Sports Illustrated Celebrates 60th ‘Swimsuit Edition’ with Diverse Lineup and ‘Legends’ Reunion

Three of the many notable models who have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s renowned — and occasionally controversial — “Swimsuit Edition” are Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen, and Hunter McGrady. To commemorate the special issue’s 60th anniversary, the magazine has introduced seven new covers featuring 27 women and has reunited former cover models for a “Legends” photo shoot.

This year’s issue includes solo covers featuring Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen, plus-size model Hunter McGrady, and CBS News host Gayle King. Notably, this is Upton’s fourth cover appearance and Teigen’s second.

The three “Legends” covers highlight past cover models such as Chanel Iman, Maye Musk, Megan Rapinoe, Winnie Harlow, Paralympian snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, the first amputee model to appear in the “Swimsuit Edition,” and Halima Aden, the first hijabi model.

In a news release, Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief MJ Day remarked that the “Swimsuit Edition” has “transcended its origins,” evolving from a “mere diversion in the winter months when the sports calendar was relatively empty” to becoming “a global symbol of empowerment, diversity and positivity.”

“We’ve done our best to honor women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds,” Day stated. “We’ve strived to reshape societal norms and redefine the standards of beauty. This year’s issue does just that.”

The inaugural “Swimsuit Edition” of Sports Illustrated was published in 1963, featuring a young German model named Babette March on the cover, captured playing on a beach in Mexico in a white bikini. Since its inception, the annual special issue has become a staple, although it has sometimes faced criticism for its focus on women’s bodies.

In recent years, the magazine has included a broader array of fashion models, such as trans models Leyna Bloom and Valentina Sampaio, and trans singer Kim Petras. It has also featured older models like Maye Musk and plus-size models like Ashley Graham and Hunter McGrady. The publication’s roster of cover stars has expanded to include musicians, athletes, and celebrities such as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Osaka, and Megan Thee Stallion.

“With each passing year, we have challenged ourselves to push boundaries and redefine what it means to be Sports Illustrated Swimsuit,” Day mentioned in the news release.

“While this year’s issue is a tribute to the recent past, it’s also a reminder of the work we must continue to do. We must remind women to challenge the status quo, to celebrate strength and confidence, and to inspire those around us to embrace their uniqueness and pursue their passions fearlessly.

Geologist Uncovers Possible Location of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in Lake Como’s Lecco

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most enigmatic paintings in history, raising questions about the identity of the figure and her mysterious expression. Recently, one of the painting’s secrets might have been uncovered, according to an Italian geologist.

Ann Pizzorusso, a geologist and art historian who specializes in Leonardo and the Renaissance, claims she has pinpointed the location depicted in the Mona Lisa through her geological expertise. Thirty years ago, Pizzorusso visited Lecco, a town on the southeastern shore of Lake Como in Italy, suspecting it to be the backdrop of the famous painting. She retraced Leonardo’s steps using his diary entries and drawings. “In his notebook, he mentions being in Lecco,” Pizzorusso shared in a phone interview with CNN. “He was working as an engineer.”

Although the project Leonardo was working on in Lecco was canceled, his geological field sketches survived. One such drawing, in red chalk, shows a mountain range near Lecco and is part of the Royal Collection at Windsor, London.

Pizzorusso is not the first to propose a location for the Mona Lisa’s background. In 2011, an art historian suggested the scenery was from Bobbio, while another pointed to Arezzo. However, Pizzorusso claims she is the first geologist to make such a claim. She argues that previous theories focused on the arched bridge over Mona Lisa’s right shoulder, but she believes the unique rock formations in the horizon are more revealing. “Bridges are fungible,” she stated. “If you look in the background, you’ll see pinnacles. It’s a type of erosion that happens in limestone that has fractures in it and breaks off in blocks, almost like a sawtooth pattern… We can show limestone exists in (Lecco). When you look at the Mona Lisa, there’s a series of mountains in the background that have this sawtooth pattern.”

Moreover, Pizzorusso suggests that the body of water behind Mona Lisa is Lake Como, a subalpine glacial lake dating back about 10,000 years. “If you look behind her you have the elongated glacial lakes that have a particular form like fingers,” she explained. “Because when the glacier moved it scoured out certain pieces of land.”

Despite her conviction, Pizzorusso kept her theory to herself for 30 years, only discussing it casually with other Leonardo scholars. She recently returned to Lecco, still confident that “everything added up,” and plans to present her findings at a geology conference in the town.

Pizzorusso argues that combining earth science with art history can enhance our understanding of Leonardo’s work. She pointed out that other Renaissance artists, like Botticelli and Michelangelo, often neglected their backgrounds because they prioritized their figures. “If the background is painted right, it gives you more of an appreciation for nature,” she said. Pizzorusso also expressed surprise at the widespread interest in her findings. “Maybe (Leonardo) was trying to channel me for the environmental movement or something,” she joked. “It’s a testament to how much people love this painting.”

However, identifying Lecco as the Mona Lisa’s setting could raise more questions than answers. If Leonardo did indeed choose Lecco, the mystery deepens as to why he picked that particular location for the portrait. “We don’t know who (Mona Lisa) is; some believe she was a rich Tuscan merchant’s wife,” Pizzorusso mentioned, referring to a common theory that the figure represents Lisa Gherardini, an Italian noblewoman. “Why did he put her in this wild, untamed environment? This is not Tuscany. What was he trying to tell us by putting this serene, enigmatic lady in this rugged, alpine environment?”

Pizzorusso is captivated by the potential message behind Leonardo’s choice. “I’m really intrigued as to what his message was to us,” she mused.

Cartier’s Enduring Legacy: A Journey of Cultural Fusion and Artistic Mastery

A sunlit, sepia-toned image depicts a stylish European gentleman, complete with a handkerchief peeking out of his pocket and a cigarette poised between his fingers, amidst a group of men garbed in bisht and keffiyeh. This snapshot freezes a moment from Jacques Cartier’s inaugural voyage to the Persian Gulf in 1911, marking his return journey to London from Delhi—a business venture instigated by his father, Alfred, who then helmed the Cartier enterprise. The waning power of the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905 had inundated Europe’s artistic hubs with novel influences, birthing an aesthetic christened as “the Muslim arts.” Driven by an insatiable curiosity, Jacques embarked on a four-month odyssey across Asia and the Middle East, delving into bustling bazaars, engaging with high society, and immersing himself in the cultural tapestry.

Fast forward over a century, and the enduring impact of Jacques’s expedition—and his enduring fascination with Islamic and Indian artistry—finds expression in a freshly minted tome, “Cartier: Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design,” birthed from exhibitions held in Abu Dhabi, Dallas, and Paris. Within its pages lies a homage to the maison’s enduring fusion of quintessential French craftsmanship with the intricate beauty of Islamic art, chronicling the transformative influence of Jacques’s voyages across the landscapes of India, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, and what is now Dubai—altering the trajectory of Cartier’s jewelry craftsmanship irreversibly.

Louis, Jacques’s elder sibling, emerged as a fervent aficionado of Persian miniatures, Islamic relics, and Asian artistry, traversing Indian locales such as Kolkata and Hyderabad in pursuit of treasures, while cultivating a distinguished clientele among the ruling maharajahs.

Meanwhile, Jacques set sail across the Arabian Sea to Bahrain, questing for pearls to adorn opulent tiaras and embellish vanity cases and brooches destined for Indian royalty, European aristocracy, and the crème de la crème of American high society. Consequently, Cartier garnered renown for its masterful interpretations of Persian gardens, Kashmiri and Egyptian motifs, and the mesmerizing complexity of Islamic geometric designs—a natural consequence of the maison’s embrace of global cultural currents.

Rhythmic Resonance: T. S. Nandakumar’s Global Impact on Classical Percussion

Well known around the world for his mastery of the Mridangam, a percussion instrument that is a primary rhythmic accompaniment in Carnatic music ensemble, and with expertise in various other percussion instruments, including konnakol (vocal percussion), thavil, ghatam, kanjira, and morsing, T. S. Nandakumar is a world-renowned south Indian music artist, showcasing his versatility in Carnatic music, has devoted his entire life to the cause of popularizing Indian classical music around the world.

TSN Mridangam 05 (1)T. Shankaranarayanan Nandakumar, popularly known as “TSN” has played a pivotal role in spreading the knowledge about Indian drums, particularly the mridangam in the United States through his stage performances at prestigious orchestras, participation in global music events, educational initiatives and contributions, collaborations, global impact, and philanthropic endeavors. He has demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility through charity work, including organizing a 24-hour non-stop Akanda Seva Bhajan in aid of India’s tsunami victims.

Nandakumar’s belief that “Music is like a horizon which is never ending and has no boundaries” has enabled him toLifetime Achievement Award by SAFE (1) take music with him wherever he goes. TSN’s participation in international festivals and workshops has contributed to the global awareness of Indian percussion, showcasing the richness of Indian drumming traditions and providing a platform for cross-cultural exchange. By actively participating in musical collaborations and performances in the United States, TSN not only showcases the beauty of the mridangam but also educates audiences about the intricacies and significance of this traditional Indian percussion instrument.

As a percussionist, TSN has accompanied luminaries in Carnatic music, including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M. D. Ramanathan, Bhimsen Joshi, T. N. Krishnan, M. Balamuralikrishna and others. His role as an accompanist has greatly enhanced the events with the performances of these eminent artists.

Through his musical engagements, TSN engages in cultural diplomacy, fostering an appreciation for Indian musicTSN Mridangam 06 (1) and drumming traditions. This indirect form of education occurs as audiences experience the artistry and cultural depth of the mridangam during performances.

“Through music, you can reach god,” says Nandakumar who wants to spread this path to the Almighty. Not satisfied with his mastery of classical Indian music, TSN took upon himself the mission to spread Carnatic music around the world. He established TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre. Inc (TSNPAC), where students are trained in diverse instruments. Since its inception in 1998 in Mumbai, India, TSNPAC has evolved into a hub for Mridangam (1)students to refine their skills and collaborate within the realm of Carnatic arts.  Upon migrating to New Jersey, USA, TSN seamlessly incorporated TSNPAC, offering courses in higher learning for Carnatic percussion enthusiasts in the United States. Today, TSNPAC stands as a beacon for aspiring artists seeking to master the intricacies of Carnatic percussion.

It’s well known around the world that through TSNPAC, TSN has played a very important role in teaching and training students in diverse percussion instruments, including the mridangam. In addition, Internationally famous musical institutions have tapped into TSN’s expertise, hosting his performances and through his highly acclaimed special, lectures in percussive arts.

TSN Mridangam 02 (1)TSN has performed at the Thyagaraja Festival, a prestigious and culturally significant experience for Carnatic musicians. Thyagaraja Aaradhana Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, is the largest Indian classical music festival outside of India.

“I feel very good about my accomplishment in spreading my knowledge about music to everyone. I have students all over the world, students of Indian origin and from other nationalities, some of them have become full-time musicians and are accompanying renowned artists,” Nandakumar says with pride. TSNPAC, in addition to providing training to music enthusiast, has successfully organized numerous annual events by notable artists in Carnatic music, including luminaries such as K J Yesudas, N. Rajam, N. Ramani, A. Kanyakumari, and L. Subramaniam.

Mridangam Arangetrams are held annually at TSNPAC, where graduating students perform along with accomplishedLeading concert (1) artists, without prior rehearsal, which is a unique approach that serves as a culminating experience for their graduation from the Center.  TSNPAC’s significant milestones include a decennial celebration marked by a grand performance featuring over 100 students. The center conducts Mridangam Arangetram annually, where students, without prior rehearsal, accompany main artists like A. Kanyakumari, culminating in a graduation ceremony. They follow in his footsteps by training their own students in the style of TSN and continuing to promote Carnatic percussive arts.

In addition to training students of South Asian students, several artists from the West, who are now well known forTSN Mridangam 04 (1) their expertise in Carnatic Music include Paula Jeanine, Todd Isler, Johann Berby, Guillaume Barraud, Will Calhoun, Bill Buchen, Lenora Zenzlai Helm, and Bernhard Schimpelsberger. TSNPAC’s legacy embodies a commitment to excellence, providing a platform for students to explore and flourish in the rich tapestry of Carnatic music.

TSN’s discography, featuring solo performances and collaborations with various artists, serves as a valuable resource for those interested in Indian percussion. His recorded works contribute to the preservation and dissemination of this musical knowledge. His album, “Jewels of Rhythm” by his ensemble has earned him high accolades. Vibrative Rhythms by TSN is a fusion of Carnatic, Hindustani, and Western music as a one-man ensemble With K J Yesudas (1)of mridangam, konnakol, thavil, ghatam, kanjira and the morsing played by himself. Author of several books, to educate students to the themes of Indian Percussive Arts, TSN is currently working on writing books that cover advanced topics.

TSN Mridangam 03 (1)Son of Shrimati Saraswati and Shri Balakrishna Panicker, a great supporter of the arts as member of the Devaswom board in Kerala and actively involved in promoting Carnatic devotional music in temples and organizing concerts, TSN was born in the village of Ambalappuzha in Kerala, India. As a child, he was fascinated with the rhythmic chants and bhajans. Nandakumar soon became a ‘Laya Vidwan’ due to his mastery of Carnatic percussive components: Laya, Raaga, Thaala and Bhava.

“At a very early age I started learning mridangam (A South Indian Classical Carnatic double-sided drum) because I was fascinated about percussion and its beats when my uncle’s (Shri Amabalapuzha Brothers) concert was held in the temple where I used to put Thalam,” recalls Nandakumar. “When I started learning, I enjoyed playing mridangam and other percussion instruments. I was so passionate about it that I got into teaching mridangam and other percussion instruments and making people aware of the importance of music.”

