Saturday, March 14, 2015

Je Suis Shaimaa al Sabbagh?

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham. 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh: the unfortunate cost of non-violent protest. By K.K.W [of the 2 articles I read for info, one has her name as Shaimaa el Sabbagh, and Shaimaa al Sabbagh. Both by The New York & The N.Y.Times Insider]

Despite the violence that has marred the soul of, and lead to great changes in America, I think many of us [especially in NYC] take for granted what we have now. Few of us never had to put our lives at risk, for what we perceived as positive change. 

Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center]
Scrolling through Facebook on Jan 24th, I saw a post about the death Shaimaa el Sabbagh; shot by police in Cairo, Egypt while taking part in a peaceful protest. The group was headed for Tahrir Square to lay flowers in memory, of Egypt's derailed revolution [the next day was its fourth anniversary]. Apparently the police were using non-lethal pellet's instead of bullets [ironically]. She was hit in the face, chest, and possibly her back. Gallantly, she was rushed away by a young man [a friend actually - Sayed Abu Elela], only to die on the sidewalk, to the horror of bystanders. A young mother, poet, a secular socialist, she was not the first person or even female to be a victim of excessive police force in Cairo. The day before Sabbagh's death, another female protester, 17-year-old Sondos Ridha, was also killed. Ridha was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood [an organization supposedly hated by the state & secular opposition alike] and the lack of publicity over her death, and others has many just as upset.
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
The deaths of both young women highlight a regime that seems, hardly any better then the last, and where the rights of the individual are to often non-existant. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regime is under intense scrutiny after Sabbagh's death, which is unusual and perhaps a good sign. "Deaths have accumulated slowly but steadily since the military takeover in Egypt 18 months ago." [David Kirkpatrick]. The pro-government media generally stayed away from critical coverage aimed at the Police & government, but after el Sabbagh's death even they cannot ignore the problem. The "...state newspaper, Al Ahram, published a front-page editorial expressing rare, officially sanctioned criticism of the Egyptian police." [David Kirkpatrick] 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
And yet it seems, to little, to late in an area where such incidents are now regular, however brutal and senseless they appear. The incident soon reached many parts of the world, though I got the that it was only a momentary spike, compared to "Je suis Charlie". On Facebook I saw many [mostly French & non-French] change their profiles to an image of the phrase [Je suis Charlie], firmly afraid that free-speech was in utter danger - charming in every way. But what of el sabbagh? Do we reach out towards our those who also need, deserve and should have our support? I suspect some do, while many more feel no need to give it -if they know at all.

Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Mahmoud Taha/European Pressphoto Agency
Change is always difficult, especially when directed towards unwanted rulers and their governments. But history teaches that with time, effort, and unfortunately the deaths of many, such change will happen. "Few in Egypt expect the demonstrations or bombings to change the military-backed government any time soon. Public debate here is dominated by pro-government voices. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ruled by decree without a Parliament or other elected officials." [David Kirkpatrick] .  
Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center],
photo courtesy of Osama Hamamm.
Below is one of Shaimaa al Sabbagh's poems:

A letter in my purse

By Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, trans. Maged Zaher
I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her
Because the streets remember us together
The shops know her more than me
Because she is the one who pays
She knows the smell of my sweat and she loves it
She knows the different buses
And has her own relationship with their drivers
She memorizes the ticket price
And always has the exact change
Once I bought a perfume she didn’t like
She spilled all of it and refused to let me use it
By the way
She also loves my family
And she always carried a picture
Of each one she loves
What might she be feeling right now
Maybe scared?
Or disgusted from the sweat of someone she doesn’t know
Annoyed by the new streets?
If she stopped by one of the stores we visited together
Would she like the same items?
Anyway, she has the house keys
And I am waiting for her

If you would like to know more, go, Info for this article was gathered from both of these article by David Kirkpatrick. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gertrude Bell

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.

Al-Khatun, The desert Queen: Gertrude Bell. By K.K.W
Gertrude Bell. Image courtesy of,
You don't have to be an historian to know that few women [depending on which area of the world] had the same, or even half the freedom and rights of men - even in late 19th century Western Civilization. However, there were always some who broke on through to the other side; who's life seems the stuff of legend, or a great film. 

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, was born on July 14th 1868 in Washington Hall, County Durham, England. Her family's wealth would enable her to travel.[1] Her grandfathers liberal membership in Parliament during Benjamin Disraeli's second term would have major influence on her.[2] At the age of 3 her mother died [giving birth to a son, Maurice], which would lead to a life long relationship with her father [Sir Hugh Bell - 2nd Baronet, three times mayor of Middlesbrough, High Sheriff of Durham, Justice of the Peace, etc]. Some would write that the loss of her mother would have underlying childhood trauma, revealed through periods of depression and risky behavior. 

