SEE Eyewear Lands in Williamsburg for Their Newest Retail Location

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SEE Eyewear in Williamsburg. 156 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11249

Being a wearer of spectacles since 1989, I like to call myself an eyewear aficionado at this point in life. I have been very intentional in choosing my glasses since I was a little girl, so having the opportunity to discover different brands through my blog over the years has always been a treat. For the past few years, I have been purchasing a new set of prescription glasses with a visually interesting frame. I love a style that is made of sturdy materials and unique; not seeing others in my frames actually makes me feel REALLY good.

When SEE Eyewear invited me to come into their latest Brooklyn location in Williamsburg (now open just a few weeks) for a custom fitting of eyeglasses or sunglasses, I was super excited as I had been hip to the brand for a few years, but never saw their product up close and personal. I came in for my appointment on a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon, with a rather simple commute as the shop is only one block away from the Bedford Ave L-train.

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Interior layout of SEE Eyewear in Williamsburg.

Upon entering the facade, I was warmly greeted by the store’s staff and PR team, given the rundown on the location, eyewear styles, materials, and where product is sourced from. My eyes gleamed when I was told all product is made in limited quantities, so the odds of someone else having my exact frames was quite low. I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to eyewear, so I meticulously looked through all the styles that piqued my fancy, tried a few on, and made an informed decision to not get a pair that looks like any of my older frames.

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SEE 1549 in Gold/Tokyo

I decided on the pair above, SEE 1549 in Gold/Tokyo. I’ve wanted a pair of aviators for some time, but wasn’t ready to commit to the style as my sole pair of frames, so now was the right time as I have some variety in the spectacles. As soon as I tried them on, I knew they were the ONE! I got the pair fitted with my current prescription and anti-reflective lenses. I picked them up a few days ago and am really digging them!

19 Williamsburg Influencer 20 Off

You know I wouldn’t share this story if there wasn’t something in it for you, my readers, so here goes! Now until the end of May, SEE Eyewear is running a promotion at their Williamsburg location. Say the code word “BEDFORD” in-store to receive 20% off your prescription eyewear purchase. Happy shopping!

*Photos courtesy of SEE Eyewear

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, Now On View At The Brooklyn Museum

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Frida & Idol. Nickolas Muray.

Late last year when the Brooklyn Museum announced they would be curating a full exhibition on Frida Kahlo, I was overjoyed. Those that know me know how much I love the remarkable Mexican artist and iconoclast of a woman. Since my schedule was a bit off around the holiday season, I completely forgot to RSVP to the press preview (I know) but scheduled a time to visit with the help of the Press team at the museum. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving opened on February 8th at the Brooklyn Museum. I visited on a Tuesday afternoon in what I would call one of our NYC “slush storms”, but the weather did not deter me from seeing a full exhibit dedicated to one of my favorite women.

I arrived a bit early and sat in the lobby, staring fondly at the LED screen wall at the exhibit’s entrance that blinked “FRIDA KAHLO” in all caps in an energetic color pairing of coral and cobalt blue. I received a complimentary timed ticket (price $20) for the exhibition, which allows patrons an hour to walk through the entire collection of works. Untimed tickets are available as well for $35. The clock struck 12:15 PM and it was my time! I walked into the technicolor reception area where a flavorful soundscape of Latin tunes pumped, curated by Remezcla.

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Ricardo Ayulardo, Family of Matilde Calderón y González, 1890. Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in. (20.2 x 25.2 cm). Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Archives. Bank of Mexico, Fiduciary in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust.

Upon entering the exhibition in the Robert E. Blum Gallery, I was amazed at how large and expansive it is, including intimate family photos & those of her with husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera, relics from indigenous tribes in which she decorated her home, her surrealist paintings, and her vast collection of elaborate garments, mostly inspired by the Tehuana women in Oaxaca state. I felt right at home with the myriad of colors and indigenous items on display, at times a bit emotional whilst reading through the life experiences of Frida; having contracted polio at age six resulting in one leg being shorter than the other, was a victim of a major car crash at age eighteen, resulting in wearing a body cast (photo of one below), and her passionate, yet tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera. It made me think, “how can a woman who has suffered so much, make herself up and create such beautiful works of art?” The thought is one that stuck with me on my tour.

