Hadley Park. Lowell, Massachusetts. It is a freezing cold day. Andrea Delahunty hasn’t slept much. She just flew in on a red eye from LA with her chihuahua. She’s been skateboarding since she was 14 years old.
Her petite body dons a Thrasher sweatshirt and she shivers while I talk to her. She has taken a break from soaring back and forth on her skateboard on a cement half-pipe to talk to me.
While we talk, the sound of skateboard wheels colliding with cement echoes through the park.
I ask her about how she got started with skateboarding.
“I got stuck here one day on my birthday and I met all these guys. I got bored just sitting here and doing nothing, so I started skating too. I’m kind of tomboyish, so I fit right in.”
Manny Santiago and Dave Bachinksy are my best friends. “Manny just turned pro with Axion and AMMO. And Dave is on Think and BOX,” she says.
Andrea works a regular job as an interior designer. Before that she worked hospice care, but she skateboards any chance she gets.
“You meet so many people skateboarding. It’s such a solid community of people. It takes a while to get used to your board. Then you come up with different tricks and combinations. My first board was a Pioneer’s board that Dave Bachinksky’s uncle gave to me. Skating became a release for me. I worked a really stressful job in hospice care. Some days I would just come here in my scrubs and skate,” she laughs.
It’s really good exercise, she explains and a lot of her friends are making a living off of it now. “For me, it’s never been about making into a job. I wake up in the morning and go skate, go to the gym, go to work and then go skate again. I work at kids skate-camp during the summers. I love working at camp. I have so much fun with the kids,” she says.
On this day, she has just come from Boardwalk skateshop in Woburn. She explains how she bumped into one of her kids from her skate-camp. ”You meet people you wouldn’t meet anywhere else. Skaters like to travel and I literally have met people from around the world,” says Andrea.
Andrea recalls the highlight of her life as a skater as she quickly says “hello” to an engineer-type with his board who passes by. “It was at Dew Tour this year with Manny and Dave. It was a blast. We were at this beautiful hotel. It was exactly how you would picture Vegas, almost from out of a movie. I saw all these pro-skaters I grew up admiring. I looked around and I realized, if you follow your dreams– they do come true.”
It was around the same time that Andrea got Manny’s pro-model board.
I ask her if it is difficult to compete as a female in skateboarding competitions.
“You have better luck skating in a male competition,” she explains. You’d probably win more in last place than in first place in a female competition. It’s definitely more difficult. If you’re a girl and you skate, you definitely have to prove yourself. Sometimes the guys will go skate “street” and I’ll practice by myself. Manny is the one who pushes me the most. For instance, the other day we were at the skate park and he said “I’ll do a hundred heel flips if you do one”.
Andrea cites Vanessa Torres and Elissa Steamer as examples of inspiring female, pro-skaters.
When asked if skating is a tough work out, she described how her legs and abs ache after skating. ”It’s an amazing work out, she says. Everything hurts at the end of the day.”
Andrea also found another passion a few years ago. She discovered Golden Gloves Boxing after getting sick of running on the treadmill. “I like extreme physical activity, she explains. I wanted something that would keep me in shape that was fun, so I walked into Arthur Ramalho’s gym.
My trainer, Jack O’Neill, couldn’t believe I walked in by myself, but I started going every single day,” she recalls. Arthur Ramalho’s gym was featured in the 2010 film “The Fighter.”
Andrea explains that sparring in boxing is a lot like skateboarding. It just so happens that the sports she loves have a lot of males around, even though she describe herself as a “girly-girl.”
Skateboarders and stigmas?
“A honestly think a lot of people think skateboarders are punks” Andrea explains. I would definitely say that most of my friends aren’t really into partying. They’re more into skating, trying to go “pro,” traveling, becoming film-makers, photographers, company reps or working at skate-shops and skate-camps, etc. Some people can’t believe that I can skate but for me it’s not a big deal because I grew up around it and most of my friends skate.
As everyone is getting ready to pack up and leave, I get a chance to chat with Dave Bachinksy who’s about to embark on a cross-country trip, scouting out competitions. “Going pro is a working process, he explains.” “First, you have get into a shop that will sponsor you, then you go “flow” for a company rep (sponsored skater receives a small amount of products on a regular basis), then you go “am” (amateur) for a company (skaters receive some promotion, products and promotion incentives), then you go “pro” for a company” (skater receives a paycheck, a “pro model” with their name on, funds to go to contests, and royalties for products sold with their names on them.)
How do skaters support themselves in the meantime?
Side projects, couch-surfing. Skateboarders help each other out, Dave explains.
Dave talks about the process of filling in all the cracks at Hadley Park with car bondo every year for the last 12 years. He also shovels snow out in the winter. “It’s completely amazing that the community built this park,” he says. “It just needs up-keep.”
