Monday, March 21, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Because of her role within the Brooklyn Arts Council, my host is privy to a wide range of art making projects within the borough.  One of this year's(?) ReGrant recipients is a local theatre company called The Rabbit Hole Ensemble, and they've been working on a two part adaptation of Mark Shelley's Frankenstein novel. Magical Creature is part 2 and remains in keeping with the ensemble's minimal set design and innovative lighting and sound choices.  Get your tickets for an engaging retelling of a gothic classic.

We can rebuild him.  We have the technology.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Week 7: Tutt + Network

Ethany Uttech is my gracious host for this week.  The Re-Grant Director for the Brooklyn Arts Council, she lives in a loft collective called "The Zoo" in an area we lovingly refer to as Bush-Stuy.  It's an experience in conservationist urban living (compost receptacle, vegan fare, and 7 minute showers are all included) as I enjoy a rare chunk of time with Ethany and company.  Our first order of business was dinner on Wednesday at Tutt, a Middle Eastern cafe with a generously photo-based menu.  Located in Brooklyn Heights, the surrounding neighborhood is a throwback from colonial times, and the food is delicious.
We planned to connect body + mind + spirit with a yoga session, but opted to feed the media junkie inside and watch the classic film NETWORK.    Strikingly contemporary.

Hijinks and shenanigans.


With the Spring Ahead business, my body has definitely been feeling the effects of the endurance portion of the project.  Part of me wants to take an extended breather, but this is the exact moment that I've been hoping to work through.  I did take a sleep day on Tuesday (March 15th) to rejuvenate a bit, but on Wednesday is was back on task. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week 6: Media

My host for Week 6 was Michael Paul Britto and his schedule is a whirlwind. So much so, that I've waited until week 7 to offer any type of commentary.  Admittedly, our inclusion in the current gallery exhibition at The Kitchen had something to do with the harried nature of our week together.  Still we able to spend some quality time.  My assigned reading (which I did not get a chance to finish) was Negrophobia.  The work is out of print so I have pledged to read Britto's copy whenever I visit as a normal guest.
Not surprisingly, Britto is a film afficianado, and has a particular interest in Black Cinema during the 1970's.  We watched the familial saga of Black Girl, directed by Ossie Davis.  I wasn't expecting such a moving portrait, but even the theatrical affectations seemed strangely appropriate. 

"I can't and I won't, but I did and I will." - MPB

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lawd Have & Mercy.

Michael and I met in Soho on Tuesday to begin Week #6.  To be sure, we are both mass culture junkies and have often been amused and inspired by what we see on the streets of NYC. A brief sampling is below. 


Regarding NY? Our sentiments exactly...

Michael's building is "DEF"

(Kool-Aid Tablets / aka Kool Aid Condoms)

Grey hair is not an indication of wisdom.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday Transition

To maintain a sense of sanity, as I bounce around from host to host, Tuesday transitions have proven to be a invaluable resource.  They give me the space to float and gather my thoughts before I am 'performing' as a guest. Yesterday I got an early start and enjoyed some quiet time on the above ground J train, making my way to Bed-Stuy to replenish supplies.  I then made a date with myself for lunch at Little Lads after finding a paranormal thriller to read. With perfect timing,Waichi (Host #2) called with and impromptu suggestion for a gallery stroll.  We met at the Leica Gallery to view their latest exhibitions: NIGHTCLUBBING and NAKED AT THE BALL.  It's a small space and in addition to the photographs displayed,  there's a killer book table where all the items are on sale for 10 dollars! 

One glass of basil lemonade and an almond croissant ended our afternoon as we parted ways and walked to meet Host #6: Michael Paul Britto.

Week 5: The Remains of The Stay

And so, I am approaching the halfway point of this project and it was lovely spend it with Legacy and her mates.  As it turns out I did a nice chunk of reading while spending time there and would like to share additional titles here:


I think PostSecret is one of those kinds of ingenious projects that I hope to think of one day.  Until then, I will have to be satisfied with possibly submitting a PostSecret of my own or continuing to be inspired by the similarity of human insecurities.

