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June 14, 2005
© Amir Bey, 2007
Here are two subway installations and a musical event that are must know-abouts:

Permanent Subway Installations The Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts For Transit program has been quite busy during the past few years, installing a diverse multitude of artists as part of its make-over of the city's subway stations. Two recent installations have just been completed and deserve a shout-out:

A collaboration by the late master printmaker and founder of The Printmaking Workshop, Robert (Bob) Blackburn, and the painter Ty Sing Smith at the 116th Street station on the #6 line, which is located on 116th and Lexington features a series of six to eight murals made of large tiles that combine the bold forms of Blackburn with the vitality of Smith's colors. Because a good deal of the recent works in the subway stations are figurative, these organically structured abstract forms make a strong impact as they jump out at viewers, whether one is bustling by on the #s 4 or 5 express trains or is at the station. This is quite possibly the last creative work by Blackburn, completed within months before his passing in spring, 2003.
An installation of over 30 faceted glass windows by the mixed media sculptor and painter Al Loving can be seen at the Broadway Junction station where the A, C, J, L and Z trains meet in Brooklyn. Faceted glass, a medium of thick bright colored glass cut into different shapes to form mosaic images, is well suited for Loving's swirls and patterns of color. The number and varying sizes of windows allowed Loving to explore extensive combinations of the checked patterns, circles, lines, and color that is in his usual work. According to the fabricators of this project, Hauser Glass of Winona, Minnesota, Loving experimented with subtle shading variations, yielding atypical results for color in faceted glass. The windows can be found on angled panels as one rides the escalators between platforms and in certain walls. For the best viewing, see this installation during the day, since faceted glass makes use of sunlight passing through it. The attached photo shows one of the larger windows, approximately four feet by four feet, on a wall above a stair way.

Musical Events There was a musical event that was led by Craig Harris. Readers should be on the look-out for any performances by him:

Trombonist/composer/conductor Craig Harris led and performed with his big band ensemble at the Studio Museum in Harlem this past Friday night, a work titled Souls Within The Veil. The compositions commemorated the centennial of W.E.B. Dubois's The Souls of Black Folk, a historical document whose prose reads like poetry. If I could title the work of Harris over the last few years, I'd call it "Craig Represents", for his originality and the historical allusions and evocations that are both social and musical, which give his work much integrity. In the current age of commercialism when music students are cranked out and dissuaded from being courageous in their searches, I feel that there is still hope when I hear Craig "fight the good fight". The blurb put out states that the "Original composition was written for 10 Souls using musical instruments". Those souls included Hamiet Bluiett, Chico Freeman, Jorge Sylvester, Jay Rodriguez -Reeds; Craig Harris, Eddie Allen, Graham Haynes, -Brass; and Kwe Yao Agypon, Mark Johnson, Jaribu Shahid, -Rhythm section. One of this writer's favorite moments was the dialogue between Craig and the drummer Kwe Yao Agypon that took place. There was a slide presentation of African American photography and imagery, organized by the curator and photography scholar of African American historical themes, Deborah Willis, Ph.D. The presentation was collaborative in its effect, and sometimes signaled different segments of the performance as it progressed. While the images from the past were informative, those of the immediate past and the present generated re-cognitive and identifying responses from viewers.
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