Sunday, December 9, 2018


by Dwight Casimere

Dwight Casimere with a Wilfredo Lam-Chant dans la foret circa 1968 oil canvas-Born in Cuba, Lam's father was Chinese and his mother was of Spanish and Congolese descent. His work combined Cubism with elements of Caribbean and African culture and spiritual practices. He was further influenced by Picasso, Matisse, Miro,Leger

Abiola Akintola-Violinist 201
In the Art Africa  galleries with Marvin Weeks Overtown Legacy (background above and below)

An Offensive Defense by Christina Nicola
Dwight Casimere on the Red Carpet at  Daniel Elliman VIP soiree on Venetian Isle
Chef Irie with his Jamaican influenced Irie Spices menu creations for private events and catering

 Vincent Namatjira an Australian Aboriginal from a remote village outside Melbourne Australia takes artistic pot shots at despots.."humor and the paintbrush are my weapons" he says of his art

 World renowned architect Francis Kere with London Art Dealer Jennifer Flowers at the Miami Botanical Gardens. Kere Architecture is based in Berlin and is responsible for the Serpentine Pavilion in London among other major European projects.
 The Carpenter by Black American artist Jacob Lawrence 1957

 Romair Bearden-In The Night Imagining Some Fear circa 1940s gouache on paperboard
 Perusing the art of Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence at DC Moore  Gallery New York City
 Antonio Inniss whose Cell Solace  has collected a remarkable body of extraordinary containers ranging from hand bags to jewelry boxes all made by inmates in American prisons and jails from the 1930s to the 1970s, and all made of cigarette wrappings, cartons and US postage stamps. Visit cell to see the entire collection

 My great friend Carl Hammer of Carl Hammer Art Galleries, 740 N. Wells a career-long promoter of African American art and artists
 With Miami Bech Mayor Dan Gleber at the Art Basil Miami VIP Preview
 Art Basel Miami Chairman and Founder Norman Braman

Fantasy at the Venetian Isle VIP Soiree by Douglas Elliman Realty

The Art Basel Miami Team-l. to r. Noah Horowitz-Dir. Americas, Marc Spiegler-Global Dir., outgoing Chair and Founder Norman Braman, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber,

Black art from Anerica, Africa, Europe, The Caribbean and Latin America was presented on a massive scale in unprecedented fashion at Art Basel Miami 2018.  Works by artis of color were sprinkled throughout the massive gallery floors at the  exhibition  proper at the Miami Beach Convention Center, as well as at Art Miami at the Miami Convention Center and at satellite exhibitions throughout South Beach and the City of Miami, most notably at Miami's Design Center, and Wynwood Art District. Practically no space was left untouched by art. Exhibitions were held on beaches, in public parks, at hotels and resorts, even on the sides of buidings, in empty storefronts and construction sites. 

Art Basel Miami 2018 is now in its17th edition. It is only outshone on the world cultural stage by its parent exhibition, Art Basel in Switzerland. There is also Art Basel Hong Kong. 

Known collectively as Art Basel Week, the event has catapulted Miami to the center of the art universe, marking it as the nation's largest and  most prestigious exhibition of modern and contemporary art.

Art Africa in Miami's historic Overtown was among the first to preview its works by artitsts of the African Diaspora. Now in its 8th edition, Art Africa explored the rereading of black art as an intellectual, political as well as artistic force. Entitled "Black Art Matters: It's not a choice,"  the four day exhibition exemplified artist's efforts of reconcile the contemporary condition of peoples of Africen descent around the world and their involvement in struggles against oppression and the necessity for Black proclomations for emancipation, independence and liberation.

Monday, November 26, 2018


Audience Award Winner-Documentary Competition-World Premiere  Tribeca Film Festival
Audience Award Winner-Best Documentary-Chicago International Film Festival

 United Skates from HBO Documentary Films
Dwight Casimere with D Breeze (l), inventor of the One Stop skate dancing move and founder of Independence Roll national skating extravaganza

by Dwight Casimere

Glorious is both the theme song and the word which best describes the HBO Documentary Film United Skates by filmmakers Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown which debuts in theaters Friday Nov. 30. Check local listings for theatre locations and showtimes.

Executive produced by John Legend, among others, the film is an entertaining look at a very serious subject, the pervasive influence of the national black skating diaspora on black culture over the past fifty years or more. United Skates is a look at the black community and its struggles through the microcosm of its skating sub-culture. Turning a mere recreational activity into an art form, which spawned the early days of Rap and Hip Hop, black skating is also a window into the struggle for Civil Rights, the battle against urban gentrification and the influence of gangs and crime in the black community. Queen Latifah, Dr. Dre, Salt-N-Pepa and Ice Cube, pre NWA, all did their first performances at black skating nights because they were shunned by the community at large and barred from other more suitable venues.

In the dawning days of the Civil Rights Movement, blacks had to picket white-owned local skating rinks just to get one night of open skating. Dubbed with such code words as "Soul Night" or "R and B Night," the progenitors ultimately stuck with the term "Adult Night" as the designation for  black skating. In retaliation, rink owners attempted to restrict access by denying entrants the right to bring in skates modified with cut down or small wheels or other configurations that would allow for the elaborate dance steps invented for the roller rink. "It's impossible to do the moves that we do on a traditional skate," one devotee opined in the film.

Civil Rights and skating are intertwined in the narrative of the film. Rev. Charles Koen tells how the Klan brutally beat he and a group of protestors when they tried to integrate the sole roller rink in Cairo, Illinois. "They smashed my skull right here in the center," he says, pointing to a huge, cleaving scar on top of his head. "But that didn't stop us. Forward forever, never backward," he says defiantly.

