, statement and they are visually appealing.

Her work is like a High Brow Journey, into a Romantic Point of View of the inside of the Hood, from a Sistah that passed through in the last few years. I love the chances that she takes with the beautiful large strokes of calligraphy on the walls, combined with the assembled soft sculptured found textiles and objects, it's like she is scripting in a unknown tongue. I think the way that she sculpts is very FREEING...

Check out this article below about this artist who is BLOWING-UP all over the Fine Art World.
Shinique Smith is as fine a mixture of street and salon as any artist could be.

For decades, her family lived in the genteel Baltimore neighborhood of Edmondson Village. Except that by the time Smith was growing up, she says, that gentility was lost and by now it's "totally the 'hood."

She was born to a teenage single mom who left Shinique (rhymes with "Clinique") behind to be brought up by her grandmother. This young mother, however, had "abandoned" her daughter to study fashion in New York and Paris, then came back to push culture and education on her kid.

Smith went to storied public schools in Baltimore: the Baltimore School of the Arts and later Frederick Douglass High. Between those two schools, she got arrested, for what she calls "ridiculous" graffiti crimes, and was bounced to Southwestern High, where metal detectors were de rigueur. Smith says she lucked out when her failing transcript from Southwestern was lost on its way to Frederick Douglass. Douglass sent Smith off with a scholarship to the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The old Brooklyn building Smith now lives in has its rougher edges, and there are crumbling projects within a few blocks. But the scruffy drugstore downstairs has been splendidly rehabbed as a trendy trattoria. Smith's apartment on the second floor has lovely hardwood floors, a marble fireplace and its original 1930s black-and-white bathroom -- and could use a second mortgage's worth of renovations. On a recent visit, it was also full to bursting with all the trash and scrap and found objects Smith uses to make art.

And now, as a kind of cap to all those contrasts, at 37 Smith has made it into a show at the august National Portrait Gallery in Washington, home to pictures by Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. Yet the exhibition she's in, "Recognize! Hip-Hop and Contemporary Portraiture," includes spray-painted murals by real street artists as well as concert photos and oil portraits of hip-hop's greatest stars, alongside Smith's own manic agglomeration of rap ephemera and found objects. (The show continues through Oct. 26.)

All along, this has been what Smith has had to reckon with: A complex negotiation between the "high" culture of the art world, for so long steeped in whiteness, and the black "street" culture of the city she grew up in.

She is proud of her brief flirtation with graffiti as a member of TWC, The Welfare Crew. "For a minute, I was the only girl writer in Baltimore," she says. But press her for details about her teenage arrest, and she just laughs it off as youthful foolishness, long since scrubbed from her record.

"My work isn't graffiti," she insists, explaining that the swirling letter forms on the walls in her Portrait Gallery piece and on canvas in other recent work, owe as much to her study of Japanese calligraphy in college as to her long-ago painting in alleys. At the Portrait Gallery, her letters' swoops are done in Japanese sumi ink rather than Krylon spray.

Anyway, the unusually explicit "street" themes in Smith's Portrait Gallery installation, titled "No Thief to Blame," partly stem from the circumstances of this new work's birth. The installation was commissioned as a response to a new poem by Nikki Giovanni, the 64-year-old Godmother of Rap, that was also created for the hip-hop show. The poem is called "It's Not a Just Situation: Though We Just Can't Keep Crying About It (For the Hip-Hop Nation That Brings Us Such Exciting Art)," and it's broadcast over speakers and printed on one wall in the gallery Smith's work shares with it.

Giovanni's verses inspired Smith to include the following in her assemblage, which cascades from one corner of the room: A torn Tupac Shakur T-shirt, collaged photos of dead hip-hoppers such as Aaliyah, Jam Master Jay and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, images of roses torn from a movie poster for "Youth Without Youth," a cardboard-cutout butterfly, a plastic "Heavyweight Wrestling" trophy belt, gold plastic beading hanging from the ceiling, swirls of illegible writing done right on the walllengths of red ribbon, blue shoelace and yellow caution tape stretched across a window embrasure as well as a pair of high-heel pink mules that sit in the middle of the mess.

For the Portrait Gallery's more traditional visitors, all this street-inspired art, with its street-sourced supplies, is bound to come across as absolutely up-to-date. But the installation's street-smart maker sees it differently. Smith feels the piece is full of "nostalgia and romance for the past" -- for the era when she, and American culture at large, first began to feel hip-hop's impact.

Smith cites a friend's interpretation of the installation as the kind of sentimental Wall of Fame a teenage girl might mount in her bedroom, pinning up the pop-culture faces that mean the most to her. That teenager may have more in common with the spray-painting young Shinique than with the mature artist who now has her master's degree and was recently taken on by the rich and prestigious Yvon Lambert gallery.

