July 21, 2013

Summer sights, sounds at The Sanctuary for Independent Media

Date published: 07/21/2013
Publication: Troy Record

By Francine Grinnell TROY — The arts are alive and playing an active role in keeping the youth of North Troy and beyond vitally engaged in the future of their neighborhood and the city of Troy. Passersby can’t help but notice bicycles of every size propped up on stands outside the Sanctuary for Independent Media, located in a former church at 3361 6th Avenue. The telecommunications production facility dedicated to community media arts has a steady flow of foot traffic in and out of its doors this summer as people of all ages take advantage of creative workshops and concerts being offered in hopes of maintaining the growing momentum on a block of 6th Avenue between 101 Street and Glen Avenue that has long languished from neglect. Teens from North Troy who obtained summer positions at the Sanctuary For Independent Media through the Rensselaer County Summer Youth Employment Program can be seen at work throughout the neighborhood as well as helping out at the Sanctuary on the block that is now home to a series of community organizations, including The Sanctuary for Independent Media, Collard City Growers and Troy Bike Rescue, as well as social networks and religious and community groups. Australian bio-artist artist Natalie Jeremijenko recently conducted a workshop to build a public art sculpture that she calls a Butterfly Bridge. Designed to draw butterflies back to the inner city by creating an ecosystem that would sustain them, she created a structure in the neighborhood to support flowers and plants that attract them. She also introduced neighborhood children to a form of alternative cotton candy created at the Sanctuary for Independent Media. The cotton candy was spun from isomalt, and then decorated with edible flowers and bee pollen. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens creator Isaiah Zagar led the transformation of the Freedom Square Art Stage with an original mural mosaic that serves as a shimmering colorful backdrop against which world music performers are bringing their own diverse talents to share with the city of Troy. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit out with their neighbors for summer nights of eclectic music from around the world. The driving force in the use of the arts and media as a tool to revitalize a neighborhood seems to be the Sanctuary’s Executive Director, Steve Pierce, who is responsible for securing the artists who are beginning to include Freedom Square on their touring itineraries. “We’re very excited to be bringing a couple of groups from Africa right here to Freedom Square, in North Troy, Some of the greatest music happening today is coming out of Africa. We’re fortunate to have them traveling through here on the way from Montreal to New York City as they tour the country” said Pierce. First was the Krar Collective, a trio from Mali, in northwest Africa, which performed in Freedom Square on July 19. Band member Temesegen Zeleke played the krar, which is a 5 or 6 stringed harp which, when amplified, becomes a gritty rock style electric guitar. He and singer Genet Asefa and drummer Grum Begashaw have brought music which traditionally accompanies the ancient religious celebrations of the Ethiopian Orthodox church to an entirely new generation. On July 26, the traveling version of Mali’s award-winning “Festival in the Desert-Caravan For Peace,” featuring two of Africa’s most renowned musical groups, will stop in Troy for a free show in Freedom Square beginning at 5:30 p.m. “The desert blues sound that will be performed by these two groups for Festival In The Desert is very similar to our blues, which is really roots music from which our jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll was derived” said Pierce. A nationalist uprising in Mali’s north reignited immediately after the January 2012 festival came to a close. As conditions rapidly deteriorated in the region, invaluable historical monuments were destroyed and music was banned under the fundamentalists’ strict version of sharia law. January 2013 fighting intensified when France and other countries intervened. The 13th edition of the Festival had to be postponed. Today, the situation has improved but remains unresolved. The Caravan for Peace presents some of the best artists and their efforts to testify to the endurance of their music, art and culture. The live performances showing Malian music is a means of drawing attention to the crisis. The evening will conclude with a screening of Soul Power, the 1974 documentary about a 12-hour, three-night long concert held in Kinshasa, Zaire, where some of the most celebrated American R&B acts of that time including James Brown, BB King, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, and many others came together with the most renowned musical groups in Africa. For more information about these and other upcoming events at the Sanctuary For Independent Media, visit https://www.mediasanctuary.org

External permalink: http://troyrecord.com/articles/2013/07/21/news/doc51eb945eddca0776246144.txt?viewmode=fullstory

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