In Performance (1)As a young prodigy, TSN gained a reputation as an accompanist to renowned Carnatic musicians such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.D. Ramanathan, S. Ramanathan, R. K. Srikantan, V. Dakshinamurthy, Bhimsen Joshi, N. Ramani, M. Balamuralikrishna, T. N. Krishnan, K. J. Yesudas, N. Rajam, T. K. Govindarao, Nedunuri Krishnanmurthy, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, Parassala . B. Ponnamal, A. Kanyakumari, M. Chandrasekaran, D. K. Jayaraman, B. V. Raman, B. V. Lakshmanan and many others.

In recognition of his great accomplishments, TSN was honored with The Lifetime Achievement Award by the ShantiTSN Mridangam 01 (1) Foundation in Chennai. He was awarded the “Best Teacher Award” from several organizations with the most prominent being awarded by Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and the Cleveland Thygaraja Aaradhana Festival and by the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts, Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai in 2007, Bharat Ratna Dr. M. S. Subbulakshmi Sangeetha Pracharya Award), and Visionary Award by Academy of Indian Music, USA.

Dedicating his entire life to the spreading of Carnatic Music, Nandakumar has been highly sought after as a teacher in India and abroad. He has conducted several musical concerts, lectures, demonstrations, and workshops at universities in the United States abroad like Lamar University of Houston and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. TSN conducted special classes in percussive arts at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh, and the Academy of Indian Music in New Jersey and Switzerland. He also conducted 24 hours nonstop Akanda Seva Bhajan (Offered a Prayer through the medium of music) with his students in Mumbai for the tsunami-affected victims of India.

Nandakumar says, “My aim of contributing to Carnatic music by spreading knowledge has been successful and I forever am indebted to my parents and my teacher. I feel even more proud that some of my students have become masters of mridangam and it’s an honor knowing that the knowledge I shared with my students is now spreading around the world, imparting to many generations.”     For more details, please visit: http://mridangam.info

 

Mridangam Maestro T. S. Nandakumar: A Cultural Ambassador of India

Well known around the world for his mastery of the Mridangam, a percussion instrument that is a primary rhythmic accompaniment in Carnatic music ensemble, and with expertise in various other percussion instruments, including  konnakol (vocal percussion), thavil, ghatam, kanjira, and morsing, T. S. Nandakumar is a world renowned south Indian music artist, showcasing his versatility in Carnatic music, has devoted his entire life to the cause of popularizing Indian classical music around the world.

TSN Mridangam 02T. Shankaranarayanan Nandakumar, popularly known as “TSN” has played a pivotal role in spreading the knowledge about Indian drums, particularly the mridangam in the United States through his stage performances at prestigious orchestras, participation in global music events, educational initiatives and contributions, collaborations, global impact, and philanthropic endeavors. He has demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility through charity work, including organizing a 24-hour non-stop Akanda Seva Bhajan in aid of India’s tsunami victims.

Nandakumar’s belief that “Music is like a horizon which is never ending and has noTSN Mridangam 04 boundaries” has enabled him to take music wherever he went. TSN’s participation in international festivals and workshops has contributed to the global awareness of Indian percussion, showcasing the richness of Indian drumming traditions and  providing a platform for cross-cultural exchange. By actively participating in musical collaborations and performances in the United States, TSN not only showcases the beauty of the mridangam but also educates audiences about the intricacies and significance of this traditional Indian percussion instrument.

TSN Mridangam 06As a percussionist, TSN has accompanied luminaries in Carnatic music, including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M. D. Ramanathan, Bhimsen Joshi, T. N. Krishnan, M. Balamuralikrishna and others. His role as an accompanist has greatly enhanced the events with the performances of these eminent artists.

Through his musical engagements, TSN engages in a form of cultural diplomacy, fostering an appreciation for Indian music and drumming traditions. This indirect form of education occurs as audiences experience the artistry and cultural depth of the mridangam during performances.

“Through music you can reach god,” says Nandakumar and wants to spread this path to the Almighty. Not satisfiedMridangam with his own mastery of classical Indian music, TSN took upon himself the mission to spread Carnatic music around the world. He established TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre. Inc (TSNPAC), where students are trained in diverse instruments. Since its inception in 1998 in Mumbai, India, TSNPAC has evolved into a hub for students to refine their skills and collaborate within the realm of Carnatic arts.  Upon migrating to New Jersey, USA, TSN seamlessly incorporated TSNPAC, offering courses in higher learning for Carnatic percussion enthusiasts in the United States. Today, TSNPAC stands as a beacon for aspiring artists seeking to master the intricacies of Carnatic percussion.

It’s well known around the world that through TSNPAC, TSN has played a very important role in teaching and training students in diverse percussion instruments, including the mridangam. In addition, Internationally famous musical institutions have tapped into TSN’s expertise, hosting his performances and though his highly acclaimed special, lectures in percussive arts.

TSN Mridangam 03Performing at the Thyagaraja Festival is a prestigious and culturally significant experience for Carnatic musicians. The Thyagaraja Aradhana is an annual music festival held to commemorate the legendary Carnatic composer Saint Thyagaraja. TSNPAC conducts Thyagaraja Festival to commemorate the legendary Carnatic composer Saint Thyagaraja. Thyagaraja Aaradhana Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, which is the largest Indian classical music festival outside of India.

“I feel very good about my accomplishment in spreading my knowledge about music toTSN Mridangam 01 everyone. I have students all over the world, students of Indian origin and from other nationalities, some of them have become full time musicians and are accompanying renowned artists,” Nandakumar says with pride. TSNPAC, in addition to providing trainings to music enthusiast, has successfully organized numerous annual events by notable artists in Carnatic music, including luminaries such as K J Yesudas, N. Rajam, N. Ramani, A. Kanyakumari, and L. Subramaniam.

Mridangam Arangetrams are held annually at TSNPAC, where graduating students perform along with accomplished artists, without prior rehearsal, which is a unique approach that serves as a culminating experience for their graduation from the Center.

The festival is characterized by an atmosphere of devotion, celebrating the profound impact Thyagaraja had on the Carnatic music tradition. Musicians engaged in marathon music sessions, presenting a repertoire of kritis (compositions) composed by Thyagaraja. The festival features continuous music performances, creating an immersive experience for both performers and the audience.

Leading concertTSNPAC’s significant milestones include a decennial celebration marked by a grand performance featuring over 100 students. The centre conducts Mridangam Arangetram annually, where students, without prior rehearsal, accompany main artists like A. Kanyakumari, culminating in a graduation ceremony. Notably, TSNPAC’s influence extends globally, with 108 professional student performances, including drumming, at the Cleveland Thyagaraja festival.

Many of his students have achieved high accolades as professionals and have become graded artists by All India Radio. They follow in his footsteps by training their own students in the style of TSN and continuing to promote Carnatic percussive arts.

In addition to training students of South Asian students, several artists from the West, who are now well known for their expertise in Carnatic Music include: Paula Jeanine, Todd Isler, Johann Berby, Guillaume Barraud, Will Calhoun, Bill Buchen, Lenora Zenzlai Helm, and Bernhard Schimpelsberger.

TSN’s discography, featuring solo performances and collaborations with various artists, serves as a valuable resourceTSN Mridangam 05 for those interested in Indian percussion. His recorded works contribute to the preservation and dissemination of this musical knowledge. His album, “Jewels of Rhythm” by his ensemble has earned him high accolades.

Nandakumar composed and released Jewels of Rhythm Vol 1, Jewels of Rhythm Vol 2 and Jewels of Rhythm Vol 3 which were performed by his students. Vibrative Rhythms by TSN is a fusion of Carnatic, Hindustani, and Western music as a one-man ensemble of mridangam, konnakol, thavil, ghatam, kanjira and the morsing played by himself.

Author of several books, with the objective of educating students to the themes of Indian Percussive Arts, TSN is currently working on writing books that covers advanced topics.

Son of Shrimati Saraswati and Shri Balakrishna Panicker, a great supporter of the arts as member of the Devaswom board in Kerala and actively involved in promoting Carnatic devotional music in temples and organizing concerts, TSN was born in the village of Ambalappuzha in Kerala, India. As a child, he was fascinated with the rhythmic chants and bhajans that would emanate from the various temples, was introduced to his Guru, Shri Kaithavana Madhavadas, where he was trained in the gurukula samprada tradition of Carnatic music. Nandakumar soon became a ‘Laya Vidwan’ due to his mastery of Carnatic percussive components: Laya, Raaga, Thaala and Bhava .

In Performance“At a very early age I started learning mridangam (A South Indian Classical Carnatic double-sided drum) because I was fascinated about percussion and its beats when my uncle’s (Shri Amabalapuzha Brothers) concert was held in the temple where I used to put Thalam,” recalls Nandakumar. “When I started learning I enjoyed playing mridangam and other percussion instruments. I was so passionate about it that I got into teaching mridangam and other percussion instruments and making people aware about the importance of music.”

As a young prodigy, TSN gained a reputation as an accompanist to renowned Carnatic musicians such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.D. Ramanathan, S. Ramanathan, R. K. Srikantan, V. Dakshinamurthy, Bhimsen Joshi, N. Ramani, M. Balamuralikrishna, T. N. Krishnan, K. J. Yesudas, N. Rajam, T. K. Govindarao, Nedunuri Krishnanmurthy, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, Parassala . B. Ponnamal, A. Kanyakumari, M. Chandrasekaran, D. K. Jayaraman, B. V. Raman, B. V. Lakshmanan and many others.

In his recognition of his great accomplishments, he was honored with The Lifetime Achievement Award by the Shanti Foundation in Chennai. He was awarded the “Best Teacher Award” from several organizations with the most prominent being awarded by Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and the Cleveland Thygaraja Aaradhana Festival and by the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts, Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai in 2007, Bharat Ratna Dr. M. S. Subbulakshmi Sangeetha Pracharya Award), and Visionary Award by Academy of Indian Music, USA.

Acknowledging contributions to the world of music, TSNPAC has bestowed prestigious titles upon distinguishedWith K J Yesudas artists. In 2022, the centre conferred the title “Ranjakagayakasiromanih” (The Crown Jewel among those singers whose music is charming) upon the legendary K J Yesudas. A. Kanyakumari was honored with the title “Sasvatanadavidushi” (One Who Is Adept in Music Which Is Ishvara).

Dedicating his entire life to the spreading of Carnatic Music, Nandakumar has been highly sought after as a teacher in India as well as abroad. In Mumbai, TSN trained students at large institutions like Shanmukhananda Fine Arts, Chembur Fine Arts, Gana kala, Music Triangle and Naadalaya.

He has conducted several musical concerts, lectures, demonstrations, and workshops at universities in the United States abroad like Lamar University of Houston and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. TSN also spent some time conducting special classes in percussive arts at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh, the Academy of Indian Music in New Jersey and Switzerland. He also conducted 24 hours nonstop Akanda Seva Bhajan (Offered a Prayer through the medium of music) with his students in Mumbai for the tsunami affected victims of India.

He continues to provide opportunities for his students to perform by conducting seminars specific to accompaniment to other Indian art forms, such as Bharatnatyam Dance recitals and vocal or instrumental concerts, as well as through  Talent Exposure Concert Series which are published on YouTube to give students a forum to display their prowess.

Beyond geographical confines, TSNPAC continues to host performances not only in New Jersey but also in various parts of the United States. As a nurturing ground for Carnatic percussion, TSNPAC’s legacy embodies a commitment to excellence, providing a platform for students to explore and flourish in the rich tapestry of Carnatic music.

Looking back into his life’s mission, Nandakumar says, “My aim of contributing to Carnatic music by spreading knowledge has successful and I forever am indebted to my parents and my teacher. I feel even more proud that some of my students have become masters of mridangam and it’s an honor knowing that the knowledge I shared with my students is now spreading to around the world, imparting to many generations.”

Lifetime Achievement Award by SAFETSN’s commitment to promoting local talent and fostering cultural exchange remains unwavering. He has invited senior artists from India for the upcoming TSNPAC annual events with the objective of creating a global stage for collaborative performances.

Don’t miss this cultural extravaganza that promises to transcend boundaries and create lasting memories. Join us for an unforgettable musical journey at Sri Balaji Temple in Bridgewater.

Prepare to be captivated by a Rhythmic Extravaganza, an enchanting spectacle of rhythm, melody, and cultural celebration as T. S. Nandakumar (TSN), the maestro of Carnatic percussion presents an extraordinary event at Sri Balaji Temple in Bridgewater on March 17, 2024, from 9 am to 1 pm.

Event Highlights:

  • Multifaceted Performances: Join different groups of percussionists, including students of TSN, along with talented musicians playing Violin, Flute, Veena, and Vocal.
  • Diverse Instruments: Experience the soul-stirring sounds of Mridangam, Ghatam, Kanjira, Morsing, Thavil, and Konnakol, creating a symphony of percussion.
  • Artistic Fusion: Enjoy dance recitals by students of TSN, mastering Nattuvangam, a South Indian rhythmic recitation, and percussion, creating a seamless fusion of arts.
  • Music Cum Percussion Ensemble: Be part of a unique ensemble featuring students across age groups, showcasing the rich diversity of talents from ages 4 to 60.
  • Book Release: Witness the unveiling of TSN’s latest book, a testament to his deep-rooted knowledge and contribution to Carnatic percussion.
  • Distinguished Chief Guest: Dr. Venkataraman Swaminathan, a revered musicologist, will grace the occasion, releasing TSN’s book and adding to the cultural richness of the event.
  • Star Performance: TSN himself will take the stage in the climax, inspiring and boosting the spirits of the budding talents.
For more details, please visit: http://mridangam.info

Record-breaking Kathak Dance Gala in Khajuraho: A Triumph of Tradition and Talent

A milestone was achieved in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where approximately 1484 Kathak dancers came together to etch their names into the annals of the Guinness World Records. This feat unfolded amidst the mesmerizing beats of Raga Basant, as performers from various cities graced the stage of the 50th Khajuraho Dance Festival, an event orchestrated by the state government. With lamps delicately cradled in their palms, they embarked on a 20-minute journey through the enchanting rhythms of Raga Basant, a choreographic masterpiece crafted by the renowned dance maestro, Rajendra Gangani.

