Viola Smith is known as one of America’s very first professional Female drummers, she was often referred to as “The Female Gene Krupa.” Born in 1912, she recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Learn about her extraordinary life including the Coquettes all-girl orchestra, drumming in an Abbott & Costello Film, Playing at President Harry Truman’s inauguration gala, and playing in The Kit Kat Band in the original 1960’s production of “Cabaret.”
Directed, shot and edited by: Rhianne Paz Bergado
Produced by: Candace Hansen, Rhianne Paz Bergado & Maria A. Yanez
exclusively for Tom Tom Magazine: A Magazine About Female Drummers.
Each week, a female comic, artist or activist comes in to tell Amanda tales from her inspired existence. Listen in for stories & conversations from this female American life.
If you’d like, you can listen to me talk (and giggle) about Inspired Women of LA, photography, embarrassing coming of age stories, and how men need to be feminists too…
A second issue of the Women Artists is due out this year and we’re looking for contributors. If you’re unfamiliar with the previous issue, we interviewed a handful of women artists about their work and lives. We’d like to continue that tradition in our second issue. If you’re a writer / interviewer / or just enthusiastic about women and their art and might like to be a part of the second issue, send us a message! Please be sure include an interview proposal. No deadline yet on when to get in touch but we’ll keep you updated.
UPDATE: If you would like to be a contributor, the deadline for sending us your interview proposal is Friday, April 25th. Please contact us via Tumblr message. Thanks to everyone who’s contacted us so far.
(Photo by Erica Fiero)
It took a couple of riot grrrls from Russia to bring punk back to Silver Lake. The line of Los Angelenos snaked around Mack Sennett Studios last Monday, each attendee willing to wait for the special opportunity to hear Pussy Riot members Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova speak in person. The panel event (running over an hour behind schedule in true L.A. fashion) began with a DJ, a pop-up bar, mingling, and more waiting. What’s more punk than that?
The music cut and a brief of television news reports on Pussy Riot’s anti-Putin “hooliganism,” which cost them a near two-year stint in prison, played off a projector and soon the ones we were all waiting for unceremoniously strolled on stage. Those who joined Pussy Riot to discuss the power of art and its ability to help rehabilitate prisoners were acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, KCRW’s Anne Litt, and moderators Hunter Heaney and Chris Holmes of The Voice Project.
Masha and Nadya are touring the U.S. after having recently launched Zona Prava (Law Zone), a non-governmental organization focused on the protection of prisoners’ rights. Pussy Riot said how eager they are to help Russian prisoners by calling attention to the horrible conditions and treatment they face. What better place to start than to have Americans look inward at our own penal system? Masha summed up one goal of Zona Prava: to focus on incorporating more art making into prison programs. “It’s incredibly important to be aware of what’s happening in penal systems in your own country. Incarcerated people will be part of our community again, so working with prisons is working with society. That also means working with art,” she said.
“This is a conversation that doesn’t happen in America,” Wayne Kramer said, who has served jail time himself and now works with the prisoner advocacy group Jail Guitar Doors. “It’s a national disgrace. These are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends.” Kramer said that providing inmates with tools to create and express themselves artistically undeniably improves mental wellbeing, easing tension and depression, which results in less violence occurring inside prison walls. “Art and music is anger management,” Kramer said, adding that big change starts with artists.” Artists are always the point of the spear,” he said, making one of the most applauded points of the evening.
Pussy Riot spoke in Russian on conditions they faced while imprisoned, Nadya’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, translating. Nadya said her life was threatened more than once and glossed over having watched a woman try to cut open her own stomach with a hacksaw. On a lighter note, Masha described that when they were refused art supplies, inmates gathered materials like toothpaste to create community paint. Nadya said that she had organized another punk band while incarcerated (their name translates to “Free Breath”) and illegally wrote anti-Putin lyrics with her band-mates.
Masha spoke eloquently on the relationship between political action and creative expression advising to, “Keep your ears open and think and feel about what happens around you. That’s where art and activism come from.” In other words, have some awareness and care for the injustices around you. Create something new out of your experience.
Shepard Fairey asked the women to address criticism that their “punk” image is waning after such media limelight as they are ushered into the mainstream. Masha responded saying they always understood media activism was key. Nadya went further explaining this panel came on the heels of the Women in the World Summit in New York where they spent time with highly regarded women like Hillary Clinton, among others. She reminisced on a pair of black tights she wore to the event that she later realized had tears in them. And just when the audience thought we were officially lost in translation, Nadya described a scene back in Russia when a protest ended with her being dragged by police across asphalt, tearing up her black tights. It was the same pair she mistakenly wore to the summit. “So, that’s a reminder of where we come from. Things like that keep us where we should be,” she said. Pussy Riot in ripped up tights—a protest casualty—hanging with Diane von Furstenberg, Meryl Streep, and Hillary at the Women in the World Summit. Okay, that’s punk.