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One of Frida’s adorned body casts

Just imagine suffering a terrible car crash which fractured your ribs, legs, collar bone, pelvis, and displaced some of your vertebrae, resulting in bed-rest and a body cast, and still finding the will and energy to paint said body cast, as well as other canvases from bed? Her works are a true testament to the human spirit.

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Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). The Love Embrace of the Universe, 1949. Oil on Masonite, 27 ½ x 23 ¾ in. (70 x 60.5 cm). The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation. © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The surrealist nature of her paintings draw you deeply into her world. Take the piece above, The Love Embrace of the Universe, where we see Frida embracing a naked Diego in a style similar to a Madonna and child painting from the Renaissance. They are embraced by what appears to be Mother Earth, whom is embraced by the cosmos, or the Universe. Her multi-layered style really makes you stop and think about her inspirations, and how her mind works, in general.

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A Myriad of Frida’s Dresses

Frida’s personal style of dress, adopted from the Tehuana women of Oaxaca state, was a deliberate homage to the culture of her mother, as well as a protest of Eurocentric/colonial ideals. It expressed her “radical politics and artistic sensibilities.” The many layers of her clothing, and long length of skirts enveloped Frida in gorgeous silhouettes, while hiding her physical ailments. This idea of “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” is also the title of one of her paintings in which we have almost x-ray view of what lies beneath her clothing, showing a detailed depiction of her limp, and medical corset to support her deteriorating spine.

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Frida Kahlo on White Bench. Nickolas Muray

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is on view at Brooklyn Museum until May 12th. Tickets may be purchased here. You can experience a Frida Kahlo-inspired First Saturday on April 6th at the museum. Tickets for the exhibition must be purchased in advance.

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052

Carnaval Kanaval Carnival!! A Diasporic Celebration & Party @ Cumbe, Sat. March 2nd

Carnival Celebration Flyer side 1 (1)

I started off 2019 expressing my thoughts as an artist, and now, I am putting it all into action. In the month of January I was contacted by the wonderful team at Cumbe: Center for African And Diaspora Dance to take a class and learn more about their organization. As of now, I have been taking Samba class on Tuesday evenings with Danielle Lima, and am very excited to announce that I will be performing!

On March 2nd, Cumbe will be holding Carnaval Kanaval Carnival!! A Diasporic Celebration & Party. The format is an informal dance party with pop-up performances by Careitha Davis, Danielle Lima, Azriel Wallace, Cumbe students (me!), and DJ THECAINMARKO. Food and drinks will be available.

Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. You may purchase here: http://bit.ly/CarnivalMar2. Come out and get your carnival fix in Brooklyn!

Music: Featured Spotify Playlist, “Funkysexydownnow.” By @andreakcastillo

Funkysexydownnow

Hello friends!

Yes, it has been a minute and a half since I have updated the blog. In my pursuit for racking dough and musical playlist perfection, I have not updated in a few weeks. Now that I am back, I have a little treat for you. I am delving more deeply into playlist making as for me, it is one of life’s great joys after eating a delicious meal, and jumping into the sea on a scorching day.

I originally created the Funkysexydownnow. playlist a few months back, inspired by the heavy Disco and Funk stylings of LA-based Gavin Turek’s track, “The Distance.” It was literally a one-song “playlist” for weeks. After playing on repeat, I figured out where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to include. My whole vibe is sexy music, so I knew that had to be there. Funk pushes me forward, so I had to include that. Cooler autumn weather translates to downtempo beats (for me), and I wanted all of the tracks to sound fresh and current.

After  many weeks of adding, deleting, and rearranging tracks, I present to you, Funkysexydownnow. Eighteen sexy, funky tunes that you will have in constant rotation all season.

Press play above to wind it down with a funky groove! Be sure to follow as I more than likely will add a few more tracks to extend the chill vibes.

 

*Photo & Graphic by Andrea K. Castillo

For Proper Tequila Cocktails & Healthy Mexican Bites, Visit Cítrico In Brooklyn

Citrico Bday

L-R: Luis & Noor (Owners of Cítrico), Me, Kortnee, Erica, Jason

This Monday, July 24th, was and always is, a special day. For one, it is my birthday, and secondly, it is #NationalTequilaDay. Last year I brought in year 30 with a huge brunch courtesy of Patron, and for this year, I brought in 31 with some close friends, and the team at Cítrico.

