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Friday, June 15, 2012

Kehinde Wiley's Economy of Grace at the Sean Kelly Gallery-One More Day

Kehinde Wiley, Kancou Diaovno (2012)

Kehinde Wiley, Dacia Carter (2012

Sojourner in front of Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (2012)
by Kehinde Wiley


Besides the above, what was great about being in New York was being able to visit so many dynamic places.  One of those places was the Sean Kelly Gallery. I went there with my mother and aunt. This gallery is featuring the work of Kehinde Wiley. You know how I feel about his work. 

It was exciting and odd at the same time to view this particular collection because the subjects are all women.  Wiley is synonymous for his almost exclusive portrayal of men.  True to his signature style, this body of work, entitled Economy of Grace, is over the top and spectacular.  It was kind of eerie and neat to see his work in this huge gallery with just four or five people in there.  It felt very intimate.

Wiley has said he based these paintings on historical portraits by masters like Jacques-Louis David, Thomas Gainsborough, and John Singer Sargent, and that Economy of Grace challenges society’s views of feminine beauty and the place of black women in art history.
“I am painting women in order to come to terms with the depictions of gender within the context of art history. One has to broaden the conversation,” he is quoted as saying.

Kehinde Wiley, Judith and Holofernes
To learn more visit the Sean Kelly Gallery website:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 National Scholastic Art & Writing Winners

Three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep provides young artists and writers with inspiration at the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at Carnegie Hall, New York, Friday, June 1, 2012. (Stuart Ramson for Scholastic Inc

Me, Sojourner Ahebee, with my gold medal.
 Two weeks ago I was in New York City because I was selected as a 2012 National Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winner, along with 800 other talented teens.  I won a gold medal for my poetry. We all had our names published in the New York Times-Thursday, May 31, 2012, and we were given sage advice by the actress Meryl Streep at an event held in our honor at Carnegie Hall .  Our work is currently on display at Parsons The New School of Design.

If you are a teen artist, enter next year.  Here is more information:

Open Auditions at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet

Ballerina Misty Copeland
The Power of Dance-Misty Copeland

Like many girls and some boys, I went through a beautiful phase in my life when I wanted to be a ballet dancer.  I took ballet lessons at the Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center  I went religiously to performances of the Pennsylvania Ballet to see my then idol Heidi Cruz.  I even went to an audition, with my friend Kristen, for the Rock School for Dance.  I passed through that phase.  Though I am not a dancer, I love dance.  And I always will.

But there are those young people for whom dance is not a phase, but in the blood and their desire to dance will not be quieted.  They are my idols, too.

The School of Pennsylvania Ballet has announced a second date for open auditions. It will be this Saturday, June 16, 2012.  Here are the details from the source.  Let the dancing begin.

Source: Marissa Montenegro of the Pennsylvania Ballet

This session will accommodate students who were unable to attend the first open audition in April. Set to open in Fall 2012, the School also has named current Company Member Laura Bowman and former Principal Dancer Martha Chamberlain to its faculty. Guest faculty will include current Principal Dancers Amy Aldridge and Zachary Hench and former Principal Dancers Alexei Borovik and Alexander Iziliaev.  

Auditions on Saturday, June 16 will be held at Pennsylvania Ballet’s studios at
3502 Scotts Lane
, Building 4, Philadelphia, PA, 19129.
There is no audition fee. Girls and boys ages 8 to 18 are invited to take an audition class, divided by age (see schedule below). Girls should wear tights and a leotard. Boys should wear a white t-shirt and black tights or shorts (no long pants). Girls ages 12 and above should bring pointe shoes. Previous ballet training is not required to audition. To register for auditions, please complete the form on this link:

Ages 8 to 12
Check-in: 9:30 a.m.
Audition Class: 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

Ages 13 to 18
Check-in: 11 a.m.
Audition Class: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

All ages indicated are as of September 1, 2012. Auditions are for the Student Division (ages 8-18) only. The School of Pennsylvania Ballet also will offer Pre-Ballet (ages 6-7) and Open Adult classes, with no audition required.

