Sunday, February 25, 2007

Art Reincarnated

Peter Tosh will be making an appearance at Altered Esthetics. This piece was accepted into their April show "Art Reincarnated." The show will feature over 65 local and international artists. It is a recycled and found art group show.

Art Reincarnated
April 5-26, 2007

Altered Esthetics
1224 Quincy St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Opening Reception
Friday, April 6

Gallery Hours
Tuesday & Thursday 1-7pm
Saturday 1-5pm

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Branding Africa

I've been thinking a lot about branding lately. According to Wikipedia, "Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service. A brand serves to create associations and expectations among products made by a producer. A brand often includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, sound which may be developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality. The brand, and "branding" have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as 'cultural accessories and personal philosophies.'"

That said the impetus for me writing today is a “
Have Your Say” piece I saw on the BBC the other day. The title was “How would you rebrand Africa?” There is a summit going on in Abuja to discuss how Africa can be rebranded in the media. According to the BBC, “News reports about Africa are often dominated by negative stereotypes. The result is that people around the world are left knowing very little about the continent. Participants hope the summit will help give a more balanced view and move away from negative reporting.” I believe this to be true as well, but it’s a complicated issue. Stereotypes are based on some reality and it would be reckless for the media to ignore negative stories such as the war in Darfur, kidnappings in Nigeria, and HIV/AIDS. But, there has to be some sort of balance. Otherwise, Americans will continue to only think of Africa as a country full of war, famine and lions, as evident to me during my school presentations.

I thought a lot about this the other week at a reading of “
In Darfur” at the Guthrie. The journalist who is trying to break the story about Darfur is being threatened by her editor that she may have to leave Sudan to cover “art” in J-burg. It bothered me a bit during the play because I felt like the writer of the play was trying to say that “art” in Africa doesn’t matter. How do you find that balance?! In telling stories that need to be told because of the gravity of the situation. In telling stories that need to be told because art and dance and music is alive. I asked myself, why don’t people in the US know about FESPACO? We certainly know about Cannes. What is news and what sells? Again, how do editors in the US find that balance of telling all truths? And at the end of the day, how do journalists make average Americans care about death and life on the continent?

After searching and searching on the internet for information about the summit, I finally came across the site. The title of the summit is
Africa’s International Media Summit and this was the 2nd summit held. The president of Nigeria said “As a country, we believe in the ‘good in Africa’ and are confident that the RE-BRANDING OF AFRICA project will spell a re-opening and reawakening of the excellent opportunities and possibilities of the new and emerging Africa. The Summit is coming at a time the Continent of Africa, has a dire need for a change in perceptions and impressions. The role of The Media in this ‘mission’ cannot be over-emphasized. The Media is the most significant segment of African society and must take a decisive and more committed position in Africa’s renaissance process.” Reading the introduction, the negative realities were addressed, but again the call came for African and international news agencies to also cover positive accomplishments. Is this a tactic for more tourism or business developments? I wonder how the continent is portrayed in Chinese media. Also, Oprah’s photo was shown with the title “The African Diaspora.” I wonder if she made it.

Another reason I've been thinking about branding is because of our business. Rabi and I have been having discussions about where we want the business to go and what we're trying to say. We obviously want people to recognize our products, our logo, our image immediately when they see us. For our logo, we picked a picture of Rabi's dad's village. The
name of the business also explains a bit about Rabi's culture. Everything I do on the management side, everything Rabi makes on the artistic side, all has a reason. It all goes back to Rabi's artist statement. Rabi wants people to better know his country and his culture. Although I want that too, I am also in a sense fulfilling Peace Corps' 3rd goal for Volunteers. To teach Americans about life in my host country. In the end, I wonder if it really matters. I hope so.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Peter Tosh Lives On

Peter Tosh
Recycled metal & found objects

Peter Tosh was a pioneer reggae musician, as well as a trailblazer for the Rastafarian movement.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The A Project

I saw an interesting article in the Walker Magazine in January. In each magazine, the Art Center introduces a member. That month, it was Peter Haakon Thompson. The introduction explained the Art Shanty Projects and the A Project. Curious. I checked out the Art Shanty Projects website but there wasn't a link for the A Project. So I tore the page out for future reference.

I tear out interesting articles/pics/tidbits and file them away for later. Seriously. I have magazine pages from high school in folders in tupperwares while I try to get Rabi to throw out something he acquired yesterday!

Well, what is the Art Shanty Projects? Well, it's a bunch of uncommon ice shanties on Medicine Lake. This is the 4th annual. We checked it out this weekend. Pretty neat. Not artsy fartsy. Thank goodness we went on Sunday and not last week! Jello was melting in one of the shacks. It was pretty warm. My fav probably was the OurBrr shanty. It smelled like Christmas. And since we didn't have snow or the cold this year for Christmas, it really reminded me of Christmas. Inside were animal sounds. Folks could pick an animal and record their interpretation of the sound, which was then played. I didn't try...hadn't yet had my coffee. Which was quickly fixed by a snappy young gal. Someone was providing free and hot coffee, cider, cocoa and mochas out of a minivan covered in astroturf.

We also met the founder Peter Haakon Thompson; thus the article in the Walker mag. Peter is a photographer who also started The A Project. The A Project is a way for art enthusiasts to quickly identify each other. (Am I giving away the secret handshake?!) I haven't really noticed the A in our neighborhood. But I did have a realization today. I did see a big A parked outside the Grain Belt Brewery Bldg (artist studio building) a number of months ago. Like Peter said, maybe I'll be more in tune to it now and will start noticing it around town. We have our sticker now in our car window and at the front door. So we'll see if this helps bring our neighbors together. Community is important and it's kind of hard to have in a city behind closed doors. That's probably the hardest part of living in the States for Rabi. People being indoors all the time; in the winter it's too cold, in the summer it's too hot.

C'est la vie.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pieces at Rogues Gallery

We now have a number of pieces, including Eve, Union and Voyageur at the Rogues Gallery in St. Cloud. Check them out at:

Rogues Gallery
901 2nd Street South
Waite Park, MN 56387
(Next to the Sundial Village Strip Mall)

Gallery Hours
Monday-Friday 11-7pm

According to their website:
"ROGUES GALLERY is a family owned and operated gallery and shop. We showcase and sell art created by a wide range of local artists. As artists ourselves we hope to make the gallery experience beneficial and enjoyably for the artist, the customer and us. We intend to sell original and hand-crafted art and art-related items - very little in our shop will be mass-produced. Our gallery will be accesible to artists and art lovers of all backgrounds. We will bring the art to the people and the people to the art."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Welcome to Flickr!

Thanks to a fabulous suggestion by my sis, I've added a link in the sidebar to a "Photo Gallery" of all of Rabi's pieces. The material, size and price are noted for most pieces. I've also listed which have been sold.

Now, you don't have to click through all our posts to find your fav piece!