By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – I had a very international women’s day celebration yesterday with women artists honoring artists of their home countries. What a great treat for the soul! I thank Heidi Russell, passionate founder of the International Women Artists Salon, for inviting me. She also instantaneously made OSM! a media partner to their 6th Salon Symphony last night at the Transfiguration Episcopal Church.
The venue for the gathering of women artists was itself historic and meaningful. The church is traditionally a haven for performing artists (it is home to the Episcopal Actors’ Guild of America) and had been a refuge for slaves and the prejudiced of early American society.
Outside the auspices of the Episcopalian Church, the Empire State Building lit itself fuchsia in solidarity with the women’s celebration.
What happens when celebrated artists: poets, musicians, storytellers, and painters are honored by New York-based women artists? It becomes a truly meaningful – deep but fun – celebration.
The Salon Symphony featured 20 artists from 20 countries: from Bangladesh to Wales. It surely was an emotional and artistic ride.
Jenny Green did a fantastic job as program host. She was crazy hilarious, making everyone laugh or grin from ear to ear, punching naughty jokes with that beautiful British accent. She taught us a newly fabricated political word to the tune of Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins super.cali.fragile.ego.expiali.braggadocious.
Green, born in UK and raised in Brooklyn, honored Dame Julie Andrews from England.
Romanian-born American writer Ella Veres read a portion of the work of Romanian-born German writer Herta Muller who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Muller humorously wrote how her mother, a survivor of the ghettos of Romania, taught her to carefully peel off potato to perfection, with the skin spiraling off uncut. The humor was on her exasperation, of course. In those bleak times, potato was like a god, a life saver.
I loved the power of actress Christine Dixon who sang the lines of Harriet Tubman, American nurse, spy, and cook who rescued slaves and smuggled them to Canada during the American Civil War.
“On my train, I rescued my family and many more. Google said I saved only 300…but there was more…”
Dixon was my instant favorite. The majority in the audience voted her to be their best artist too.
From Korea, we were serenaded by Lucite Tokki, a female pop duo in the city with a somber poem of Ok Bong Lee who longed the life of freedom.
The political discourse of the difficulties of womanhood by writer Rosario Castellanos of Mexico was brought to life by actress and producer Valeria Avina who is currently working in the play En Botellas de Refrescos.
Her recitation of the essay in native Spanish sank in more beautifully to me than in English, which I believe is natural as the piece had been originally written en Espanol.
Actress Tadaa Jackson, originally from Tennessee, honored American poet and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou through her poem I am Woman, Phenomenally. The well-loved poem was an affirmation of who we were last night, all phenomenal women in our own right.
(Featured photo is actress Elena Grosso – seated left – who honored her aunt Aurora Grosso, teacher and writer at the Venice University)
Here’s the complete list of performers at the 6th Salon Symphony and sponsors:
Bangladesh: Rahima Rahi, honouring Shahanuka Hasan Shikha
Canada: Christine Dixon, honouring Harriet Tubman
Cuba: Mar Perez, honouring Celia Cruz
Czech Republic: Laura Arten, honouring Toyen
England: Jenny Green, honouring Julie Andrews
France: Sophie Malleret, honouring Yoyotte
Germany: Elisabeth Kay Gelinas, honouring Julia Franck
Greece: Antigoni Gaitana, honouring Pia Hadjinikou-Angelinis
Ireland: Fiona Walsh, honouring Edna O’Brien
Italy: Elena Grosso, honouring Aunt-Aurora Grosso
Japan: Asako Takasaki, honouring Yoko Kishi
Korea: 루싸이트토끼 / Lucite Tokki, honouring Ok Bong Lee
Mexico: Valeria A. Avina, honouring Rosario Castellanos
Morrocco: Hanane Bannoudi, honouring Milouda Al Hoceimia
Romania: Ella Veres, honouring Herta Muller
Russia: Dana Murphy-Pelevine, honouring Marina Tsvetaeva
Scotland: Helen G McMillan, honouring Rona Munro
Ukraine: Sophia Romma, honouring Lina Kostenko
USA: Tadaa Jackson, honouring Maya Angelou
Wales: Amy Scanlon, honouring Gwyneth Lewis
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN ARTISTS’ SALON
International Women Artists’ Salon is a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural
organization of women making art in the world today. Our aim is to bring art
by women to the fore of the art world and local communities around the globe
through exhibitions and events, community engagement and exchanges,
local salon-style gatherings, and an online forum for members and partners.
Disciplines Include but are not limited to…
Music, Dance, Video, Film, Comedy, Theater, Writing, Visual Arts, Fashion,
Architecture, Design, Arts & Crafts, Fiber Arts, Installation, New Media et al
Collaborators for Salon sYmphoNY 2017
The International Committee of the LPTW was formed in 2003 to broaden members’ awareness of other cultures and promote opportunities for theatre exchange and collaboration between women working in the U.S. and abroad. We identify and cultivate international affiliates and host and support them when they come to the U.S. We also encourage and provide support for the formation of LPTW chapters in affiliates’ home countries and facilitate dialogue and advocacy for women in theatre across borders.
Activities include producing the LPTW Gilder/Coigney International Award, cultural exchange and performance events, networking forums, and cross-pollination of theatrical practice. Fulfilling the LPTW’s mission on an international scale, we increase the visibility of women working In theatre, identify and expand access to resources around the globe, and advocate for economic and employment parity for women artists everywhere.