Smith notes links between her roots in graffiti and the Japanese calligraphy she's come to more recently: Both are about marks made in a single swoop of spontaneity, as well as the impossibility of erasure. Both are governed by strict traditions that set clear bounds for any innovation. But both also have parallels in the grand, Dead White Male history of Western art that also matters deeply to Smith -- in the revolutionary sketches of Leonardo and Michelangelo, in abstract expressionism, maybe also in the subtle use of black and white and gesture by more recent figures such as Cy Twombly and Sol LeWitt.

Smith says that she is black, a black artist and a black woman artist: "I think in this country, you can't not see yourself as an African American, or as a woman."

She also insists, however, that blackness is not, or not usually, her "primary subject."

"I see myself as an artist -- other people see me as an African-American artist." By which she means that however much she may be an artist who is black, her work isn't simply "black art."

Even her explicitly black-themed piece in Washington is a kind of extract from an ongoing project that casts its net more widely. In what's on its way to becoming what she calls a "big requiem" for our times, Smith has been amassing mementos of all the famous figures who have died during her life. Those dead figures include Tupac and the other hip-hop artists in "No Thief to Blame," but also Lady Di and Kurt Cobain.

Her recent work has often consisted of baled scrap fabric that comments, at least obliquely, on excess consumption and the global trade in castoffs from the West. One such textile bundle is in "Unmonumental," the prestigious show that launched the reopened New Museum in New York. It fits in fine with other global art on display there, and only hints at a background with a can of spray paint on the streets of Baltimore.

Monday, March 24, 2008


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.. ok, that's enough... I can't type the whole song out this late at night. I want everyone around the world to wish my sister ADRIENNE BAILEY A HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

I'm Officially extending your birthday to last how ever long you want to celebrate it. Enjoy your special day. I'll be in touch.



Sunday, March 16, 2008


Slowly but surely the components for the exhibit (RE)POSSESSED that opens March 20th at the Jersey City Museum, is coming together.

Over they weekend Rene Mclean, jazz musician, multi reed instrumentalist and composer and I were working on the jazz soundscape for the gallery and the CD that will be available for purchase when the exhibit opens.

We are going to have two stages of CD’s, the working CD that will be playing at the opening, which will be a limited edition. And the composition that is digitally composed into a seamless 6 hr soundscape that wil be installed and played near the end of the exhibit, The new CD will be created the from the collection of original jazz pieces created by Rene Mclean.

Below is a website link, so that you can check out a little of the outstanding music & history of Rene Mclean.

This is a image of the CD, I designed the cover, Rene's son is doing the layout for the back of the CD. The photo was taken by the masterful photographer Barren Claiborne in his studio last week in Tribeca NYC, right behind where the World Trade Center used to be. He was in his studio when the World Trade Center went down, he had to leave his place for 3 month and if he needed to go to his studio, the military had to escort him.

Check out Barren Claiborne's photography work on his website.

I will be going to the museum tomorrow to finish installing works and hopefully hanging the lighting. The museum had to install parts of a new ceiling to hang Dorian Webbs Chandeliers. She said that they were really heavy, but they did not seem that heavy to me when I moved them.

Dorian and I are going to meet at the gallery to see the space since the museum hung the chandeliers…

I have not seen the chandeliers yet... But, Rocio Aranda, the curator said that they were beautiful.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I found these beautiful images from Toni Morrison Opera MARGARET GARNER on Sheree Renee Thomas's blog. Check out this HARD WORKIN UPTOWN SISTAH'S blog if you get a chance

Today I had to slow down with the preparations for the exhibit at the Jersey City Museum. I was getting a little over whelmed with the details. Once this exhibit is up, I will be a lot less nervous about it.

Everything is coming together really well, One of the reasons I was moved to do this traveling exhibit on the development of a contemporary African American aesthetic, is because of the memorialization of the historic trauma that is laced into the African American Culture. This is the same reason that I retired from designing costume for Black Theater.

In the 1970’s when I was still living in Seattle, I belonged to a very unique African American community theater group named Black Arts West…

Copy-paste- and open the link below for a very interesting view of the history of this small but very special black repertory theater group that was started in the 1960’s, in the Pacific Northwest.

(Be sure to “Brows to Next Essay” to read all 5 pages of the essay, I was part of the scene of this theater group, so I can honestly say, it is very well documented)

…I was a costume designer for Black Arts West for a few plays from 1971-73. I was also a student of Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington.

I took a few theater costume design course because I thought it would be helpful for me with my work at the theater. That was the beginning of my culture shocks.

During this class is when I noticed that the costumes that I was designing for the productions of Black Theater, were all run-away slave costumes or used urban wear.