Cítrico is a fresh Mexican restaurant & bar in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, opened in 2014. Owners (and married couple) Luis & Noor modeled the menu off of some of Luis’s family recipes, as well as the cuisine of the southern states of Mexico. As the topic of conversation was tequila, I spoke to Noor about margarita alternatives that Cítrico offers, as well as testing a few out with the help of my girls Kortnee and Erica.

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Salsa Platter. Photo courtesy of Cítrico

To help soak up the drinks, we started with the salsa platter, which included house-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, guajillo salsa, salsa de arbol, and tomatillo salsa. In addition, we snacked on chicharrines, not to be confused with pork chicharrones, which is made from a flour base and has a similar consistency to Funions.

Our feature cocktails were the following:

  • Citrico Tropical: Tequila (or mezcal); pineapple and mango
  • Tlaxcalita Bella: Tequila, cranberry juice, lime and fresh mint

  • Guerrero: Espadin mezcal, tequila, hibiscus, lime, orange and agave

 

Dive into our live session, and see how we rated the cocktails and snacks in the video below!

 

Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page here-> A Life In The Day of Andrea.

The Many Faces of Andrea

Good News

We’re getting ice cream after this?

When the week ends, and the night falls, what is on your mind? Do you want to log off and unwind? Do you want to hang out with your homies that you didn’t have a chance to see during the week? Or do you break free and run the streets? Summer nights are always my favorite as they tend to have the most expansive range of being super chill, or filled with adventure. A few weeks back, I had one of those nights.

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Unleashing the curls

On an unseasonably cool evening in June, I met up with some homies on the fly to hang out. We started the evening having burgers at a spot in Park Slope, and then deliberations began of where we would go to next. Off to the movies? To a rooftop party in Williamsburg? To a house party in Bed Stuy? Despite the weather, I suggested going to Coney Island. It always evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and if we were to get hungry again, there are a plethora of options on and near the boardwalk.

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In mid-air

As the majority of us happen to be photographers (I unfortunately left my camera at home this evening, but had back up) we decided to go on a photo walk of sorts. We began at Nathan’s Famous on Surf Ave, snapping the Brooklyn landmark and its iconic lights. While gazing down the block a bit more, I noticed the Coney Art Walls, an outdoor exhibit of street art from various well-known visual artists, were a few feet over, so we scoped it out.

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In action

We took a load of photos, though a bit limited as the viewing hours of the walls end at 10 PM and we were in the area at approximately 11 PM. I personally wanted a few new photos for the blog, so I asked my buddy Antoine to snap me. My creative direction? Capturing me letting my hair down. I feel a lot of my photos on the blog or my social media show a more stoic gaze, with my hair pulled back in a bun. With these photos, I really wanted to capture me letting loose, and my many faces.

Pensive

In a pensive mood

Here we have my general thinking face. This is the face I make when I am trying to solve a problem, thinking of how I should go about writing a new post or piece, or the look of daydreaming. This is also one of the first photos where I have been able to show off my new matte black-framed specs from Mó Eyewear.

Something In My Eye?

HOLD UP! There’s something in my eye!

This is one of my more extreme expressions when something is in my eye, or on my face. Although it may not be the most flattering look, it is me in my natural state. As my curls were down, I am pretty sure a strand of hair grazed my eyeball, and I was eagerly trying to get it out of the way.

I'm Trying To Be Serious!

Stop making me laugh!

This is the, “I’m trying to take a serious photo, but you keep making me laugh!” face. My friends are hilarious, and oftentimes when I try to create a serious or sexy pose, that all goes out the window because of laughter. My laughter is quite physical, and usually involves moving my hair and shaking my entire torso.

I love to laugh, and love to show my true faces in the company of friends. I hope now you can see a little bit more into my life.

 

*Photos by Antoine Bennett

Event: Dirt Don’t Die: A Celebration of the Life of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Fri. 11/18 in Brooklyn

Hip Hop heads in NYC, this one is for you. November 13, 2016 marked the 12th anniversary of the untimely death of Wu-Tang Clan founding member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. He passed two days before what would have been his 36th birthday. To celebrate his life and legacy, the family of ODB along with the folks at Chemistry Creative bring us Dirt Don’t Die: A Celebration of the Life of Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Hosted by Ivy Rivera, the event will feature a live DJ set by legendary Hip-Hop producer Ski Beatz, who will be spinning proper 90’s Hip Hop in addition to ODB’s entire catalogue. There will be a live performance by ODB’s son, ODB Jr, and many more special guests!

