Dog Star / A Creative Arts Guide






Image above: Vik Muniz

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère after Édouard Manet, from the Pictures of Magazines 2 series, 2012.

Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life. Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted in 1882, explores the treachery of nineteenth-century Parisian nightlife through the depiction of a bartender attending to a male patron reflected in the mirror behind her. Muniz plays on Manet’s style, replacing Manet’s visible brushstrokes with the frayed edges of torn paper and lending the work immense visual interest.

“Thank you for DogStarNYC, in general. The site speaks to so many kinds of interests; it discerns which qualities will appeal to many different tastes in a tremendous number of activities. I love how it encourages young people to pay attention to the unusual.

In New York we let so many teens walk around the periphery, mildly shell-shocked by life, while the information that they need to make sense of their world sits in the center of the room. DogStarNYC welcomes them into the middle of the room; the blog tells them how to walk there. ” - Stacy L.


DOG STAR is the creation of a high school English teacher in New York City. This blog began in 2008 as an online community for a journalism class and has since evolved into a curated site on the creative arts, arts-related news and a guide to free and low-cost events for teens. Our mission is to offer teens real-life options for enjoying all the creative arts in New York City. May wisdom guide you and hope sustain you. The more you like art, the more art you like!

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF NON COMMERCIAL & EDUCATIONAL CONTENT Unless otherwise stated, we do not own copyrights to any of the visual or audio content that might be included on this blog. Dog Star is for criticism, commentary, reporting and educational purposes under the FAIR USE ACT: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. If you own the copyright to any images and object to them being included in this blog, please advise and the content will be removed. No attempt is made for material gain from this blog's content.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dog Star Selects Arthur Dove's "Moon and Sea II" (1923)

ONLY ONE MORE MONTH! GO SEE Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope) @ Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Alexander's "Custodian."

Dog Star is incredibly excited about this new art installation at one of New York City's most famous sites.  Jane Alexander's figures challenge us to see ourselves better than animals in the face of horrific violence and global atrocities.

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights calls itself the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Traversing its length of more than two football fields beneath a roof almost half as tall can be disorienting and humbling.

In the Cathedral’s East End, a new installation by the South African artist Jane Alexander, organized by the Museum for African Art, adds another layer to the experience. ”Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope)” is a spellbinding and somewhat unsettling collection of humanoid sculptures and photomontages of these perplexing figures captured in stark, often banal landscapes.

The creatures — made of fiberglass — are simultaneously foreign and familiar, formed from a hodgepodge of disparate animal parts. They are imaginary beings, but “you have the sensation that you know that animal,” says Josep Subirós, a Spanish writer and philosopher who curated the exhibition and who is a longtime admirer of Alexander’s work.

Apartheid had just ended in 1994 when Subirós traveled to South Africa to report on the transition for a Catalan newspaper, La Vanguardia. He found that “apartheid was disappearing, but psychologically and socially it was there as strong as ever.” It wasn’t until he discovered one of Alexander’s sculptures at the South African National Gallery that he was able to intellectually bridge the gap between the official dissolution of apartheid and its continued pervasiveness in the South African consciousness.

While much of Alexander’s art reflects that continued “double reality” in South Africa, her work at St. John — which has been repurposed from past shows but rearranged to fit the site — also addresses the polarity of our natures in the day to day, and when confronted with systems of power and control like immigration, security and surveillance.

In “Infantry,” rows of Alexander’s creatures are arranged in perfect military formation and outfitted in black found shoes on a red carpet in the cathedral’s towering Germanic chapel. In the neighboring Chapel of St. James, black and white photos taken in and around Cape Town are projected digitally onto a bare wall. While the images first appear to depict an ordinary community, the addition of Alexander’s disquieting figures remind us of the inhuman imbued in the everyday.

While Alexander's figures are, in many ways, emblems of monstrosity, they are oddly beautiful. Her creatures expose the human animal for all it is and all it could become. Though clearly concerned with social issues, Alexander's sculptural installations and photographs do not judge, nor do they convey a particular political or moral standpoint.

"There is no glorification of human misery here, only recognition of human tenacity and will, dignity among the wretched, a hint of the thread that connects us all and beyond." (Ash Amin, On Being Human) Alexander's artworks have a formal and technical excellence and deliver a potent emotional impact, sending warnings about historical consequences and carrying hints of things to come.

The overwhelming grandeur of the cathedral’s architecture brings Alexander’s work into sharp focus. “We didn’t want to invade,” Subirós explains. “We wanted to invite the space to interact with the art.”

Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope) is the first major North American survey of tableaux, sculptures, and photomontages by important South African artist Jane Alexander. Her artwork speaks of lasting disfigurations in her native South Africa, yet raises issues about human nature that resonate with viewers internationally. This site-specific exhibition at the Cathedral allows audiences to experience the familiarity and mutability of Alexander's universe.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City April 18 - July 29, 2013 Hours: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm; limited access on Sundays. There is a suggested donation of $10 per person.