Based on current contractor projections, the Louise Reed Center for Dance, Pennsylvania Ballet’s new home on the Avenue of the Arts, will be ready for occupancy in December 2012. The School of Pennsylvania Ballet will move into the new facility in January 2013. In the meantime, fall classes for Levels 3, 4, 5, 6, and adults will be held in the current Pennsylvania Ballet studios in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Fall classes for Pre-Ballet and Levels 1 and 2 will be held at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School in South Philadelphia. School of Pennsylvania Ballet staff will assign a level to each student accepted for Fall 2012.

Re-opening the School of Pennsylvania Ballet is one pillar of the Company’s current $25 million capital campaign, Building Beyond 50. Other goals include constructing the Louise Reed Center for Dance; artistic priorities such as expanding the repertoire, increasing the number of dancers in the Company, and maintaining the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra; as well as strengthening the Company’s balance sheet and working capital. For more information on the Building Beyond 50 campaign, please contact Hilary Alger, Director of Development, at 215.587.6912 or

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student and protégée Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six programs of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™.  For more information, visit or call 215.551.7000.

Topdog Underdog: A Review By Sojourner Ahebee

Suzan-Lori Parks


      Last Wednesday night at The Walnut Street Theatre, I attended Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer winning play entitled “Topdog Underdog”. This play takes on the narrative of two brothers, Lincoln (played by Kash Goins) and Booth (played by Roderick Slocum). Already you are presented with a story, a play, swimming and rich with history. If it isn't obvious, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The brothers in this narrative have a relationship I wouldn't hesitate to characterize as volatile and dysfunctional but the love between the two siblings is still present as well.
     Lincoln and Booth were abandoned by their mother and father at the age of sixteen, and left with an inheritance of 500 dollars each. They had to learn what it meant to be an adult before most teenagers their age. Their harsh and unpleasant childhood follows them into their adult lives, which is where the heart of the play exists. Lincoln used to be a 3-card Monte con-artist but he stopped because he saw his friend shot as a result of this. He now takes on a job at a carnival arcade, where he dresses up as Abraham Lincoln and lets people shoot him. I find it interesting that he stops his prior job because his friend was shot but he takes on a job that involves people shooting him just for fun. There is something so haunting about this and it is here that you, as the audience, really begin to see the brilliance of Lori-Parks and the complexity of Lincoln's character. But back to the point. Lincoln's change of profession does not bring in the same amount of money as the cards but it's enough to support he and his brother in their shabby rooming house. Booth on the other hand has no job and completely depends on the income of his brother. He dreams of becoming good at 3-card Monte and when he's not dreaming, he's shoplifting. Booth is a character you can find yourself easily hating but deep inside all of his bad qualities, there is sometimes good. At one point in the play he steals some clothing from a department store,two suit to be exact, but one of the suits he steals for his brother. It's easy to just look at Booth as this “bad guy” but that's not how people really are. People contain multitudes.

     What's even easier is to make Lincoln the good guy but what really separates him, morally, from his brother, Booth. Yes Lincoln stopped playing cards but he starts up again towards the end. On a literal level there is a tan folding screen separating the two brothers in the room but is that enough of a borderline? This all makes the audiences questions the moral differences between President Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth themselves. When it comes down to it, Abraham Lincoln was not concerned with the welfare of slaves if it meant the union was going to become split. He wanted the union to stay together. Then on the other hand you have Booth, a man who assassinated the president. He is painted as this racist southerner throughout the eyes and perspective of history books. Even though his actions were completely wrong, (especially considering the fact that I feel like Lincoln evolved as a president and as a person) are his views towards the slaves and African-Americans in general, any better than Lincoln's? But, at the end of the play, the character Lincoln receives the same fate as our 16th President. It's then left up to you, as the viewer, to make the decision on who's the “bad guy” or the “good guy”. Maybe neither exists.

     Finally, this is a story about childhood nightmares and how they manifest into reality. This is a story about morals and lastly, this is a story about asking questions. You can never stop asking questions and finding new perspectives, which tend to hide in the dark corners of history.

     “Topdog Underdog” will be at the Walnut Street Theatre until June 17, 2012. This is definitely a must see so I urge everyone to go out and support! Click the link below for more information concerning the showtimes.