Christmas cheer, musicians lift spirits at the Strand

Reporter Staff
Dec. 7, 2010

Dorchester Christmas CelebrationDorchester Christmas Celebration

The Strand Theatre was the venue for last night's Dorchester Christmas Celebration, featuring the Boston Classical Orchestra under the direction of conductor Steven Lipsitt. Above, Lipsitt led the orchestra in a rendition of Jingle Bells, accompanied by the string ensemble from the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy. Members of the Boston City Singers helped to lead a memorable sing-along to conclude the evening's show, which was hosted by novelist and TV personality Kim McLarin.

The performance lasted about one hour and 15 minutes and drew a crowd of about 500 people to the theatre. Tickets were priced at $5-10 to attract families from the neighborhood. The Boston Classical Orchestra intends to make the Strand Theatre its second home, according to executive director Sean Roberts, a resident of nearby Jones Hill. Support for the concert has come from the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events and Boston Main Streets, along with corporate sponsors such as Mt. Washington Bank.  Read more

Tonight: Christmas concert at the Strand Theatre

The neighborhood’s Christmas celebrations will get the marquee treatment on Monday as the Boston Classical Orchestra and local partners stage a special holiday concert at the landmark Strand Theatre. The family-friendly show is billed as a neighborhood-wide effort, with special performances by the Boston City Singers and the the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy Choir and string ensembles.
Sean Roberts, a Jones Hill resident who serves as the executive director of the Boston Classical Orchestra, says that the show will fill a void in the neighborhood’s celebration of the Christmas season.

“We want to provide a special, family occasion for residents in Dorchester and surrounding neighborhoods, a true Dorchester-wide event,” Roberts said. “Tickets are priced at only $5 for unreserved seating, so everyone can come and choose their seat.”  Read more

Tonight: Holiday season kicks off with Lower Mills Stroll

Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Nov. 11, 2010

Lower Mills Holiday Stroll 2010Lower Mills Holiday Stroll 2010This evening – rain or moonshine –  the third annual Lower Mills Holiday Stroll will continue to build on the success of the previous two years. In 2008 about 300 folks braved the drizzle, and last year participation jumped to between 400 and 500.  2010 promises to be even bigger with over 30 businesses in Lower Mills and Milton Village open from 5:30 to 8 p.m., offering samples, demonstrations, special discounts, and/or displays of work by local artists.

Though primarily a business booster co-sponsored by the Lower Mills Civic Association and Lower Mill Merchants Association, the Stroll is packed with pop-up arts events and family friendly entertainment. These organizations hope to stimulate holiday sales with bargains, freebies, musical interludes, surprises, even free trolley service to shuttle shoppers too weary to “stroll” across the bridge between Dorchester and Milton.  Read more

Cady Vishniac: Dot’s ‘living statue’

Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Nov. 4, 2010

It’s extremely rare to hear a statue speak, unless that statue happens to be Cady Vishniac, Dorchester’s living statue, who occasionally breaks her silence to play her harmonica or to discourse about her unusual life’s work.  Read more

‘The Slaps’ dance troupe dreams big from Fields Corner gym

Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 20, 2010

Members of the Thee Slap Bracelets (pictured above performing at a May 2010 competition) include: (l-r) Dalin Celamy, Khamari Bendolph, Miguel Tejeda, Shaneese Smith, Alexis Feliz, Charae Hemingway, Stravinsky Bolivar, Catrina Tejeda, and Maurice Richardson III.Members of the Thee Slap Bracelets (pictured above performing at a May 2010 competition) include: (l-r) Dalin Celamy, Khamari Bendolph, Miguel Tejeda, Shaneese Smith, Alexis Feliz, Charae Hemingway, Stravinsky Bolivar, Catrina Tejeda, and Maurice Richardson III.

Long after school has been dismissed at the Grover Cleveland Middle School, the gymnasium comes alive with the sounds of blasting hip-hop music, rubber soles squeaking across the parquet floor, and bodies moving in unison.

This isn’t a basketball game. Welcome to dance practice with Thee Slap Bracelets.

