On May 15th I attended a most extraordinary happening which was held in a magical venue. The event was FUNKY FLOETRY: A Fundraiser for Mother Health International. www.motherhealth.orgThe venue was Issyra African Art Gallery in Hoboken, New Jersey. www.hobokenafricanartgallery.com
Issyra African Art Gallery is located in a former leather factory at 300 Observer Highway. Much like “the SOHO of old”, factories in this area of Hoboken have been converted into artists’ studios and galleries. These precious real estate locations are always under threat of being bought for big condo development. Issyra is a large ground floor warehouse space dedicated to traditional and contemporary African Art, and to showcasing emerging artists of every kind. It has the unfinished feel of an industrial building yet gets cozy with “living room” areas and open jam sessions every Friday and Saturday night. Owner of the gallery, Issa Sow, enhances these nights with a magic touch on lighting, sound system and lounge areas for optimal spectating and conversational pleasure. Issa is a native of Senegal and lived for many years in France. He has a unique socially conscious vision which brings together international performers and multi-media artists to network, jam and dance. Thus on weekend nights the gallery transforms into a truly sublime and magical place. You feel transported to another world where LOVE of ART and PEOPLE reigns supreme, rather than the love of commercial transaction. Issa's is the kind of "underground movement" that the whole world is craving ABOVE GROUND.
On one such inspired Friday night, Issa graciously lent his space for the early evening hours to Olivia Augusta, Director of Site Development for Mother Health International.
In addition, on some ancient African wooden beds and stools, Olivia splayed and sold items made by the traditional midwives and mothers of the birthing center in Uganda. These included skirts, baby slings and handbags made out of Ugandan textiles and jewelry handmade from recycled paper and other materials.
Thanks to all who came out to help make the success of the event possible. Thanks to Issa for his inspired vision of sharing “living African art” with his community and the world. And thanks to Olivia Augusta for doing the kind of socially conscious work in the world that truly makes a difference.