When an event and it’s organizers
strongly suggest demand your presence in a timely manner, you better probably should listen… In a room filled with creatives, live music, art displays, a dj, a bar, poets, singers, designers, food, accessories, and bodies being painted in real time the desire is for you not to miss a thing. The chatter of the crowd rarely dies all the way down and all 5 senses are challenged to engage. Taking in the who’s who, the who’s new , and the who knew.
My familiarity with Pablo Picasso is pedestrian at best (got that A+ in Art History though) but I know Jay Z no, not personally although we met once and chatted briefly… (and btw don’t be that guy)… So I’ll work from my frame of reference… I love me some Jay (the artist, not necessarily the dude) and the 12th album in his catalog brought me back to Reasonable Doubt and where my admiration originated… But there is that one album I do not eff with (The Dynasty: Roc La Familia) and then a few that I side eye, but you know like one or two songs gave me hope (Kingdom Come, American Gangster, some of them collab joints and by some I mean especially the two with Kells that I won’t even reference by name, Collison Course w/Linkin Park, and Watch the Throne… sideye but hopeful). The #206PicassoBaby elicited some of the same sentiments, in my opinion there were hits and there were misses. I love the concept and how I was able to relate to it (see all the references) but not necessarily every part of the execution.
I loved seeing a room full of patrons (that means people who are PAYING to support the event) and 85% of them weren’t artists and their crews, cliques/clicks, squads, entourages. It is important to note that while there were several artists in attendance and who were not performing. Artists didn’t stand on the wall complaining, having loud side conversations, and generally being disrespectful. (Sidenote: if that’s you and you’re miserable like that just stay at home and use those ends for like some chicken wings or sum’n to make you happy) Oh and I did not arrive in a timely manner (so now you know I speak from experience, as I missed what I heard were some great performances and some people I’ve never seen and some who I can’t get enough of… don’t be me)…
When I arrived the event was in full swing I was shown to my seat (in the the blogging/vip section) which was great, but with so much going on I had to get up and move around, so I encountered my first ummmm moment… because the room was set up like a box, it was difficult to navigate. I felt like when I moved from my seat or while I was trying to take notes or photos from my vantage point that others were blocked from the experience. Also I had to wait until a performance was over before I could move without being rude. Fortunately people seemed pretty forgiving and I’m grateful because I wasn’t cutiful… I had on my in the trenches gear and no make-up (my bad). But once outside of the immediate performance area/vip section the outer box was easier to navigate and I was able to really take in more of what was going on and realize the gravity of the undertaking.
Second ummmm moment was the directly tied into how the event was organized, when you put 30+ artists together with vendors etc in a roughly 3-4 hour period, fluidity it paramount. When I read the promotional material and the performance layout I was prepared to see some rapid fire showmanship on two stages, what I saw instead seemed like a hodgepodgey, random even. If each artist was flowing with the same kind of energy that might have worked. But when you have high energy performances, followed by sultry or even tranquil performances sometimes something is lost in translation…
The artists that I saw were mostly good, I would say 90% of what I saw had my full attention, the other 10% didn’t seem to fit the concept. I loved seeing young dancers interact with the audience as people clapped along because they knew what happiness meant to them. Seeing artists who had honed their craft and came prepared to perform and engage was refreshing. And there is almost never a time that a poem about my people, for my people, by my people that doesn’t pull at the heart strings, may make me reflect and take a deeper look inside and possibly reemerge with some new power, strength, courage, or wisdom. Even with the possibility of placing a heavy load on the audience by bombarding them with so many deep words in such a small space and time 206PB navigated the ocean of words, nouns,verbs, metaphor and silliloquy fairly gracefully and for that I was appreciative. I got to hear some serious and seriously talented emerging artist and some groomed professional artists that I will be following and following up with.
Ultimately, #206PicassoBaby seems to have succeeded in what that they hoped to accomplish, a room full of creatives engaging against a culturally and philosophically rich backdrop. Much like my admiration for Jay-Z PicassoBaby had me from the beginning (title). And also like my relationship with Jay (the music not the man) even with side eyes and ummm moments I remain hopeful. The concept is intriguing and I hope to see the event grow and refine to meet and exceed it’s own expectations. In the quest for a holy grail if not The Holy Grail of an event that captures the prolific artistry of an artist like Pablo Picasso, I am there for the adventure.
Be fearless in your pursuit of GREATness! And only paranoid of being the one that gets the updates and not make the updates. Opportunity is knocking, answer without reservation!