I ask Dave what advice he has for kids who are starting out.
Anybody can skate, it just really depends on what you’re doing it for. But come and shred, borrow people’s boards, get to know people, get hand-me-downs while you’re doing your paper job or whatever.
“This place is helped so many skaters through the years, day in and day out,” Dave explains. It’s crazy to see this new generation. It’s rad.”
You can now purchase Manny Santiago’s line of professional skateboards by AMMO at PER$ONA at 51 Market Street-Downtown Lowell.
On a mild and sunny Saturday afternoon in January, art and chili aficionados alike gather together for the Brush Art Gallery’s Open Studio Reception and First Annual Chili Contest in Historic Downtown Lowell. The Chili Competition, although hosted by the Gallery, is a fundraiser benefitting the Gallery’s Special Perspectives Art Program, providing classes to mentally challenged adults participating in RARA. RARA, Remarkable, Active, Resilient Adults of Greater Lowell, is a non-profit dedicated to provide awareness, support and accessibility to creative, social, recreational, and educational opportunities for the mentally challenged population throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Eight contestants assemble within a small room off the Gallery’s main corridor to compete for their title as the reigning champion of Lowell chili. As patrons line up at the door, the inviting smells of spice wafting from the room are a preview of what is to come. Although crowded, the general mood in the room is happy and inviting as people sample a broad array of unique chili each with its own flavor, texture, and “secret ingredients”. From the “Best Vegetarian Chili Ever” by Colleen, to the colorful home-style flavor of “New England Chili” by Pamela, the competition is tough. Cindy’s colorful and unique “Christmas Chili” features two kinds of chili peppers flown straight from New Mexico and cubed steak in place of traditional ground beef.
The competition is tight and uncertain as each participant adds their own flair to this classic one-pot meal. In the end, it’s a tie with two competitors proving victorious. “Nancy’s Dynamite Chili” with an undisclosed secret ingredient, by Nancy Wormwood and “True Texas Chili” which features a spicy kick and unique flavor thanks to a bottle of Dos Equis, by Raquel Portillo Bauman are the winners. Both contestants are Brush Gallery board members and talented artists who display their work at the Brush.
Lowell native opens PAB Art Exhibit in NYC with her improvisational monologuePerformance No Comments
Obehi performing an improvisational piece about her first experience in NYC in December. Video Credit: Paul A. Notice.
It’s a beautiful, sunny day at Brewd Awakening Coffee House in Lowell, Massachusetts. My friend Obehi sits quietly sipping her chai tea. She is one of the first people I met when I moved to Lowell.
We met in Cambridge at Fire and Ice during a snow storm last year. I saw her perform a reading of Double Falsehood, one of Shakespeare’s unpublished works after my Speech and Movement Professer Jennie Israel mentioned the performance. When we met, neither of us knew we lived in Lowell. In fact, well into the first 20 minutes of our conversation, we still didn’t know. She was about to take the train back to Lowell, but I insisted we ride back together. We talked acting the whole way home. She mentioned she was writing a one-woman show. The snow kept coming down. I didn’t notice it.
Nearly six months later, I was producing and house managing her play, fufu & oreos, at the 119 gallery. Today I find myself sitting with her, laughing about old times and her most recent experience of performing in New York City. A native of Lowell, Obehi recently performed a new improvisational monologue at Black Ink Gallery, the first black-owned, black-run artist gallery in Harlem. Her performance was part of Michael Dailey and Gilbert Gandia’s opening art reception for “730 DAYS” (P.A.B.). “I had no expectations because I’m always improvisational, but I found the space itself was really intimate with a very Harlem-centric crowd,” Obehi recalls.
“A lot of the people from Harlem were taken by the fact that we were from Lowell, Massachusetts.” “That question came up a lot, she says.” “Not so much–who are you, but what is “Lowell?” Even my working artist friends from New York City asked how I met Mike Dailey and Gilbert Gandia and were impressed at how awesome it is that artists in Lowell are so tight-knit. “It was an awesome evening, “she reminisces. “Gilbert and Mike performed and I performed with them. I sang the hook and they looped it while Gilbert did some crazy, performance art with Mike. It was a fun, crazy evening and it went on forever. I feel like when you’re in New York City, you just meet awesome people and there is this convergence of different things and different people immediately. It doesn’t take long for stories to arise,” she muses. Obehi also explains how nice it was to see so much interest in Mike and Gilbert’s artwork and remembers being excited to see copies of Lowell Anthology at the Black Ink Gallery.
“I made contacts with artists in Harlem who were interested in my work. I always feel like I learn a lot when I’m there, “ Obehi explains. “Performance is all about atmosphere. It’s a learning process. I’m finding out now that I can do a stripped-down version of my play with just me and a microphone so I’m going to be contacting different venues in Boston. I’m sort of being a comedian who sings, as a friend put it.”