Read the review here in the NY Times.

On Jane Alexander's `Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope)': A Conversation with Pep Subirós from Museum for African Art on Vimeo.

GO THIS WEEK! Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes

Above:  Le Corbusier's 1931 private home for the Savoye Family, Poissy, France - go here to read more about this fascinating and influential design

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes
June 9–September 23, 2013

MoMA presents its first major exhibition on the work of Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965), encompassing his work as an architect, interior designer, artist, city planner, writer, and photographer. 

Conceived by guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen, the exhibition reveals the ways in which Le Corbusier observed and imagined landscapes throughout his career, using all the artistic techniques at his disposal, from his early watercolors of Italy, Greece, and Turkey, to his sketches of India, and from the photographs of his formative journeys to the models of his large-scale projects. 

His paintings and drawings also incorporate many views of sites and cities. All of these dimensions are present in the largest exhibition ever produced in New York of his prodigious oeuvre.


Words to Live By

FREE! New City Park Honors F.D.R. & His Famous Speech "Four Freedoms"

Dog Star admires F.D.R. and knows he is an important man during the Great Depression and at the start of World War II.  He is also the former governor of New York State.  His family's estate north of New York City - Hyde Park - is open to the public and a great way to spend a Summer or Autumn Saturday with your family.  Of course, F.D.R.'s wife - Eleanor Roosevelt - is also an important figure and she had a huge role in drafting the Universal Human Rights delivered at the United Nations.

It's been 40 years since New York has been planning a memorial park for 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the east end of Roosevelt island. Originally designed by Louis Kahn in 1974, New York's almost bankrupt economy put the project on hold until the release of the documentary "My Architect" when enough support was fostered to fund the completion of the project carried out by local firm Mitchell Giurgola Architects.  

The triangular site of the 'FDR Four Freedoms Park' funnels visitors along a white granite plinth lined in linden trees to an open-air courtyard, at the entrance to which is thick block with a 28-inch bronze bust of FDR's head, sculpted by Jo Davidson, facing the united nations headquarters only 300 meters away. On the backside, the four freedoms speech is engraved as a symbol of the president's legacy to the building blocks of contemporary democratic principles. The project is planned to expand in the future, transforming a 19th-century small pox hospital to an auxiliary visitor center. The park is now open to the public.

Read more about F.D.R. here.

Go here for directions to the Four Freedoms Park!

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an enduring tribute to the life and work of President Roosevelt. In the late 1960s, during a period of national urban renewal, New York City Mayor John Lindsay proposed to reinvent Roosevelt Island (then called Welfare Island) into a vibrant, residential community. The New York Times championed renaming the island for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and constructing a memorial to him, remarking: "It has long seemed to us that an ideal place for a memorial to FDR would be on Welfare Island, which...could be easily renamed in his honor... It would face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped to save, the United Nations he inspired."

FDR's Famous Speech on The Four Freedoms On January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech that shaped this nation, now known as the Four Freedoms speech. He looked forward to a world founded on four human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  Today, by building Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, we have the opportunity to honor this man and these essential freedoms.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reality VS Illusion

Bill Nye is reminding ALL OF US that technology is not doing anything HUMANS haven't already been doing for hundreds of thousands of years.  This fascination with technology's "latest talents" is laughable in the face of human biology and humanity.  I add the last part - humanity - because LION KING director Julie Taymor reminded me recently that the "cool factor" of 3D movies is silly when we consider humans have had REAL 3D movies for thousands of years, too.  It's called THEATER!  It is a dark sign that we are rapidly turning away from the experiences that make us fundamentally human and lovingly embracing what dehumanizes us.  As dark sign, indeed.

Dog Star Selects Avishai Cohen Trio - Remembering

Words to Live By

Dog Star Selects JAVIER NINJA

Friday, June 28, 2013

Varla Jean Merman - Stonewall (Revue Your History)

The 2013 Nation Student Writing Contest

The deadline for the 2013 Nation Student Writing Contest has been extended until midnight eastern standard time on Sunday, July 7, 2013.

Eight years ago, The Nation launched an annual Student Writing Contest to identify, support and reward some of the numerous smart, progressive student journalists writing, reporting and blogging today.

This year, we’re asking students to answer this question: It’s clear that the political system in the US isn’t working for many. If you had to pick one root cause underlying our broken politics, what would it be and why?

Essays should not exceed 800 words and should demonstrate fresh, clear thinking and superior quality of expression and craftsmanship. We’ll select ten finalists and two winners total—six from college students, six from high schoolers. Each winner will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize and a lifetime Nation subscription. The five finalists will be awarded $200 each and subscriptions. The winning essays will be published in The Nation magazine and featured at The ten finalists will be featured at

Entries will be accepted through Sunday, July 7, 2013. Winners will be announced by Monday, September 9.

