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Artwallah ~ Downtown

11:30 AM PDT on June 28, 2006


Artwallah is not your Mama-ji's typical Indian party...if it had been, the food would have been a lot better, the music louder, and the place more packed with old people who are somehow related, talking about other people's marriages, gold jewlery and pickle recipes.

A celebration of art and culture, Artwallah, curiously at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, skews towards the youthful, underground side of South Asian life in the U.S.-- the indie Indians if you will. Thus present were a smattering of groovy Gujaratis, new-wave New Delhians, punk Punjabis, rockin' Rajasthanis, hoo-ridin' Haryanayans, tuned-in Tamils and utterly-progressive Uttar Pradeshinans, along with their neighbors in the subcontinent, such as bangin' Bangladeshis and savvy Sri Lankans (yes, we really could do this all day).

What Artwallah lacked in attendance (and great food), it certainly made up for in the spirit of both those attending in support of the community and the sheer camaraderie of celebrating South Asian heritage together...(CONTINUED BELOW)
Punjabi Tat

My Pet DragonOhm GeetarLullabyDancing girlsNeilMC

Amongst lackluster shopping, the absence of devices like a henna booth, plus...ahem, mediocre food and art exhibits, were a few rare treasures that made the day a success.

Rave Magazine, a gorgeous glossy underground lifestyle magazine published both in the States and the Subcontinent, was on full-display, showing a wide-range of musical and worldly knowledge past and present that awed TACO. Amazing photography and incomparable taste, from its feature on Eminem leaving the rap biz to a look at the new documentary on Hendrix, as well as rarely seen photos of the Fab Four in India, and reviews of US and Indian artists' CDs, travel and fashion features embodied the new generation's passion and comfort with the culture of their home-country and that of their parent's.

Nirvana Woman, a magazine dedicated to the modern Indian-American woman, was also in attendance. As our good friend Sheal of Bollywood Fo' Real says, "It is an amazing magazine geared towards young, successful Indian-American women with some dispoable income and sense of style. Its got great fashion editorials and even introduces these fabulous Indian designers such as Satya Paul. I've decided to give it the Sheel Seal of Approval. It ain't no Femina!"

Neil Choudry

The artwork of Neil Chowdhury, which draws together myth, past, and present in hyper-colored photo collages, were both fun and thought-provoking, a notch above the other intriguing artists who explored the themes of heritage and cultural-belonging that often eminate from Desi works of art. In fact, identity as it relates to living in the U.S., often as part of the first generation, played heavily into the expression displayed in this year's art.

The haunting wail of Falu, a Bombay-born and trained singer who had recently performed with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, and accompanied by her rock band at Carnegie Hall after becoming a musical ambassador at the famed venue, showcased the singer's vocal scope and discipline, while updating her millenia-old vocal style with a multi-ethnic crew of rockers backing her.

Ohm Geetar

Perhaps the day's best discovery was My Pet Dragon, comprised of the newly-wedded team of Reena Shah and Todd Michaelsen, who recently appeared on Karsh Kale's new album. Reena's dancing combines her classical training melded with a current, improvisational spirit. Todd, just a lone man with a guitar, seemed to fill the entire downtown area with the force of an entire rock band with beautiful, bittersweet songs, carried across with a stunning voice of lifting intensity, power and flexibility, reminding us of My Morning Jacket singer Jim James' acoustic record crossed with the steady power of Coldplay's Chris Martin (uh, but cooler, sorry for the comparison, Todd). The two are as noticably in love as their song-and-dance combination are forceful and stunning. We imagine more than a few copies of their new CD First Born flew off the tables Saturday, as TACO picked one up ourselves.

We look forward to Artwallah surviving and growing, and hopefully next year getting some BETTER CURRIES (!!!) in addition to strengthening the prescence of South Asian Angels, afficianados, artists and performers that left such a positive impression in 2006.

Neil Choudry
Neil Choudry
My Pet Dragon
Who dat??!
Dancing feet
Sheel wants to be a DJ!!
Rave Magazine
Tiny Dancer
My Pet Dragon
Lady in sari
Fruit Mon
Artwallah Curries
Artwallah Tapestry
Desis chillin'
falu n' friends
Artwallah Food
Artwallah Entrance
Art fo' sale
Vee-Jay Sing?
Brown Soul
What it is... whatssup?!
See deez?
Reena Shah
Scattered Petals
My Pet Dragon
Neil Choudry
Neil Choudry
Artwallah Art
Artwallah Art
Paper Tree
Wisdom tree
U.S. Citizen
U.S. Citizen #
Artwallah Art
Artwallah Art
Awaiting musicians
I'll be your Mirror
Dancing girls
My Pet Dragon
My Pet Dragon
Shiny objects
Todd and Reena
Reena Shah
My Pet Dragon
My Pet Dragon
My Pet Dragon
My Pet Dragon
My Pet Dragon
See Reena Twirl
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