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Category Archives: dinner and a show

a fleeting bloom in winter – gloAtl's performance at lenox square mall

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Lauri Stallings has a knack for befuddling audiences with her art. When I first heard of Bloom, the site-specific dance performance that would take place in the arteries of – of all places – Lenox Mall, my first response was a wrinkled brow and a head scratch. Why Lenox Mall? Why not a venue that would be more suited to the art form than a place characterized by crowded consumerism? Yet, I was intrigued enough to brave the weekend throngs and hellacious parking lot to catch a glimpse of gloAtl’s final performance of Bloom, which was set to begin at 4pm on Sunday.

At 4:15, a sizeable crowd of curious spectators gathered around a stark white dance floor that had been installed near the Starbuck’s at the center of the mall. Several more people – including yours truly – leaned over the banister of the mezzanine above, waiting for the spectacle to begin. Most people had no idea what they were even waiting for. “There’s a dance performance today,” I informed those who bothered to ask. One guy responded, “Oh, like America’s Best Dance Crew!?” He seemed a mite disappointed when I told him the show would be more ballet than b-boy.

After waiting several minutes with eyes trained on the stage, I noticed an out-of-place character in the crowd below. A svelte dancer clothed in a burlap-and-black tutu dress stood amidst the waiting onlookers; no one appeared to even notice she was there. Another dancer emerged from the crowd, crossed the stage and exited to the stairs leading to the second level of the mall, disappearing from view as quickly as she had appeared. Moments later, two more dancers emerged from the mass of shoppers, stretching limbs, twirling and executing elegantly awkward poses while mall patrons filed by with their shopping bags – some smiling, some oblivious, and some with confused looks on their faces. The befuddlement spread to the mezzanine quickly, especially when more than one dancer nudged between the upstairs onlookers, executing arabesques and fluid backbends over the edge of the railing.

The elimination of the barrier between a performer and an audience made for some profound observations. The crowd seemed to focus more on the dancers when they were in the designated performance space than they did when a dancer was literally performing right in front of their faces. I silently wondered whether the goal of Bloom was to remind us that art – like the blooming of a flower – is organic, and that we should be conscious of its presence all around us, instead of limiting it to a stage or a designated venue that proclaims, ‘herein lies art’.

Or perhaps the intent was to solidify gloAtl as a sort of fine arts flash mob that spreads this message of organic art appreciation throughout Atlanta.

Or maybe… the objective was simply to make people scratch their heads in between sips of their double shot, no foam macchiatos as they headed for their next retail fix.



a night of hedonism at apache cafe

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Hedonism. It’s more than just a clothing-optional resort in the Caribbean. And from now through February 22, you won’t need a plane ticket or a passport to experience it.

This past Monday, Apache Cafe hosted the opening for Hedonism IX, a once-a-year art show highlighting erotic art, live models, and sensual performances. Like the resort, the art show is for those who don’t mind seeing and showing their more, er… natural side. Unlike the resort, there’s no separate section for the prudes among us, so be sure to check your inhibitions at the door.

Atlanta-based photog Luladae Terefe was on hand to capture her vision of the night’s delightful debauchery, and was kind enough to share her stunningly beautiful images.

Prepare to be titillated. Cold shower optional.

 (click images to see full size)


Hedonism IX @ Apache Cafe
Mondays through February 22
64 3rd St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308-1035



opening reception: run for cover at spruill gallery

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One of the things I lament most about the decline of the album and the CD and the rise of digital music is the loss of that accompanying art form – the album cover. In the past, album covers were as much a statement of the times and the genre as the music was. I mean, what could capture the essence of early-80s, sex-laden funk better than this:


On January 14 from 6 to 9 pm, Spruill Gallery will host an opening reception for Run for Cover – an exhibit that will pay homage to ‘the album covers that defined and influenced our experience of music and shaped our lives’. And even if Rick James doesn’t make the cut, I’m looking forward to discovering and re-discovering an array of visual and musical influences crossing a range of generations and genres. The exhibit will shows through March 6.



Spruill Gallery
4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia  30338

Closing Reception: Fahamu Pecou's Whirl Trade at Get This Gallery

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This Saturday, Atlanta-based artist Fahamu Pecou (The Artist formerly known as ‘The Shit’), along with mega-promoter J. Carter and Red|Creative will host a reception for Pecou’s current installation at Get This! Gallery in the Westside Arts District. Entitled, Whirl Trade, Pecou’s collection of 5 original paintings continues his penchant for slick, highly stylized images that satirize contemporary images of ‘blackness’ across the Diaspora.

Fans admire Pecou for using high art to hold a critical light to hip-hop culture, and credit him for making art accessible to a wider audience. While critics say that Pecou may himself be one of the over-hyped hip-hop archetypes he often mocks in his work.

Come out for a peek on Saturday evening and be your own judge.




Get This! Gallery

662 11th St.


the NBAF festival turns 21…

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Do you remember what you did for your 21st birthday? Did you see a movieGo to a concert? Go shopping? All of the above?

If you’ve been under the equivalent of a cultural rock for the last month or so, it might come as a surprise to you that the 21st anniversary of the National Black Arts Festival officially kicked off this week in Atlanta.