Tickets are $20 online and at the door, and can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite. For more info, head over to the event Facebook page, and prepare yourself to enter the Brooklyn Zoo!

 

Dirt Don’t Die: A Celebration of the Life of Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Fri, Nov 18, 2016, 6:30 PM – Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 12:30 AM

CHEM LAB WAREHOUSE

315 Ten Eyck Street

Brooklyn, NY 11206

What I’m Reading: “The Bridge To Brilliance: How One Principal In A Tough Community Is Inspiring The World” by Nadia Lopez

A few weeks back, I recapped the book release and conversation event for Dr. Nadia Lopez’s newly published work, The Bridge to Brilliance, at BRIC Media House in Downtown Brooklyn. As I have completed the book, I wanted to share my experience in reading it, and the lessons that have rang true to me. The Bridge To Brilliance is a non-fiction work by Dr. Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. She quickly rose to fame on the internet in the past year when a student of hers named Vidal mentioned to Brandon Stanton of the popular Humans of New York blog, that she was the person that most influenced his life. The viral reaction of this post led to a full profile on the school, its staff and students, and a massive crowdfunding campaign to send the students on annual trips to Harvard, which was fully funded over 10 times over.

The book recounts Lopez’s own childhood, growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to immigrant parents (from Guatemala and Honduras, respectively), and how good teachers affected her life and livelihood in her younger years. It focuses on  Lopez’s transition from the corporate world working at Verizon to the NYC Board of Education as a Teaching Fellow, to her current position as founder and principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. The tone of the book is very no-nonsense and easy to read as it is the words of an educator. Lopez clearly gives breakdowns on the NYC Board of Education and its processes in funding, mass gentrification and its effects on students, and the importance of taking students outside of their school and comfort zones to experience the vast world outside of Brooklyn, New York.

As the daughter of immigrant parents from Belize who have worked for (and continue to work for) the NYC Board of Education in special education the majority of my life, I immediately connected with the majority of the stories in Lopez’s book. A lot of jargon, specifically in the special education sector, which Lopez worked in in her earlier years, was easy for me to understand as I have learned it from my parents. It felt like with each page I turned, I was reading the experience of someone just like me, which I do not often experience when reading books. The words are very familiar.

What I did not entirely expect, was the amount of trials and tribulations that Lopez went through, both in her personal and professional life, to get to where she is today. She mentions that she was on the point of giving up when Brandon Stanton visited her school. It made me realize that everything is not as it seems, and that sometimes in life we have to reach rock bottom in order to go up. Her steadfastness and relentlessness did not allow her to give up on herself or her students when the future was not promised. I really enjoy this story because it really did inspire me to keep going, but to be kind to myself. Women, particularly Black women and other WOC are often expected to be strong, but it is necessary to have a tribe of women and men to lean on in the tough times to get through it all.

If you are interested in learning more about the NYC public school system, or are a lover of inspirational stories (or both), I would definitely suggest picking up The Bridge To Brilliance. The book is available for purchase at booksellers nationwide, with all online retailers listed on Dr. Lopez’s official website. Happy reading!

 

*Photo via Amazon.com

Take A Bite & Sip: Henri’s Backyard in Park Slope

Henri’s Backyard

The dog days of summer in Brooklyn, New York call for many things; proper air conditioning, delicious eats, cold drinks + adult beverages, sun, and great company. What if you could get all of these things in one place, and if you live near the South Central region of BK, just with a quick trip on the train or by car? Yes, it is possible.

Say hello to Henri’s Backyard, the laid-back sister restaurant of Henri on Fifth. It is the second Brooklyn-based dining spot from Binh Douglas of the HENRI Hospitality Group.

Indoor seating & bar

Located on 4th Avenue between President & Carroll Streets in Park Slope (or Gowanus, if you prefer), the bar-centric eatery is easily accessible from the Prospect Expressway and Union St. R-Train station. I attended the media preview earlier this month, and arrived cool and in style via Uber. I was working in Bushwick that day, so it was perfect that we had Uber codes for the event, or else it would have taken near an hour of commute time. To my surprise, I was the first guest to arrive (which never happens, in life) and because of this, I was treated to a nice little tour from Kayla, who handled all press for the event. I also bumped into one of my college friends, Erin, who works at the restaurant and created the indoor & outdoor stencil artwork for the establishment.