The significance of this achievement was underscored by the official record certificate, which affirmed, “The largest Kathak dance was achieved by the Department of Culture, Government of Madhya Pradesh, during 50th Khajuraho Dance Festival on February 20.” Amidst the luminous display of talent and artistry, Dr. Mohan Yadav, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, graced the occasion, adding his own touch of history by showcasing his prowess with an antique Nagara instrument. Extending his heartfelt congratulations to the dancers and their mentors hailing from various cities across the state, Dr. Yadav lauded their collective effort in etching this remarkable achievement.

However, the event was not solely about setting records; it also served as a platform for the unveiling of an ambitious initiative. Dr. Yadav seized the moment to announce the inauguration of the nation’s inaugural Gurukul in Khajuraho, an endeavor aimed at nurturing and preserving tribal and indigenous arts. Delving into the details, he articulated that the Gurukul would be helmed by seasoned gurus who would impart training in a myriad of traditional arts spanning the domains of crafts, dance, music, painting, and oral literature. The ethos behind this initiative resonated with the ethos of preserving ancient knowledge systems and nurturing them in a manner that aligns with the holistic essence of rural life.

The Gurukul in Khajuraho stands as a testament to the commitment towards preserving and promoting India’s rich cultural heritage. Through initiatives like these, the legacy of traditional arts is not merely safeguarded but also revitalized, ensuring its continuity for generations to come. In the backdrop of the magnificent Khajuraho temples, where history whispers through the intricately carved stone, this endeavor heralds a new chapter in the saga of cultural preservation and propagation.

Winning Wildlife: Polar Bear Slumber Image Clinches Photographer of the Year

A mesmerizing depiction of a youthful polar bear settling into slumber atop an iceberg, captured by British hobbyist photographer Nima Sarikhani, clinched the esteemed Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

Dr. Douglas Gurr, the director of the Natural History Museum, hailed Sarikhani’s composition, remarking, “Sarikhani’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet.” Gurr emphasized the significance of the image, highlighting its role as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between animals and their habitats, and its portrayal of the adverse effects of climate change and habitat loss.

Sarikhani’s journey to produce this evocative image involved three days of scouring Norway’s Svalbard archipelago amidst dense fog in search of polar bears.

Enthusiasts of wildlife photography and nature enthusiasts worldwide were encouraged to cast their votes from a curated selection of 25 images. Alongside Sarikhani’s winning entry, four other exceptional finalists received “highly commended” recognition.

“The Happy Turtle” by Tzahi Finkelstein captured a serendipitous moment as the photographer, ensconced in his hide, observed shorebirds, only to chance upon a Balkan pond turtle wading in shallow waters, adorned with an unexpected visitor—a dragonfly perched upon its nose.

Daniel Dencescu’s “Starling Murmuration” unfolded after relentless hours trailing starlings across the urban and suburban landscapes of Rome, culminating in a mesmerizing spectacle as the birds coalesced into the form of a colossal avian figure on a cloudless winter day.

Mark Boyd’s “Shared Parenting” provided a touching glimpse into the familial dynamics of a pride of lions in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Mara, as two lionesses embarked on a hunting expedition, leaving their five cubs concealed amidst dense foliage overnight. Upon their return, the lionesses summoned the cubs onto the open grasslands, engaging in nurturing grooming rituals.

“Aurora Jellies” by Audun Rikardsen showcased a unique technical prowess, as Rikardsen shielded his equipment in a meticulously crafted waterproof housing to capture a single exposure of moon jellyfish enveloped by the ethereal glow of the aurora borealis in the brisk waters of a fjord outside Tromsø, in northern Norway.

These captivating images will be available for viewing both online and at London’s Natural History Museum until 30 June, inviting audiences to marvel at the beauty and complexity of the natural world captured through the lenses of talented photographers.

Jeena Raghavan’s Artistic Odyssey: A Kaleidoscope of Cultures and Colors, Unveiling the Intersection of Heritage and Modernity

Embarking on the journey of an artist is undeniably intricate and demanding. Jeena Raghavan’s artistic odyssey unfolds as a vibrant tale, traversing continents and cultures, driven by an unwavering pursuit of creative expression. Born in England, Jeena commenced her artistic endeavors at a young age, revealing an inherent talent for painting that would later burgeon into a remarkable career.

At the tender age of six, Jeena’s life underwent a transformative shift as she relocated to India, immersing herself in the rich tapestry of the country’s art and heritage. This early exposure became the cornerstone of her artistic identity, laying the groundwork for the amalgamation of Eastern and Western influences that would characterize her work.

“Jeena’s early years in India were pivotal in shaping her artistic sensibilities, providing a cultural foundation that resonates in her creations today,” remarked a source close to the artist.

The precocious artist’s talents did not go unnoticed, and by the age of 13, she organized her inaugural exhibition in London. Her art, themed around the revered Indian deity Ganesha, served a charitable cause, showcasing a profound connection to her roots and a commitment to making a positive impact.

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Picture: INDIASPORA

Jeena’s artistic journey reached another milestone when she ventured across the Atlantic to New York, enrolling at the prestigious Parsons School of Design. The bustling metropolis, with its fast-paced environment, presented both a challenge and a canvas for her creativity. Unfazed by the complexities of establishing herself in a foreign land, Jeena embraced every moment, transforming her struggles into wellsprings of inspiration.

Her involvement with the Agastya International Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to education, exemplifies Jeena’s dedication to leveraging art for positive change. Collaborating with the foundation, she played a pivotal role in bringing creative learning to millions of underprivileged children across India. During the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeena extended her philanthropic efforts, pledging 50% of her art sales to a relief fund supporting families of migrant workers severely affected by the crisis.

“In times of adversity, Jeena’s commitment to social causes through her art becomes even more pronounced. She truly believes in the transformative power of creativity,” stated a spokesperson for the Agastya International Foundation.

Over the past year, Jeena made a significant impact on the New York art scene, with three out of four shows hosted at Lavan Chelsea, organized by Jake Henzo and Soiree Henzo. These exhibitions not only showcased her technical prowess but also conveyed a profound connection to her roots and a captivating narrative of self-discovery.

“Jeena’s art is a testament to the intersection of her Indian heritage and the dynamic lifestyle of New York City. Each painting serves as a visual journal, offering a glimpse into her upbringing in England and India,” commented an art critic.

Her latest group show, themed ‘Vulnerability,’ resonated deeply with viewers, drawing attention to her large, evocative paintings. Jeena’s love for nature permeates her work, with foxes, bulls, and horses vividly appearing amidst abstract backgrounds and figurative compositions.

The show itself garnered significant attention, described by one media outlet as a ‘Grassroots Assault on Chelsea’s Elitist Gallery Culture.’ With nearly 1500 attendees, the event marked a triumph for young, talented artists from diverse backgrounds, challenging the established elite.

As Jeena looks forward to 2024, she envisions a defining chapter in her artistic journey, with two solo shows scheduled in the West Village and Lower East Side in Manhattan. Curated by Katie Mangurian, who appreciates the rawness and genuine quality of Jeena’s art, these exhibitions are poised to be milestones in her evolving career.

“Jeena’s upcoming solo shows promise to be a showcase of her growth and artistic maturity. Katie Mangurian’s curation underscores the unique qualities that set Jeena’s work apart,” remarked an art industry insider.

Jeena infuses her unyielding love for art with the diverse experiences of her multicultural life, extracting colors, themes, and textures that are truly extraordinary. Her experimentation with mixed media adds depth and multiple layers to her work, resulting in art that mesmerizes viewers and evokes inexplicable emotions, a hallmark of great art.

Jeena’s artistic journey, a fellow artist expressed, “Jeena has a rare ability to translate her life experiences into a visual language that resonates universally. Her art is a powerful reflection of her journey, connecting cultures and inspiring change.”

NFT Exhibition By Indian-American Girl Enthralls Kerala Kids

An exhibition of non-fungible token (NFT) digital paintings by an Indian American girl Teresa Melvin has captured the imagination of art enthusiasts here. The 14-year-old girl, originally from Kerala, lives in Texas.

She is also conducting a workshop on NFT art for children in the age group of 8-12 as part of the expo. Teresa has by now sold more than 1000 digital art works as NFT worth Rs 3 million. The show titled ‘Coming Home’ features over 100 works done by Teresa in a span of two years and is being displayed on 11 screens.

The workshop focuses on character art besides she also explains the process of converting digital art into derivative art.

Teresa is the daughter of Palakkad native Melvin and Nimmy. Both of her parents have been trained in painting at RLV College, Tripunithura.

Teresa is renowned for her creation of the unique characters Ava Ramona. She has created and sold over 1,000 artworks on prominent platforms.

She is a recipient of the ‘Creator of the Year’ award by Met Ams, an international web3 event in Amsterdam. Her artworks have been exhibited at major international events across India, the UK, Dubai, Bali, Canada, and the US. (IANS)

Asia Society Museum Presents Buddha, Sage of the Shakya Clan

Asia Society Museum presents a selection of 15 masterworks from the Asia Society’s renowned Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, depicting the “Eight Great Events” from the life of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Works in the exhibition date from the second to eighteenth centuries and represent some of the finest examples of Buddhist art, drawn from the Asia Society’s Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection.

Buddhism, founded in India the late sixth century B.C.E., has assumed many different forms but generally draws from the life experiences of the Buddha, his teachings, and the “spirit” or “essence” of his teachings, (dharma), as models for religious life.

While the actual life events of the Buddha are not well documented, there are several legendary stories about significant moments in his life, which became codified in a visual language by around 100 AD. This exhibition is anchored by an illuminated manuscript from the great Indian Buddhist monastic learning center, Nalanda, depicting the “Eight Great Events” around which these legendary stories are centered, including:

  • The Buddha’s princely birth as the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of the Shakya warrior clan
  • His defeat over the demon Mara and attainment of enlightenment
  • The first turning of the wheel of dharma at Sarnath, representing the teaching of the Four Noble Truths
  • Performing of miracles at Sravasti
  • Descending from the heaven of thirty-three gods (Trayastrimsha Heaven) after preaching to the gods and his mother
  • Taming the wild elephant Nagiri
  • Receiving the loyal monkey’s gift of honey leading to the its rebirth as an enlightened being
  • His death and attainment of parinirvana

The scenes illustrated in the exhibition began to appear by the second century in Mathura, in modern-day Uttar Pradesh, India, and within the Buddhist centers of the Gandharan Kingdom, areas in modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Several of the works in the exhibition just returned from a multivenue tour to New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Chapel Hill, NC; Fort Worth, TX, and A Coruña, Spain, as part of the enthusiastically received exhibition Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon.

The exhibition is curated by Laura Weinstein, John H. Foster Associate Curator, Pre-Modern Art, Asia Society.

Buddha, Sage of the Shakya Clan is on view at Asia Society Museum in New York from June 13–August 27, 2023. Find out more and plan your visit at AsiaSociety.org/NY

Indian Artisans Create Sustainable Sisal Carpet for Met Gala 2023

The recent Met Gala 2023 event witnessed many stunning celebrity looks, debuts, and some memorable moments. However, one constant factor throughout the evening was the beautiful carpet laid on the stairs for attendees to walk on. The carpet was created by Indian artisans and made in India with sustainability as its core value. The white carpet with blue and red stripes was designed by Neytt.Extraweave, a Kerala-based brand founded by Sivan Santhosh and Nimisha Srinivas. This year’s carpet measured around 6,960 sq meters and was made using sisal fiber sourced from Madagascar.

“We sourced the best quality sisal fiber, which is durable, specifically from Madagascar. The carpet was weaved using 120 cm of the raw material,” said Sivan. The carpet took between 60 to 70 days to create from scratch and had the input of Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who decorated this year’s Met steps along with event planner Raul Àvila. Interestingly, this is not the first time Neytt. Extraweave’s carpet was laid on the Met steps, as they designed one for last year’s event as well.

The carpet’s sustainable properties come from the fact that it was made using sisal fiber, which is a natural and biodegradable resource. Additionally, the carpet was manufactured using a machine in India, and hand-painted in the United States. Indian artisans have long been known for their craftsmanship, and Neytt.Extraweave is continuing that tradition while also prioritizing the environment.

The carpet’s vibrant design was eye-catching and proved to be a stunning backdrop for some of the night’s most memorable fashion moments. A number of celebrities walked on the carpet, including Alia Bhatt and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, both of whom made their debut at the event. With sustainability becoming an increasingly important issue in the fashion industry, the use of natural and biodegradable materials such as sisal fiber can serve as a model for others to follow.

The carpet’s success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Indian artisans who created it. Their expertise and craftsmanship, along with the sustainable materials used, brought the design to life, and the result was a stunning work of art that perfectly complemented the Met Gala’s glamorous atmosphere. As the fashion industry continues to evolve, it is important to remember the importance of responsible stewardship of our planet’s resources, and firms such as Neytt.Extraweave are setting an example for others to follow.

Extraweave, the company responsible for manufacturing  process expressed their excitement about showcasing their product to the world. According to an Instagram post by the company, “It was a huge day for us, and for India. We are proud to showcase our beautiful sisal carpet…” The carpet was woven in Alleppey and hand-painted in the US, and the company was honored to share the stage with famous designers and celebrities.