Gerturde Bell. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Bell's stepmother Florence [Playwright, author of children's stories, and of a study of the family's factory workers ] would instill concepts of duty and decorum in her, while contributing to her intellectual development. Many restrictions were placed on women at the time, even what they could study - which lead Bell to study Modern History, receiving a first class honour's degree in two years [Oxford University, Lady Margaret Hall].  She never married, despite her beauty, intelligence, etc, but did have an unconsummated affair with Maj. Charles Doughty-Wylie, a married man [they exchanged love letter from 1913 - 1915].[3] When he died at Gallipoli, Bell immersed herself into her work.

In May 1892, after leaving Oxford, Bell traveled to Persia to visit her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles [British Minister, at Tehran]. The journey is described in her book, Persian Pictures, published in 1894. The next decade would be spent traveling around the world, developing a passion for archeology and languages [she became fluent in Arabic, Persian, French, German, Italian, and Turkish]. She would again travel to the "Middle East" in 1899, visiting Palestine and Syria, later going to Jerusalem to Damascus in 1900 where she became acquainted with the Druze living in Jabal al-Druze.[4] 

Gertrude Bell, courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University
Bell would climb and conquer a number of mountains, including the La Meije, Mont Blanc as she recorded 10 new paths or first ascents in the Bernese Alps. She almost died climbing the Finsteraarhorn in 1902, as snow, hail and lighting forced her to spend "forty eight hours on the rope" with her guides, clinging to the rock face. I doubt few men would be able to be a woman like this, even in todays world. Her book Syria: The Desert and the Sown [1907]  in which she described, photographed her trip to greater Syria, opened up the Arabian deserts to the world. 

She journeyed to the Ottoman Empire and worked with New Testament Scholar Sir William M Ramesy, excavating Binbirkilise. By 1909 she was in Mesopotamia, where in Carchemish she met T. E. Lawrence [one of the archaeologists on site]. Bell's initial request for Middle East Posting, at the outbreak of World War I was denied, which would see her volunteer for the Red Cross in France. It was only when the British needed to get their soldiers through the deserts, was she brought in by British intelligence. Her travels had gained her close relations with various tribal leaders across the Middle East, and also being able to have access to the chambers of their wives giving her another important perspective. In 1915 she was assigned to Army intelligence for war service [no official position]. She helped in processing data about the locations & disposition of tribes that could be induced to join the war-effort against the Ottoman Empire. 

Advising chief political officer Percy Cox, Bell would create the maps need to get troop's from Basra to Bagdad safely. She would receive the title of Liaison Officer, Correspondent to Cairo, and was Harry St. John Philbys field controller [instructing him on the finer arts of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering]. 

"Oriental Secretary", she was asked to attend the 1921 Cairo Conference. Throughout it, she Lawrence and Cox worked tirelessly to promote the establishment of the countries of Transjordan and Iraq to be presided of by Kings Abdullah and Faisal [sons of the instigator of the Arab Revolt - Hussein bin Ali, Sharif & Emir of Mecca]. Know as al-Khatun to the Persian's, a confidante and advisor of King Faisal of Iraq and instrumental in the creation of Iraq and an integral part of its administration through the 1920's. The more one reads of her it becomes a strange thought that perhaps she was an individual more suited for the times then most men around her.  

Gertrude Bell Photographic Archive,
Newcastle University. 
Image courtesy of the
Gertrude Bell.
Image courtesy of

Possibly the only thing more amazing then her life is her death on July 12th, 1926. Her body was discovered by her maid, an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. 
There is much debate on her death, but it is unknown whether the overdose was an intentional suicide or accidental since she had asked her maid to wake her.[5]

 David W. Del Testa, ed. (2001). "Bell, Gertrude". Government Leaders, Military Rulers, and Political Activists
#2 O'Brien, Rosemary, ed. (2000), Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries, 1913–1914, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press #3  Lukitz, 2006. pp. 14–17 #4 "Gertrude Bell and the Birth of Iraq" 15 November 2011. Retrieved6 December 2011. #5 Helen Berry: BBC History Magazine September 2013. Info for this article was gathered from 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Marian Anderson

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.

Deva: a voice "heard once in a hundred years"(1).By K.K.W.

At some point in life you come to realize that one thing does lead to another; so much that your eager to see where you'll end up after the next choice. While watching Guy Riche's film "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" the piece "Die Forelle, D.550"  by Schubert was playing in one pivotal scene . I became entranced and began a Youtube search, which lead me to an upload of Marian Anderson. Not only was I shocked, but smitten with the piece; thinking of course, why-the-hell hadn't I heard of her before.  
Marian Anderson. Image courtesy of
Max -
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 27th, 1897 she was born to John Berkley and Annie Delilah Anderson. Like many born gifted she would be encouraged by a close relative [her Aunt], who noticed her niece's talent, and convinced her to join a junior church choir at 6 years old. Miss Anderson would perform duets & solo's, often with her aunt, and taken to concerts at local churches, the YMCA as well as benefit concerts. She would later credit her aunt's influence as the reason she pursued a singing career.