But if you’ve spied the signs around town and have caught the ‘smoke signals’ on Facebook, Twitter, or even today’s article in the AJC, well… you already know what’s in store.

This year’s festival is slightly different than that of previous years – namely, a shorter schedule, and a single venue for most of the events. Some of the changes are a sign of the times: a down economy equals fewer donations and sponsorships, and a tighter budget.  But other changes show that the NBAF is truly a ‘now’ kind of girl.

By hosting most of her events in a centralized place that’s Marta-accessible and located directly across from headquarters, she’s decreased the carbon footprint for her staff and her attendees, and made it more economical than driving to several locations.  And Lord knows, Atlanta could use just a little less traffic on the road for a few days.

Being true to the times also means making greater use of social media. So for her 21st birthday, the NBAF sent out invitations to the ‘cool kids’ – local Atlanta bloggers that will provide online coverage of 2009 NBAF events.

I’ll give you one guess who’s included in the bunch.

For the next few days, I’ll post regular updates from the NBAF via Twitter and Facebook, beginning with the daily staff meeting. I’ll also post bite-sized reviews of the NBAF events I attend throughout the week here on the blog. If I’m not completely worn out, I may even do a longer recap of each day’s events at the end of each day.

But you know how 21st birthdays go. There’s no telling what might happen. Still, I have no doubt it’s gonna be a party to remember.

Here’s where you’ll find me:

Thursday, July 30

8a – NBAF staff meeting (NBAF HQ)
11:30a – NBAF Sponsor Luncheon (Atl Civic Center)
5-6p – Artist Talk: Whitfield Lovell  (Woodruff Arts Ctr)
8p – Pan-African Film Fest In Retrospect: Robert Townsend (Woodruff)
Friday, July 31
8a – NBAF staff meeting
10:30a – Salon at NBAF (Woodruff)
5p – Creatively Speaking: Nelson George (Woodruff)
7:30p – Legends Celebration: A Tribute to Nina Simone (Atlanta Symphony Hall)
Saturday, Aug 1
11a – Int’l Marketplace (Woodruff)
2:15p – Night Writers (Woodruff)
4p Artist Talk: Les Brown (Woodruff)
Sunday, Aug 2
noon – Salon NBAF (Woodruff)
8p – Talk /  Closing Reception w/Russell Gunn (Woodruff)


Meet Me at The Festival!

america i am exhibit begins tomorrow

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Is there a difference between the history of America and the history of African Americans?

Should there be?

The America I  Am exhibit, conceived by Tavis Smiley and brought to life with the help of African-American visionaries like author Toni Morrison and Dr. Cornel West arrives in Atlanta tomorrow, June 12 at the Atlanta Civic Center. The touring exhibit is billed as a celebration of the African-American ‘imprint’ on the history of America.

I have to be honest with you – as I typed that previous sentence, there’s a strange split feeling, a dichotomy in the wording that truly irks me.

African-American history is often seen as distinctly separate from other American history. When I think back to the American history classes I was required to take in elementary and high school, I can remember that there was a specific section (sometimes a few paragraphs, at most an entire chapter) dedicated to African-American history. It was disintegrated from the rest of the text, as if African-American history happened in a vaccuum somewhere while the rest of American history continued along undaunted and uninfluenced by it and vice-versa. The truth is that there are really two (or more) parallel American histories, both happening along the same timeline, both intersecting and cross-pollinating each other, both affected by many of the same technological and social evolutions, yet in distinctly different ways. With the exception of one humanities course I took in undergrad, I’ve yet to see the text or exhibit that approaches American history from this perspective.

I’ve not seen the America I Am exhibit yet, so I don’t know if this integration of African-American history with other American history will be on display there, but I’m hopeful that it will bring us one step closer to that ideal. If not, it will at least serve as a supplement for those of us who want more than a chapter’s-worth of information about the history of brown people in America.

America I Am will reside in Atlanta until September 6, 2009. Tickets are available for purchase online via Ticketmaster. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children, and $8 for seniors. Discount tickets are available at participating Wal-Mart stores in Georgia.

Visit the America I Am website for more details.



alice walker archive exhibit opens at emory

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The legendary, Georgia-born author and human rights activist Alice Walker unveiled her literary archive at Emory University this week. Entitled, “A Keeping of Records: The Life and Art of Alice Walker”, The exhibit includes a collection of manuscripts – the most noteworthy being the manuscript for her Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Color Purple. Letters, photos, and other memorabilia will also be on display as part of the exhibit, which runs through September 27.

In an interview broadcast on WABE this morning, Walker explained that one of the reasons she chose to donate her collection to a Georgia instituion was that she wanted “her Georgia kin to be surrounded by their own culture”.

What a wonderful gift from a living legend.

The archive is on display at the Robert W. Woodruff Library on Emory University’s campus.

Alice Walker speaks tonight at 8pm at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts on Emory’s campus. The topic: Reflections on the Turning of the Wheel, Living a Life of Freedom and Choice. Admission is free – tickets are required.

visit Alice Walker’s blog

view a slideshow of the exhibit