The backyard

As it was a muggy day, and I tend to get flustered really quickly, I was immediately treated to a cocktail from mixologist Leon. More on cocktails later. I sipped on my cold beverage as I learned more about the owners, food & drink menu, former business in the space (vegetarian eatery Pickle Shack), and was able to meet the chef.

Walking through and arriving at the backyard, in which the restaurant is named, was a delight! Its simple design featuring wooden plank flooring, no nonsense tables, aluminum chairs, and rattan benches evoke summer vibes all year round. What about the colder months, you ask? They’ve got that covered, with a retractable roof/awning that will keep patrons warm and dry when the weather cools up again.

Cocktail menu

A key feature of the backyard, aside from its cool city oasis feel, is a full bar, with 18 lines of beer on tap. Sure to satisfy even the most discerned drinker!

Now, let’s get back to cocktails, as that is how I began my evening. Seen above is the full signature cocktail list for Henri’s Backyard. As I love glamour and excess (or whatever) I began my evening with the S.O.B. which along with bourbon and a mixed berry purée with citrus, was topped off with champagne. Throughout the evening, I ended up sampling all cocktails, but of course, there was one that stood out.

Backyard Boogie cocktail 

Continue reading

AFROPUNK BROOKLYN Announces Their 2016 Line-Up, & It’s Great!

Living in a time where there is conflict in the idea of being young, gifted, and Black, the AFROPUNK festival celebrates all of these things, and the people who are often labeled as other. I have been a longtime supporter of the movement, having attended my first fest back in 2007 when they had set up shop in the little skate park in the triangle outside of BAM (RIP as a new high-rise is currently being built in that space).

Last summer, I had the opportunity to go back after a few years, and it was nothing short of magical. Never have I been in a space filled with so much love, acceptance, and happiness, a safe space for the young, gifted, Black other. Today, the summer 2016 lineup was announced for Brooklyn, and boy does it deliver. Peep the video re-capping bits of last year’s jaunt, and check the full lineup below. I have put stars next to my favorites. Will I be seeing you there?

AFROPUNK BROOKLYN 2016 LINEUP
Ice Cube
TV On The Radio
Tyler The Creator*
CeeLo Green
Flying Lotus*
Janelle Monae*
The Internet*

SUPERJAM
Featuring Members from
Bad Brains
Fishbone
Living Colour

George Clinton*
Earl Sweatshirt*
Skunk Anansie
Skye & Ross from Morcheeba
Young Fathers
Benjamin Booker
Saul Williams*
Angel Haze*
Kelela*
Trash Talk
Shabazz Palaces*
Thundercat*
Sango*
Esta*
Gallant*
Prayers
Radkey
Seinabo Sey
The Suffers*
Sir The Baptist
Sate
Downtown Boys
Roman GianArthur
Joe Kay*
The Whooligan
SPZRKT*
Eden Hagos

AFROPUNK BROOKLYN will be held at Commodore Barry Park on August 27-28. Tickets may be purchased here. Act soon before prices rise!

Painting With A Twist Pairs Art With A Glass of Wine In Its New Brooklyn Outpost

As a creative, I am naturally drawn to experiences where I can make something with my hands, or learn a new skill. But how about if you are not so creative, and still want to be able to creative something beautiful, say, with a group of buddies? You should get into Painting With A Twist.

Founded in 2007 by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney in New Orleans in the wake of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Painting With A Twist had the mission of lifting the spirits of their neighbors after disaster. In the eight years that the company has been in business, they have grown their paint-and-sip franchise to over 240 locations in 33 states, with 100 additional openings by the end of 2015.

I was invited out for a special blogger’s night at one of their new locations in my neck of the woods in Brooklyn.

The ambience

Opened in September by sisters-in-law Suzette and Felicia Riley, Painting With A Twist of Brooklyn is located in the heart of Cobble Hill on bustling Smith St. Upon entering the bright space, albeit a few minutes later than I expected, I was greeted by warm faces, a spread of dinner options, and of course, the choice of white or red wine. I had arrived just in time to take my seat in front of a blank 16 x 20″ canvas, with a small array of paints and brushes to use within the lesson.

