Thank You Kate Spade

Katherine Noel Brosnahan, known professionally as Kate Spade and Kate Valentine.  American born, Kate was a mother, fashion designer, and successful entrepreneur.  June 5th, 2018, we lost a brilliant force in the fashion/accessory world and what a tremendous loss it is.

There is no need to discuss as to how or why this happened.  Instead, Kate should be remembered for her contribution to the realm of fabulous.  Spade started out with Mademoiselle magazine in the accessories department in 1986.  She later left the magazine in 1991 with the title of “Senior Fashion Editor/Head of Accessories”.

While working at the magazine she realized that the market was lacking stylish yet sensible handbags.  After the discovery, she decided to create her own line of chic practical handbags.  Spade developed 6 prototypes out of “Scotch” tape and paper.  Shopping her designs around, she found a manufacturer in East New York who was willing to produce her designs and more importantly, work with a startup.
Thank You Kate Spade You Me NYC

To finance the company Andy Spade withdrew from his 401(k) plan and also paid employees of the company with his own personal checks as well.  Kate was undecided about the name of the line.  Since she and Andy were not married at the time, “Kate Brosnahan” sounded like an unmarketable name to her.  Andy suggested “Kate Spade” which was a combination of his surname and her first name which they both agreed on.

As we all know “Kate Spade New York City” launched into a massive handbag line which extended to clothing, jewelry, shoes, stationery, eye-wear, baby items, fragrances, tabletop, bedding, an d gifts.  Later, Kate and her husband sold the line so she can concentrate on raising her daughter.

Although Spade and her husband are not affiliated with the brand for more than 10 years, the beloved brand lives on.   There are numerous “Kate Spade New York City” stores all over the country and the world with her first store opening up right in Soho New York City where her empire began and her legacy created.

Conclusion:

We will miss you Kate…..

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, host of the popular CNN series “Parts Unknown” left the world with a final and permanent sign-off June 8th 2018.  I absolutely loved his show and the fact that he brought us all a little closer to each other just by sharing a meal. Anthony really showed us how much we all have in common through all the culture, diversity and cuisines he brought to us no matter where his location.

Bourdain was larger-than-life, an amazing chef and a fantastic storyteller.  The news of his death shocked the world and according to CNN, the most common sentiment was “I feel like I’ve lost a friend”.  I personally felt connected to Anthony, through his extraordinary way with words, his gutsy on-scene locations, and his edgy character.
Bourdain You Me NYC

His article in “The New Yorker” back in 1999 spoke volumes and I can definitely relate to it.  The article titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” was about the secrets of working in a restaurant’s kitchen.  “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit.  It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family”, Bourdain wrote.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a bad past.  I worked in a few restaurants, starting in the kitchen as a dishwasher and moved through the stations.  I can definitely say that I have come across some shady characters.

Now I love food and the relationships it brings to the table.  Anthony’s work is incredible and plays a huge influence on my writing as well.  I am sure that I can speak for all of my readers and pretty much everyone else. Anthony is sharing a meal in some part unknown to all of us and telling some amazing story.

Conclusion:

We will miss you Anthony, your work will not be forgotten.

Pure Samba

Making people happy and smile is what is most important to Lisa Ferreira, founder and director of “Pure Samba” a dance and entertainment company based out of the “Fort Greene” section of Brooklyn.  Originally from Long Island, Lisa currently resides in and is a proud resident of “Fort Greene” Brooklyn.  She considers herself the mayor of “Fort Greene”, as she is one of the last remaining cool “Fort Greene” residents from an era of Black Excellence, Black Renaissance, and Black culture of “Fort Greene”, Brooklyn.
Pure Samba Lisa FerreiraThe first time Lisa witnessed a Samba performance, she was enthralled and captivated as to how beautiful, strong, and confident the women were performing.  Her love for Brasil, its people, food, music, dance, culture, energy along with her “West Indian” Heritage,  are all factors that lead up to her decision in becoming a Samba performer.  Lisa’s father’s people are from Trinidad and as a child she and her siblings would hear their great aunt and uncle profess their love for Carnival when they would come back from their trips to Trinidad.  Lisa was fascinated by the costumes worn and the joy expressed by the people participating in Carnival, in the pictures her great aunt and uncle would share with her and her  siblings.  According to Lisa “It is a beautiful coincidence that as an adult I came to fall in love with Carnival from Brasil. It is in my roots, my blood, my heritage as well. My great aunt and uncle have since passed, but I know they are proud to see me living the Carnival tradition by way of the colorful stories they shared with me as a child”.