For the Kerala-based manufacturers, it was a proud moment to display their skills and craftsmanship to a global audience. The founder of Extraweave, Sivan, said, “We were a little unsure of how the design would look when we got the first draft, but the way it was laid out — it was looking beautiful.” The carpet’s appearance added to the glamour of the event, and it was recommended to Met Gala organizers by a US-based customer.

Karthik Subramaniam Wins National Geographic’s 2023 ‘Pictures Of The Year’ Award

Karthik Subramaniam of Indian descent, hobbyist photographer is winner of National Geographic’s “Pictures of the Year” Contest. His photo, titled ‘Dance of the Eagles,’ shows a trio of bald eagles battling for a spot on a branch in Alaska’s Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Subramaniam told National Geographic about how he camped out near the shore of the preserve for a week in order to capture the perfect shot.

“Every year in November, hundreds of bald eagles gather at Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska to feast on salmon. I visited there last two Novembers to photograph them,” he said. Subramaniam began experimenting with wildlife photography during the pandemic, when he explored local nature reserves and city parks while businesses and travel were halted.

Selected from nearly 5000 entries, Subramaniam’s winning image, “Dance of the Eagles” depicts a bald eagle battling its fellows for a prime spot on a tree in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska, the magazine announced in a Feb 17 press release.

Subramaniam told National Geographic how he camped out near the shore of this preserve for a week to capture the perfect shot.

Picture : Digital Photo Pro

“Wherever there’s salmon, there’s going to be chaos,” he said. On the last day of Subramaniam’s week-long trip, he watched as bald eagles “swooped in and out of the fishing ground.”

Subramaniam chose a spot near a log where a few birds lingered — and trained his lens on a nearby branch. He was in the right place when he caught an incoming eagle sweep in to bump his bird buddy out of a prime spot on a branch.

He captured the maneuver and named it “Dance of the Eagles,” after George R.R. Martin’s novel “A Dance with Dragons.”

“Every year in November, hundreds of bald eagles gather at Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska, to feast on salmon. I visited there last two Novembers to photograph them,” Subramaniam said.

“Studying their behavior patterns helped me anticipate some of their actions. For example, when an eagle drags salmon to a dry spot, other eagles in the area would inevitably fly there to claim their share, and that leads to chaotic action.”

“They also seemed to have some favorite spots to hang out, and usually, commotion ensues when an eagle wants an already occupied spot. This photo was taken during one such commotion.”

Subramaniam first began experimenting with wildlife photography while sequestered in his San Francisco home during the coronavirus pandemic. During that time he explored local nature reserves and walked city parks to search for birds and other wildlife.

In recognition of his work, Subramaniam will have his photo featured in the May issue of National Geographic magazine, alongside Nat Geo’s leading photographers, and receive a six-month digital subscription to the magazine.

Nine additional photos were selected as honorable mention winners: Alex Berger, An Li, Bruce Taubert, Eric Esterle, Rhez Solano, Riten Dharia, Tayfun Coskun, Tihomir Trichkov and W. Kent Williamson.

The honorable mention winners will be showcased on National Geographic’s Your Shot Instagram page to more than 6.5 million followers, in addition to receiving a six-month digital subscription to the magazine.

Subramaniam’s “Dance of the Eagles” photo was named grand-prize winner after a rigorous vetting process by a team of seasoned Nat Geo photo editors, it said.

Tied to the brand’s annual Pictures of the Year list featuring National Geographic’s top images of the year — 118 out of more than 2 million total — the photo contest invited aspiring photographers from across the country to submit their own favorite image captured in 2022, broken into four categories: Nature, People, Places and Animals.

Kumar Gallery presents 27 MASTERS

Kumar Gallery is pleased to present 27 MASTERS, a group show of master artists spanning from the Bengal school, J P Gangooly, Jamini Roy, Bireswar Sen; to Progressives M F Husain, F N Souza, S H Raza, Krishen Khanna, K H Ara, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee; to tantric abstractionists G R Santosh, Biren De, Sohan Qadri; to important modernists K S Kulkarni, N S Bendre, A Ramachandran, J Swaminathan, B Prabha, Satish Gujral, Sakti Burman, George Keyt, A P Santhanaraj, Badri Narayan, Jatin Das; to eminent sculptors Amar Nath Sehgal, Prodosh Das Gupta, Sankho Chaudhuri, and Dhanraj Bhagat.

Picture : TheUNN

Works in the exhibition span themes relevant to 2023. Ramachandran’s Visions of War, with its reflections on propaganda, ideology, religion, history, and the specter of nuclear war has never since World War II been more relevant on account of the Ukraine War. The exhibition invites viewers to further reflect upon themes of the vitality of life as expressed through sexuality in art, the historical socioeconomic fabric of India, and the integration of philosophy into modern life.

Exhibition opens online on February 5th 5PM IST. Select works will be on exhibit at Kumar Gallery Hotel Hyatt Regency & Kumar Gallery Sainik Farms (By Appointment)

Mr. Virendra Kumar Jain of Kumar Gallery is the pioneer in promoting contemporary Indian art in our country as well as abroad. Most of the top ranking artists of today owe their beginnings to him. It was due to relentless efforts Kumar made in creating awareness of modern vocabulary of the mode of painting that has made it possible for most of us to find a niche in the history of world art. What our society has gained through such developments is too obvious to mention. – Satish Gujral

This essay pays tribute to a champion and great supporter of Modern Indian Art, Shri Virendra Kumar, founder of Kumar Gallery. With the dizzying ascent and soaring value of the market for Modern Indian Art in recent years, it is all too easy for connoisseurs to defer to price as a proxy for aesthetic value. Yet Modern was once Contemporary, and there was a time when the evolution of style was the result of a hard-won struggle against the prevailing commercial trends. It was precisely at those crossroads in the history of India that Virendra acted as the principal tastemaker and visionary patron for serious, avant-garde artistic expression.

Picture : TheUNN

Virendra Kumar was born on 26 January 1933 to an illustrious and philanthropic Jain family. For generations the family had provided patronage to musicians, sculptors, and painters, architects and had commissioned numerous temples. Most notable amongst direct patrilineal ancestors of the family were Raja Harsukh Rai (1740 – 1807) and his great grandfather Deep Chand Sah, who respectively built the Naya Mandir and Lal Mandir in Delhi, and the latter of whom was the treasurer for the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Oral histories of the family trace the lineage back further to influential Jain traders during the Tomara dynasty (8th – 12th centuries), principally located in the area where the Qutb Minar is now located.

In many ways, known and unknown, the shape of what we now understand as Modern Indian Art was shaped by the efforts of Virendra Kumar and his brothers at Kumar Gallery. Their contributions as promoters and tastemakers came precisely at the hour of need for the first generation of contemporary artists in independent India’s.

Virendra’s comprehensive patronage and unwavering belief that Indian artists could compete with their Western contemporaries was the quintessential catalyst that manifested the latent potential of India’s nascent artistic ecosystem. In recognition of the role that Virendra Kumar played, and in appreciation of his sincerity and resolve, M.F. Husain, termed him, ‘The Kahnweiller of Indian Contemporary Art.’ For more details, please visit: https://kumargallery.com/about-us/

Indo-American Arts Council’s Literary Festival 2022 Begins

The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), the organization dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the arts in North America, announced today the lineup for its eighth annual Literary Festival on November 7-13, 2022, in New York. Notable speakers, making in-person appearances at the Caelum Gallery (526 W 26th St.) in NY’s renowned Chelsea neighborhood, include Padma Shri Barkha Dutt, Priya Kumari and Raza Mir. In continuation of its honored tradition, IAAC will also host a live Poetry Panel headlining Arundhathi Subramaniam and moderated by poetry curator, Dr. Ravi Shankar.

Prior to the in-person weekend events, there will be a series of online events hosted on Facebook and YouTube each evening starting November 7-11 at 6:30 p.m. ET, which will feature ten writers including Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi; London-based restaurateur and Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” star, Asma Khan with Michelin Chef Vikas Khanna – author of the world’s first “phygital” (physical and digital) cookbook; plus, actress, dancer and choreographer, Rukmini Vijayakumar. This series also includes a dedicated Children’s Literary Panel on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 which will showcase readings of “When Blackbirds Fly” by Hannah Lalhlanpuii and “Jamlo Walks” by Samina Mishra.

Picture: TheUNN

“IAAC’s Literary Festival showcases writers who bring stories of the Indian experience and ethos to the world. Even as they set new standards of literary excellence, they excite our imagination and shape humanity’s future through their thought leadership. The festival attendees will become part of extraordinary conversations. Supporting the festival will be a stellar group of moderators who themselves are literary luminaries. As always there will be a focus on first time regional translations, children’s literature and poetry,” said Rakesh Kaul, Vice Chairman, IAAC.

IAAC’s literary festival will be an intense two-day immersive experience featuring thought-provoking conversations, readings and discussions of stories told by courageous authors. Each authors’ skill and expertise cover a wide range of civilizational and cultural topics including archeology, design, dance, history, compassion, wonder and the culinary arts. A panel of four poets will showcase powerful word-play that will make imaginations soar and speak directly to hearts, young and old. Refreshments, breakfast and lunch will be served, wine and cheese will accompany the poetry session. The festival wraps on a high note with the Annual Gala on November 13th.

“At IAAC, we pride ourselves on our ability to seek out and find foundational storytellers who are not only noteworthy for their skill with language but whose seminal works also weave remarkable narratives that shape the world around them. This year is no exception; I have had the privilege to work with a dedicated team of literature lovers whose hard work and energy made this festival possible,” said Preethi Urs, Literary Festival Director, IAAC.

For a complete calendar of events between on November 7-13, 2022, visit https://iaac.us/iaac-literary-festival-2022/

The IAAC supports all the artistic disciplines in classical, fusion, folk and innovative forms influenced by the arts of India.  We work cooperatively with colleagues around the U.S. to broaden our collective audiences and to create a network for shared information, resources and funding. Our focus is to help artists and art organizations in North America as well as to facilitate artists from India to exhibit, perform and produce their work here. The IAAC is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.  For information, please visit www.iaac.us. RSVP for both in-person and online events at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/iaac-literary-festival-2022-tickets-446199724387

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Revised: An Original Production From Enacte Arts

Everyone’s favorite foot-stomping childhood adventure reclaimed, reimagined, and rewritten for our times is coming to Houston’s GSH Event Center for a limited engagement on October 8th and 9th, as part of Enacte Arts’ national tour of the family musical. Children under the age of 12 can attend any of the performances for FREE!

Vinita Sud Belani, bringing these established collaborators on board through the theater company she has created and nourished into the force it is today, directs the piece with the conviction that there is power, importance and necessity in reclaiming South Asian stories and retelling them for a global audience. Using her tech background and her skills as a collaborator, she is creating a visual world that is dynamic and modern, while still rooted in ancient art practices. Belani has lived and worked in 9 countries across 4 continents and is committed to using stories to create community and connect diverse peoples. 

 A highly diverse cast 

 A jungle is an incredible representation of how a truly diverse ecosystem enriches itself and leads to growth and abundance. This show reflects a similar ecosystem. 

 EnActe Arts is a highly diverse company with a specific vision – bringing South Asian stories into a global context. In order to do so, the storytellers involved need to represent the globe. The cast of The Jungle Book: Rudyard Revised embodies diversity in the truest sense of the word – each person comes from a myriad of intersectionalities – of race, gender, age, experience..the list goes on and the EnActe rehearsal room makes space for all of it. 

EnActe has also committed to discussing inclusion and diversity as a cast and creative team – the process for writing The Jungle Book: Rudyard Revised was based in deep inquiry into current issues surrounding diversity and EDIA awareness, and as a result the script reflects those questions and work. As the actors embody the language generated in that process, they are having similar conversations. Audiences should be able to see themselves in this show, and leave feeling empowered to reclaim parts of their identity that might otherwise be stifled.

In collaboration with The Centre for Wildlife Studies Kalaripayattu-infused choreography by Navarasa Dance Theater Music by renowned Jazz  and Indian Classical musician George Brooks Directed by EnActe Artistic Director, Vinita Sud Belani. Tickets now available at www.enacte.org/the-jungle-book

Aicon Announces Rasheed Araeen – Islam & Modernism

Aicon has announced Rasheed Araeen – Islam & Modernism, a major exhibition of the artist’s recent works that constitute his fifth solo exhibition with the gallery in New York. 

Aligning with the themes from his newly released book, Islam & Modernism, Araeen’s exhibition of the same name visually argues for the influence of Islamic art in his oeuvre. He writes: “In 1970, I was told […] that my work was ‘Islamic;’ and then in 2007, the Tate declared that ‘Rasheed was a pioneer of Minimalist sculpture in Britain.’ But how could both be true? The basis of my work was geometry and symmetry, which was the result of my interest in modern sculpture. I had then no knowledge of Islamic art, nor any interest in it. If I had then accepted that my work was indeed ‘Islamic,’ this would have not only been dishonest on my part but also denied its modernism. The history of modernism does not recognize the place of Islam in it. Yet, I must assert my Muslim identity, not merely because I’m a Muslim but as a Muslim who has pioneered something significant within modernism.”  

Araeen is contemplating the problem of how to assert his Muslim identity both within his practice and within the broader doctrines of modern art. He asks, “Why should [modernism] be Eurocentric, representing the achievement of only white artists, when many other cultures have contributed to it? This question has been raised, and is still being raised, by many who have been excluded from it.” Critical theorists like Okwui Enwezor have thoughtfully diversified the category of modernity, yet the canon of modern art continues to struggle against a European origin story. By looking at an artist like Araeen, can we find an alternative narrative, one that looks to the architecture (and even name) of the Ka’ba and iconoclasm of Islamic art first and Cezanne’s contemplation of geometry second? 