I was not able to beautifully design the dramatic costumes of my imagination that came from the pages of The African American Play writes, like the other students in the class were able to do that were designing costumes with European Play writers,

If I had designed the costumes that I envisioned it would have altered the mood of trauma that was being dramatized in the writing. The students that were working with plays by European Playwrights. Were able to buy wonderful satin brocades and decorative lace fabrics of wonderful colors & textures to aid their vision to take the characters they were working with into a magical experience.

I,… “On the other hand” was in the “salt mines” going to the Salvation Army or thrift store to find what ever I needed. I was ripping the clothes up, “on my hands and knee’s” rubbing the fabric on ruff edges to create worn holes, putting grass stains, perspiration stains and tea stains on the garments to look like blood stains… I could go on with this description, but, like the experience with designing costumes for black theater,… I had to leave,… I was tired working so hard to preserve the trauma of the culture, I had to move on to something that tells another part of our story, and I had to go to The High Road at The Cross Roads of my culture. Where I could express from my personal vision.

Now, this brings my story to a few months back when I saw Toni Morris’s Opera Margaret Garner at New York City Opera Sept 2007. It was an amazing production, I totally enjoyed it, and it was definitely a high point of my theatrical experience. I love Toni Morrison’s writings; I especially loved watching the film Beloved, which inspired an exhibit that I did at the Caribbean cultural Center in 2006 in New York City.

But… The costumes of the Opera Margaret Garner, we were still enslaved and running. This is one of the reasons that I am doing this exhibition project titled (RE)POSSESSED, that will open March 20th at the Jersey City Museum.

So… to help everyone get into the spirit of this exhibit, until it travels to a gallery near you, I have curated10 youtube video’s that are required viewing before visiting the exhibit (RE)POSSESSED.

Check them out and enjoy.
Supremes: Some day we will be together
Diana Ross: in Central Park Opening
Diana Ross: Central Park, Reach out and touch, aint no mountan high enough, home
Nina Simone: I’ll put a Spell on you.
Supremes: Forever came today (bad ass black dresses
Nina Simone I ain’t got
Nina Simone: Zungo
Nina Simone: What you Gonna Do? (In a sexy crochet pant outfit, she is totally styled her as far as I’m concerned)
Tina Turner
Aretha Franklin Sings Opera - Nessun Dorma White house





Thursday, March 6, 2008


Today was a nice sunny day, No big winds, just a calm blue ski, not nice enough to take all of my winter layers off, but it was nice enough to do a lot of out door walking around, and not be uncomfortable.

I started out early, The art handlers came to pick up my work for the exhibit in Jersey City, after they picked up my work they went downtown to pick up Dorian Webb’s Chandeliers, then they went to Chelsea to the Gallery that represents me, The Stux Gallery to pick up my tent.

I have to call the Jersey City Museum Friday to see if everything arrived all right. I e-mailed the Sistah Paradise folktale that I wrote to be edited by the Curator Dr. Rocio Aranda, it's going to be installed on the wall in the exhibit. I'm still working on the wall text. I will finish it tonight.


A couple of day ago, I thought it would be a good idea for me to pay a visit to the mausoleum of the Artist Jacob Lawrence and his wife Gwen Knight Lawrence. They are interned together at the Cathedral of St John The Divine.

I go there every once in a while, I bring them a white 7 day candle, that I light in their memory and the memory of my parents Mommy & Daddy Bailey, and my best friend from high school, college and forever Joyce Sims Niles, who are interned in Seattle Washington.

(On an artist budget, they understand me sharing everyone’s memory on one and the same candle.)

Every time I visit The Lawrence's, I think back when I was a student at Pratt Institute in New York. I would go home to Seattle during my spring break, and I would go to the University of Washington and visit Mr. Lawrence in the art class he was teaching. He used to let me set in on his still life drawing classes, I really appreciated that, He used to use my charcoal drawings for examples for the class on how I used my lines, he was very encouraging to me. And after class he, his wife and I would go to his office and just talk, he used to teach at Pratt so he was asking about how thing were going for me on the campus.

I used to use examples of his oil paintings for my color exercises, in my light, color and design class in my freshmen year. The color and design compositions of his oil paintings were so well worked out, no space was wasted, or color unbalanced,

I remember talking to him about his painting classes and he told me that I would only be able to use five colors of paint in his class, he wanted his students to learn how to mix all of their colors from, red, yellow, blue, black and white.

When I left Seattle to come back to New York to finish at Pratt, He gave me his home phone number, I used to call him and his wife and tell them all about my dreams about being an artist in New York, and he was always so excited about what ever directions my dreams would take. I remember telling him when I first arrived in New York and I saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live for the first time. I told him that I wanted to design floats for that parade. He really got a kick out of that.

