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NYC: Kehinde Wiley/ The World Stage: Israel


It has been nearly two years since Kehinde Wiley traveled to Israel with the intention of creating the fifth installment of his World Stage series, The World Stage: Israel. On March 9, 2012, the show will make its New York debut at the Jewish Museum, running through July 29, 2012. World Stage: Israel features 14 of Wiley’s signature larger- than- life portraits, accompanied by 11 hand-selected papercuts and textiles from the Museum’s private collection, that serve as both historically and culturally referential to Wiley portraits. Rounding out the exhibition is a short film, directed by Dwayne Rodgers (see video below), chronicling Wiley’s process and introducing the mostly brown and black men (primarily self-identified Ethiopian-Israelis) featured in Wiley’s paintings and currently residing in Israel.

Throughout the exhibition, Kehinde Wiley’s paintings, both ornate and ambivalent, carry the burden of context straight out of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Lod, onto the walls of the Jewish Museum. His clear intent to contribute to discourses of displacement and marginality is showcased in fair breadth. Topics of globalization and hybridity are underscored by the contrast of the sheer scale of the portraits to their simultaneous envelopment by the abounding backgrounds. Nonetheless, that was just how the works spoke to us… what say it to you?

The show is Wiley just being Wiley and is sure to be just as impactful as most of his work to date.  Go check it out. The museum is free to the public every Saturday from 11am -5:45pm. Be sure to also check out Kehinde Wiley’s site where there is a solid selection of paintings from all five of the ‘World Stage’ (China, India/Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Brazil and Israel) collections to date.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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