At a time when many other teens and young adults are at home worrying about chores, social life and college applications, the late-evening ruckus at the Cleveland’s gym has become a regular affair in the past few weeks. Thee Slap Bracelets (affectionately called “The Slaps” for short) are training hard for an upcoming dance competition in Chicago, one that they are not entirely sure they will be able to attend.  Read more

Dot’s artists take center stage at Open Studios

Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 20, 2010

Trick-or-treaters of all ages don’t have to wait until Halloween to start going door-to-door. This weekend’s ninth annual Dorchester Open Studios (DOS) affords locals the scary, but safe thrills of exploring neighborhood places they’ve never been to before without having to worry about coming up with a costume!
William Wessel painted this abstract scene entitled “Savin Hill.” Scores of local artists will be highlighted in this weekend’s Dorchester Open Studios event.  	Image courtesy William WesselWilliam Wessel painted this abstract scene entitled “Savin Hill.” Scores of local artists will be highlighted in this weekend’s Dorchester Open Studios event. Image courtesy William Wessel

This Saturday and Sunday —October 23 and 24— from noon to 5 p.m., local artists will be displaying a wide range of artwork and handmade crafts—from paintings, sculpture and photographs to jewelry, giftware and wearable art.

The Dorchester Arts Collaborative (DAC), which organizes the event, extends a special invitation to those who have never been to Open Studios to stop by one or more locations of this, its highest participation DOS ever.

Though many artists are offering their work for sale, DOS newbies should rest assured that this is a no-cost, no-pressure event. Visitors should feel free to chat –or not– with any of the 122 artists welcoming the public.  Often these host artists even have a table of snacks to fortify the art-curious as they progress around the community.

Group exhibition locations are spread out all over Dorchester. They include First Parish Church, 10 Parish Street (Meetinghouse Hill); Pearl Street Studios at 11 Pearl Street (Savin Hill); Humphreys Street Studios, 11 Humphreys Street (Uphams Corner); and Walter Baker Lofts at 1231 Adams Street (Lower Mills).  Read more

Two art installations set for ends of the town

Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 14, 2010

Three-Decker sculptureThree-Decker sculptureIn the few weeks before the late October Dorchester Open Studios, two long-awaited pieces of permanent public art will finally be dedicated at opposite ends of town: “Dorchester Voices/Dorchester History” in Edward Everett Square and “Sleeping Moon” in Peabody Square. Together the pieces represent well over a third of a million dollars invested in the beautification and cultural enrichment of this neighborhood.

In 2007, Somerville sculptor Laura Baring-Gould installed her 11-and-a-half foot bronze version of Clapp’s Favorite Pear in Edward Everett Square with a $150,000 grant from the city’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund.

Now three years later, she completes her design with a circle of smaller bronze pieces, averaging 36 inches in height (each on its own cast-iron pedestal), funded by a $60,000 community block grant. These smaller pieces were cast at the Asia Fine Art Foundry in Ayuthaya, Thailand, where the pear was cast.  Read more

Marching bands join forces for weekend’s HONK! fest

Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 7, 2010

This weekend radical and activist marching bands from all over North America will converge on Somerville and Cambridge for the increasingly popular (and populist) HONK! Festival.  Read more

Despite millions in funding by city, little is happening at Strand Theatre

Stephen Kurkjian and Pat Tarantino, Special To The Reporter
Aug. 25, 2010

Strand Theatre: Columbia Rd. landmark goes unused most days.Strand Theatre: Columbia Rd. landmark goes unused most days.After $8 million in renovations, Strand site unused 10 months a year; bustling '90s now a memory

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino says the proudest moment of his political career took place last year at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester when more than a thousand people, of all races, faiths and ages, locals as well as out-of-towners, turned out over two nights to attend the play “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

The mayor has given two of his State of the City addresses at the Strand and his commitment to the theatre goes beyond the rhetorical. He has channeled $10 million in city funds in an effort to return the Strand, the last neighborhood theatre in the city, to its early 20th-century glory.

But Menino’s enthusiasm for the Strand has not extended to his administration’s stewardship of the Uphams Corner fixture – even though it has become one of the city’s costliest neighborhood initiatives.

Despite the extensive renovations, usage of the theatre has fallen dramatically in recent years.  Read more

Once a haven for youth, Strand Theatre now seen more as history

Pat Tarantino, Special to the Reporter
Aug. 25, 2010

Akiba AbakaAkiba AbakaAt 14 years old, Vanessa Lindo took the stage for the first time in her life at the Strand Theatre. As the newest member of the Strand Teen Players, Lindo, a Jamaican immigrant living in Dorchester, saw a new world open before her eyes.

“We got on stage and started singing, me and 30 other kids,” she recalls. “I was so nervous, I stood in the back like a statue.”

Since her first stage performance, a lot has changed for Lindo, now 30 and known in Boston art circles as Akiba Abaka. She has found her voice and works as producing artistic director of Up You Mighty Race, an award-winning African theater ensemble and youth mentoring group.  Read more