“Phyllis Galembo’s interest in the masquerade traditions of Africa and its diaspora began twenty five years ago, with her first visit to Nigeria. Since then, she has travelled widely in west and central Africa, and regularly to Haiti, making portraits that document and describe the transformative power of the mask. Her subjects are participants in masquerade events, both traditional African ceremonies and contemporary fancy dress and carnival, all of whom use costume, body paint and masks to create mythic characters – sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, and always powerful and thrilling. Titled after the Haitian Kreyòl word for mask, Maske is the first comprehensive collection of these portraits.”
We may not share a street corner with Mohawk General Store, or even a neighborhood, but knowing that we share as much as distantly linked power wires and cellular data molecules in the stilted summer air of Los Angeles makes us happy. Go in, get this book and say hi to our friends.
If you’re on the other coast, you can pick up prints by Phyllis Galembo at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.
Jali Musa Jawra is from the Kankan region of Guinea in West Africa. The Jali (or “Djeli”) prefix on his name means “musician by birth”; both of his parents were jalis as well, you see. Traditionally speaking, Djelis were more or less wandering minstrels in this part of Africa. He is best known for playing the Kora, a 21-string bridge-harp, though he also mastered the balafon, basically a wooden xylophone from the idiophone family of tuned percussion instruments. He plays guitar and sings, too — but doesn’t everyone. Am I right Hollywood?
Moving to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast to play in Mory Kante’s band in the late 1970s put Jawara in a more progressive state of mind. When he split from Kante in ’83 he developed his own, hypnotic and exciting style of modern African Mandinka music. The album this tune was taken from, “Soubindoor”, was recorded in London in 1988 and was released on Island’s Mango imprint.
The song is about how suspicion and mistrust can ruin otherwise loving relationships. So to put it in your frame of reference, Wombleteens, this song is like West Africa’s answer to “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. I’d like to hear what Jawara could do with “Shadowplay” or “Disorder”, wouldn’t you!
Fractal Projections is a play on the idea of the cube broken in space to create an interlocking grid system that follows a linear deformation, allowing them to break from the normal grid behavior into a family of fractal surfaces.
Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles hangs its shingle later this year, and we couldn’t be happier to share a neighborhood with one of our almae matres, SCI-Arc. This Thursday, we’re looking forward to circling like sharks around Evelina Sausina and Eugene Kosgoron’s installation — the winner of SCI-Arc’s 40/40 competition — at the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank building for the Downtown LA Artwalk. 40/40 pays homage to architecture and how SCI-Arc alumni have transformed the school over the preceding four decades. Hats off, neighbors.
This is California Hospital in Downtown Los Angeles, at its latest incarnation in 1898. The hospital was founded with the help of John and Dora Haynes — you may recognize the ring of “The Haynes Foundation" from many a public broadcasting sponsor shout-out — an enterprising pair of social activists who uprooted from Pennsylvania to settle where the sunshine shone. Mister was a philosopher, civic entrepreneur, medical practitioner and teacher; Missus was a tireless suffragette and ally. California Hospital — now in its 126th year — is one of the many organizations that still benefit from this childless, eccentric and driven couple’s foundation, legacy and goodwill nearly 75 years after their deaths — not to mention the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Los Angeles City Historical Society, Los Angeles Public Library, USC, UCLA, public radio stations KCRW and KPCC and any deserving, eloquent and well-referenced applicant who applies for a grant.
The hospital has transformed considerably over the last century and a quarter — you can learn more on their site.
The proposed LA Streetcar would provide carbon-emission free transportation in Downtown LA, home of the soon-to-be newest member of the Ace Hotel family. We can tell you that we love our streetcars in Portland and Seattle. But you have to make up your own mind. If you’re a resident of Downtown LA, there’s a Q&A about the project — going to vote by special ballot in November — October 17. Next stop on this trolley, Informationville.