After browsing the 2008 Whitney Biennial Catalog I was introduced to a hand ful of artists that I'm going to investigate further.  A short list follows: Jedediah Caesar , Matt Mullican, DJ Olive, Mitzi Pederson , Seth Price and Phoebe Washburn.


Most of the selections on Week #5's bookshelf were what I would describe as important texts, but I managed to uncover an example of my usual mass market faire with Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him. A heady title, but actually, it's a deliciously entertaining piece of chick-lit, set in the art world.  A quick (and highly recommended) read.
Pieces For The Left Hand was a gift from the free shelf at Fiona's (Host #4) job.  With the exception of the paycheck, the 'free shelf' is my favorite accoutrement of corporate working life.  This book was a true find.

One my last night we had Thai takeout, red wine and my favorite delicacy, conversation.  The next morning was a quiet gathering of stuff while my hosts slept.  As I made my final accounting of the items for my next visit, I  silently thanked my hosts for their amazing hospitality, inclusion and space.  
Onward to Week #6...

Monday, March 7, 2011


Fortunately, my experience with this project has been overwhelmingly positive- with just enough friction to make it interesting.  However I'm kind of feeling "nauseating" as a description- the journey can make one sea sick.  The being said, I'm just happy to be included in the conversation.

A word of advice:  Not all black guys should be rappers.


I am learning the most wonderful lessons through this project.  One such discovery is the importance of self identification.  Being a guest in people's home offers a glimpse into their personal world, how they view and define themselves, and, while everyone is entitled to their outside opinions, it's the force of individuality that is often the most engaging and the most accurate.  In a digital world of published descriptions and the expanding and/or widening gap between reality and perception I am compelled reiterate my own identity.

My name is Kenya (Robinson) and I am a self-taught artist from Gainesville Florida.

"Real talk."


"Like any church, pictures of the object of devotion adorn the office walls: the white, straight teeth of salvation and the horribly decayed teeth of the damned – a warning of the dangers of failing to abide by the ritual ablutions of regular brushing, flossing, mouth washing etc., prescribed by the dentist.
I have a theory that dentists are almost universally feared not because of the torture they inflict upon our mouths, but because of the guilt and shame they inflict upon our consciences. This is because good dentists, like priests, trade in guilt. However, there is no quick fix for the sins of poor dentition, no dental equivalent of a Hail Mary that might return one to a state of grace.
There is only the long, hard road to salvation: sonic toothbrushes, regular flossing, braces, teeth whitening, veneers, dental bonding, mouth guards, fluoride treatments and the like. For my dentist and her hygienist, not wanting to have the best teeth you can is akin to not wanting to be a better person. They are therefore evangelical in their desire to show me the error of my ways and embrace the dazzling toothed, unlined-skinned me I could be."  - Kirsten Bell

Saturday, March 5, 2011

TGIF: Thank Goodness It's Friday!

Today was a good day.  I found myself the proud owner of a pair of obnoxiously large glasses (which I adore) and after 2 years I can comfortably see a movie and read street signs without squinting.  Objects still look a bit strange, but after my hiatus I can tolerate the adjustment curve.  The evening before I spent with my friend Dalicia, near Columbus Circle, enjoying a night reminiscent of college days (a bottle of Malbec and a deliciously authentic NYC pizza were involved). 

Newly equipped, I lunched with Elia Alba at Cafe Pick Me Up, enjoying the details of the scene outside, as well as her expert conversation.  Afterwards I made my way to the FourPoints Sheraton for the DEPENDENT ART FAIR armed with JENGA, UNO, and MONOPOLY as a kind of satellite project of The Inflatable Mattress.  Monopoly had no takers, but Jenga was an inebriated hit and I was the undisputed UNO champion!  A rare treat, I enjoyed the room solo and stepped into the Saturday morning sunshine with a relaxed smile on my face...

"Beware of busy boyfriends."  - Kenya (Robinson)

Week #5: Reading List

This week's selections were a pleasant departure from the more spiritual thread of the past few weeks.  The Day of The Triffids was naughty romp into the science fiction genre replete with cold war paranoia, meteor showers plunging humankind into blindness and venomous-murdering-walking-communicating plants.   Clearly, The Day of The Triffids is a blueprint for all manner of wake-up-in-the-hospital-and-civilization-as-we-know-it-is-dead tales.