The beginnings of my masterpiece

Our instructor was super lively and approachable, ensuring that painters of all levels would be able to complete the evening’s assignment which coincidentally, was of a large glass of red wine. The first step was to cover the canvas in a golden tone and add a few red strokes. As I am a type-A personality (which our instructor caught on to rather quickly) I reeaaaallyyy took painting seriously. My father is a painter and I would help paint certain pieces of his work when I was a child, so this was important!

The final product

Although I may have taken painting a bit more seriously than some of my counterparts in class, I truly realized how relaxing and therapeutic it can be. To constantly be on the move, writing, and updating on social media, it was really nice to focus on one thing for a little over an hour.

My painting and I

You must excuse my sleepy/greasy face in the photo as I was running on E, but I must say, I am really proud of this piece. I hadn’t painted on canvas in maybe 15 years, so this moment was really satisfying to me. I took a little longer than the class, but I completed my work; which is most important.

The entire group and their masterpieces

It was really fun to be in a group, majority women, to unwind, paint, and really take a break from the outside world. The experience is excellent for a date night, a girl’s night, birthday party, or even for a group of children as they offer a range of classes. You may view them all here.

The evening ended with a few special raffles, and guess who won a gift certificate for a free class? This girl right here! Can’t wait to go back. Maybe I will see you there.

Painting With A Twist – Brooklyn
228 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
347-227-2136
studio176@paintingwithatwist.com

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary class from Painting With A Twist.

Call Your CurlFriends! #CURLFEST In Brooklyn Shows Us The Beauty In Sisterhood

Ladies dancing to the music

Living in a world where Black bodies are constantly under attack, respite is always welcomed. Whether it be social groups in schools or within your community, it is important to have those moments where you feel safe, and where your individuality is celebrated. In my life, I seek out these types of experiences, and one that I can now add to my list is Curl Fest.

Curls and Italian ices

Now in its second year, Curl Fest is the brain child of the Curly Girl Collective, an experiential marketing group that specializes in multicultural beauty. I first became familiar with the collective a few years back through mutual friends, and received notice of the inaugural Curl Fest last spring. I was bummed that I did not make it out that time, so when I received the invite for this year, my eyes lit up.

Held this year on August 29th at the Neathermead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the event was the ultimate celebration of natural beauty.

Two of a kind

On the sun-filled afternoon, natural-haired beauties beamed in the park and had the opportunity to mingle with their curl friends, and enjoy unique hair-themed activations. Sounds were provided by my girl, and one of my favorite DJs, Tiff McFierce. Styling stations were set up to primp all textures of locs, haircare lines were in tow for demos, and natural hair influencers were available to chat with attendees about their experience.

A hint of violet

Adding to the excitement was a full marketplace with fashion, accessory, and literary vendors. Beverages were also on hand to cool everyone off in the 90 degree weather. I was in the house serving double duty; covering for my blog as well as interviewing various attendees for a larger team project (that I will reveal at a later date). One thing that I noticed from the jump that did not change; everyone was in good spirits, and everyone felt like family.

Typical me

In my chats with my fellow attendees, never did I feel like someone was judging me. I did not feel any negative energy in regards to my appearance or the way I spoke, everyone seemed very warm and open to chat with me. I hugged and joked around with women whom I had met for the first time that day. I danced in a circle with the women behind Curly Girl Collective, and everyone present. I connected with people, majority Black women, in a completely organic way.

Do you understand how important that is?

Mother & daughter

To be in a public park in the inner-city on one of the hottest days in the summer without being harassed because of the length of my shorts? To be surrounded by fellow Black women and receive hugs instead of side eyes (*Note: this doesn’t happen to me much, but that’s what mass media & reality TV try to shove down our throats)? To feel completely free for that moment of my life? That’s a huge deal.

Carefree

To say Curl Fest was a gathering of “carefree Black girls” is an understatement. I would say this is true, but I would add that it truly felt like the grounds for building a sisterhood. Men were present in smaller numbers, but women were at the forefront here, and that is what made it so beautiful.

Squad photo to end off a lovely day

My afternoon ended with the above squad photo, of friends new and old. Can you tell which ones I’ve known for years and which I met that day? Maybe that was a rhetorical question, but I hope it is not so easy to tell as we truly welcomed everyone with open arms, and that alone is where the beauty beyond the physical lies.