 Known for his pioneering work in Minimalist and Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 70s, Araeen has provided an alternative voice and non-Western interpretation of European idioms for decades. His continually evolving practice is reflected within the current exhibition, introducing neon sculpture to his visual vocabulary of painting and wall structures. Concurrent with the exhibition opening will be a celebration of Araeen’s newest book, detailing his new take on a long and storied career. The artist will be joined in discussion by Kate Fowle, Former Director, MoMA PS1 during the reception to introduce his book.

In 2010, Aicon Gallery, London, hosted the first major retrospective of Araeen’s work in over a decade, paving the way for a new string of exhibitions and critical attention. A long overdue major retrospective recently toured Europe, starting at the Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands, traveling to the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Switzerland, and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, United Kingdom, before concluding at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russia. He has participated in several important group exhibitions, including the 57th Venice Biennale and documenta 14 – Universe in Universe, staged in Kassel and Athens. 

His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The recent re-hang of MoMA’s galleries has seen his work included in step with artists like Donald Judd and Eva Hesse, challenging the roots of ethnic barriers, neo-colonialism, and imperialist attitudes for which Araeen’s work and texts are known.

Art Exhibition In Chicago Commemorates 75th Anniversary Of India’s Partition

An art exhibition at the South Asia Institute of Chicago marks the 75th anniversary of the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the emergence of India and Pakistan as independent nation-states. The exhibition titled “Unbearable Memories, Unspeakable Histories: Partition Anti-Memorial Project,” curated by postcolonial artist and curator, Pritika Chowdhury explains the narratives and stories of the partition that have been omitted from mainstream discourses.

The art installations on display at the exhibition are part of the artists’ “Partition Anti-Memorial Project” An art exhibition at the South Asia Institute of Chicago marks the 75th anniversary of the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the emergence of India and Pakistan as independent nation-states.

India’s independence from colonial rule in 1947 is forever linked with its ghostly twin, the Partition. Pritika Chowdhry’s exhibition investigates the Partition of India in 1947, which created Pakistan, and eventually, Bangladesh in 1971. The Partition is central to modern identity and geopolitics in South Asia. It triggered the largest, most rapid migration in human history and is often compared to the Holocaust. Over 20 million people were displaced in an unprecedented mass migration. Approximately 2 million people died in the communal violence across the new border, called the Radcliffe Line.

Partition Anti-Memorial Project founded on the 60th anniversary of the Partition in 2007, is Chowdhry’s ongoing research-based project that excavates subjugated knowledge about the 1947 Partition of India and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to build several experiential art installations that are temporary anti-memorials to the Partition.

The Partition has been described by acclaimed Pakistani-American historian Ayesha Jalal as “the central historical event in twentieth century South Asia.” In her words, “A defining moment that has neither beginning nor end, partition continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future.”

Over the last fifteen years, Pritika Chowdhry has created ten bodies of work that address and examine the many facets of the Partition of India from a counter-memory perspective. Her anti-memorials create alternate ways to remember and memorialize traumatic geopolitical events, from the dual lenses of South Asian diasporic postmemory. “Pritika Chowdhry’s artwork is a powder keg of emotionality, raw talent, and visceral grit! I have never met a more thoughtful, theoretically engaged artist-scholar-educator-activist. Counter-Memory Project is the stuff of truth-telling, trauma-healing, and narrative-forging!” remarks Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas, PhD, Assistant Professor Museum Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Evoking corporeal bodies through a myriad of materials, the exhibition highlights generational resilience and resistance. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Partition, several of the artist’s works will be featured in a solo retrospective exhibition at the South Asia Institute in Chicago from August 06 to December 10 2022.

Pritika Chowdhry is a feminist and postcolonial artist and curator, whose work is in both public and private collections. Through large-scale sculptures and site-sensitive installations that reference the body, her work memorializes unbearable memories. Having witnessed the intergenerational effects of geopolitical trauma, Chowdhry has dedicated her artistic practice to cataloging the violence of colonialism/imperialism alongside global acts of resistance.

Through her anti-memorials, Chowdhry aims to highlight historically marginalized female voices in the representation of Partition while contextualizing the event’s global repercussions. Transnational in scope, her sculptural art installations and anti-memorials bear witness to partitions of countries, civil and military wars, riots, border violence, genocides, and terrorist attacks, holding space for mourning, remembrance, and repair.

Artwork By Sraddha Karthik, A High Schooler From Florida To Be Displayed At The US Capitol

In a proud moment for Indian Americans, the artwork of a community student from Florida is all set to be displayed at the US Capitol. Sraddha Karthik, a Grade 11 student from a Tampa high school in Florida, has been declared the winner of the annual Congressional Art Competition at the Tampa Museum of Art where high school students from across Hillsborough County competed for a spot to showcase their work in the US Capitol.

This year, Sraddha Karthik, who came to the United States at the age of one along with her parents from Chennai, bagged the top prize with her graphite drawing “Pensive Gaze” created with intricacy and precision, said a media release issued by Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Ms Karthik’s self-portrait tackles perception versus reality.”I wanted to see if I could draw myself as I am and not how I think I am,” she said.

She used different shades of graphite to create depth and dimension for her artwork, the release said. Karthik, the statement said, has been drawing since she was 7 years old when her parents registered her for an art class. “I don’t have as much time as I used to before high school, but I do try to fit in art as much as possible because it’s really helpful for me to express myself,” she said.

Art will add depth to MS Karthik’s career in architecture, which she plans to pursue after high school, said the Congresswoman’s office.

This wasn’t Ms Karthik’s first art competition – she’s been competing in the Salvador Dali Museum annual art competition since eighth grade, and her artwork has been chosen to be displayed every year, it noted. “It was a very talented display of art at this year’s event – this honour could have gone to anyone in the competition!” she said of Castor’s art competition.

It’ll be her first visit to Washington, DC, when she goes for her national showcase this summer. Her artwork will then be displayed in the US Capitol for one year alongside winners for congressional art competitions from throughout the country, the media release said.

The Tampa Museum of Art provides an incredible venue for one of the top high school arts competitions in the country. I am grateful to our parents, teachers and especially students who have turned to arts for encouragement and connection as we mend from the pandemic. Reflective artwork has been a prominent theme and I look forward to welcoming Sraddha to Washington, DC, this summer to represent our talented and diverse community,” Castor said.

Dr. Mathew Joys Wins Manayil Jacob Memorial Award

The Poetry Award in memory of the late poet Manayil Jacob was presented to Dr. Mathew Joys, Las Vegas. His short poem, “The mourning of a Mother Deer” (maanin maathrurodanam), was selected by a reputed five-member judging panel for the award. The specialty of this poem is that it is an Acrostic composition ( a poem in which the first letter of each line is the same).

The award consists of a plaque and a cash award sponsored by the Manayil Jacob family to commemorate the tribute to a great poet who passed away last year. Dr. Mathew Joys is the first winner of this prestigious award, awarded for the first time by Kerala Literary Society, Dallas, the oldest Malayalam Literary Association in the American continent, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Dr. Matthew Joys is also a columnist in English and Malayalam newspapers and other periodicals. He has been writing articles on current topics, light poems, stories, and published books of his collections. His interpretation of the “Song of Songs in the Bible” named “Oh my Beloved” and collection of his selected works called “Amerikkan Aadukal “ (The American Goats) are popularly applauded by the Pravasi Literary Writers. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Indo-American Press Club and Executive Editor of the JaihindVartha, Editor of United News Network, and Express Herald.

Writer, filmmaker, and actor Thampi Antony presented the award and presented the award at a ceremony in Dallas organized by the Kerala Literacy Society. He opined that the characters should be seen and enjoyed as fantasies and that realizing them and filling the mind with competition would lead to social destruction. P.P. Cherian, a journalist and writer received the award for the winner.

The Manayil Poetry Award is sponsored by Manayil family member Rajan Chittar who said that the award would be given every year through a poetry competition. Renowned Writers Abraham Thekkemuri, Jose Ochalil, C.V.George, Josen George, Rosamma George, Santosh Pillai, Sarah Teacher, Meena Nebu, and Usha Rajendran were also present at the magnificent event.

The fourth souvenir by Kerala Literary Society, “Petals” was released at the ceremony. The book is over 150 pages and is rich with poems, stories, and essays by more than 20 expatriate writers. Former Secretary Haridas Thankappan welcomed the gathering. Siju V George presided over the function, and Anashwaran Mampilly Expressed a vote of thanks to all the guests and the Award winner. Shaji Mathew and Meenu Elizabeth co-hosted a musical evening featured by Dallas Melodies’ troop.

Inspiring Art Entrepreneur Archana Srivastava Shares How Art Is A Medium To Empower Women And Communities

“To me, preparing and letting women to make vital decisions in their life and in society is women’s empowerment . I seek to empower women through my work.” Today’s woman dreamer, Archana Srivastava, is a dynamic, renowned Mumbai-based artist, with a passion for highlighting history and tradition. Archana shares her view as art as a medium for empowerment, and her dream for her art career (such as her interest in NFTs, digital, and 3D art). She also reflects on her experiences as the wife of a senior bureaucrat. A relatable and creative journey, enjoy Archana’s story!

1) Tell us your story. You are an artist deeply rooted in Indian history and tradition, and your work is across mediums. You have had multiple solo art exhibitions as well and have had multiple recognitions for your work. What inspired you to become an artist? What inspires you creatively?

Since childhood I was passionate about art and art was like ‘Therapy’ to me. Born in a family which thrived on art and culture, it was an easy choice for me to draw, sketch, colour and paint. In early childhood days, I started drawing on slate (writing board), paper, walls and floors as soon as I could hold crayon or chalk in my hands. My family saw great potential in me and my parents would encourage me to draw/paint and to participate in school, district-level and regional competitions. Winning in such competitions encouraged me to paint more. I was a sincere student and excelled in academics. Often my study hours will get stretched and I would get exhausted. I would then draw on my practice notebook a face, figure, landscape or still life. As a result each of my practice notebook would have multiple figures and forms drawn on the last many pages. In fact often the pages with drawings would outnumber the pages with writings.

I was happy doing well in academics and pursuing art as well. My academic orientation helped me complete Ph.D in History and I started teaching graduate and post-graduate students as guest faculty in various colleges and universities off and on.

As far as the art was concerned, formal training was never an issue as my elder sister is into serious painting and my mother is also an artist. Plus over the years I have had the good fortune of learning from national and international-level award-winning artists, professors of reputed art schools on one to one basis informally. They did teach me technicalities of art but asked me to remain original in my imagination. In fact, everyone of them without exception encouraged me to have my own style. Thus I am one of those fortunate souls who learnt everything about art without joining an art school full time. Gradually, guests and visitors visiting my home would look at paintings at my place and ask me to have a public display of my artworks. Encouraged by their persuasion, I booked a reputed art gallery in Mumbai in 1999 and started working diligently towards my first solo exhibition. The exhibition was very well-received and thus began my journey as professional artist. I took up art as my profession with great enthusiasm and gusto, becoming a full-time artist and a part-time academician.

Thus art which began as ‘therepy’ became ‘thoughtful’ as I consider art to be a subtle form of expression. Through art intangible subjects can be made understandable. My art is mostly thematic and message-oriented. I enjoy portraying the complex messages contained in the ‘verses of ‘Bhagvad Gita’ and ‘Sufi poetry’ etc. I try to depict the‘non-obvious’ metaphorically, thus making it understandable.

2) You received the “Woman of Excellence Award 2020” from the Indian Achievers’ Forum. How do you define women empowerment? Do you seek to empower women through your work?

According to me, preparing and letting women to make vital decisions in their life and in society is women’s empowerment .

Raising the status of women through education, awareness, literacy, skill-development, training etc. and in turn making them self-reliant (financially, emotionally, socially and physically) constitute a major part of women empowerment.

Yes, I do seek to empower women through my work! I had made a whole series on rural Indian women. Basically, I tried to draw attention to their problems and generate awareness regarding their plight.

During my stay at several districts of Maharashtra, India I tried to solve their problems by connecting them to various NGOs, making them aware of the various women-oriented govt. schemes as well as their rights and above all, making them aware of the protection provided to them under law.

Right now, as CEO and Founder of ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. I am focusing on uplifting the condition of women artists and artisans of India.

3) Your husband is also a highly respected bureaucrat in Mumbai India. Very exciting – what does the life of a wife of a bureaucrat entail? What were some key learnings?

Being wife a of a senior and well-respected bureaucrat is both satisfying and challenging. Satisfying, as it gives you enormous opportunities to look at various problems and strengths of the country closely. It also gives you various opportunities and roles to work for the society directly or indirectly. Challenging, as it requires acting absolutely responsibly. One has to shift from one district to the other district owing to various transfers and handle many things single-handedly owing to the hectic nature of the spouse’s job. Bureaucrats are called backbone of the nation. While you are supporting and informally advising the policy-makers and law-enforcers, you can’t afford to be anything but responsible.

Given the integral role the spouse plays in the future of an individual’s life, career and field, it is important for a spouse of a bureaucrat to be level-headed, mature, dependable and conscientious. A supportive atmosphere at home can make one calm and stable to make positive and impactful decisions which can benefit society/ city/state/country.

The key learning from the experience has been that it is absolutely necessary for the wives of the bureaucrats to have their own identity. Bureaucrats and their families are closely observed and followed by many (especially at the district-level postings). Somewhere you are also being looked at as a role model. It would be a failure to derive your identity just from your man. That’s what women empowerment is all about and one can’t just preach it ; one has to practice it too. Secondly, a confident individual with a sense of worth and purpose will make a better companion and counsel than someone who is bitter having low sense of worth and nagging sense of unfulfilled potential.

