Q is for Queen … City that is.

I began visiting Charlotte, North Carolina when I was about four. By the time I was ten it became a staple of my summer break.  I loved it.  It was so very different from the concrete jungle of Elizabeth, NJ.  There were trees! There was the Charlottetown mall, just a short walk from the Main Street in Cherry Community where I’d stay with my extended family.  Then there was the Cherry Reunion, where each year I’d have to hear, as if for the first time, that “Jenny” from the Jeffersons grew up there. The “country” (what we called the small towns in Anson County where my ancestors as far back as 1864 originated) was a place of  particular magic and mystery with corn, pigs and gaggles of down southness that a city girl like me was not used to.  Going to the country was an all day affair. We’d load into my cousin Big Debbie’s Datsun and head off at about 100 mph down Independence Blvd. The music jammed. The ice in my cousins illegal container full of boiler maker jiggled as the car became aerial over the hills and valleys of the road to White Store.

When I visited Charlotte I didn’t feel like the alien I often did at home due to my chubby nerdishness.  Here, I could just be me and people seemed okay with it. Call it “southern hospitality” or phoniness, but whatever it was I thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time I was 20, and my mom bought a house in here.  I was ready to escape the hardcore north and live in the southern splendor.  I was so ready, in fact, that I took it upon myself to load our vehicle and inform my mother and Nana that if they weren’t ready to go on the day after my brother’s wedding, that I’d be leaving them in Elizabeth.  We arrived in Charlotte, NC on June 3rd 1996 (the day after my brother’s wedding.)  It felt like it was going to be a complete reboot, that life as I’d known it could only go up.  It took approximately 6 months for me to wish I was in Elizabeth again. I felt lonely and isolated. Things closed too early, so I was desperately bored after 10pm.  The people weren’t the same either.  The newness wore off. The southern hospitality disappeared. You name a complaint, I had it.  I stayed though, because where the hell else was my immature co-dependent ass going to go?

This past week when the delegates and visitors from around the country and world descended upon our fair city, their excitement made me think about my times here as a kid and my first few months here as an adult.  Uptown Charlotte was a mecca for any kind of fuckery imaginable this week. Documentary films, protests, news broadcasts, visual and performing artists, and random celebrity sightings made Charlotte actually feel like the New Southern oasis it often presents itself to be.

There were the skeptical among us (myself included) that smirked at the Welcome to Charlotte video that played at the top of the convention.  Watching the visually stunning HD film clip I wondered “Where the hell that place was, and how do I get to live there!”.   It was as if they took the rampant crime and drug issues on Beatties Ford Road (just blocks from Uptown), The gutted ghost town of Independence Boulevard,  and the armies of homeless folk who call Uptown Charlotte home, swept them under a rug, or stuffed them in a closet and shot this film.

Now, I’m not unrealistic enough to believe that a clip meant to show our  face to the world would include our “bad side”, but I do believe Charlotte can on a more honest level be that shiny boom town reflected in the video.  The issue is,  as a friend of mine puts it, Charlotte doesn’t have a “soul”.  It doesn’t have a thing that defines  and connects us as citizens … unless you count money which is generally soulless. Charlotte from where I sit is like a wealthy father (or in our case Mother) who throws money at her children instead of engaging them and building a real relationship.

This week, Queen Charlotte dressed her children up to show them off for company, but will most assuredly go back to gentle pats on the head followed by a stern “run along!” She will continue to gentrify communities as rich and meaningful as Cherry Community out of existence.  She will continue to turn her attentions toward fiscal advancement for those who need it least, hoard all of the cities  attractions to her center denying the benefits of expansion to North,  West and Eastern areas of the city.  She will continue to create a culture that reduces artists to novelty acts,  and rarely compensate them what they’re truly worth.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can challenge the Queen to “do better”. We can challenge ourselves to engage in the city more.  Leave our comfort zones. Take in a show we wouldn’t normally see. Venture into an area of town you wouldn’t normally visit and check out what’s going . Invest time and finances in communities that need it. Seeds are already being planted by the non-profit arts and social service organizations in the city.  These are the seeds of hope that will continue to grow Charlotte into its own living breathing city with a soul and a heart that beats, with or without company. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually stop being compared to Atlanta!