The contest is open to all matriculating high school students and undergraduates at US schools, colleges and universities as well as those receiving either high school or college degrees in 2013. (We're endeavoring to open the prize up to non-US students next year.) Submissions must be original, unpublished work. Each entrant is limited to one submission. Past and present Nation interns are ineligible.

Submissions and questions can be e-mailed to Please include the essay in the body of the e-mail. All e-mailed submissions will be acknowledged. Each entry must include author’s name, address, phone number, e-mail and short biography and school affiliation—and say “student essay” in the subject line.

Read last year’s winners and please help spread the word!

He's a Terrorist (A Teacher's Story)

He's a terrorist
Yesterday I was playing Time’s Up with my students. For those who don’t know this game, you just write random celebrities’ names on cards, put these cards in a jar and when you pick one, you have to make your team guess who it is. One of them, a really smart, funny and sweet 15 years old girl, picked a card. You could see she didn’t know the name on the card, but it was the last one in the jar so she had to make her teammates guess who it was. She didn’t know what to say, she just had no idea who it could be. But I encouraged her to try, I told her to make them guess the name or at least the first syllable.
So she tried and said “he’s a terrorist”. That is the only thing she said. I thought it was Ben Laden, because I thought it would be the only one they had heard of. But I was wrong, someone tried it and it wasn’t him. No one knew who it could be. Someone in the group wrote that name on this card, and even that person could’nt figure out whose name was on the card.
Her minute was up, and I just wanted to know so I told her to tell us who was the terrorist. She answered “I don’t know, there are two names on this card, Cassius Clay and Mohamed Ali”.
She didn’t know it was the most famous boxer of all time, she didn’t know a single thing about him and yet, the only thing she said was “he’s a terrorist”. Her teammates all screamed “You don’t  know who Mohamed Ali is ???” but then it hit me.
Why, if she had no idea who Mohamed Ali is, did she say “he’s a terrorist” ?
I asked her. She had no answer, and another kid just yelled “So, just because his name is Mohamed, he’s a terrorist?” so I was glad I wasn’t the only one wondering. It was clearly not meant to hurt or disrespect, but still, that was fucked up.
What I’m trying to find out since then is what made her decide he may be a terrorist ? What happened in her mind when she decided the name Mohamed Ali had to be a terrorist’s name ? What lead her to that assumption ?  Was it her parents and surroundings ? TV ? The other kids at school ?
I don’t think I’ll ever know, because she clearly had nothing to say (to be fair she realized what she had said right after and seemed a bit confused). But now I know racism is like a sneaky virus, infecting even the smartest kid in school. And that’s scary as SHIT.

What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel

What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel | Global Grind

By Rachel Samara for Global Grind Staff

June 26, 2013

A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel. Let’s just be real here.

The 19-year-old Miami native is an easy target for obvious, yet shallow reasons. But let’s not forget why she’s actually on the stand in George Zimmerman’s second degree murder trial. Rachel was the last person to speak to a living, breathing Trayvon Martin. The guilt, shame and sorrow she must feel is something most of us will never be able to comprehend. You could hear it in her voice, see it in her jittery body language. She is feeling the wrath of this highly publicized case.

Rachel was thrown head first into this murder story, unwillingly. And although she had repeatedly said she did not want to be a witness, did not even want to believe she was the last person Trayvon spoke to, Rachel took the stand for all the right reasons. She was asked to by the family of her deceased friend and feeling part of the burden for his death, she wanted to help.

Rachel was raw, emotional, aggressive and hostile, and she was unapologetically herself.
And if the 5 white jurors (excluding the 1 Latina) are like most white people I know, they are unfortunately not going to like Rachel. They won’t understand her, especially not her defensive nature, and this will unfortunately work against her. Even though it shouldn’t.

I can imagine George Zimmerman’s defense is just hoping some of those 5 white jurors have some prejudices (as most people do), or hell, are even racist, because if they are, their tactic to make Rachel out to be less intelligent, rather than less credible than she actually is, might actually work.
Less intelligent and more confused.

Less intelligent because of the “language barrier" and more confused because of the lawyers’ failure to understand who Rachel is, where she comes from, what kind of life she lives.

It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like - a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.

But if the lawyers, and especially the jurors, were really listening, they would see that although she comes off aggressive, Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it - she did not want to see Trayvon’s body, she did not want to face Trayvon’s mother and she wanted to wipe her hands of the situation because of the emotion and trauma. She was the last person Trayvon spoke to and she wanted everyone to understand what that means. This is in no way easy for her.

Rachel is the prosecution’s key witness, but I am going to call her the misunderstood witness. She holds vital information that both the defense and prosecution need, but these middle-aged white men questioning her do not get it. Sadly both the prosecution and the defense [but more so the defense] have an extreme disconnect from her reality, like I said. The constant text messaging between her and Trayvon is normal for two high school kids who may like each other, the nonchalant use of racial slurs like “cracka" and “n*gga" are slang (as Rachel put it) and that doesn’t mean it comes from a racist place.

