Presenting music from a foreign tradition poses particular challenges. Yes, music transcends much, but much is lost in the translation. How to make an audience experience the culture, live the stories and meet the people who created it? How to transport an audience — fresh from a parking lot, now properly seated in a theater — to the natural setting of the music?
“Viva La Parranda!,” the new show from Miami New Drama now playing at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach, is billed as a musical, but it plays like a richly layered, live documentary on a slice of Afro-Venezuelan music and culture.
The packaging for recordings is a rich but peculiar art form. It’s a very visible piece of art, but the creators are mostly anonymous. It’s creative but also utilitarian, a piece of advertising. Ideally, it represents the artist and the music inside, but it’s also a corporate branding tool for a label. Even a few serious jazz fans might have no idea who David Stone Martin, Burt Goldblatt, Esmond Edmonds or Reid Miles are — but their work for Clef, Verve, Blue Note, Columbia or Prestige would be instantly recognizable to them and evoke entire eras in jazz.
All that seemed destined to become a quaint memory with the advent of CDs in the 1980s. (Of course, CDs along with all other physical music delivery platforms seem now well on their way to becoming quaint artifacts themselves, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Still, some artists found ways to create original, distinctive work, work that both represented the music and gave it a fighting chance in a desperately crowded marketplace. Consider Stephen Byram.
Knight Foundation blog, October, 2016
It was perhaps fitting that an event titled “Artists As Citizens” took place on the same evening of the final presidential debate of this election season. But the conversation, held Wednesday at the headquarters of the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami as part of its Salon Series, was not about partisan politics but art, activism and social practice, beauty and community engagement.
Knight Foundation blog, March 2016
Technology has been an indispensable element in the birth and development of motion pictures. Facing similar challenges as industries, technology and film are once again joining forces to find a way forward.
The Knight Foundation blog, on January, 2015
Identity and racial politics in the United States and the Caribbean are central themes in the work of Brooklyn-based, Dominican-born artist Firelei Báez, whose smart, powerful exhibit “Bloodlines” is at the Pérez Art Museum Miami through March. Báez´s work, and her concerns, served as framework for a conversation featuring authors Roxane Gay and Jeff Chang, part of the Scholl Lecture Series at the museum, Saturday afternoon.