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I was impressed with James Carpenter from the beginning. Not merely because of his body of work or that he brought great ideas to our project. Quality speaks for itself. It was because he was open and approachable. That he was free of the need to impress is what impressed me the most. At the time I was living in Qatar, working on a fancy urban redevelopment scheme with teams of accomplished architects, engineers, planners, and construction-related consultants of every stripe. Among this esteemed, designerly crowd Jamie’s approachability was a rare trait, which made it all the more notable. We only met briefly but this impression stuck with me. When we fortuitously crossed paths a few years later in a TriBeCa coffee shop I had no reservations about re-introducing myself. And when I pitched him on it, the fact that he agreed to take part in this new Deviation thing was testament to his openness.
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Morocco Omari entered my world at the right time. I had been a little too caught up in big worries over small things, such as work and money and making my way in new pursuits. But talking with him, then listening back and transcribing the recording word for word, helped clear my mind of its concerns. It was like meeting with a counselor, hearing him describe his life and how he goes about living it. There’s a calmness to his voice. Not only the sound but the substance; the essence that is being conveyed. Absorb what he’s saying and it will affect you. Several emotions surfaced while putting this piece together: joy, sadness, humility, admiration, respect, gratitude. I laughed, I nearly cried at times, I was quiet — just listening…
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The first time she traveled by airplane Shei Phan was 21. It was a one-way ticket from Oklahoma to New York — her ticket out. She had been working three jobs and studying for a degree in art education when her break finally broke. “It was a little scary because I didn’t know anybody [in New York]. No friends, no family, no nothing. I just thought, ‘Well, lets see what happens.’ It was my first city outside of Oklahoma and Texas.” She had also lived in Bakersfield briefly and Vegas for a month, but we’ll get to that.
https://deviation.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/PeterWeb.jpg 683 1024 deviation http://deviation.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/WebsiteLogo-stripe-1-300x64.jpg deviation2016-10-25 23:24:302022-08-20 11:32:09Tastefully, Peter Makebish
Peter Makebish is an easy man to find. On a sunny day he’s ordinarily seated in a fold-up lawn chair on the sidewalk outside the glass and steel facade of his dainty, 10th Avenue gallery. Cold or rainy and he’s seated just inside the front door. His is the kind of place that stands as evidence that the city of New York is not without its soul. It’s a kind of protectorate, as though, in a debate with a reminiscent friend who insists that all is lost, you could simply say “Peter Makebish Gallery” and you’d be drinking for free that night.
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The dynamic shifts when you place a smartphone on the table midway between yourself and another person, pressing the record button and proceeding to talk as though it's not there. No longer is it a casual affair, shared words irrupting and dissolving in real time with only faulty, lapsed memories keeping score. We are now creating history, capturing in abstract time even the subtlest intonations, documented word for word. Nothing is lost. And as any good conquerer knows, the power to write history is a spoil of conquest. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I sit before Melinda Hanley knowing only that my intentions are pure. She sits before me knowing that she has much to say, but that any word she speaks has the potential to be misused — intentionally or through carelessness.
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Earlier this year brothers Sam and Jack Powers decided to spend their vacation time in the Democratic Republic of Congo — the city of Goma to be precise. Initially they thought northern Iraq but, you know, ISIS. They’ll be revisiting that thought next year. Things have quieted a bit, but Goma is no stranger to conflict either. ... Nearly all of the helpers in Goma work for top-heavy international organizations, such as the UN. They can be seen racing through town in expensive, kitted-out Land Cruisers, which can lead one to ponder just how far is the divide between helper and profiteer. Not so with Sam and Jack, who preferred to get around by motorcycle taxis and tried to stay in a hostel until they discovered that it was a brothel. They are fully on the helper side of that equation.
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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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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. ..."