The large-scale pop-up art show Manifest:Justice will also be a performance and discussion space about human rights and social justice. As such, it will be chock-full of some amazing art. But in the program spaces, there's much to stop and drop your jaw about as well. Sponsored by Arts for Amnesty and California Endowment, there are over 30 events over the 10 days -- discussions, music, stage, film, workshops. It was an ambitious undertaking that I hope folks will get to check out accidentally or purposely. For the purposeful, here's 10 of them that should not be slept on.
"Rodney King" by Roger Guenveur Smith. This powerful theatrical piece, I have not gotten tired of since Roger jumped it off a couple of years back. One, because it is like a timeless tale, Shakespearean almost, and his acting is so invasive of the characters and story involved. But also because Roger doesn't sleep on the news. Each performance is enhanced and updated with references to the latest tragic incidents involving black men and the police, making your shake your head and teeth grit all the more. May 2.
Film:Justice. On this night, filmmaker Victoria Mahoney takes us inside two forms of imprisonment, one local and literal, the other global and metaphorical. Screening excerpts from the films "Middle of Nowhere" by Ava Duvernay and "Circumstance" Co-Produced by Karen Chien we jump from how a man being in prison unravels his family to how a woman being in love with another woman in a country that forbids it is in a different kind of cell. As a complete film geek and screenwriter, I'm amped.
Cinco de Mayo (Justice Now Remix). How do you flip the script on the American bar scene bastardization and pimping of this Mexican holiday to keep it from becoming another hyper-marketed reason to get drunk? Get back to the roots and go forward before a glass is lifted. Reclaiming the day by focusing on the values of Resistance and Taking A Stand, this remix involves the super force of East LA-meets-Afrobeat band Mexico 68, the latin-soul-hip-hop fusion of DJ Canyon Cody and Latino poets (plus some other special guests) that will ground us in the true meaning of the day. Co-Produced with Grand Performances. May 5.
Sybrina Fulton X Patrisse Cullors. This double-billed night, anchored by two courageous women, is not for for those who think things are generally okay for black people. Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin and she, in a discussion with Dr. Bob Ross of California Endowment, will talk about Resilience. Then after a musical salve of a DJ set by KCRW's Aaron Byrd, #BlackLivesMatters originator Patrisse Cullors takes the stage with a play created called "Power: Mouths of the Occupied." May 6.
Prop 47 Record Change Fair. Talk about a life-changer. For the 2.5 million people in Califnornia with felonies on their record that could be changed to misdemeanors, this program element of Manifest:Justice is literally manifesting justice. Participants will be able to get legal assistance and other forms of counseling to maximize opportunities afforded by Proposition 47, passed last year by California voters.
Speak:Justice. This night of spoken word featuring a number of folks many would recognize from the Def Poetry Jam days, is sure to light up the joint. Curated by Michael Skolnik of GlobalGrind.com, its sure to be an electrifying night of performances when given the topic of human rights and social justice to speak their fire. A recent collaborator of mine on raising the minimum wage, poet Mayda del Valle (photo below), will be among those verbalizing before leading a spoken word workshop for teens at end of the week. May 3.
Writ Large Press. This indie publishing collective based in downtown LA is going to inhabit the space in a truly refreshing way. Armed with typewriters in different parts of the gallery, the 'typists' will record peoples' reflections about the arts, human rights and social justice. After aggregating the responses, they will be compiled into a book during the course of the week and then available at the gallery shop. How cool is that? Can't wait to see the things that people are going to say.
Piece by Piece. Among the many interactive treats for kids at Manifest:Justice, this workshop, put together by the Mosaic Mafia, teaches people self-reflection through working with tiles. Its an incredible hands-on way to literally see yourself in the big picture of your community and the world. May 8.
Hit + Run. This live screen printing crew is one of the best kept secrets at any event wherever they show up. They make fresh designs then you get to decide where and how you want them printed and on what -- t-shirt, tote bag, hoodie. Its up to you. I must own at least 10 t-shirts done by the Hit + Run crew over the years. This time, I will remember to bring my hoodie and I will get it hooked up properly. May 1 -3.
The Art of Family. On the closing day, which is also Mother's Day, we look at it through a justice lens as well. In this case, that means not only thinking about what the definition of family is or can be, but celebrating the diverse range of family forms we have today. Families of all types and stripes are welcome to come to a photo session with some dynamic creative photographers and get their images on-site in real time. It's a beautiful way to close things out. May 10.
Oh and here's a pro tip: Arrive early. For real. Come to the gallery well before a program start time, check out the art while you monitor what's happening in the program spaces, then make your move accordingly. The performance and workshop spaces are intimate, making it oh-so-much-more special. But potentially packed out.
Manifest:Justice, runs May 1 - 10 at 3741 S. La Brea Ave, 90016 in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles For latest updates, go to its Facebook Page.