As Legacy got me settled, I spied a copy of Beautiful Necessity on her bookshelf, and inquired about the familiar name of the author.  She had no connection to offer, other than the fact that the book continues to be widely inspirational to her own art making (which she deftly balances with her work with The Bruce High Quality Foundation).  I was off to meet with Dr. Kay Turner, to participate in a archival interview for The Black Brooklyn Renaissance Project spearheaded by the the Folk Arts Department of the Brooklyn Arts Council.  The world continues to shrink in size, as I soon discovered that my Dr. Turner and the author of this book, are the same.  I am hoping to facilitate a bit of synergy between Legacy and Dr. Turner as both of their interests on the area of altar making are significant.

The image above is a photograph of Legacy's heirloom copy of Invisible Man.  Given to Ms. Russell by her father, the book is normally housed in a ziploc bag (vintage style, no "yellow and blue make green" to be found here).  I am bummed that I probably won't be able to finish it  before Monday, but feel confident that it's a sign that I should move it to the top of my must - list, irrespective of my 'Mattress' aspirations.  I never seem to make it past the Battle Royale, but it's 2011 and I have high hopes.  The book design alone warrants an image and so I've included it here.

Another American Classic:  SELF-RELIANCE and OTHER ESSAYS.  I am mainly reading these as the page dictates, opening the the book(let) and enjoying whatever whatever chance reveals...

"Don't underestimate the the value of a freakshow."  - Anonymous

Wednesday Dinner Par-Tay

My host for week #5 (Legacy Russell) hosted an intimate dinner party for her very cool, very  stylish friends.   Lydia, was the first to arrive as she was scheduled to attend a concert and comment on its cool factor via SwedeBeat magazine.  The next on the scene was one of my host's childhood buddies Jacob, a dashing young architecture student at Columbia, who is working on a tremendous project that re-imagines the look and feel of a potter's field.  We spoke at length about the monuments of death (the first landscaped parks were cemeteries) and how cultural norms continue to place emphasis on the corporeal, even when confronted with death.  Morbid and brilliant conversation to say the least, it was interrupted by two final guests, Natalie and Michelle, visiting sisters, also from Sweden.  Enjoying the playful lilt of their accents and lighter conversation, we all ended the evening at a bar called ELSA

I just found out about the exhibition, LET IT END LIKE THIS, via the Village Voice. 
Jacob:  I hope this gives you a bit of additional inspiration for your project...


Objects of the indigent.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Week #4: A Recap

(Screen print by Alissa Jenkins)

Staying with Fiona and crew was an absolute pleasure.  I had these very sweet individual moments with her roommates: Charis is a Master's student in Oral History at Columbia University and Anna is an emerging fashion designer.  Our salon, Saturday Morning™, was full of fun, nostalgia and spirited conversation surrounding the philosophical/cultural impact of G.I. Joe, Sally Sargent, Fat Albert and other cartoon classics.
Typically, I try to read at least  one book that is restricted to the domain of the living space, but I managed to work within another kind of restriction.  In preparation for our cartoon fest, I visited the reading rooms at both The Schomburg and The Performance Library at Lincoln Center and relished The Colored Cartoon and Saturday Morning Fever.  Bellinis, Bloody Marys, perfect scrambled eggs along with roasted mushrooms and vine tomatoes were a hit...
Fiona doesn't work on Mondays, so we took the opportunity to spend some quality time together.  Meeting at 89th and Lexington, we used the day to stroll all the way down to 39th-ish for an Indian lunch buffet while searching for a good deal on an eye exam/lenses/frame combo.  We dished, we bonded, we found a great deal ($99.00 for Exam, Frames and lenses @ 20/20 Eyewear)...

We parted company (all good guests give hosts some space) and I reconnected with two of my favorite folks (Simone Leigh and Michael Paul Britto) at The Kitchen for Cauleen Smith's MicroCinema.  MicroCinema is a curated collection of avant garde film and video and a wild ride of visual artifacts.  I booked my way back to Brooklyn for my last night at house #4...

Lesson from The Herculoids:  Don't kidnap white women in space.