4) You have recently started working on promoting the work of folk artists in India .Tell us more about that.

As CEO and Founder of ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. I aim to safeguard the interest of the folk and tribal artists and artisans of India. Folk and tribal art of India is rich in tradition and heritage and celebrated throughout the world. But unfortunately the condition of the artists and artisans is far from pleasant. They rarely get their due. Their artworks are bought at a very low price and sold at insanely high price at regional, national and international markets. Many of them quit their rich traditional/family art and opt for menial jobs in the villages. As far as some folk-arts are concerned, there are only a few families left in the country which pursue them. These art-forms need to be conserved and preserved. For that, it is very necessary to protect the artists from being exploited and support them in various ways. ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. is committed to doing that. It plans to help

them by providing resources, giving access to the technology to work more efficiently , helping them upgrade their skills, giving them platform to sell their artworks, creating awareness about the value of their art in public through workshops and symposiums and enriching their lives as a whole.

5) As the platform for women dreamers, what is your next big dream? What are you focusing on for your next exhibition?

As an entrepreneur, I dream to see ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. realising our vision to bring about a sense of creativity & learning in folk and tribal artists in India and attaining our mission to create opportunities for them. I also dream to make ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. a commercially viable venture.

As an artist my dream is to go three-dimensional and digital.

For my next exhibition, I am planning to convey/portray my thoughts in 3D as well. With this idea I plan to have installations alongside the paintings. Installation art is an art-genre of three- dimensional works that are often walked around and contemplated.

One can discriminate installation art from sculpture art (which is also 3D) owing to its complete unified experience, rather than a display of individual artworks which are separate from each other.

I plan to have installations that are both interactive and immersive.

Also I am really fascinated by the idea of NFT art as an emerging trend and plan to create digital artworks which can be exclusive collectible NFTs.

Rajani Larocca Wins Prestigious National Award For Children’s Book

Bangalore-born Rajani LaRocca, an Indian-American author of children’s books as well as a primary care physician, has been awarded the runners up Newbery Honor Medal for Children’s Literature  for her book “Red, White and Whole.”

On the 100th anniversary of this prestigious medal first awarded in 1922, the top John Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature went to Donna Barba Higuera’s “The Last Cuentista.”

The medals were announced Jan. 24, 2022, and rae considered the highest recognition for children’s authors.

Other winners announced at the same time included the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature wheich went to “Amina’s Song” by Hena Khan.

Rajani LaRocca’s other children’s books include Midsummer’s Mehhem, Much Ado About Baseball, Seven Golden Rings, as well as My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris, among numerous others.

The Indian-American author has also received the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Award for Younger Readers which is gtiven out by We Need Diverse Books.

“When I first wrote this book of my heart, I wasn’t sure whether anyone else would want to read it or care about it. Seeing it recognized in this way is so incredible and humbling. The world needs all kinds of stories!” LaRocca says on her eponymous website rajanilarocca.com. “This story was inspired by aspects of my own life and childhood, and is dedicated to my parents, who are my heroes,” she adds.

Other recognitions for the book include being listed Jan. 17, on the 2022 Notable Books for a Global Society Award.

On Jan. 16, Red, White, and Whole was declared A Mighty Girl 2021 Book of the Year. And on Jan. 1, the book was included among the 2021 Cybils Award Finanlist in Poetry.

Her biography on the website says she immigrated to the United States as a baby and grew up in Louiseville, Kentucky.

LaRocca attended Harvard College and Harvard Medical School training in internal meedeicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A primary care physician since 2001, LaRocca lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Describing herself as “an omnivorous reader” be it cereal boxes, comic books magazine articles or novels, LaRocca says the books she read as a child “helped shape who I am today in ways that I’m still discovering.”

“Books inspired me to pursue medicine as a career; books made me yearn to live in different worlds; books helped me consider what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes,” she says. Her tastes were varied ranging from sci-fi to Shakespeare.

“I believe that promoting diversity in children’s literature leads to empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place,” LaRocca says.

By her own description, LaRocca writes middle-grade novels and picture books, some of them reflecting her “experiences as an immigrant, book nerd, and foodie.” Some of her books explain medical topics to kids and some are just ideas that pop into her head.

Indian Art Showcases Cultural Pride in Los Altos

The last two years has seen the art world adapt to survive the virus, by creatively showcasing exhibits via video or virtual museum visits. Now as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, artists are harnessing the healing and curative power of art to help bring us into the community.

Led by Deepti Nanawati, the ArtCircle Studio exhibit, Culture, Color, and Light, at the Los Altos Library’s January wall, showcases the work of artists from her Sunnyvale studio. With 17 adults and 26 youth artists participating– you will find works using pencil, acrylic, and oil on canvas. The adult artists are from diverse fields: software engineers, psychologists, physicians, and teachers who “find solace in creativity and art amidst the highly stressful life and work culture in the Bay Area,” says Nanawati.

The exhibit showcases:

Culture

In this section, visitors can enjoy the unique collection of festive, colorful, and vibrant art inspired by Indian culture. It draws on the knowledge and wisdom from the ages. The artists present their perceptions and emotions as a distillation of how they perceive life and how people work and interact with different aspects of various activities we engage in. “Culture defines our daily lives, most of us have lived a significant part of our lives in the Bay area which has a unique culture of its own,” explains Nanawati.

The exhibit features paintings inspired by Hindu spirituality by Madhavi Deolalikar showing the rapture and devotion of the culmination of a pilgrim’s journey at the annual Pandharpur pilgrimage. Krishnakumar Nair leverages his journey of meditation and self-inquiry. His paintings derive from concepts based on his experiences and reflections of the divine. Deepti Nanawati’s paintings are inspired by the creative principle, beauty, and synchronicity in nature and the spiritual fabric supporting us.

Keerti Jammala has painted a childhood self-portrait with her brother, as she celebrates this connection between siblings in the festival of Raksha Bandhan where a sister ties a sacred thread on the brother’s wrist as a recognition of their connection, bond, and trust. Sandhya Dabbara, loves to paint on fabric and shares her Bharatanatyam doll painted on white cotton and art inspired by the traditional pichwai cow painting.

Collaborative Art

Culture, Color, and Light, Size: 30” x 48”, Mixed Media on canvas

Nanawati coordinated and composed this painting with artists ranging from 3 to 17 years of age. The hands strongly connect, seemingly to pull each other up, representing “Culture.” The background above the hands, painted by the teens, showcases what “Light” brings to their minds. They have composed dazzling galaxies, brilliant aurora, stars and constellations, sunshine, rainbows, reflections and scattered light. The painting showcases the love and happiness artists associate with light.

Celebration of Uniqueness Size: 30” x 40”, Mixed Media on Canvas

The background below the hands celebrates “Color,” texture, form. The ideas they chose to represent are from real life, nature, and imagination that make their world magical. Plants and animals, insects and birds, magical creatures, flowers, vines and landscapes, shining crystals have been painted with beauty, joy, and enthusiasm.

Celebration of Uniqueness

Created by 19 artists in 2018, this picture is a collaborative expression of the uniqueness of each soul and the unique perspective and perception each person brings.

The collaborative artworks have been offered by the artists (through auction and keepsake purchases) in an online auction to benefit the Food Bank for Sunnyvale Community Services. It’s the perfect way to start the New Year by empowering artists and supporting the local community.

Seventeen artists from ArtCircle Studio teamed up to create this painting. Each segment represents a slice of earth and each artist has put their most positive vision for a resolved climate, and the changes that they would like to see for the future.

A mature and intriguing piece of art.

Check out the exhibit Culture, Color, and Light, through January 31, 2022, at the Los Altos Library

Address: 13 S San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

Let us know how this art impacted you and your family!

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: [email protected]

India Observes National Tourism Day

Government of India is celebrating ‘National Tourism Day’ on January 25, 2022.  This important occasion will be followed by commemoration of the 73rd Republic Day.

This year, India will cross a milestone when it completes 75 years of Independence on 15th August 2022. The landmark occasion is being celebrated as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. The series of events are receiving overwhelming participation from Indians and all people of Indian origin abroad. The grand celebration of progressive India and history of its people, culture, and achievements, commenced on 12th March 2021. Since then, began a 75 week countdown to India’s 75th Anniversary of Independence and will end post-a-year on 15th August 2023. Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi has launched a vision of activating India 2.0 fueled by the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. The ‘National Tourism Day’ needs to be seen against this backdrop.

For the celebration of the ‘National Tourism Day’, the Ministry of Tourism has been designated as the lead Ministry and Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Textiles, and Ministry of Railways will be the partnering Ministries. The Day will sensitize everyone about Government of India’s efforts to promote its Tourism potential.

The ‘Tourism Fortnight’, a special drive to promote Incredible India with a series of activities, conversations at the India Pavilion of the Expo 2020 Dubai, and a special ‘Tourism Pavilion’, in association with FICCI where various state governments took part and showcased their tourism potential are special promotion drives undertaken by the Government of India recently.

On the occasion of celebration of ‘National Tourism Day’, let us have a virtual tour of India’s select National Monuments.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Tamil Nadu:

Mahabalipuram is pre-eminently testimony to the Pallavas civilization of south-east India.The sanctuary, known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), and giant open-air reliefs, is one of the major centres of the cult of Siva. The influence of the sculptures of Mahabalipuram, characterized by the softness and supple mass of their modelling, spread widely (Cambodia, Annam, Java).

Founded in the 7th century by the Pallavas sovereigns south of Madras, the harbour of Mahabalipuram traded with the distant kingdoms of South-East Asia: Kambuja (Cambodia) and Shrivijaya (Malaysia, Sumatra, Java) and with the empire of Champa (Annam). But the fame of its role as a harbour has been transferred to its rock sanctuaries and Brahmin temples which were constructed or decorated at Mahabalipuram between 630 and 728.

Most of the monuments, like the rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna’s penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and Ahishasuramardini, and the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman I Mamalla.

Great Living Chola Temples

Tamil Nadu

The Great Chola Temples of southern India are an exceptional testimony to the development of the architecture and the ideology of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in southern India. They represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravida type of temple (characterized by a pyramidal tower).

The Cholas were the second great historic dynasty of the Tamil Nadu, the Tamil country, which was the home of the ancient Dravidian culture whose influence was so considerable in the whole of south-east Asia. The great temple of Tanjore was built in a few years, from 1003 to 1010, during the reign of the great king Rajaraja (985-1014), true founder of the Chola Empire which spread throughout the whole of southern India, part of Ceylon and the Maldive and Laccadive archipelagos. Richly endowed by the sovereign, the sanctuary, which also bears his name – it is sometimes called Rajarajesvaram – had a permanent staff of several hundred priests, 400 devadasi (sacred dancers), and 57 musicians, according to inscriptions and chronicles. The Brihadisvara’s income in gold, silver and precious stones during the Chola period has been precisely evaluated. These vast resources were efficiently managed and provided not only for the upkeep and improvement of the buildings (which was continued until the 17th century) but also for real investments to be made. The temple lent money, at rates which could sometimes reach 30%, to shipowners, village assemblies and craft guilds. Dedicated to Shiva, the Brihadisvara stands to the south-west of the historic city. A first rectangular surrounding wall, 270 m by 140 m, marks the outer boundary.

Sun Temple, Konârak

Orissa

 Konârak is an outstanding testimony to the 13th-century kingdom of Orissa. It is directly and materially linked to Brahmin beliefs, and forms the invaluable link in the history of the diffusion of the cult of Surya, which originated in Kashmir during the 8th century and finally reached the shores of eastern India.

On the eastern coast of India, south of the Mahanadi Delta, is the Brahmin temple of Kimarak (still spelled as Konârak or Konârka), one of the most famous Brahmin sanctuaries of Asia. Konârak derives its name from Konârka, the presiding deity of the Sun Temple. Konârka is a combination of two words, kona (corner) and arka (Sun). It was one of the earliest centres of Sun worship in India. Built around 1250 in the reign of King Narasingha Deva (1238-64), it marks the apogee of the wave of foundations dedicated to the Sun God Surya; the entire temple was conceived as a chariot of the Sun God with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings.

The present Sun Temple was probably built by King Narashimhadev I (1238-64) of the Ganga dynasty to celebrate his victory over the Muslims. The temple fell into disuse in the early 17th century after it was desecrated by an envoy of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. Samba was afflicted by leprosy and after twelve years of penance he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built this temple.

Elephanta Caves

Maharashtra

The island of Elephanta, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva and an epitome of Hindu cave culture, consists of seven caves on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Mumbai which, with their decorated temples and the images from Hindu mythology, bear a unique testimony to a civilization that has disappeared. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly in the huge high reliefs in the main cave.

The island of Gharapuri, the ‘City of Caves’, situated about 10 km from Mumbai on the east side of the harbour, owes its name to the enormous stone elephant found there by Portuguese navigators. This elephant was cut into pieces, removed to Mumbai and somehow put together again. It is today the melancholy guardian of Victoria Gardens Zoo in Mumbai, the great metropolis of Maharashtra State and India’s second city population-wise.

The date of the famous Elephanta Caves is still very much debated and varies from the 6th century to the 8th century according to different specialists. They constitute one of the most striking collections of rock-art in India. There are two groups of caves. To the east, Stupa Hill (thus named because of a small brick Buddhist monument at the top) contains two caves, one of which is unfinished, and several cisterns. To the west, the larger group consists of five rock-cut Hindu shrines. The main cave is universally famous for its carvings to the glory of Shiva, who is exalted in various forms and act ions. The cave consists of a square plan mandapa whose sides measure about 27 m

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal

Karnataka

Pattadakal represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there.