Trayvon was just 17, his life consisted of text messaging, high school, PS3, girls and not much else. He had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of experiences to take in, so much more to learn, but sadly, he will never get a chance to do any of those things.

Rachel on the other hand will get to, but with her immaturity displayed on the stand for the whole world to see, she quickly became a joke. Maybe we were picturing Trayvon’s alleged girlfriend to be a bit different, but nevertheless, Rachel still is the last person, aside from George Zimmerman, that Trayvon had any contact with while he was alive on this earth. Rachel’s mumbling, hostility and that reference to the show First 48, among other things, threw us for a loophole, but let’s remember, she is just a teen. This is what she knows. This is far from a Lifetime movie, this is her life. In the flesh, but still on our TVs.

I cried when she described the feeling of realizing she was the last person Trayvon spoke to, cringed at her blatant honesty, laughed when she spoke back to the attorneys and even had to turn my volume down throughout different phases of her testimony because of sheer discomfort.

Rachel was authentic, nervous and extremely herself. She did, after all, hear her friend, a minor, get killed in cold blood. And her involvement, from what we can tell, became dragged out beyond anything she ever wanted.

Her hostility is making more sense now.

Rachel’s collision with Zimmerman’s attorney Don West was uncomfortable to watch. They didn’t get each other. I even thought at one point they were going to call in some type of translator. Yes, she mumbled, but the amount of times she was asked to repeat herself, speak up and slow down proved that they were indeed speaking different languages. But let’s be honest. Rachel Jeantel’s attitude is exactly what I would expect from someone from the hood who has no media training and who is fully entrenched in a hostile environment.

There’s nothing wrong with it.

A few different times while watching this trial I’ve gotten caught up in the entertainment of it all, like a movie I don’t want to miss the ending to. But this isn’t a movie, and although Don West did kick off his opening argument with a "Knock-Knock" joke, it’s not meant to be entertainment. And definitely not funny.

This is truly a life and death situation. Rachel was on the phone with Trayvon moments before he got murdered while walking home from a 7-11, back to “his Daddy’s house," as Rachel so eloquently put it. Aside from George Zimmerman, Rachel was Trayvon’s last communication on this earth.

This is real. Let’s not forget that.

Copyright © 2013 Global Grind.

LGBT History: UpStairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans (1973)

June is national Gay Pride month and a good opprtunity to remember LGBT history.  WARNING:  This is a hateful and very sad story.

Remembering the UpStairs Lounge: The U.S.A.’s Largest LGBT Massacre Happened 40 Years Ago Today

The 24th of June in 1973 was a Sunday. For New Orleans’ gay community, it was the last day of national Pride Weekend, as well as the fourth anniversary of 1969′s Stonewall uprising. You couldn’t really have an open celebration of those events — in ’73, anti-gay slurs, discrimination, and even violence were still as common as sin — but the revelers had few concerns. They had their own gathering spots in the sweltering city, places where people tended to leave them be, including a second-floor bar on the corner of Iberville and Chartres Street called the UpStairs Lounge.



Dog Star is excited about this exhibition because we have seen a few flamenco performances both here in NYC and once in Madrid, Spain.  Devoted readers interested in world cultures, Spanish culture, dance and music will run to this FREE exhibition at the NY Public Library's Performing Arts branch at Lincoln Center.  Go here for the exhibition website with links to other resources.

Directions to this NYPL Library branch:
Take subway #1 to Broadway & 66th Street - walk south along Boradway to the main plaza of Lincoln Center.  Enter the Lincoln Center Plaza from Broadway with the fountain straight ahead of you.  Immediately in the background (straight ahead of you) is the Met opera building.  Walk to the RIGHT and then continue walking further back along the wall (on your left) of the Met Opera to the NYPL Library branch.

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023-7498

Open Monday through Saturday from 12-6pm, Thurs. 12-8pm, Closed on Sundays

Exhibition is on view now until August 3, 2013.

Go here to read a fantastic review in the NY Times - it will make you want to go see the exhibition!

From the NYPL Website:

Spanish and Gypsy Flamenco dance and music, while imports from Spain, evolved as modern art forms in front of a New York City public, who flocked to theaters from the early 19th century to the early 21st century.  

Flamenco, in particular, has played a vital role in shaping culture in New York City for over 100 years. As early as 1830, Spanish dancers included New York on their tour routes from Europe to North and South America.

A century later, Spanish dance, now called “Flamenco,” emerged as a modernist language in the 1910s – 1930s, making international stars of La Argentina, La Argentinita and her sister Pilar Lopez, La Meri, and Carmen Amaya.