“I never thought of myself as funny until a friend of mine told me I was,” she continues. “Like, when did you know you were a writer? How did you know? “ she asks me. “When my high school English teacher read my journal,” I responded. RIGHT, she told you. Half of my play is comedy, she says. I found out I was a writer only a year ago when I was at an actor’s training workshop. We were journaling and the head of training said I was a great writer. A professor once told me in college, but I didn’t really believe him. But for this person to say my creative writing was good–it blew my mind. So now I’m a writer and I didn’t realize it, Obehi explains.
Seeing Obehi’s 119 gallery performances for two straight weekends and her rehearsal methods, I realized quickly that every performance was different in it’s own, unique way, incorporating life events such as things that had happened that morning. She creates every performance in a way that allows room for constant evolution within the play, while always sticking to a similar theme—”who am I and where am I from?”
I find the beauty of Obehi’s work is that it is never the same, yet it always conveys the human experience in an honest, humorous and humble way.
“There’s also a word for the withdrawn sigh that girls say, she exclaims.” “It’s called the “frog” and I do it all the time she says. Linguists have deemed that it’s not a speech impetiment. Like when Kim Kardashian will be like “Oh really? Uuuuuuhhhhhh”. We both laugh. I lose my contact lens laughing. This is how our conversations usually go.
You can catch Obehi in Medea with the Actors Shakespeare Project February 8, 2012 – March 4, 2012 at the Multicultural Arts Center of Cambridge (www.actorsshakespeareproject.com) and stay updated with her one-woman show at http://www.fufuandoreos.com.
You can catch Michael Dailey and Gilbert Gandia’s newest exhibit at Heath Gallery in NYC on February 4, 2012 from 7-11 p.m, along with musical performances by Streight Angular, Please Melt and PABXMFDJR: http://heathgallery.squarespace.com/
The Revolving Museum’s 2012 Multimedia Art Show featured works from Diana Coluntino, Mauricio Cordero, Alex Drouin, Chris Flisher, Kit Harbison, Bernard Long, Joe MacFadzen, Adam Norton, Michael Sam, Sopheak Sam, Brittney Swindells and Atena Vilorio.
Bernard Long’s “The Greasy”, an acrylic on canvas piece, features a character inspired by the 1966 film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. After seeing the film, Long wanted to create a piece with a “badass” character. The stark colors in the work draw the viewer in to take a closer look at the character’s features. The intent gaze, unkempt hair, and beard reinforce the character’s harsh demeanor.
The show also featured three dimensional sculptures, such as these untitled soapstone sculptures by Atena Vilorio. These small sculptures have interesting textures highlighted by shades of green. All of the sculptures have elements of an organic form resembling animals or people but some also emphasize sharper edges, keeping the form closer to that of the original rock.
Mauricio Cordero’s piece, to be titled upon adoption, is created with ballpoint on paper. At first the forms look incredibly abstract, almost like the landscape of a foreign planet. But on closer examination, the features look very familiar and human – like toes in a sock. This piece invites close inspection of a part of the body that is rarely examined.
The tunnel is an area that resembles an alleyway, but without the extreme winter temperatures as the area is enclosed as part of the building. This area looks like it serves as an idea playground for artists who want to work with a large canvas in a space with a very urban feel.
I like the Loading Dock Gallery at Western Ave Studios. It’s big, well lit and employs an interesting use of space. Unlike some cold sterile galleries that push the viewer along their white walls like a subway train, LDG invites private engagement and casual wandering. And so it is even with an exhibit of smaller works. Though the current show, “50 Under 50″ curated by Holly Berube, offers 50 small works of art for under $50, it’s not really about “downsized” art. Economics may dictate the smaller scale of artwork presented here, but smaller scale also demands judicious intent as it needs to maintain the same potential for engagement and appreciation.
“It’s an amazing amount of variety,” one viewer said. On three walls and three display stands, paintings, prints, jewelry, stoneware, textile art, glassware, photography, sculpture and mixed media works harmoniously welcome comparison and reflection.
Cornelia Jutta Forster’s ethereal monotype juxtaposes well next to Nita Leger Casey’s miniature landscapes.
Paul Mingoletti’s gracefully classic watercolors complement Holly Berube’s forceful yet warm encaustics.
Where there is complexity and depth there is also whimsical charm.
Most of all there is sincerity. A sincere dedication to the artists’ passions is most evident in this exhibition and that is why these smaller, less expensive works do not succumb to a mundanely executed process. As David Leblanc explained while discussing his acrylic and collage works, “They need to be what they are, not a snapshot of a larger work. You need to understand and respect the materials and give them equal respect.” These smaller works presented a challenge for David whose pieces are often 60”x44”. “I learned to let them be what they needed to be,” he said.