Three very closely located sites in the State of Karnataka provide a remarkable concentration of religious monuments dating from the great dynasty of the Chalukya (c. 543-757). There are the two successive capital cities – Aihole (ancient Aryapura), Badami, and Pattadakal, the ‘City of the Crown Rubies’ (Pattada Kisuvolal). The latter was, moreover, for a brief time the third capital city of the Chalukya kingdom; at the time the Pallava occupied Badami (642-55). While Aihole is traditionally considered the ‘laboratory’ of Chalukya architecture, with such monuments as the Temple of Ladkhan (c. 450) which antedate the dynasty’s political successes during the reign of King Pulakeshin I, the city of Pattadakal illustrates the apogee of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from the north and south of India.

Miss America Turns 100. Will She Last Another 100 Years?

As Miss America turns 100, a major question remains unanswered: Is she still relevant?

The glitzy competition, born from a 1921 Atlantic City beauty contest just a year after women were given the right to vote, maintains a complicated presence in American culture that has undergone multiple waves of feminism.

Participation and viewership has dropped since its 1960s heyday. When the next Miss America is crowned Thursday, her coronation will only be available to stream via NBC’s Peacock service, shunted from her primetime broadcast throne.

Faithful Miss America organizers and enthusiasts contend the annual ritual is here to stay and will keep changing with the times. And even though they may not have indeed devised a plan for world peace, many participants say the organization — a large provider of scholarship assistance to young women — has been life-altering, opening doors for them professionally and personally. Others should have the same opportunities, they say.

“I think that people have the wrong idea about what Miss America is all about because it’s not just about getting dressed up and being prim and proper and being perfect on stage,” said Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, who graduated from college debt-free, founded a public relations firm and became a TV personality.

Fans of Miss America often cheer on their state’s contender like they would for a local sports team. Yet some have voiced disappointment about the competition’s attempts to adapt to contemporary mores.

“It’s in kind of a bind because as it tries to progress, it not only loses its original identity, but becomes less entertaining to the people who like to watch it,” said Margot Mifflin, author of “Looking for Miss America: A Pageant’s 100–Year Quest to Define Womanhood.”

Fans, she said, are split over the trajectory of the competition — no longer a “pageant.” Some want it to be about “beauty and fitness” while others embrace the move toward focusing on leadership, talent and communication skills, she said.

Meanwhile, the competition is still engulfed by calls for greater diversity.

In the late 1930s, 40s and 50s, “rule number seven,” stated contestants had to be “of good health and of the white race.”

1968 saw a Miss Black America Contest, held to revolt against the lack of diversity, as well as a protest by several hundred women organized by the feminist group New York Radical Women, which called Miss America “an image that oppresses women in every area in which it purports to represent us.”

It wasn’t until 1984 that the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was crowned — and she relinquished her title over a nude photo scandal, receiving an apology from the organization only in 2015. At least 11 minority women have won the title in all.

Miss America President and CEO Shantel Krebs, a former South Dakota secretary of state who does not take a salary, contends the Miss America organization is “committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

She said the event has been at “the center of social issues” over the past 100 years, noting winners have taken on causes including HIV/AIDS awareness and the scourge of opioid abuse. But Mifflin notes the modernization of the competition has happened “well behind the broader culture in terms of women’s progress.”

It wasn’t until 2018 that the judging on physical appearance was eliminated, with the help of Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson.

Carlson, who stepped down as board chair in 2019, was part of an all-female leadership team that took over following an email scandal in which male leaders insulted former Miss Americas, denigrating their appearance, intelligence and even their sex lives. While some welcomed the changes as a way to make the event more relevant, many state organizations rebelled against the new leadership team.

“I say in the book that it’s always been in dialogue with feminism, but behind feminism,” Mifflin said of the Miss America competition. “So it always seems like it’s trying to catch up.”

Dunlap, the seventh Black Miss America, believes the competition — which she has no problem calling a pageant — needs to become more diverse in order to remain relevant. She noted, for example, there have been no winners of Hispanic origin.

She said more needs to be done to help young women of color get involved at the local level, such as helping them cover the high costs of participating — including developing their talents and buying gowns — so they can pursue the same life-changing opportunities.

This year, the nonprofit organization — run by an ardent group of volunteers at the national, state and local levels — announced the top scholarship awarded at the Dec. 16 finale will double to $100,000. The change was made possible by a donation from Miss America 1996 Shawntel Smith Wuerch and her husband Ryan Wuerch. According to the organization, a total of $435,500 in scholarship money will be distributed in this year’s competition, while more than $5 million is awarded annually through national, state and local programs.

Dunlap hopes that instead of looking for what she calls an “it girl” who can attract hits on social media, the Miss America organization in the coming years focuses on the promoting the “longevity of the organization.” Krebs says organizers are doing just that, noting the number of annual participants increased from about 5,000 to 6,500 after the 2018 changes.

“I just feel like there’s mixed messaging on whether or not you can be beautiful and attractive and also still be intelligent. And I just think that’s silly to me,” Dunlap said. “It’s like women can only do one thing, so pick a side. And that’s not true.”

It’s unclear if the decision to move the competition online says more about the fate of broadcast television than Miss America. NBCUniversal Media has been bullish about its streaming service and Krebs insisted the move to streaming was the organization’s decision and it had nothing to do with viewership numbers.

In 2019, the Miss America finale on NBC drew 3.6 million viewers, an all-time low. In contrast, the 1954 competition attracted 27 million viewers when there was much less competition for eyeballs.

“If you say you want to be around the next 100 years, we absolutely had the desire to be streamed because that is where our future is,” Krebs said, noting how younger people — and keep in mind, Miss America contestants must be between the ages of 17 and 25 — are less likely to have access to broadcast television.

Some fear moving online may spell the downfall of what’s often dubbed “the first reality TV show,” which started airing live in 1954.

“We have witnessed the demise of a historic event that helped shape Americans’ lifetimes,” one fan proclaimed on Facebook. Another agreed with Krebs, predicting “the audience we can reach is greater than ever now!”

Yet another fan, still upset the event is no longer in Atlantic City — it moved to a Connecticut casino in 2019 — wrote: “Unfortunately after 100 years it seems to have run its course.”

Asia Society Calls For Art Addressing Climate Change As Part Of New Awards

Responding to the urgency of accelerating climate change, Asia Society and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation are launching the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards, which will recognize visual artists currently enrolled in or recently graduated from MFA programs in the United States whose work directly addresses the climate crisis. Organized in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Gallery of Art, and The Phillips Collection, the award is designed to foster climate change awareness through the imagination and insights of an upcoming generation of visual artists. The Environmental Defense Fund will join these cultural institutions to share expertise and propagate the award in the environmental advocacy community.

Through an open call launching on January 10, 2022, the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards will be conferred to three winning artists, selected by a jury comprised of leaders from the collaborating institutions. Each artist will receive $15,000 and be honored in April 2022 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The awards have been organized in conjunction with COAL + ICE, an immersive exhibition featuring more than 40 documentary photographers and video artists from around the world, that seeks to visualize the climate crisis. COAL + ICE will be on view at the Kennedy Center from March 15 through April 22, 2022.

“Building on the Foundation’s recent Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, which supports U.S. art museums in mitigating their own environmental impacts, the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards seeks to raise further awareness by recognizing artists whose work sheds light on and responds to the climate crisis. We are pleased to be partnering with Asia Society in the creation of these new awards,” said Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Smith.

“A new generation is bringing fresh perspectives to our global response to climate change and we look forward to discovering what young emerging artists, whose lives are inextricably enmeshed with the climate crisis, have to say about this pivotal issue for humanity,” said Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations, who spearheaded the COAL + ICE exhibition.

Speaking on behalf of the collaborating organizations and the jury, Dorothy Kosinski, Vradenburg Director & CEO of The Phillips Collection, said, “The importance of this topic is reflected in how our institutions have come together to spotlight a new generation of artists tackling the climate crisis. Climate awareness is among our most consequential priorities as cultural institutions working today.”

Starting January 10, 2022, eligible artists and collectives will be invited to submit video artworks (e.g. digital video art, animation, film) or videos about visual artworks (e.g. documentation of tactile artworks, such as sculptures or paintings, or performance works) that tackle the climate change emergency via an online portal at climateartawards.org. Videos must not be longer than 5 minutes. Applicants must be either currently enrolled in a U.S.-based fine/visual art MFA program or will have graduated from such a program in the past 5 years. They must reside in the United States, with the exception of students currently enrolled in U.S.-based programs but pursuing their studies remotely due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

A shortlist of finalist artists will be released in February, and their videos will be made accessible online at climateartawards.org. The shortlisted videos will also be displayed on a dedicated channel and as featured selections on the homepage of ikonoTV, the global art media aggregator. The three winners will then be selected from among the finalists by a jury comprised of leaders from four of the collaborating institutions: Melissa Chiu, Director, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Molly Donovan, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Art; Dorothy Kosinski, Vrandenburg Director & CEO, The Phillips Collection; and Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe, Vice President for Global Artistic Programs at Asia Society and Director of Asia Society Museum, New York.

Further details of the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards, including application guidelines, may be found at climateartawards.org and on Instagram.
@ClimateArtAwards. #ClimateArtAwards #ArtForClimateAction

Strategic and operational support provided by András Szántó LLC.

András Szántó LLC assists museums, cultural organizations, commercial brands, foundations, and educational institutions worldwide in all phases of the conceptualization and implementation of cultural initiatives, from strategy to execution to the creation of exceptional content.

Sundaram Tagore Gallery Presents Ghiora Aharoni

Sundaram Tagore Gallery is presenting a sculpture, photography and installations by Israeli-born American artist Ghiora Aharoni. The New York-based artist examines complex dualities—from the intersection of religion and science, to the intertwined relationships among seemingly disparate cultures. The Ghau Series is on view at Sundaram Tagore Madison Avenue, at 82nd Street, in New York City through October 2.

Aharoni’s work is also on view at The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. through April 2022. The exhibition, which explores the metaphysical relationship between text and textiles, is part of a year-long collaboration with the museum, along with a research residency, academic seminars, public programs and another exhibition later this year.  Ghiora Aharoni’s sculptural media installation Make Me a Temple Within (The Ghau Series) comprises a collection of vintage portable Buddhist shrines—or ghaus—retrofitted with small video screens.
Born in Rehovot, Israel, in 1969, Aharoni grew up in a home full of diverse cultures and languages. He was introduced to the central texts of Jewish mysticism at an early age, which he incorporates into his work in abstract and literal ways. He often merges sacred texts of different faiths with traditional objects, such as vintage glass beakers and nineteenth-century Torah finials. By combining these texts and cultural artifacts and imbuing them with new meaning, Aharoni invites us to expand our perceptions of how cultures, religions and genders are interwoven.

Aharoni has exhibited his work widely, including at the Rubin Museum, New York, the Jewish Museum Vienna, the Museum of Contemporary Art, London and Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly The Victoria & Albert Museum), Mumbai. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library & Museum, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, among others.

Replacing the traditional glass meant to encase a sacred object, the screen displays a video montage the artist created of Buddhist monks prostrating as they circumambulate pilgrimage sites. The video is interwoven with ambient sound and other devotional rituals. It plays in a continuous loop, echoing the peaceful, meditative quality of the circumambulation.  The series title was inspired by a phrase in the Hebrew Bible: “Make me a temple so I will dwell inside you.” Rather than suggesting a physical structure, it is an invocation to manifest  spiritual energy within oneself.

“The series celebrates the intimate relationship between the individual and the divine in public devotional rituals, where the realms of the personal and the public unite in a transcendent spiritual energy,” Aharoni says. Aharoni’s work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, The Vatican Library, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, among others. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Rubin Museum, New York, the Jewish Museum Vienna and the Museum of Contemporary Art, London.

Navatman Presents Drive East 2021, An Indian Dance and Music Festival

Navatman completes one decade of Drive East, a festival that brings various artists of different Indian performing arts genres into the most ambitious—and lauded—congregations of Indian classical music and dance outside of India. In this tenth year of the festival, Drive East delves deep to understand ‘What it actually means to be a conscious artist’. We will be hosting 14 performances that showcase the diverse arts of India and the diaspora, from BharataNatyam inspired by 21st century novels to Carnatic theater in the tradition of Shakespearean plays, and from veena to sufi vocals to piano.

Drive East 2021 will be held in a hybrid format blending live theater with an online broadcast to allow for a global artist line-up and audience amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists evolve as we move forward in our careers; this year, we ask our artists to consider what it means to be a “conscious artist.” There is no universal answer, as each artist focuses on a myriad of aspects related to their performing art, such as sharing their choreography process to new artists, preserving lineage and traditions, opening up traditions that are normally closed off. What is consistent, however, is that conscious artists are always thinking about how they will impact the field around them, and why their contribution to the tradition of the form is valuable. Drive East 2021 explores what becoming a conscious artist looks like, poses myriad questions of artists and audiences, and explores the many paths artists can take to distill the vision of growth and sustainability into action. (Pictured above: KalaisanKalaichelvan.

Some of the highlights include Mumbai-based VaibhavArekar, one of the leading male BharataNatyam soloists today, who will be presenting “Upanishads.” New York based Michael Harrison, a composer and pianist who performs original and traditional North Indian classical music on the piano. Harrison earned international recognition when “Revelation,” his 75-minute work for piano, was selected as one of the Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and TimeOut New York, and “Just Constellations” was selected in NPR’s Best 100 SONGS OF 2020.