So. I walk up the hill to St John the Divine Church, and visit them from time to time, with my one white candle for the both of them and my folks.

I remember after the memorial service when they both were intern at the church after Mrs Lawrence past, when we were leaving from the reception, these two white peacocks were just a prancing & parading around the church yard grounds together with there feathers all up in the air behind them... I had to smile at that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


When ever I visit Saint John the Divine Cathedral Church, I love to visit all the smaller chapel, one chapel that I find very moving is the Chapel dedicated to Joan of Ark.

The lighting in this chapel just a little afternoon is dramatic, The sun light beams through the stain glass windows, casting soft pastel colors around the top of the statue and lights up the full statue perfectly, but, this lighting only happens for a few minutes as the sun is setting (you can see that I arrived a few minutes late, because the sun light and the soft colored lighting is already moving off of the statue).

This is a very beautifully executed sculpture, The artist was very successful in rendering a very peaceful/calm into the full body of the sculpture.

What adds a final touch of grace to this sculptural installation, is that one of the stones from the prison that she was held in before she was burned at the stake, is at the feet of her statue.... VERY SPECIAL EXPERIENCE.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Today was a nice sunny mild weathered day, mild enough to take my gloves off, but nothing else.

I had an appointment today with the photographer Barron-The-Magnificent, to take my portrait for the publicity shots for the Exhibit (RE)POSSESSED, that is going to be at the Jersey City Museum, opening March 20, 2008. I wore the Sistah Paradise Regalia and a black glittery mask. I hope the shots turn out alright, Barron is a brilliant photographer, and so, I should not worry.
I belong to a International Freeform Crochet Yahoo Group, there are over 14,000 members in this group, The members are from all around the world, I can be in contact with someone from this group any 24 hrs in a day, I believe just about any form of crochet or needle arts that has ever been created, someone in this group knows something about it. For example, I was trying to find out how to make the stitch that is used to make a baseball, I call it the baseball stitch, a stitch that is used to pull two side together, I like the embroidered look of that stitch, and it's not just decorative, it's functional. evidently, someone else in the group was interested in sharing that stitch, and they posted instructions to that stitch and about four other stitches.

Every question that I have had, about a stitches, or yarns, was answered before I could ask it, either someone asking the same question, or the question was answered in a previous post. This yahoo group is amazing. When I went to London this past October; to attend the Knitting and Stitching Show, I met up with a couple of the members, very creative group.

I have always admired and wanted to learn Irish Crochet, to me, this is the most magical of all crochet stitching. Finding someone that knows how to Irish Crochet had turned into a major mission for me, I really thought the art form was dying out, but, through this amazing crochet yahoo group, I found an amazing Irish Crocheter named Lilly Smuul, who lives in Kenmare, Ireland. I have never met Ms Smuul, but I was introduced to her work through the Yahoo Freeform Crochet Group.

I have posted one of her Irish Crochet Neck Pieces, To share the beauty of this decorative style of this crochet, This work is unbelievably beautiful, the quality of the stitch the choice of the yarn, the composition, in one word…. MASTERFUL/

The Irish Crochet below Lilly Smuuls Irish Crochet is an antique piece, created by a Nun in Ireland; there is no specific date to this piece.

Any time I see work like this,... IT HUMBLES ME.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Philip G. Freelon
The Freelon Group Architects
Research Triangle
Park, N.C.

A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Philip G. Freelon founded his own practice in 1990. The Freelon Group has grown to a staff of 50 with a portfolio that includes corporate, institutional and cultural commissions. Among them are three African American cultural centers. The Freelon group has also honed its collective skills in construction documentation, project management, and construction administration.

Click link to download and hear Podcast interview with Principal Architect Philip G. Freelon. The volume is kind of low on Philip G. Freelon, so you will have to turn the volume up.


I found a really inspiring story on African American Quilts that inspired Architect Phil Freelon in The Charlotte Observer by Richard Marchal. You can read the full story in the link below.


Begun at a 1974 festival on African American culture and history, the Afro-American Cultural Center since 1986 has been in the former Little Rock AME Zion Church on North Myers Street, near McDowell and East Trade streets.

The new building at South Tryon and Stonewall streets will have 46,490 square feet, more than four times the current space.

When the building opens next year, the center will become the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, in honor of the former Charlotte mayor and civic leader.

It will house the Hewitt Collection, 58 works by 20 African American artists, including Charlotte native Romare Bearden, purchased for the center in 1998 by Bank of America.

Both the current home and the new one are in Brooklyn, a predominantly black neighborhood that filled Second Ward, which extends southeast from Trade and Tryon streets.

Beginning in the '60s urban renewal flattened a neighborhood now home to government buildings and Marshall Park.