According to Ferreira, there are a few pop influences that have an impact on the way she dances, along with the beautiful dancers she has the pleasure to work with as well.  However, the most significant are the Passistas, the superstars of Samba dance of Brasil, it’s their joy and innovation that inspire Lisa’s dance technique.  According to Lisa, her main motivation behind the establishing of her company is her beautiful mother.  Her mother would encourage her to be the best that she can be and find bliss in doing her own thing.  Unfortunately both her beloved mother and father passed away in 2014.  “Pure Samba” is her tribute to her mother who is her eternal revelation for everything she does in life.  “I continue hearing her say ‘Go ahead do it, do it with all your might'”, Lisa says.  No matter how tired and exhausted she is, her mother’s influence keeps her going, as she puts her heart and soul into every performance.  According to Ferreira, she guesses she is always looking for her mother’s validation which keeps her striving to be the best.Pure Samba Llisa Ferreira

Being a performing artist and the owner of a dance company in New York City, the winter poses an issue with keeping her body warm prior to shows, which is one of the challenges Lisa deals with.  Other than that, there are very little challenges due to her love for dance.  Listening to the music makes her smile and wearing one of her beautiful costumes is like a fantasy.  Samba makes her happy, it’s magical she explains.  If Lisa’s having a bad day, the moment she starts to dance, it all melts away, without a care in the world.

Aside from the demanding world of dance and the countless hours that are spent by being a business owner, there is actually some downtime.  Being a SAG/AFTRA actress, she likes to spend time watching episodic television, dance alone at home enjoying the relationship between dance and music and spending time with friends over brunch.

When asked what advice she would give to up and coming dancers that want to make a career out of dance, her recommendation is to love what you do and be the best that you can be at the moment, along with not judging yourself if you are injured or having a bad day.  With that being said, Lisa has always had a vision to continue to empower the dancers of “Pure Samba”, by creating high profile opportunities for each of the performers, such as the co-creation of a commercial for Hershey’s Kisses “Say it with a Kiss” campaign and an appearance on on the “Nightly Show”, with Larry Whilmore about Cuba.  Lisa also co-stared in a comedy pilot for A&E as a Samba Dancer and she also choreographed a routine for a very well known men’s fashion designer, for New York Fashion Week Mens.

It’s a very full plate that Lisa has on her table and what’s amazing is that she still has time for a social life.  She will continue to create high profile opportunities for the members of her dance company and herself as well.  She is looking forward to continued success in her performing and one day also to be married.

My Passion – My Therapy – My Life

From Hitsville USA (Detroit Michigan) to Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant) Brooklyn, Kendra J. Ross, professional dancer, professional choreographer, teaching artist, arts administrator, and community organizer was able to set aside some time out of her extremely busy schedule for us so that we may get to know more about this “Detroit” native, now one of the most well-known performers in the Brooklyn and New York City dance community.  Growing up in Detroit has shaped Kendra into the proud black woman she is today.  One of the most segregated cities, Kendra was always surrounded by black people of all shades, colors and aptitudes.  According to Kendra, black has always been beautiful, she never experienced being a “token” until her adulthood.  Being from Detroit, has given Kendra a love for the flashy elements with a little bit of grit.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

In her early years, growing up in Detroit, Kendra (pictured here courtesy of Longtower Photography) was always a performer.  Her career started with a performance of an assortment of MC Hammer and Michael Jackson interpretations, in a well-know venue to her, which was her living room in front of a very tough crowd, which happened to be her parents and grandparents.  Even though Kendra did not start taking formal dance lessons til she was twelve years old, she was always fascinated with dance.  Her eternal love for the art was conflicted with also wanting to go into the legal profession as an attorney and she would have, until her AP Chemistry teacher told her that aspiring to be a dancer is a “waste of her talent”.  “I do not take kindly to people telling me what I cannot do so I decided to prove her wrong” Ross says.

When asked what she loves and what are some of the challenges she faces in her field of expertise, we find that connecting with other people through movement is what Kendra loves about what she does in her chosen profession.  She can express so much more than words can signify through her choreography,  especially at that moment when she discovers a quality about herself through dance and when she is able to help someone else reveal an attribute about themselves through their progression as well.  With her love for contemporary dance and folkloric dance, specifically Afro Caribbean dance, which tends to be underfunded, coupled with the fact that people aren’t going to live shows as much, unless it’s Broadway or a very well known company, due to the growing popularity of the Internet,  Kendra has to take on the role of multiple jobs while creating and performing her masterpieces.  Fortunately she works in the realm she also creates in, Kendra is the “Director of Programs and Administration” for “Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance”.  According to Ross, the labor can be exhausting and not as financially rewarding as the amount of work she puts in, however, in her own words “art is my passion, my therapy and my life so I do it anyway”.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

There is a large source of influence and inspiration Kendra pulls from, including, her family, ancestors, the Orishas,  Detroit and Bed-Stuy and her appreciation for music, all of which inspire her and the different moods it creates.  As far as individual influences, Kendra holds in high regard, both Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus for their movements and strict commitment to evolving tradition.  Adia Tamar Whitaker the “director” of the “Ase Dance Theater Collective” and the way she continues the legacy of being grounded in tradition along with creating new tradition also has quite an impact on Kendra, who is also a member of this company.  Efeya Sampson, a beautiful dancer, teaching artist, cancer survivor and Kendra’s best friend also inspires and influences her by reminding her to be strong, to walk the world with grace and power, while challenging her to be a better dancer because she doesn’t want to be out-shinned by her “bestie”. (photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