They moved from vaudeville houses to concert halls, inspiring audiences and both ballet companies and modern dancers.   The male stars, Vicente Escudero, José Greco, Antonio Gades, Roberto Ximenez, and Mario Maya joined them to set masculine standards of Flamenco performance and training in New York, as political events in Spain brought many dancers and teachers to settle here.  

By the 1940s and 1950s, Flamenco was presented by Sol Hurok and Columbia Artists Management on their rosters of international known classical musicians and dancers. More recently, it is linked with the widespread popularity of world music.

Artists, most notably Greco and Gades, were featured in Hollywood and international film.

Today, resident and touring troupes have made Flamenco into one of the most popular and influential performance forms in New York.
Among the artifacts on display will be:
  • Costume pieces and performance regalia, such as La Argentina’s lace mantilla and mirror and male flamenco costumes of Mariano Parra, as well as contemporary costumes from Flamenco Vivo
  • Engravings of Spanish and Gypsy dance performance and venues from Spain and NYC, from 1840 - , and photographs up to the present
  • Souvenir brochures and original texts for publicity for tours and NYC performances by La Argentinita, Pilar Lopez, and José Greco
  • Castanets, castanet instructions and castanet recordings (of La Argentina)
  • Film and video, beginning with Edison’s 1-minute film of “Carmencita” (1894), performances and demonstration films by Matteo, Escudero and La Argentina (1940 – 1960s), and moving into the present-day documentation by the Dance Division

Words to Live By

Dog Star Selects Street Skate

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Health Tips: 20 Healthy Habits To Adopt Before You Turn 20

Dog Star likes this very sensible "slideshow" from HuffingtonPost Teen (go here for details).  From the post:  Your teenage years are often when you're at your healthiest: You're young, probably haven't experienced a big health scare yet, and any unhealthy habits may not taken a toll on your body. But that doesn't mean that you should take good health for granted. Adolescence is arguably the most important time in your life to start developing healthy habits that will benefit you years down the road. From the annoying stuff you've been told a million times (remember to floss! eat your veggies!) to big preventative measures that can set the stage for great health later in the life, we've compiled 20 nutrition, fitness and wellness habits that everyone should adopt by the age of 20.

1.  Learn to love your veggies.
2.  Protect your skin.
3.  Limit your sugar intake.
4.  Get active.
5.  Get serious about sleep.
6.  Stop worrying.
7.  Moisturize.
8.  Maintain a healthy weight.
9.  Develop strong relationships.
10.  Floss regularly.
11.  Monitor your screen time.
12.  Eat breakfast.
13.  Put safety first (i.e. seatbelts).
14.  Drink lots of water.
15.  Ditch the processed food.
16.  Stay away from smoke.
17.  Listen to your body.
18.  Protect yourself (i.e. condoms).
19.  Learn when to say "no."
20.  Accept your body.

We're going to post this every few weeks to remind devoted teen readers (and some who aren't teens anymore but like the reminder to stay healthy) of these great healthy tips!

Words to Live By

Dog Star Selects The Sleeping Gypsy

Dog Star really likes the mystical elements and dream state of the gypsy in this landscape by Henri Rousseau “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).  The painter - his name is prnounced on-ree (in English it's Henry, of course) roo-sew - only knew about exotic animals from visiting the zoo in Paris.  He never travelled very far and he would create these incredibly imaginative scenes from his sketches of the animals.  This is one of his most famous paintings and it's usually on view at the Museum of Modern Art in midtown (always free admission for high school students).


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New AT&T Ad Encourages Bad Social Behavior

First, I have to say anybody who has been to the Uffizi knows this is definitely not the famous "Birth of Venus" by Botticelli because it's too small and the room it's in doesn't look like this one.

Second, social media and always-on smartphones steal our ability to be present, including at museums.

Third, it's terribly ironic that AT&T thinks this woman's app is okay although it's OBVIOUSLY very disruptive in the museum.  This commercial expresses really gross behavior.  But there is this impulse that tugs at the smartphone entitled:  you have a right to be there and to do anything with your device that you want to do.  

This is our life in the 21st century.

LAST WEEKS! DON'T MISS IT! FREE! Go See "Africans In India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers" at Schomburg Center

Dog Star knows there are still so many "strains" of the story to tell- the African Diaspora has so many chapters that we may never have enough time in a lifetime to learn and appreciate the African influence in other cultures.  This fine exhibition at Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture helps illuminate an important aspect of the shifting role of Africans in India.

Over the centuries, East Africans have greatly distinguished themselves in India as generals, commanders, admirals, architects, prime ministers, and rulers. They have written a story unparalleled in the rest of the world: that of enslaved Africans attaining the pinnacle of military and political authority. Known as Habshis (Abyssinians) and Sidis, they have left an impressive historical and architectural legacy that attest to their determination, skills, and intellectual, cultural, military and political savvy.  