Despite hiccups, it was a deeply affecting evening filled with a contagious energy that vibrated the room. If you needed a bit of inspiration, you got it. Such a departure from the usual Eastside event pervaded by the blasé hipster. Instead, an eclectic crowd sat together tied only by their desire to be involved, to care about and support women who personify courage in their efforts to remain heard, and to be a part of history in some small way.
It was well after midnight before we cleared out of the studio. Outside, artist Erica Fiero found herself standing just a few feet away from Pussy Riot. “I could feel the electricity radiate from Nadya. Powerful. Such a rare frequency to tap into… I hope everyone there absorbed a little bit of that energy.”
*Written by Henri Maddocks.
Girl&Garage is a car maintenance workshop for ladies, geared towards empowering women in the LA area.
Every Saturday from 3 – 5 pm we host a workshop taught by a mechanic at his shop in Highland Park. Bring your girlfriends and learn how to change a tire on your own car!
Some of the things the workshop covers:
- changing a flat tire
- checking the fluids
- jumping the battery
- emergency roadside tips and tricks
- top 5 ways a mechanic can rip you off
- Q&A: ask the mechanic anything about your car!
Visit us at:
Sarah Larson on the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: http://nyr.kr/1eAYSxB
“At the night’s end, Nirvana—who had suffered more than any other inductee, and had complained about nothing—brought everybody to a higher plane. Hearing Nirvana there felt much the way hearing Nirvana had in the first place, circa ‘Bleach’ and ‘Nevermind.’ It was the sound of joy, rage, crisis, calm, love, vitality: the reason we love rock and roll.”
Above: Kim Gordon, Joan Jett, St. Vincent, and Lorde, who played with Nirvana.
Photograph by Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty.
Inspired Women of Music…
The Vivian Maier Scholarship Fund
Created in memory of the acclaimed Chicago street photographer, the scholarship aims to provide opportunities and resources for female students.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of the nation’s leading art and design schools, announced the establishment of the endowed Vivian Maier Scholarship Fund. The need-based scholarship was made possible by generous donations from Ravine Pictures’ John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, and art gallerist Howard Greenberg.
Because Vivian Maier’s work has changed lives—John’s in particular—we are forever indebted to her. That is why a share of the proceeds from sales of her work and the film Finding Vivian Maier are used to create an endowed and permanent scholarship—the Vivian Maier Scholarship—at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an institution that was important to Vivian. Every year, young photographers will receive financial assistance allowing them to pursue their art with some of the economic burden lifted, thanks to Vivian Maier. This will be another one of Vivian’s gifts to the world and another part of her legacy.
“We are thrilled and grateful for the donation we received from John Maloof, Charlie Siskel, and Howard Greenberg to establish the Vivian Maier Scholarship Fund,” said SAIC alumna Ellen Sandor (MFA 1975), Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, member of SAIC’s Board of Governors and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Gene Siskel Film Center. “With the establishment of this scholarship and our relationship with Ravine Pictures and the Howard Greenberg Gallery, emerging female artists at SAIC will have significant opportunities to pursue their passions for years to come.”
i directed this super fancy video for:
✴ KateBerlant X TheDogShowUSA ✴
DogShow is sick of it, and we are sellin off all these sexy vintage clothes we have. YOU WANNA COME BUY THEM FOR BOTTOM DOLLAR PRICES????
EARLY BIRDS CAN START SHOPPING THURSDAY & FRIDAY 11AM - 7PM. ya know, to get it while it’s hot.
MAIN EVENT SATURDAY 11AM - 7PM
TAROT CARD READINGS by Linda Lay Noon-4
AIRBRUSHING by Malcolm Stuart Noon-4
ya know, like when you go to the mall and get a shirt with your name and a dolphin smoking w**d on it. BRING YOUR OWN SHIRT!
FOOD by FamJam Noon-4
BUT SERIOULSY YA’LL -
EVERYTHING MUST GO
EVERYTHING ON SALE
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
ALL YOUR FASHION NEEDS CAN AND WILL BE MET RIGHT HERE AT THE DOG SHOW USA 1361 1/2 Sunset Blvd.
Australian journalist + photographer Elize Strydom is currently seeking 13-18 year old girls with diverse cultural backgrounds who are living in small towns in America…
I’d like to find out what it’s like to grow big in a small town if you’re African American, if you’re Native American or if you’re of Hispanic origin. I’m looking for 13-18 year old girls of diverse cultural backgrounds who live in towns with a population of 10,000 or less. I’ll live with you and your family/friends for a week and follow you around, taking fly-on-the-wall style photos that will form a body of work to be exhibited in galleries in Australia and the US.
If you’re interested or if you know someone who knows someone who knows a teenage girl who fits the bill, then please comment here or email me for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org Feel free to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and any of your other networks. Many thanks!