Skating is a way of life for  many of the film's subjects, and an escape from the bigotry and grinding oppression of everyday life. "Skating is my life," says London, the teenaged daughter of one of the film's subjects, Phelicia, a single mother , trying mightily to raise her four children in the midst of the gaping abyss of crime and poverty that surrounds her. "It's like what Patrick Swayze says to Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing  that dancing is like the "Boom, Boom-Boom,Boom" of your heartbeat. That's what I feel when I'm on the floor. Everything that's troubling me just melts away."

The footage of actual skating is mesmerizing. Some of the dance moves undertaken by the skaters defy the laws of gravity. Take the One Stop, invented by Chicago skater D-Breeze, which requires the skater to move backwards balancing on one toe, while catilevering his or her body in the completely opposite direction. Or the JB moves of Chicago skaters that involve moving one leg in apposition to the other in rhythm with the call and response of James Brown's voice and the blasts from  his echoing horn section. Then there's the 'Nutcracker," so named because it involves the skater, usually male,  doing a head over heels somersault and then landing  spread eagle in the splits on the hardwood floor. Ouch!

When the local skating rink in South Central LA shuts down, Phelicia's son Shannon, with idle time on his hands after over a year without a local skating rink, starts to hang out with the wrong crowd and succumbs to the criminal elements that surround him. "A young boy just got shot down at the car wash in front of his mother just because he was wearing red shoes," Phelicia tells the unflinching camera. When she discovers that Shannon was involved in the breaking and entering of a private home, it is she that  turns him.  "I'd rather have him in jail than dead....In chains than in a coffin," she says as she marches into the LA Criminal Courts building.

Sadly, the majority of black skating rinks have closed around the country as greedy landowners and real estate agents seek to turn the valuable land they occupy into shopping malls and big box stores. In Los Angeles, the sole surviving rink became the only place where rival gang members forged a truce to declare the rink neutral territory. They would put their weapons down and set their differences behind then as they locked arms for a night of skating. The community begged city fathers to keep the rink open. Their pleadings fell on deaf ears and the rink was closed. Sadly, it remains vacant to this day.

Reggie, the proprietor of a family-owned rink in Chicago that goes back to his grandfather's time, sought to resurrect the black skating scene with an Independent Roll that attracted a national roster of skater from cities where rinks had been closed. When economic realities forced him to close his own doors, the skating community once again rallied to rise from the ashes.

United Skates is an inspiring film that demonstrates the power of art and the human spirit to triumph over adversity. Just the simple act of skating to a bumpin' rhythm is both a sign of protest and progress in a daunting world. United Skates in theaters Friday, Nov. 30.

Monday, November 12, 2018



Mounting protests in Todos Santos and (Below) the confrontation between John Moreno and the SWAT team that landed him in jail

by Dwight Casimere

"We are taking on the giants!" was both the rallying cry of the subjects in PATRIMONO, the superb documentary by  Emmy Award-winning(HBO, PBS, BBC, A and E) filmmakers Lisa F. Jackson and Sarah Teale and the plot summary of  the film which has its New York Premiere at the 2018 DOC NYC Film Festival Tues. and Weds., Nov. 13 and 14.  The film will also be available on all digital platforms and on DVD March 2019. When the filmmakers  set out to film the documentary PATRIMONIO, it started out as a project that got very personal from the beginning.

According to filmmaker Sarah Teale, some Colorado developers and their Mexican partners set out to create a luxury community in the tiny beachside community of Todos Santas, Baja Sur, California. Teale's husband's family had owned a house in the community for decades. When she noticed a huge retaining wall going up around the Punta Lobos beach where fishermen launched their boats to make a living, it set off alarms in her head. When she got in touch with her fellow filmmaker friend Lisa F. Jackson, the wheels started turning on a documentary project.  The proposed Tres Santos project was described to the locals and the project's investors as an idyllic community that would be an ecologically conscious haven for its primarily American upper class resident. On the surface, what seemed like a local problem had much larger implications. Its indicative of a much larger global problem; big developers are coming into communities like this sleepy beachside community, disrupting the local economy and destroying the ecology. 

The project in question was Tres Santos, an idyllic beachside resort that developers were selling to naive American investors as an ecological utopia on the Baja beach. What the developers failed to mention was that the development would completely destroy the beach that the fishermen used to launch their boats, which is vital to their livelihood. The fisherman had used this beach for more than 100 years. Generations of families based their livelihood on their ability to launch their ships on the narrow strip of beach which the development would effectively destroy, not to mention the surrounding hillsides, water supply and desert and marine ecology, by tripling the population.

The film unfolds  through the eyes of Rosario "El Chayo"  Salvatierra, whose family has fished these waters for four generations, and John Moreno, a surfer, attorney,  environmental activist and descendant of local pearl divers,  who takes on their cause. Local town officials apparently drank the Kool-Aid proferred by the developers, that building 5,000 homes in their tiny, sleepy community would somehow bring economic gain, when in reality it would bring an end to their way of life and destroy the delicate balance of nature. 

It is the fishermen, spearheaded by Moreno and Salvatierra's family, who finally bring things to a head. There's a dramatic standoff with the police SWAT team that threatens to end a nearly three-month blockade against the development, culminating in the arrest and incarceration of Moreno. Things climax right before our eyes as the will of the people and their resolve to win at all costs is tested to the max. Filmmakers Teale and Jackson are to be credited with their ability to train the objective eye of the camera unflinchingly on the events as they unfold, allowing the visuals to ascertain the truth without commentary. It is a riveting film that reveals in microcosm a growing global phenomenon that many will ultimately face in similar situations, greater or smaller, within their own communities. In that regard, PATRIMONIO, is a cautionary tale that foretells the road ahead for us all.  In addition to the DOC NYC screenings, the film will be released digitally and on DVD by First Run Features in March, 2019.