Local events were her first gig's - at the age of six - where she was paid 25 or 50 cent's for a few songs. Towards her early teens she began to earn as much as four or five dollars for her singing [a considerable sum at the time]. Although her family could not afford sending her to high school or pay for music lessons, her involvement in the church would change this. The directors of the "People's Chorus" and the pastor of her church [Reverend Wesley Parks], & other leaders of the black community, raised the money needed for her lessons and to go to high-school. She continued to perform and learn from anyone willing to teach her.

Marian Anderson, in 1920.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Lessons with Mary Saunders Patterson would aid her, while she attended high-school; graduating in 1921. Applying to the Philadelphia Music Academy, she was told by the woman at the admissions counter "we don't take colored". In our present time this would seem amazing to many, offensive to more [& some in Miss Anderson's time as well], but such was and still is, the hypocrisy of America. Despite this insult, miss Anderson pressed on, meeting Giuseppe Boghetti through her high school principal. She sang 'Deep River'  as an audition, and he was moved to tears. Miss Anderson pursued studies privately with Giuseppe Boghetti and Agnes Reifsnyder [with support from her community]. Winning first prize in a singing competition sponsored by New York Philharmonic [1925], she would have her big-break. The prize allowed her to perform with the N.Y Philharmonic [August 26, 1925], which scored immediate success with both audience and critics. 

Miss Anderson stayed in New York, to pursue further studies with Frank La Forge, during which Arthur Judson became her manager. She would sing for the first time at Carnegie Hall in 1928, which should have helped to bring her into the limelight; but of course, the racial prejudice of the "American nightmare" would not allow this. 
Some time later miss Anderson would venture across the sea's to Europe - which as an artist living in NYC, I'm seeing why many Americans do this. America will only love its artists when Europe [or other's do, because America is interested first in entertainment, not art.]. Quite a few months would be spent with Sara Charles-Cahier, which helped before a very successful European tour. 

Wigmore Hall [London], 1930, summer of that year in Scandinavia [where she would meet Finnish pianist Kosti Vehanen, her regular accompanist and vocal coach for many years]. Jean Sibelius she would meet after he heard her in concert at Helsinki,  a friendship & professional partnership formed. He would alter compositions would altered for her, songs created for her, dedicated to her. When Sibelius invited Anderson & Vehanen to his home, he asked his wife to bring champagne in place of coffee. Sibelius once said to Anderson that she had been able to penetrate the Nordic soul. 

Miss Anderson in her 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Back to NYC like a thunderous force, she played the Town Hall, spending the the next four years touring the States & Europe like a beautiful bat outta hell. The capitals of Eastern Europe and Russia, then back to Scandinavia [she had fans there even in small villages & towns]. She swiftly became a favorite of many conductors and composers of major European orchestras.  

While back in the States in the late 1930's she was still denied rooms at certain hotels and was not allowed to even eat in certain restaurants. On one occasion Albert Einstein hosted her in 1937 when was refused a hotel before performing at Princeton University [he would do so many times after]. Miss Anderson was championed by Charles Edward Russell, First Lady  Eleanor Roosevelt, President Roosevelt, Walter White and Zora Neale Hurston when the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR] refused to sing to an integrated audience in their constitution Hall. An open air concert was set-up by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes [after some persuasion by Walter White & President Roosevelt].  More then 75,000 of many colors would be there [and millions via radio broadcast] perform "My Country, 'Tis of Thee". 

Miss Anderson at the Department of the Interior in 1943,
commemorating her 1939 concert.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
She entertained troops during World War II and The Korean War, became the first African American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera [playing the part of Ulrica in Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera", 1955] in NYC [although she never appeared with the company again, she was made a permanent member of the Opera company.].
Miss Anderson sang for President Eisenhower's inauguration, toured India and the Far East as a goodwill ambassadress, was made a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, elected a fellow of the American Society of Arts and Sciences. Miss Anderson also sang at the inauguration of J.F.K in 1961, and performed for President Kennedy and other dignitaries in the East Room of the White House. During the civil rights movement she was an active supporter, giving benefit concerts of various kinds. 
Marian Anderson. Image courtesy of
Marian Anderson is one of the lights of American history that still burns bright today, despite the fact that many may not be aware of it. Her career no doubt helped to inspire numerous others in a time when her nation did not know how to live up its supposed greatness. Whenever I listen to "Die Forelle, D.550" [which I also use as my cell-phone alarm on weekends], I feel her immense talent & soul. Miss Anderson would die of congestive heart failure on April 8, 1993, at age 96 leaving behind an immense legacy. 