This exhibition, the first of its kind, retraces—in over 100 photographic reproductions of paintings and contemporary photographs—the lives and achievements of a few of the many talented and prominent Sidis of yesterday.

There is a wonderful related online exhibition here.

Schomburg is EASY TO REACH - Take 2/3 train 10 135th Street
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801

Open Monday to Saturday from 10am - 6pm, Closed on Sundays, FREE admission, on view until July 6, 2013

Words to Live By

Seven Awesome Gratitude Quotes

Dog Star re-posts this from MindBodyGreen:

By Jason Wachob
I think we'd all agree that expressing gratitude daily is something we can always improve upon. Here are seven of my favorite quotes on what many consider to be the secret to happiness, health, love, and success -- gratitude.

1. "Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgment of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties." -- Sarah Ban Breathnach

2. "Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind." -- Lionel Hampton

3. "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." -- Buddha

4. "Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not." -- Marcus Aurelius

5. "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein

6. "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." -- Melody Beattie

7. "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears." -- Tony Robbins

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FREE! Go See Drawings by Bill Traylor & Discover a Unique American Artist!

Dog Star is excited about this Bill Traylor exhibition because we just learned about him recently!  This is an ideal opportunity for devoted readers to discover this unique American artist.

American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
(Columbus Avenue at 66th Street)
Take #1 train to 66th Street
Closed on Mondays, Tuesday-Sunday Open 12pm-7:30pm,
except on Sundays closes at 6pm


Drawings by self-taught artist Bill Traylor, one of the most iconic 20th century American artists, are on view at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square (across the street from Lincoln Center) in New York City, from June 11 through September 22, 2013.

More than 60 drawings from two distinguished public collections are on view in Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, a traveling exhibition.

These exhibitions provide a special opportunity to see these works of art that have seldom traveled beyond the southeastern United States. Complementing this, Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections features additional works from private lenders.

Commented Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Executive Director of the American Folk Art Museum: “We are especially pleased to present works of art by a man who was largely unheralded in his own lifetime. Bill Traylor’s unique vision can be seen in his drawings. His imagery defies comparison with any other artist or art movement.”

Bill Traylor, whose drawings are widely considered one of the most important bodies of work by a self-taught artist ever created, was born into slavery on an Alabama plantation in the mid-1800s. During a short period of astounding creativity he produced visually powerful works that drew upon a wellspring of life experiences. Sophisticated narratives as well as keen observations were masterfully compressed into the most minimal of representations, sometimes with a burst of brilliant color.

The traveling exhibition is organized around themes from Traylor’s life: people he knew or saw in his community; farm animals he remembered from his early life; and the animated, multi-figure compositions that many have termed “exciting events.” Traylor’s drawings are mysterious and compelling in their ambiguity and viewers often provide their own narratives, which sometimes greatly diverge. These are powerful expressions, unique in style, filled with movement and imagery. Bill Traylor is a storyteller.

Documentation of Bill Traylor’s birth year varies, and it has been stated that he was born in 1854; more accurately, records show that he was born between 1853 and 1854 and his earliest years were spent on a Dallas County plantation in Alabama.

After emancipation, he continued to live and work there until sometime before 1928, when he moved permanently to Montgomery to be closer to some of his children. He worked first as a laborer and then in a shoe factory until he was physically unable to continue.

Under the challenging conditions of the Depression, and with modest assistance from the government, Traylor survived on the streets in the then primarily black enclave of Monroe Avenue (now called Monroe Street).

He slept in the storage room of a funeral parlor, and later in a shoe repair shop. He spent his days making drawings.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts documents the area in which Traylor worked, which was a lively and bustling, chaotic and thriving center for middle-class African Americans seeking the latest music, fashion, and style.

Using meager materials, Traylor created a visual autobiography, recording past events as well as observations of the Monroe Avenue area. Many of his drawings depict farm animals—highly expressive chickens, pigs, goats, cows, horses, and mules, among others. Houses and architectural features such as fountains, clocks, and other urban structures are also potential sources for his imagery.

Traylor, who did not title his drawings, offered them for sale to passersby. He also gave or sold most of the works to Charles Shannon, an artist who had befriended him. Shannon provided Traylor with supplies he needed to create the drawings, including clean poster board (among other materials). But Traylor preferred the irregularly-shaped, smudged and stained cardboard, or cut-up boxes, or old advertising signs he found on the streets.

During a four-year period, Traylor produced some 1,200 drawings. Shannon told art critic Vivien Raynor that Traylor “went inside himself and it just began to pour out; it was like striking a spring.” Shannon, who died in 1996, preserved the drawings he received from Traylor for approximately 40 years and conscientiously worked toward bringing them to the attention of the art world and larger public audiences.

Currency Without a Country (Bitcoin's Popularity Is a Sign of Life in the 21st Century)

Dog Star says this is our world now - LIFE IN THE 21st CENTURY...Bitcoin is fascinating to me because it takes concepts we see in online games such as Farmville (where you pay real money for virtual goods) and blows it out to global scaled financial transactions.