Truth be told and cynicism aside, I love Charlotte.  It’s where I “grew up”.  I became a writer, a theatre artist, a mother, and a career health care provider with the education and experiences I’ve had here.  I guess this is why I feel so invested in her future.  I would like to hope that one day I can give back to her as much as she has given to me. It was terribly exciting to have the DNC here in the “QC”.  Hopefully it is the beginning of bright future for her.

Rosie.

Isn’t she lovely? Oh and she’s black … they think. Click the picture for details :).

Advertisements

Art in the R.A.W. : Invest now!

Antoine William‘s art is the truth.  It is straight up, unapologetic in its militancy and well … R.A.W.  Being a sucker for a good honest story, it did not take me long to fall in love with his work.  It did not take many  conversations after initial meeting to know that I had a friend in Antoine for life. We are on currently on the same grind with to attend grad school for the betterment of our poor artistic negro existence. In August Antoine will be off to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill!

I am incredibly excited for him and want to pay forward to him all the love and generosity that has been shown to me on my journey. So without further ado for your virtual stimulation a R.A.W.  art sale with all proceeds to enable a smoother transition into the grad school experience for Antoine and his beautiful partner and daughter (see familial adorableness in the video below!)

Rosie.

For purchase contact:

Antoine Williams

rawgoods@gmail.com

(click photos for larger images!)

1. The Problems We All Live With 
acrylic on canvas- 
2011
 60”x 36” 
$3000.00

2. Reign Dance
 mixed media on wood
-2011 
24″x 36″ 
$1000.00

3. Beauty Mark 
acrylic on wood-
2011 
40″x48”
 $2000.00

4. Rupert’s War collage on wood-
2010 
24”x 36” 
$500.00

5. Circa 66’ mixed media on wood
-2010
 36”x 48”
 $2500.00

6. Watch the Throne 
acrylic on canvas
-2012 
36”x 48” 
$2000.00

7. Illusions of Success 
acrylic on canvas
-2010 90”x 84” 
$900.00

Clearance!!!!

8. Counterculture Clash
 acrylic on wood
-2010
  48”x48”
 $600.00

9. From Warriors To…
  acrylic on canvas
-2010
     36”x48”
      $500.00

9. Exodus
 acrylic on canvas
-2006
 24”x36” 
 $300.00

10. Babies Ain’t Watching TV No More
  acrylic on canvas-2008
 48”x36”
 $500.00

11. Babble
 acrylic on canvas
-2010 40”x30”
     $300.00

12. Rebel
  acrylic on canvas
-2010
  36”x306”
     $300.00

13. UZI Mom
  acrylic on canvas-2006
   30”x40”
   $200.00

14. Home Grown
 acrylic on Canvas
-2006
  36”x48”
  $500.00

15. Rupert Murdoch
 acrylic on canvas-2011
     36”x48”
 $300.00

15. Deja Vu acrylic on canvas-2010 36″x 36″ $500

*Antoine with fellow John Hairston at their joint exhibit                                                    Here’s Hoping It Rhymes for a Reason in October 2011

Good Grief.

Today my city lost a well known and well loved visual artist by the name of Carlleena Person.  I had, unfortunately only gotten to know her briefly.  I was planning a show that incorporated various art forms that centered around hip hop.  Carlleena contacted me on Facebook to let know that she was quite interested.  Her enthusiasm and willingness to jump in on my random ass project without even knowing me and without any solid guarantee of payment let me know that she created out of the pure joy of doing it which, in turn, instantly endeared me to her.

We communicated via Facebook and email in the days leading up to the show.  The piece she created entitled Have U.N.E. More Pull was a retelling of a Black Sheep song by the a similar  name. It is beautiful (see below).  I was in communication with her the day of the show, and she said she’d be dropping the piece off.  As fate would have it, she had a car accident that day and gotten banged up pretty badly.  When I contacted her to check on her, the first thing she did was apologize for not making the show. Amazing.  I immediately hushed her, and shared with her the story of my broken ankle encouraging her to rest. She told me how truly grateful for my concern she was and said that we would meet in person soon. We never did.

Hearing of her passing today was like a blow to the gut, and I barely knew  her. For me, the pang of grief comes from knowing we have lost someone that was such a light of optimism during these cynic riddled times.   I cannot fathom the grief being felt by artists who knew her and worked with her directly.  What I do know is that this process,  this grief process that we’ll move through as a community of artists can only make us stronger.

