Feb 062016

Alienation, and the desire to transcend it, are the driving forces behind “Intersections” the Peabody Essex Museum’s next Present Tense Initiative installation which showcases Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha. It opens February 6th.

In the past, growing up under the strict conventions of gender that inform Pakistani society, Agha felt excluded and cloistered at home, while her male peers enjoyed warmth and companionship inside Pakistan’s exclusively male mosques. Fast forward to current day, now living in America, Agha experiences new freedoms and, yet, a different kind of exclusion — that of being a Muslim.

“Intersections,” an immersive single room installation conjures a site where a thousand years ago Islamic and Christian traditions thrived in coexistence.

IntersectionA five-foot laser-cut steel cube at the center of the gallery casts patterned shadows that echo the filigree found at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, a historic structure that was cooperatively built in the 14th century by Muslim, Jewish and Christian artisans and represents the coexistence of the Western and Islamic worlds.

A single light bulb centered in the cube creates the interplay of light and shadow across all of the gallery’s surfaces, as well as the viewer. It has been said that Agha presents an immersive meditation on the nature of boundaries, categorization and alienation, while evoking the power of that which is mutual and common to us all.

“Intersections envelops us physically and symbolically in a realm where beauty transcends division and conflict, ” says PEM Curator of South Asian Art Sona Datta. “Agha’s work asks us to consider worldly binaries — the sacred and the profane, inclusion and exclusion, male and female — while providing a sublime environment that leaves us in a state of awe.”

Anila Quayyum Agha was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1965. She received her BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore, and an MFA in Fiber Arts from the University of North Texas in 2001. She has had solo exhibitions in the United States, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Agha is currently an associate professor of drawing at the Herron School of Art & Design at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

“Intersections” is on view at PEM from February 6 through July 10, 2016. For more info call 978 745-9500.

The Present Tense Initiative is PEM’s dynamic, interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary art and culture and celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping our world today. The Present Tense Initiative engages leading creative agents and thinkers to cultivate innovative experiences fueled by the intersection of cultures, disciplines and technologies. By encouraging innovation and fostering new forms of creativity, PEM seeks to push the boundaries of what a museum experience can be.

Attend this exhibit and see for yourself.

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

Jan 092016

Art is where you find it and in Salem Ma from May 19 – Nov. 1, 2016 you will find it on a special strip of land called Artists’ Row (24 New Derby Street). It is special because anyone with artistic skill and zeal can apply for the four available units.

Witch CityIn late 2015 we put a spotlight on several of the creative people at work in Salem’s very own artistic incubator Artists’ Row. The City of Salem is now taking new season applications for tenants with a public site visit and informational meeting set for Saturday, January 9, at 11am (or by appointment). Those interested in participating in the program should arrive at Artists’ Row at that time and date.

Artists’ Row is a seasonal program that provides space for artisans interested in building their audience through daily engagement with residents and visitors to Salem.

The variety of activities considered for Artists’ Row spaces are to include all types of uniquely produced or crafted products that have appeal to a wide audience. Possible categories are handcrafted products, artwork and artisanal food products.

Diane HofThe City is particularly interested in activities that will contribute to a “lively activated passage that serves as an entryway to one of the central public spaces in downtown Salem.”

  • All work MUST be created by the individuals participating in the program and must be original handcrafted works or products. Mass produced or manufactured works are not acceptable (sales representatives and agents are not eligible).
  • All prices for artwork or handcrafted products MUST be visible to the public. Participants are responsible for collecting sales tax.
  • Selected participants are responsible for transporting all products, support material and equipment to and from the site, and for all installation, display and sales.

For full details on selection criteria, submission requirements, program requirements, license agreements, community engagement/programming, signage, marketing, etc. go to www.salem.com (or as noted above, be there on Saturday at 11am).

Nikky 1aBoston birdhouseDeadline for submission is by (or before) 12pm February 12, 2016. Applications may be mailed or hand-delivered to the Department of Planning & Community Development, Attn: Deborah Greel, City Hall Annex, 120 Washington Street, Salem, MA 01970. The application form must be completed in its entirety and is available at http://www.salem.com/artists-row.

Does your art speak to you? Do you wish it to speak to others? Consider expressing yourself at Artists’ Row.

Dec 302015

First DayThe City of Salem is telling residents to “take a hike” — literally, as in urging participation in First Day Hike, a national initiative established by America’s State Parks. Salem’s First Day Hike runs (walks) from noon to 2pm Friday, January 1, 2016, offering several courses with varying degrees of difficulty.

As Salem is already quite a walkable town, we’re sure that many residents and visitors have easily “hiked” along Washington Street, and across Essex or Derby as they shopped our Downtown District. This extra walk to experience the Salem Maritime National Historic Site should be no sweat!

For example, hikers may choose to walk around the Salem Common, and then walk from the Common to Derby Wharf Light House. Or they may just walk from the beginning of Derby Wharf to the Light House. Check out the map for more details on the hike’s course.

“Many of us use New Year’s as an opportunity to make a resolution and set goals for the upcoming year,” points out Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll. “First Day Hike offers residents an opportunity to start the New Year with some exercise or just a chance to get out and celebrate the holiday with other members of the community.”

Last year nearly 28,000 people across America participated in First Day Hikes to kick off the New Year, collectively hiking over 66,000 miles throughout the country!

You obviously would not be alone.

And, if you aren’t much of a cold weather hiker but this event whets your appetite to do more, here are a few tips, courtesy of the American Hiking Society.