Harrison will be accompanied by the dynamic tabla artist Nittin Mitta, whose tabla playing is featured in Oscar award-winning short films and who has joined forces with Grammy nominated Indian and Western artists. Bay Area-based premier Odissi institution and company Guru Shradha, established by NiharikaMohanty, a disciple of the legendary Padma Vibhushan KelucharanMohapatra, from whose blessing Guru Shadha was born. A number of rare art forms are featured at Drive East this year, including concerts by Palo Alto-based GuhanVenkataraman accompanied by his brother VigneshVenkataraman, who will present the veena, a highly specialized musical art form performed by a select group of artists around the world.

The Chennai based Madras Players, the old English theater company in India with a track record of 220+ productions over 65 years, have been among the pioneers in showcasing Indian writing on stage. Here, they will present “Trinity,” a first-of-its kind musical play that leverages live Carnatic music to weave a story about three legendary music composers: Saint Thyagaraja, MuthuswamiDikshitar and ShyamaSastri. Arjun T.V. and team, based in Kerala, India, will take audiences into the rare world of kalaripayattu martial arts, while narrating the history of the form along with contemporary significance and showing martial arts choreographies involving various weapons.

Additional artists and performers for Drive East include: BharataNatyam solo by AishwaryaBalasubramanian (New Hampshire), sufi vocals by Sarvpreet Singh (Mumbai), a BharataNatyam group performance by Navatman Dance Company (New York City), a Koodiyattam solo by KalamandalamPrasanthi (Kerala), BharataNatyam solo by KalaisanKalaichelvan (Canada), sitar by RishabRikhiram Sharma (New York City), and BharataNatyam drama by Ganesh Vasudeva & Dancers (San Francisco), and Hindustani vocals showcasing Rabindrasangeet by SmitaGuha and team (New York City). Drive East is produced through Navatman, Inc. inpartnership with APEtech.

Navatman, Inc., led by Co- Artistic Directors Sridhar Shanmugam and SahasraSambamoorthi, is a performing arts organization that empowers the individual to nurture his or her personal evolution through interactions with the Indian classical arts. Founded with an eye towards creating a home for the Indian classical performing arts in NYC, Navatman is best known for our Manhattan-based and online classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, stellar music ensemble, multi-year live and online Mahabharata production, and Drive East – a week long collaborative festival celebrating our mission.

Co-Director Sridhar Shanmugam received training at the Kalakshetra School of Dance — one of the most prestigious schools of dance in India — and his later training in Rangoli painting, modern and post-modern dance, acting, choreography, stage lighting, theatre and stage technique. For many years he toured internationally as the legendary dancer choreographer Chandralekha’s primary male artist and later worked with such famous artists as Pina Bausch, Suzanna Linke, Philip Glass and countless others, earning awards and accolades from the governments of India, Great Britain and Italy. He has taught extensively and conducted workshops at several leading institutions including Columbia University, New York University and the Brooklyn Museum of Arts.

He maintains relationships with many of the top arts foundations such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center by serving on their boards and panels. As choreographer, teacher, dancer and director, Co-Director SahasraSambamoorthi’s experience being born and raised in the diaspora only serves to widen her ability to connect with both Indian and non-Indian audiences. She has earned accolades and scholarships from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts Folk Arts Apprenticeship, and is seen by many as a trailblazer forging a new understanding of South Asian arts in the United States. Sambamoorthi is the artistic director of Navatman Dance, an internationally touring Indian classical dance company Celebrating Indian Culture, Miss/Mrs/Teen India USA Held IN New Jersey

Nataraj Sharma’s Travel Log On Exhibition At Aicon Gallery In NYC

Aicon Art New York is presenting Travel Log, a recent solo exhibition by a stalwart of Indian contemporary art Nataraj Sharma, his second solo exhibition in North America and his first in New York in over a decade.

The exhibition is comprised of monumental canvases that document Sharma’s travels around India and its vicinity, exploring the relationships between urbanization, landscapes and the human presence at the interstices of modernity. Sharma is constantly expanding and evolving these images so that they add new connotations and dimensions to that which was already familiar. We sincerely hope you can join us at the opening reception.

The Opening Reception is planned for Saturday, June 12 | 1:00 – 7:00 pm. An in-person opening reception at the gallery, and for those who want to attend, please schedule an appointment if you or anyone you are in regular contact with, has compromised health at this time.

Affan Baghpati’s Solo Exhibition, Anatomy Of A Horny Heart In New York

Aicon Contemporary in New York is presenting an exhibition of works by Affan Baghpati starting on May 1st, 2021. Affan Baghpati’s work has been described by Arushi Vats, distinguished contemporary art writer, who states, “In Affan Baghpati’s ‘objets terrible’-hybrid assemblages of metal, stone, plastic that stir memories and invite interpretations-the order which governs human sensing is profoundly troubled…These admixtures trick the eye into a search for convention as domestic objects, popular keepsakes, and memorabilia are encountered; then swiftly denies it such appeasement.”

In Affan Baghpati’s “objets terrible”—hybrid assemblages of metal, stone, plastic that stir memories and invite interpretations—the order which governs human sensing is profoundly troubled. Anatomies are disassembled as the plastic limbs of a doll are affixed to a metal dani (container) sprouting the head of a European composer, a small foetus emblem is bezeled on the side. Disparate parts of a constellation of unrelated yet proximate objects connect to make provisional the very notion of a stable whole. These admixtures trick the eye into a search for convention as domestic objects, popular keepsakes and memorabilia are encountered; then swiftly denies it such appeasement.

The composite is spliced to reveal divergent energies: a cat figurine looks sideways, quite literally, as its body is angulated, copper plates smoothening its messy innards; elsewhere the comforting figure of a pug is separated in two, connected by a glinting brass pipe. These are found objects, sourced by Baghpati from the local markets and tradespersons of Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, Gujrawala, Rawalpindi and Multan which makes these akin as commodities, things holding value, revolving in circuits of exchange. Yet these objects have tread variant paths, and are vehicles for distinct if not distant histories. A surmedani, a kohl container and applique, is a common if disused accoutrement in South Asian homes.

In Baghpati’s assemblages, you are as likely to encounter the elaborate head of a suramchi (the applique stick) carved with intricate patterns and symbols of national identity, as the opulent dani, the small pot that stores kohl or surma. A brass sarota (nutcracker) would rest in the paan dan (betel leaf box), often found in the hands of matriarchs such as Mumani in Ismat Chughtai’s short story Kallu, who is fastidiously cleaning it when a confrontation erupts.

Declining in usage and vanishing from material culture, these objects radiate a belated nostalgia, functional enough to not be saved as heirlooms, deeply entwined with the personality of their custodians. Baghpati remembers his grandmothers and their relationship with these objects, that enveloped within them many gestures, tehzeeb, dispositions of these women. It is the nature of traces to urge contact, a sabundani (soap box) implores you to bend forward and take a sniff; you can hear a snap in your head as you gaze upon a dog’s head attached to a brass clipper.

These objects enjoin with mass-produced “readymades” and European memorabilia to create humoredly, a statement on the asymmetrical networks of production, circulation and discarding that shape economies of consumption and waste: a doll manufactured in China is sold in Europe, and disposed to South Asia, where it blends with a “Made in Pakistan” surmedani, all this while travelling routes old and new, transforming in meaning and form.

Affan Baghpati is currently a lecturer at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. The artist is based in Karachi, Pakistan.  The exhibition is on view through May 29th. To view the works online, visit our exhibition exhibition page.

Art/CultureWorks By Indian Artists At Upcoming New York Auction Series

Over 750 objects from 5,000 years of art spanning all epochs and categories of Asian art from Chinese archaic bronzes through Japanese and Korean art to modern and contemporary Indian painting, will go under the hammer in a series of auctions at the Asian Art Week by auction house Christie’s in March in New York.

Of the seven auctions, at least three include Indian works of art, including a significant painting by the pioneer of Indian modernism Tyeb Mehta, titled ‘Confidant’ and painted in 1962 (estimated to fetch between Rs 4.34 crore – Rs 5.79 crore).

According to the auction house, important Gandharan sculptures from a private Japanese collection, including a magnificent 3rd to 4th-century gray schist figure of Buddha Shakyamuni among the highlights. “From rare huanghuali furniture to a collection of works by respected artist and teacher Benodebehari Mukherjee, treasures from every category of Asian art wait to be discovered.”

In the ‘South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art’ auction on March 17, early works of Tyeb Mehta (Confidant, 1962) and Francis Newton Souza (Family, 1946) are included. Also included are exceptional examples by modern masters Maqbool Fida Husain, Sayed Haider Raza and Narayan Shridhar Bendre. Also featured is a fine group of paintings by Krishen Khanna from the collection of Arthur and Lilly Banwell.

A diverse contemporary section includes impressive prints and a sculpture by Zarina, and significant works by the region’s most renowned practitioners like Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Ranjani Shettar, Jitish Kallat and Subodh Gupta, to name a few.

Part two of the same auction includes a significant collection of works by Benodebehari Mukherjee (1904-1980) from the Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation. Ethereal landscapes by this pioneer of modern Indian art are complemented by a group of figurative works and nature studies representing every phase of his career. Particularly important are collages, sketches and prints from the final stage of his life, executed after the artist’s complete loss of eyesight.

On the same date, the ‘Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art’ sale will present 58 lots featuring works from across India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. Highlights include a rare Chola-period bronze figure of the Shaivite saint Sambandar and a well-published folio from the dispersed ‘Lambagraon’ Gita Govinda series attributed to the Kangra court artist Purkhu.

Christie’s also says that it continues to leverage digital tools to extend access to key bidding areas and provide global audiences with opportunities to view auctions.

The ‘South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Online’ auction from March 4-18, also aims to “celebrate a wide variety of artistic practices from the South Asian subcontinent and its diaspora across the 20th and 21st centuries”, says Christie’s.

The online sale includes excellent modern works on paper by artists Maqbool Fida Husain, Francis Newton Souza, Manjit Bawa, Prabhakar Barwe and Jogen Chowdhury, alongside those by their mentors and pioneers of regional schools like Abdul Rahman Chughtai, Walter Langhammer, Nek Chand, Kamrul Hasan and Chittaprosad Bhattacharya. Rounding out the catalogue is a section of exceptional works by modern Pakistani artists and contemporary works by artists including Surendran Nair, Nilima Sheikh, Arpana Caur and Paresh Maity. (IANS)

Classical Musicians From India & North America Perform At The Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival For A Global Audience

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan USA, Sneh Arts, Kolkata Sitar School & Viewcy in association with the Consulate General of India & Dhwani Academy of Percussion Music presented the 2nd Annual Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival. Adapting to the challenges of the global pandemic, the festival was held online on November 29th & December 5th on the digital platform Viewcy, which enabled us to reach audiences in Asia, Europe & North America. The artist lineup included some of the most recognized names in Indian Classical music as well as rising stars. The concert was streamed in several time zones to accommodate audiences from around the world on both days. The festival was supported by our media partners : TV Asia, World BBTV, Radio Zindagi, Divya Bhaskar & The Indian EYE.

 

Viewers were treated to soul stirring music at this 2 day, 12 hour – festival, which featured 26 musicians from both the Hindustani & Carnatic styles of music. Community of artists & music lovers gathered to enjoy instrumentalists & vocalists from various gharanas (school of music) showcasing their talents & mastery on the sitar, tabla, sarod, esraj, santoor, violin, veena, mridangam, harmonium & vocals. The festival team was particularly enthusiastic about giving a platform to the younger generation of Indian American artists who work very hard to pursue this art form alongside those based in India.
Dignitaries from the music world & the community graced the occasion online to bestow their blessings, not only to the young artists, but also to the organizers for continuing this special initiative. The Consul General of India in New York Amb. Randhir Jaiswal & Deputy Consul General Amb. Shatrughna Sinha, who graced the occasion, appreciated the work & effort put into presenting the rich music of India through this festival. Bhavan Chairman, Dr. Navin C. Mehta, joined the festival on both days, commending the music community for coming together for such a special marathon of music. He was thrilled to see such a fantastic line up & engaging audiences that were enjoying this online festival.

There were countless comments of support & appreciation pouring in during the live streaming of the festival, which encouraged the artists & the organizers. Dibyarka Chatterjee wrote, “What a treat these past 6 hours have been! Congratulations once again to the organizers, not only for being able to continue the festival despite these trying circumstances, but for such a high-quality production. Deepest gratitude to all the performers for bringing light & joy into our homes!” Vineeta Khanna wrote, “Much gratitude to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sneh Arts, the brilliant artists & all the folks instrumental in making this event happen! You all are doing great service to the Arts!”

This year’s festival had a very special significance to the organizing team of Chaar Prahar, which consists of Minesh Patel, Managing Director of Bhavan USA, Indro Roy Choudhury, Bhavan Sitar guru & Director of Chaar Prahar Festival, and Sunny Thakkar, Founder of Sneh Arts.  It was dedicated to the former Executive Director of Bhavan USA, Shri Deepak Dave, who left this world too soon; it was his vision that motivated the team to continue this festival. It was also dedicated to one of the board members, Megha Bhouraskar’s father, Shri Digambar Bhouraskar. He was a long time Bhavan supporter & an ardent lover of Indian Classical Music. Long time vocal guru at Bhavan, Smt. Sanjukta Sen & her daughter Shruti Sen, performed the opening invocation for the festival.

The Chaar Prahar Music Festival team is extremely grateful to the artists, community partners, media partners, team members & everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this festival possible. They look forward to even more support from the musicians & music lovers so they can continue to present such special events & give a continuous platform to local talent. The team has announced that the next Chaar Prahar Festival will be in November 2021. More info on bhavanusa.viewcy.com

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