We artists are such emotional beings.  We can’t be anything else because it is that which allows us to create work that touches the emotions of other people.  Some of us run from our emotional side. Some block. Some hide, but it’s always there waiting for us, and it sometimes takes the nuclear blast of death to force us to feel. Grief deconstructs and reconstructs simultaneously. It excavates all the shit we no longer need (resentment, doubt, anger, and fear) and sets it out for us to face. Then wrestle with. Then accept.  Then we rebuild (hopefully) on a new foundation with a renewed respect about the frailty of life.

Carlleena will be sorely missed, not only by her family and arts community that she left, but by the planet that she help to light with her art work and tremendous spirit.

Rosie.

“Have U.N.E. More Pull” by artist Carlleena Person

It’s in (here)

I want wake up one day and get faith.  I want to be wildly optimistic and accepting of my path.  I want to be able to have a direct line that that thing that it that entity that lives in me that I catch peripheral glimpses of when I’m playing with my nephew or laughing with my friends, or holding someone’s hand while they are dying, or comforting someone who has lost.  That stillness. That sureness that what I’m doing is right.

I want the faith in me and my abilities that others have.  It’s as if there is another Stacey Rose that I can feel just there in the shadows but who disappears when I turn to look her in the eye. I want to be emotionally and spiritually self sufficient. I want the well wishes and compliments of others to accentuate a knowing that I already have instead of being the foundation for what I know and believe about me.

Don’t try to sell me on religion, cause I ain’t buying. Every spirit speaks in a different tongues, and mine just happens to be multilingual. Just pray, in whatever way you do, that I find it.

Rosie.

Gotcha.

I just caught myself stalking the art and life of someone who got accepted to a grad program that I didn’t.  Five minutes in I knew it was the worse type of self abuse ever. I was measuring my self worth against someone else’s outward appearances.  I  am not, nor will I ever be this person. That’s neither good or bad, it just is.  The sooner I stop running from me, the more sanity I’ll gain, and the better the quality of life I’ll have.  This is the life I was given.  I have to deal with it. I hope to eventually love it, just the way it is. I don’t want to exist. I want to live.

Amen. Ashé. Selah.

Rosie.

 

The things we forget.

Yesterday morning was warmish, about 60 or so degrees. It was clear and the sky was as beautiful as always.  A photographer friend and I had decided the evening before that we’d follow through that morning on a shoot that I’d committed to a while back. We’d be shooting in the forest. I’d be being shot in the nude. Being far from the “model type” the idea frightened but excited me at the same time. I was ready. I was ready to feel empowered and sexy in my own skin.

The hardest part, as I had already been told by others, was getting the clothes off; followed closely getting acclimated to being naked outside (burr).  It wasn’t long though before I was chatting casually with him about mortality, artistic relevance, and other shit artsy nerds talk about as he snapped away giving minimal direction. Even sitting on the cold and moldy log in the middle of the forest (or as much forest as one can get our quickly developing city), I was notaware of my body. I  felt the cold, the wet of the ground, but I could not see myself in that world.

It wasn’t until we’d gotten back to Starbucks and he’d began to load the photos on to his computer that I actually got to see myself.  It was odd initially.  It’s very hard for me to look at myself in pictures. After awhile though, thanks to his magnificent talent  for capturing beauty exactly has he sees it, I began to see myself. I saw myself as a part of that world and a part of the world; a beautiful extension of all that was around me. Then I’d began to see bits of me that I glance over on a daily basis, but never really look at.  Like a scratch that lives on my left knee.

I’d gotten that scratch while doing what I did best as a child, trying to keep up with my older brother.  We were wild ghetto chaps, jumping up and down on a mattress that had seen its better days. After one particularly profound leap into the atmosphere I landed with substantial force on a spring that had escaped the holding of the mattress. I remembered being so shocked that I didn’t cry.  I just glared at the ever swelling bloody crescent shaped scar forming on my knee, and thought about how disappointed my Nana would be with me for damaging my skin. She had a thing about my skin, me being light skinned, and preserving the integrity of it 😦 .

Anyway, in the noticing of that scar I once again felt the  exhilaration of being light (in body) and tiny propelling myself in the air as if by magic.  It’s funny what photos can do.  They grab you, hold you and put you in touch with that which you’d forgotten to remember.  I’m truly grateful for that experience, and cannot wait to get butt naked in from of a camera again ;).

Rosie.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the extraordinary eye of Sr. CHD:WCK!

Image