So, if you have been living under a rock (or just don't keep up with business news) BITCOIN is a virtual currency that has no state and no borders.

It currently sells for ONE BITCOIN = $108 and is widely used for all kinds of transactions instead of credit cards. U.S. regulators fear that online financial "services" companies don't have enough "check and balances" and regulations in place to monitor proceeds from drug trafficking.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a report - but it's not supposed to be a sign of any trouble - that one company has halted - temporarily - the withdrawal of bitcoin accounts in U.S. dollars while they update their systems.

If this is interesting to you at all start with the story I linked to below and at put bitcoin in the search box and choose available (FREE) articles - many are blocked by a pay wall but others are free .

U.S. Regulator: Virtual Currencies Have 'Nothing to Fear'

WASHINGTON—The United States' top anti-money-laundering regulator Thursday said her agency isn't working to clamp down on virtual currencies, though authorities expect exchanges and administrators for digital cash to comply with the same rules that apply to other financial institutions.
The comments may allay some concerns following high-profile moves against exchanges for virtual money. U.S. law enforcement officials last month brought charges against a group of men behind Liberty Reserve, a virtual currency site that allegedly laundered about $6 billion in ill-gotten gains. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security seized an account tied to bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, alleging the company and a subsidiary were conducting transactions "as part of an unlicensed money service business."

Famous Living Black Males Who ARE NOT Rappers or Athletes

ABOVE:  MSNBC journalist Touré and his son Hendrix on 14th Street in Manhattan - Photographed by Brandon Stanton who is Humans of New York (a street photographer who posts on Facebook)

Dog Star says that too often the black male role model is limited to the long-dead Malcom X and Dr. King - there are, of course many, many successful black men - even famous living ones - who are not athletes or rappers.  

In fact, when the photo above first appeared on HONY's Facebook page, some posted comments like "Pursuit of Happyness" in reference to the Wil Smith film.  So the only reference for an image of a successful black man is from a Hollywood movie (although it is based on a true story).

There is something called the "national narrative on black males" in which the dominant themes are nihilism, apathy, high school dropout, fathering children with unwed mothers, and joblessness.  In this post we want to offer a "counter-narrative" that speaks out against these stereotypes.  There are as many different ways of being a black man in America as there are black men!

We had Kevin Hart on the list but we decided he was too easy to include - a popular comedian and already well-known.  So we have avoided entertainers not just rappers and athletes.

We also considered doctor and writer Ben Carson but dropped him from the list after he made homophobic remarks against gay marriage.

Making anti-gay jokes or expressing anti-gay beliefs says a lot about a man's characterIt announces to other people that a man is intolerant, ignorant, fearful of the unknown and disrespectful of others who are different.

Our list has a very important dominant theme: the importance of education.  It's one thing all these men have in common!  They know that education is the game changer.  Getting ahead in life means getting an education.

After we state the OBVIOUS LIVING BLACK MAN, President Barack Obama, who else?   

Here's TEN MORE.  Let's take a closer look:

Guion S. Bluford - Astronaut, scientist, engineer

Wes Moore - (photo above) Elite Army veteran, author, motivational speaker

Neil Degrasse Tyson - President of the American Museum of Natural History, astrophysicist

Dr. Cornel West - Philosopher, activist, author, minister

Tavis Smiley - Author, activist, television and radio host

Thomas Chatterton Williams - (book cover above) writer, activist

Peter Henry - Dean of N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business (read a NY Times interview here)

Touré - MSNBC journalist, writer, music critic

Don Thompson - CEO of McDonalds Corp. - one of five black male CEOs of a Fortune 500 company - the others are Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Clarence Otis of Darden Restaurants, and  Roger Ferguson, who heads privately held TIAA-CREF, as the African-Americans in the nation's top 500 companies.

Shayne Oliver - (photo above) fashion designer (Hood by Air) - Go here to read a NY Times story in him

Famous black scientists - go here.

Read this article - The Weight of Being a (Young and Successful) Black Male 

Discover Photographer LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER at the Brooklyn Museum - Bring your friends!

Above: “Fifth Street Tavern and UPMC Braddock Hospital on Braddock Avenue” (2011).

Dog Star is deeply moved emotionally by the pain and nostalgia of this very special photography exhibition by LaToya Ruby Frazier, on view now until August 11 at the Brooklyn Museum.  It's called LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital.

Her work explores corporate co-optation of a community (see bottom video about Levi's using her hometown for an ad campaign, healthcare in America, family bonds, environmental racism, racist stereotypes, the African American experience in America and images of women in the media.

"The mind is the battleground for photography...Our mind sees in images - we imagine ourselves to look a certain way, we imagine ourselves in a certain place...," explains Ms. Frazier in the first video below.

