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Ten years ago Eric Helvie was a student in Indiana, soon to graduate from a culturally dissociated art program that was governed by conservative Midwestern values. He was twenty-two, married, and his wife was about to give birth to their first child. For a man on track to become a prominent painter in New York City, his are not customary credentials. But when you more deeply assess his trajectory, including a snapshot of this one moment in time — coming to grips with adult responsibilities at a young age while balancing his clear sense of inner purpose against his frustration with the school’s disconnect from the professional art world — Helvie’s impending success is no mystery.
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Ancient myths are littered with tales of descent. Be it a voyage to the underworld or a debilitating injury, heroic figures customarily fell from grace. But to be heroic, one must overcome. From descent there must be a succeeding ascent. Otherwise, it’s only a fall; a story of death and disease. It is the very process of overcoming that makes one heroic, simultaneously grounded and majestic. Heroes are defined by their struggles.
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Humanity has for eons pondered dual infinities — the infinitely big and the infinitely small. From the philosophers and mathematicians of ancient Greece and India to the ongoing pursuit of a theory that unifies the bigness of relativity with the smallness of quantum mechanics, explorations into the nature of existence continually and historically intertwine both infinities. Photographer Pietro Pasolini has an innate sense of proportion; an intuitive feel for the balance between micro and macro. He has spent much time pondering both infinities.
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Singer N’Kenge is as radiant off the stage as she is on. I know a guy who calls her Firecracker. Petit, slender, and alive, her overflowing energy removes any doubt as to how she can channel such a powerful voice through such a small figure. She is not the rotund image that comes to mind when I think: opera singer. But this is just the first of my conceptions that will be challenged during our talk.
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I first met Francis Virella in the East Village. It was late at night and I was out having drinks with a friend. The two of us were standing on the sidewalk in front of a bar, talking with a girl who had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. That’s when Francis rolled up. He flashed before our eyes two samples of his work; rectangles cut from a shower curtain and adorned with erratic multi-hued smears of nail polish. He was skinny and his hands were dirty, as though too many hours had passed since his last shower or warm dinner. His nail polish paintings were on sale for twenty bucks. “I’m gonna be famous,” he told us.
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Nikki Pope rocks. It’s true. I’ve seen videos of live performances, heard songs from her latest album, we’ve met face to face… It’s intense, as though she herself is a physical manifestation of song. There is no question of who she is or what she’s about — she lays it out for you as plain as day. And now that I’ve got the in, I’ll soon be seeing her live and in person on a Broadway stage. I can’t wait.
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Sometimes it’s best to let a man speak for himself: “If you look at almost any one of my art pieces, one thing that I love to do is overlay a ton of graffiti. So if you look at the colors it’s just a bunch of graffiti overlaid, but it still can be found inside this compact little circle. It’s always been that way with me. I love watching chaos. There’s just something about my life, I love watching chaos. I looove watching chaos. I love watching chaos. ..."
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It’s been called different things by different people. Winston Churchill had his “wilderness years” and John Lennon had his “lost weekend.” Dylan disappeared for awhile, but as with all things Dylan, it’s hard to put a label on what that was all about. Churchill returned to political life to become an iconic World War II figure, Lennon’s lost weekend was actually a hugely productive eighteen months of solo and collaborative output, and Dylan emerged to write Blood on the Tracks following his first tour after nearly eight years of reclusion. Singer and musician Maria Neckam is returning from her own self-imposed exile, arriving with a new sound and a new approach.
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As with several millennia of traders before him, Behroush Sharifi specializes in moving spices across borders — specifically fine Persian saffron. Before the embargo was imposed on Iran, effectively closing off his supply chain by executive order, the famed Saffron King established himself as the city’s premier purveyor of this distinguished spice.