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Earlier this week, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, painted by the artist Kehinde Wiley. While the painting was highly praised on social media, it turns out the former president and I have something in common. Over 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to be painted by Kehinde Wiley after answering an ad on Craigslist.
Now called, St. Dionysus, the portrait hangs in the Milwaukee Art Museum. Check out my interview on WNYC Radio.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” says WNYC’s Darnell Jefferson, who, in 2005, answered an ad on Craigslist — and wound up becoming a model posing for Wiley. “I remember wearing that blue bubble coat, with that crown — I was probably 24 years old when I did that portrait with him.”
“I never knew that Kehinde would be this big today. The fact that our former President chose him to be his portraitist, is like ‘wow.’ I never knew that when I first did that shoot with him, that he would be that huge. I’m glad to be in the same class as our former President.”
Not only was I in a portrait, I also found out I’m in Reginald Baylor’s coloring book drawing. The Milwaukee Art Museum Reginald Baylor Collector’s Edition Coloring Book is available online and in the Museum Store.
A Harlem neighborhood loss is a sweet gain for the Upper West Side. After 22 years at 116th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, Make My Cake is closing its doors at the end of the month due to rising rents. It is slated to reopen next month at 795 Columbus Ave., in a space that formerly housed Crumbs, the cupcake shop. Make My Cake’s new store will be a 500-square-foot bakery that will serve everything from pies and cobblers to cakes, cupcakes and cookies. It will have seating for eight. The 2380 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd location in Harlem will remain open.
Via is ready to paint the town blue — you can now get Via EVERYWHERE in New York City! In a congested city like ours, everyone can and should benefit from smart shared rides. Together with you, and loyal Via-istas, we all help built the most affordable and convenient way to get around all five boroughs. Now, whether you’re grabbing dim sum in Flushing, checking in on the tigers at the Bronx Zoo, or commuting from Staten Island, Via will get you there. Via New York operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
A new program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, offers free classes to women who don’t speak English but want to improve their language skills. For example, student Maria Luna wants to practice writing and speaking before taking the GED at the end of the year, but she couldn’t find someone to watch her three-year-old daughter.
It’s called Mother to Mother, and in this program, both the English lessons and childcare are free. Sarah Wang, co-founder of the program, said it was also the perfect way for her to start teaching again after her son turned one. The kids play while volunteer teachers hold class a few feet away. It can be noisy at times, but Wang said the moms are used to it.
New bright red signs that reads “All Trucks Must Exit” have been installed along the FDR Drive in Manhattan to remind drivers that only passenger vehicles are allowed on parkways. The goal is to reduce the number of trucks that strike overpasses. New markings have also been painted onto the roadway to warn of low clearance. DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, said signs will be at critical locations along the parkway at the Harlem River Drive, on 155th street, 116th street, and 106th street.
About a hundred New Yorkers marched from East Harlem to Trump Tower on Sunday to protest the ongoing plight of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rican flags waved in the wind, but cheers were few and far between. The organizers of the march wanted it to be silent, because they said they are tired of shouting for the Trump Administration to do more for the island. Have a listen to my audio story:
It’s one of Harlem’s oldest live Jazz bars. Paris Blues opened in 1969 and is still thriving at its original location on 121th street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Owner Samuel Hargress Junior has been there ever since. This is one of the last old school spots to get a drink and casually listen to live music without a cover which makes Paris Blues one of the last hidden treasures to be found uptown. Paris Blues is still owned and managed by eighty one year old Samuel Hargress, and for many businesses in Harlem that is rare to see one that has not been affected by gentrification.
City Park Officials have approved plans to bring the first statue of woman into Central Park. In fact, the plan is for two statues together at 77th and Central Park West… of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, two pioneers in the fight for women’s rights. Darnell Jefferson checks in on the project, and what people think about it.
The statue is expected to be unveiled on another auspicious date in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the day women won the right to vote on a national level.