Oddly, though, the photographs are not depressing - even when they show empty rooms where loved ones once lived, or demolished towns - but filled with a loving appreciation for what makes a hometown.  But they will make you angry and they will challenge you to accept some very difficult truths about this country.

My mother had the idea to shoot a portrait of me wearing this T-shirt printed with a Huxtable family portrait. As a child I watched The Cosby Show in order to escape the reality of my dismantled working-class family. My mother set up the camera in the bedroom doorway, facing a mirror reflecting part of her image. Both the mirror and the T-shirt are scratched, dusty, and fading in the light. In the text that I perform live, for this particular photograph I wrote, "Between my background and my foreground, I am not sure where I stand."
—LaToya Ruby Frazier

Devoted readers who are working on a self-education in photography and those who simply want to be challenged and engaged by creative work will run to this exhibition.  

Take your time - there's so much to see and so many ways to connect the dots.  You will likely find your own heart and mind wandering to re-think the ways you think of family, homes and the bonds between both.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post to see TWO VIDEOS about Ms. Frazier's photography and video projects as a "documentary radical."  

We strongly urge you to watch the videos and read the NY Times review - all of them below - before you go to give you background information that will enrich your visit to the exhibition.
In the top video Frazier reveals the story behind a series of videos and photographs of her family in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Video courtesy of Art21, from their “New York Close Up” series.

In the bottom Frazier discusses the economic and environmental decline of her hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania—the city that clothing company Levi's used as the inspiration and backdrop for a major 2010 advertising campaign. Video courtesy of Art21, from their “New York Close Up” series.

Getting to the Brooklyn Museum:
Trains: 2/3 to Eastern parkway - the museum is literally right upstairs - you cannot miss it. 
Wednesday: 11 am–6 pm.
Thursday: 11 am–10 pm

Friday–Sunday: 11 am–6 pm
Admission is by Suggested Contribution which means the museum "suggests" an amount of $8 for students but it is okay to pay just $1 - Seriously!  It's okay!

From the museum's website:

LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital uses social documentary and portraiture to create a personal visual history of an industrial town’s decline. Through approximately 40 photographic works of her family and their hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier offers an intimate exploration of the effects of deindustrialization on the lives of individuals and communities. Home to one of America’s first steel mills, Braddock now has a population below 2,500 and has been declared a “distressed municipality.”

Frazier began to explore Braddock’s history in her series Notion of Family, four examples of which are on view in this exhibition. That project uses the bodies of the artist, her mother, and her grandmother to both reveal complex intergenerational relationships and to serve as a metaphor for their town’s decay. Frazier’s portrayal of this American landscape is in stark contrast to images from a recent corporate ad campaign set in Braddock, which she felt not only erased the troubled realities of her endangered town but also excluded the community to which her family belongs.

Here is the review in The New York Times - read it and it will make you want to see the exhibition!

The Flesh and the Asphalt, Both Weak 


Braddock, Pa., is about nine miles southeast of Pittsburgh, hugging the eastern bank of the Monongahela River. But in the photographs of LaToya Ruby Frazier, who grew up in this steel town, its coordinates are not so precise. Braddock is in the bodies of Ms. Frazier’s elder family members, who used to work at the local mills; it’s in the empty foundation of the hospital that used to serve them, before it was closed and demolished. It’s there in every picture Ms. Frazier has taken, and it’s here in her outstanding first New York solo show. 

The exhibition, “LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital” at the Brooklyn Museum, follows her standout appearances in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and in the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” triennial of 2009. It offers further proof of her gifts and a deeper look at her series “The Notion of Family,” initiated in 2002. 

This preternaturally mature body of work (Ms. Frazier is just 31) connects bedrooms and streetscapes, the suffering of loved ones and the afflictions of a “distressed municipality” (the state’s official term for Braddock and other ailing Rust Belt towns). Simultaneously introspective and extroverted, it’s composed of arresting black-and-white photographs that sometimes look like studio portraits or social documentaries but aren’t fully at home in either category. 

Take “Huxtables, Mom and Me,” in which Ms. Frazier stares at the camera and her mother, reflected in a full-length mirror. She is wearing a faded T-shirt emblazoned with the cast and logo of “The Cosby Show,” a program she recalls having watched “to escape the reality of my dismantled working-class family.” You don’t even need to read that statement, in the wall label, to grasp that this is an image of regression to childhood that’s laced with a very adult sense of disillusionment. 

Another photograph shows an elderly woman standing next to a lamppost outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Braddock. It seems to belong to the genre of street photography — the woman does not make eye contact, and the camera catches a man striding through the intersection — but the main subject is identified as “Grandma Ruby,” and we have already seen her as the frail odalisque of “Grandma Ruby on Her Bed.” A few pictures later we will see her lying in her coffin, attended by her daughter and granddaughter and some dolls from her collection.