  • First WalkDress in layers. While it is perhaps nice to have a huge, fluffy parka on the ski slopes, it really isn’t practical for the trail. Instead, take several layers you can peel off or put on when you stop and go on the trail. Your base layer should be a wicking fabric that will pull your sweat away from the skin.
  • Overheating is a dangerous threat since excessive moisture that isn’t allowed to escape can freeze and cause hypothermia. If you ever wondered why some of your jackets have zippers under the armpits, it’s to keep air circulating and prevent your clothes from getting wet.
  • Wear a hat! Our heads are filled with oxygen-carrying capillaries which fuel our brains and consume one third of the body’s energy. During the colder months it is important to keep your head covered to maintain function and not lose precious body heat. You may want to bring a warmer/heavier hat for rest periods.
  • Keep your water bottle warm. Whether you are at the campsite or on the trail, a foam sleeve like a koozie will help prevent the water from freezing in a bottle. Nothing warms your body or your spirits like warm liquid by a campfire. Boil water to take with you as you hike. Also, to keep water from freezing, keep your water bottle on the inside of your jacket – properly sealed, of course.

National Parks Superintendent Paul DuPrey adds, “Salem’s outstanding quality of life is built around its history, its open spaces and its people. Come out on New Year’s Day to enjoy all three and put your best foot forward.”

Nov 272015

Small BizLSandwiched between Black Friday on 11/27 and Cyber Monday on 11/30 is a key day for merchants and consumers in Salem and many towns along the North Shore— Small Business Saturday on 11/28.

For one day a year, an extra spotlight is focused on merchants along the main streets of America to entice customers to check out the products and services available. So there is no confusion, Small Businesses on Washington Street, Front Street, Essex Street, etc. will not live or die by the traffic on Saturday. There is more at stake than just revenue.

It is a day for you, as a customer, to not just window shop but take a few minutes to actually walk through stores and peruse the inventory. Familiarize yourself for future references & shopping.

Many stores on Small Business Saturday will be offering sales, discounts, give-a ways and other “value” offers.

It is even more so a day for owners to take the extra time to connect with their customers. Inspire you to emotionally invest in an owner’s dream for the business. This is something big box stores can’t do.

Stop in and discuss:

  • The latest releases with Larry at Harrison’s Comics & Collectibles
  • The finer points of croissants with Melita at Melita Fiore
  • Which type of yarn you should use with Ana at Circle of Stitches
  • The right equipment for your bike with Dan at Salem Cycle
  • The perfect holiday party dress with Erica at Ocean Chic Boutique
  • Which bestseller you should read next with Denise and Taylor at Wicked Good Books
  • “Why is your coffee ice cream so darn good?” with Christiana at The Salem Screamery
  • ….the list goes on and on and on!

Connect with the people behind the businesses in your community. They are a part of your community, not just a piece of real estate that is open from 10am to 7pm. Perhaps this is also what Small Business Saturday is all about. Find out for yourself.

Aug 172015

While today’s rapid-fire technological advances are changing film-making with consumer interactive platforms such as Periscope, there was a time in the history of Hollywood film-making that was just as exciting & tumultuous. And that was the 1930s, which is the subject of the next PEM/PM, Aug. 20, 6-9pm at the Peabody Essex Museum.

PEM 1930sInspired by PEM’s exhibition American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, the evening celebrates film and Benton’s artistic relationship with the motion picture industry.

It was “The Golden Age of Hollywood” and according to AMC’s Filmsite.org website “The 30s was also the decade of the sound and color revolutions and the advance of the ‘talkies’, and the further development of film genres (gangster films, musicals, newspaper-reporting films, historical biopics, social-realism films, lighthearted screwball comedies, westerns and horror to name a few).”

Silent stars who dominated the screens faded away unable to transition to scripts that required more acting skills, to be replaced by new stars on the horizon, such as Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, John Wayne, Clark Gable and Shirley Temple.

The growing importance & interest in the film industry to consumers spurred innovation. The first daily newspaper for the film industry, The Hollywood Reporter, had its debut in 1930. The world’s first drive-in theatre opened in Camden, N.J. in June, 1933 .

If you’re interested in learning more about 1930’s Hollywood, the AMC site is extensive.

As far as the evening’s activities during PEM/PM, highlights will include art making with film negatives, a photo booth equipped to bring out everyone’s inner movie star, a food tasting with popcorn from Salem’s favorite E.W. Hobbs and a cocktail tasting and talk with author and mixologist Warren Bobrow.

In the Atrium, you will find hot Jazz and swing tunes by the Carubia Brass Bands featuring Jim Fryer.

West_locustIn conjunction with PEM’s summer film series, Benton and the Big Screen, guests can watch the film adaptation of Nathanael West’s critically acclaimed novel about 1930s Hollywood, The Day of the Locust (Rated R, 144 minutes). Film expert Michael Dow will introduce the film and join a discussion following the film with PEM lead interpreter Emily Fry and curator Sarah Chasse

For those of you who haven’t yet seen American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, this is the time to experience the exhibit which explores how the motion picture industry influenced and ignited Benton’s creative imagination. Melding Old Master European painting traditions with Hollywood’s cinematic and production techniques, Benton reinvented 20th-century American narratives and captivated the public with his signature brand of visual storytelling.

THBPEM’s exhibition, the first retrospective of Benton’s art in 25 years, gathers more than 100 works, including the artist’s paintings, murals, drawings, prints and illustrated books. The exhibition, which closes Sept. 7, pairs curated clips from Hollywood movies with Benton’s art from the 1920s through the 1960s to take visitors on a journey through America’s myths and into its national character.

PEM’s evening parties — with music and dance performances, food tastings, lectures and art-making stations have become a monthly tradition since being initiated in the summer of 2011. Free admission for members and Salem residents (with ID), while nonmembers pay $10 at the door. There is always a cash bar and a special small plates menu available from the Hawthorne Hotel.

For more information, call 866‐745‐1876 or visit PEM at www.pem.org .