If you would like to know more, go to:, (1) Arturo Toscanini. Info for this article was gathered from 'Art is the reason, art is the way' 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

New American Sculpture

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.
@ FiveMyles: New American Sculpture - curated by Dexter Wimberly. Photo's by K.K.W
Clive Murphy, "Neon Toaster"

Lindsay Dye
Lindsay Dye

Leonardo Benzant [middle]
From left: Kate Stone, Asif Mian & Lindsay Dye
From left: Hugh Hayden & Dexter Wimberly
Detail from "Primer"
Clive Murphy, "Neon Toaster"
Matt Sears & Lindsay Dye

Kate Stone [on the left]
Marine Cornuet [on the left]
Kate Stone

Matt Sears [on the far right]
Hugh Hayden [looking at Kate Stone's piece]

Kate stone & her Husband.
Lindsay Dye's piece.

If you would like to know more, go to:,, 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Rachel Mason

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.
Q&A about  the artist, and her new work The Lives of Hamilton Fish: Rachel Mason. Photos and interview by K.K.W 

K.K.W: Are you originally from NYC?

R.M: I am from Los Angeles but have lived in New York since 2004. 

K.K.W: Most people in the creative fields showed early signs when they were young. Was it like that for you?

R.M: I was obsessed with drawing pictures from an early age. I would wake up in the morning and start drawing according to my Mom- and I do remember drawing my dreams out on paper. 

K.K.W:  Creativity is everywhere, but what were you drawn to when growing up?

R.M: I was always very attracted to people that lived out their own unique version of the world. I remember watching Harold and Maude and thinking that Maude was the greatest person ever. Just living in the world in the exact way that she wanted to. I remember one time stumbling across a storefront whose window was papered over with drawings, and I pushed the door in to peak in- and it wasn't a store, but an artist's studio. And the man had tons of drawings everywhere and I remember thinking- this is the way I want to be a grown-up. I want to be surrounded by art.

K.K.W: How did you find your way to The Lives Hamilton Fish

R.M: Well, I think that it found me. I was just looking up the death of one of the most notorious serial killers in the world, a man executed at Sing Sing prison, whose name was Albert Fish -- and I had to look him up by his given name which was actually "Hamilton Fish" and when I found a newspaper article announcing his death- I suddenly saw another "Hamilton Fish Dies" headline on the same page.  

K.K.W:  It seems that both men are total opposites that in fact, mirror the soul of America. Would say there's some truth in this?

R.M: Well, maybe not just America, but the world we live in. There are people who start their lives out with the advantage of great wealth and privilege, as in the statesman Hamilton Fish II. And there are people whose story begins with the horrors of abject poverty and abuse, as did the killer Hamilton "Albert" Fish. Not everyone in those situations ends up carrying out the kinds of lives these two men did. But in  my film, I wanted to make some sense of how they might come into contact, and try to make sense of this. My feeling is that there is a larger cosmic connection that holds us together, and causes events to happen in ways, that are far from our understanding.

K.K.W: Given the subject, are you prone to reading into history, is that a major aspect of your life?

R.M: Yes, if your idea of history includes the history of the stars and planets and everything before human existence. I am just as fascinated by the larger history of the universe as I am fascinated by our little tiny planet. 

K.K.W:  Were there any creative people that influenced the directional process of "Hamilton Fish"? 

R.M: Actually, I tried really hard to seek out pre-cursers and previously existing examples of what I was trying to do with my film, and came up empty. I think that Pink Floyd's The Wall, and The Who's Tommy, and of course David Bowie are all influences within the realm of cinematic storytelling through song. Jodorowsky is one of my favorite artists of all time and all mediums.

K.K.W:  As a creative female at the helm of all this, was it difficult given that the main characters are men and from another time-period?

R.M: Not at all. I also took great liberties with the gendering of the characters.  I play a male character but sing with a clearly female voice. There are several other actors in the film who are either trans or play in drag, and I make no mention of this and often people don't have any idea. I have always felt a very strong attraction to people who do not follow traditional gender rules- and perhaps, that simply goes into my casting decisions. It also could be that the film reflects my community of friends. 

K.K.W:  Have you considered that what you've done makes you a role-model for other young women [especially since many creative areas are still dominated by men]? 

R.M: I have been told by a few people now and then that my work influenced them which is always really surprising to me, because I don't feel mature enough to be in any position of influence. Frida Kahlo was a huge influence on me and I loved that she indulged in her own self portraits endlessly, and with such brutality. I also loved that she freely appeared in drag. 

If you would like to know more about Rachel's project "The Lives of Hamilton Fish" & show-times for March , go, or: 'Art is the reason, art is the way'