*All photos by Jason Chandler

FILM SERIES: “Set It Off: LA Hip-Hop on Film”, @ BAMcinématek Sep 4—8

F. Gary Gray’s Friday

With director F. Gary Gray’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton in movie theaters nationwide tomorrow, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is paying homage to the left coast in film. Debuting September 4th, BAMcinématek’s “Set It Off: LA Hip-Hop on Film” will feature seven films in tribute to LA’s hip-hop glory days of the early 1990’s.

Full schedule below. For ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org.

Fri, Sep 4

2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm: Friday

Ice Cube in Boyz N The Hood

Sat, Sep 5

2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm: Boyz n the Hood

Still from Set It Off

Sun, Sep 6

2, 6:50pm: Set It Off

4:40, 9:40pm: Menace II Society

Janet Jackson & Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice

Mon, Sep 7

2, 6:45pm: Poetic Justice

4:30, 9:15pm: South Central

Still from Glass Shield

Tue, Sep 8

4:30, 7, 9:30pm: The Glass Shield

Will you be in attendance? We definitely will be sliding through. And if you can’t make the screenings, get into the groove by checking out my West Coast Hip Hop Of My Younger Years playlist on Spotify. 😀

A Lovely Summer Evening At Brooklyn Museum Of Games, Sneaks & Eats. Photos by Gyasi Kirtley

Happy to be outside

On a beautiful Thursday evening in Mid-July, I attended Brooklyn Museum’s “Art Off The Wall” series for their much anticipated, The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibition. I had previously seen the exhibition on the day of the press preview (more to come on that), but was present for a discussion including an esteemed panel of female sneaker heads.

Once inside the museum’s lobby bursting at the seams with attendees for the Thursday evening adult programming, I bumped into my girl Gyasi. With camera in hand, she told me she was waiting for a friend, to which I replied, “Chill. I’m on the press list. You can be my photographer.”

And so, the evening began.

In the shadows

We walked around the ground floor and took some shots outside of the dining area as the sun was still beaming. I was feeling cool in my new super-fitted American Apparel skirt, and the natural light really caught the color combo well up top. We head back inside to view the panel, then went off to play in the FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds exhibit. FAILE, the brainchild of Brooklyn-based artist duo Patrick McNeil and Patrick McNeil, showcased various elements in their exhibit, including mixed media canvases, sculpture, neon wall art, and custom arcade games.

Readjusting my specs

Walking into the arcade portion of the exhibit was sensory overload. The walls and floors were covered in various new-school interpretations of old school movie posters, lit completely in black light, with sprinkles of neon light sculptures sprinkled throughout the space. I really enjoy the elements of lights captured in these photos.

Look at these arms!

After taking tons of photos in the black light, we shimmied over to The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit, which includes some of the most iconic pairs of kicks over the years, and their origin.

This picture was me being silly prior to making a proper pose, but I enjoyed this better. Note how long my arms are.

Grade A tings!

The exhibit does take some time to walk through as there are so many pairs of sneakers on view with intricate backstories, and so many opportunities for photo ops. Gyasi got some great photos there, but once we were done, I had to eat.

We walked over to Dutch Boy Burger on Franklin Ave so I could get something to eat. In dire times, I feel burgers are the only thing that could save me, because red meat = protein + iron. I ordered their signature burger and fries (which was probably a terrible idea at 10 PM) and sipped on a glass of water.

Gyasi couldn’t stay, but snapped this photo of me looking like a creep in the window. The evening was truly lovely and unexpected, as I had no idea it would end with such beautiful photos. Keep capturing your summer folks!

*Photos by Gyasi Kirtley

#CURLFEST NEW DATE ANNOUNCEMENT: Sat. August 29. 1-6 PM @ Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

After being postponed back in June due to inclement weather, #CURLFEST is back with a new date! On Saturday, August 29th, bring out all of your girls with curls to Prospect Park to bask in an afternoon of fun with the curly hair community. Expect tunes, dancing, curl demonstrations, and eats from some of your favorite food trucks.

Previous RSVP holders will be able to register on August 10th, and new attendees will be able to register on August 11th. The event is totally FREE! For more details and FAQs, head over to the Curly Girl Collective blog.