Regardless of size, the artwork displayed at the “50 Under 50“ exhibit definitely stands on its own. It is an eclectic representation of a wonderful artistic community.
“50 Under 50“ is currently showing at The Loading Dock Gallery at Western Avenue Studios, 122 Western Ave., 2nd floor of the A-Mill until January 30th. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00am to 4:30pm.
On a frigid afternoon in December, a group of Lowellians gathered at Armory Park not really knowing what to expect.
During the weeks prior, there was much talk of a Lowell “Flashmob”event but details were few and far between. Invites were sent on facebook alluding to a “Flashmob Yankee-Swap” or “Flashmob Sunday” by an elusive John Smith aka (Santa’s Little Helper Elf, Community Advisor at Santa, from the North Pole, Alaska). His profile pic featured an animated cartoon Santa extending gifts in his hands.
Invitees were encouraged to bring a home-made gift: a piece of art, a mixed cd, etc. and assemble at noon in Armory Park.
Little clues were posted on the event page in the days prior: a video of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” and Nena’s “99 Luft Ballons” but nothing could have prepared this group of gatherers what was in store for them.
That morning Santa’s little helpers were certainly on task. Members of MillCityFlashMOB were busily inflating balloons and tying postcards to strings, amongst other tasks to prepare for the event.
On that bone-chilling day, Master of Ceremonies Obehi Janice kicked off the event with her megaphone, exclaiming “Okay everyone, jump up and down if you’re cold! “Twirl around if your cold!” “Hug someone if you’re cold! This is about community!”
Participants were asked to tie their balloons around their wrists and write a personal message on postcard that would hopefully make its way to someone, somewhere.
While helpers were arranging and separating balloons and attaching postcards that had actual QR codes on them, Obehi Janice asked “So who knows everyone at this flash mob today?” Everyone was instructed to get into a circle.
While the “Funky Chicken” played, gift-givers were asked to pass their gifts to the right, then to the left, then to someone wearing a different color as them.
“Now pass the gift to someone who lives in a different neighborhood as you,” Janice exclaimed. “Meet someone new, make conversation!”
Armed with biodegreable balloons, strings and postcards, about 50 Lowell residents then made their way down to Lord Overpass.
Obehi Janice used her leadership skills to get everyone to complete a square around all four sides of the Lord overpass.
Many cars passing by honked their horns and were met with cheer from the Mill City flashmob crew.
When you see Santa Claus, release the balloons, people!” exclaimed Janice. And so, they waited. Suddenly, Santa was seen making his way on bicycle below the overpass.
The crowd released their balloons and watched as 50 plus balloons crawled up into the sky carrying messages of holiday cheer. One postcard said “be gentle with yourself.” Soon the sky was filled with balloons and the crowd cheered.
After the release of the balloons, everyone headed to the Revolving Museum to open up a wide array of swapped gifts: a hand-written book of quotes, a poem, mixed cds, scrap-books, art-work, sculptures, etc. Gift givers took part in hot cocoa, cookies, and community.
Mauricio Cordero, Executive Director of the Revolving Museum, was the recipient of the hand-written book of quotes. “Having been so caught up with work and then to see this–people coming together to exchange their time, seeing people provide for one another in this kind of way and letting loose and laughing, I feel like for me personally, this is the beginning of my holiday season,” he said. He then thanked everyone for coming and invited everyone back to The Revolving Musuem’s 2012 opening reception on January 6, 2012.
Jessica K. Wilson, a Lowell resident, said “I think Lowell’s first flashmob was awesome. Releasing balloons around the Lord Overpass was like a scene from one of my surrealist dreams. I had an great time.”
“This event was totally fun. I got some lovely, dilly beans from Santa Claus and we released the balloons into the air. I got to write a special message and it went away in the wind so hopefully a middle-schooler will find it,” said Lowell resident, Kristen Angelos.
“This was an amazing turn out. I wasn’t sure exactly how many people were going to show up, but everyone made it awesome. All the balloons going off all at the same time—it was a beautiful sight. The music was cool and everyone that helped out did an awesome job and I’m just so happy that a community can come together and share such an awesome experience. I loved it. I absolutely loved it,” said Sam Antonaccio.
Obehi Janice, the event’s MC commented by saying: “This was amazing. And I got to use a megaphone but I’m a little upset that no one believes in Santa Claus, she laughed. No really, it’s just nice to see such spontaneity and all good things associated with this wonderful, holiday season.”
Two days later, a resident on the Southshore found one of the postcards.
For more information about the Mill City Flash Mob event, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/MillCityFlashMOB.