With all that is going on in Kendra’s life there is actually a fraction of downtime.  Kendra has started a new Sunday morning self care ritual.  She starts off by playing her music, then she starts dancing in the mirror, followed by dancing over to the kitchen, to fix herself some “gluten free” pancakes.  On other days, she likes to talk to friends and family in person or over the phone or watch television, her new fix is a show called “This is Us”.  She loves to cook and on days where the weather is cooperating, she loves to walk around  the rapidly changing Bed-Stuy especially during the warm months or sometimes just sitting at home in silence contemplating in her peaceful surroundings.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

Her current residence of Bed-Stuy surrounds her with diverse motivations, ideas and enthusiasm, all a part of community and legacy the two most important factors about what she does.  Since her work is rooted in the African Diaspora, she believes in upholding and carrying on these traditions that hold the ancient knowledge that the people of the African Diaspora have used for survival. Through her work, the companies she dances with and the art she administers, Kendra believes that she is creating community for people.  Hence her creation and founding of “STooPS” a conduit for community building and intentional artistic experimentation.  New York City is massive, it can feel over crowded and lonely at the same time, the community she creates along with other communities she is a part of, serve as a family support system for herself, for those she works with and the continuing of the “Kendra J. Ross Legacy”. (photo courtesy of Ivan Forte)

Kendra J. Ross Teaching Artist

(photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

Little Known Facts About Queens



Queens, a misunderstood borough, mostly because people just pretty much know this borough for three reasons, LaGuardia airport, JFK airport and Citi Field(home of the “Mets”).  However, what most people don’t know, is that the borough of Queens is named after an actual queen.  Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Branganza who was the wife of King Charles the II.  Catherine was born in Portugal and she was wed to Charles back when the British colony was established in New York.

Astoria Queens is the home of one of the world’s finest pianos.  Steinway and Sons, one of the most if not the most famous piano manufacturers calls its home there, for the past 100 years.  The first grand and upright pianos were crafted in Astoria back in 1853.  Tours are given all the time at this astonishing facility.

Famed music performers the “Ramones”, first started to rehearse in a small studio in the basement of Joey’s mom’s art gallery in Flusing.  A few other music legends  that also lived in Queens are John Williams, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley from the band “Kiss”.  Cyndi Lauper, Daniel “Dee” Snider, along with rappers and Hip Hop performers, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nas, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J,  and Run DMC, were residents as well.  Jazz legend Louis Armstrong called Queens home up to his last days, his house is now a museum.

With over 2 million residents, Queens is the most diverse borough out of its’ rival boroughs.  If Queens were to secede from New York City and go back to being an individual city before it joined New York City, it would be the 5th largest city in the United States.  Queens has about 400,000 less people than Chicago.  With that being said, Queens is more than just the borough that houses two of the top ten worst but not the worst airports in the country and home to the “Mets”, Queens has a very rich and dynamic demographic and quite a bit of history that was barely touched in this article.  Get out and enjoy Queens for a change maybe go to a Mets game or one of the numerous museums as well.

Flushing Meadows Park Queens

 

Let the Rainbow Lead the Way

Not too long ago I was at a private art exhibit over on 10th ave in Chelsea for an amazing artist by the name of Alfrena Moosa.  She came up from South Florida with a few of her astonishing works and I have to say everyone was very impressed with what she had to offer, both as an artist and as a person as well.  “Let the rainbow lead the way” is what Alfrena titles her body of work.

Although she was extremely mobbed by collectors, critics, and reporters such as myself, she was able to answer a few of my questions before she was pulled in a different direction by someone else.  Alfrena doesn’t have a favorite artist, however she does appreciate the early artists that have paved the way for the up and coming artists in today’s society.  According to Alfrena, there is not one piece of artwork today that one cannot say mimics a previous artist’s technique, style or skill.

Art has affected Alfrena by influencing her sense of creativity and love for color.  It also has given her the self confidence, that she can be the best in all facets of her craft as long as she continues to work hard, stay true to herself and never be afraid to approach something others might be unsure of.  Looking at her creations and her hands is a constant reminder to her of the gift she has been blessed with.


Although Alfrena doesn’t have a favorite artist, her favorite genres of art are realism and abstract.  She loves to combine both and looking at her artwork, she does a extraordinary job at this difficult combination.  Her methods to start a project begins by asking herself, how she can express herself through the narrative of each picture or idea before her.  Her next step is to make sure that each proportion of her piece is correct.  Then she uses her imagination and music as a guide for the placement of lines, shapes and color.

In closing, I was only able to get a little bit more from this brilliant artist before she was pulled away by a few other journalists.  When asked about her future and where she envisions her art work,  Alfrena wants to start a foundation that encourages teens to use their gifts that they were blessed with as a pathway to a productive future. Alfrena also envisions her works in various public spaces such as hospitals, museums, galleries and of course on the cover of a book or magazine.  More importantly, she wants her artwork to be the motivation, inspiration and the reason to what makes a person smile or say “Wow”, just by one glimpse of her work.

(This First Piece of Artwork is Titled “Follow the Rainbow”)
(This Second Piece of Artwork is Titled “Emotionally Balanced”)