Paradigm Gallery is pleased to present Immigrant Mentality, a solo show of new paintings, illustrations, and an installation by artist Sean 9 Lugo. Though Lugo’s work is fueled by his own personal stories and childhood, Immigrant Mentality expresses the shared elements and emotions that Lugo feels are part of the immigrant experience. The back of the exhibition is dedicated to a large-scale installation of an art bodega, composed primarily of handmade “merchandise.” Immigrant Mentality will be on view from July 23–August 22, 2021 with a virtual preview on July 22nd and an in-person opening reception on July 23rd, both at 5:30pm. RSVP is required.
The exhibition is designed to encompass a broad perspective on the culture, community, and values of immigrant families, emphasizing the experience of Hispanic and Latinx immigrants in the United States. The show is centered around 14 new paintings, many of which are based on a trip Lugo took to the Dominican Republic in 2015, including a few directly modeled on photographs the artist took himself. Lugo was inspired by the warmth and selflessness of the people he met living in poverty there. The work El Rey is made on a canvas created entirely of cigar boxes from the Caribbean. On top of the boxes, Lugo painted a Dominican man holding two kittens in his lap; he manifests the man as a king, living his fullest life, relaxing in his own kingdom after years of struggle, finally satisfied.
Immigrant Mentality honors Lugo’s mom, Lulu, who came from Cuba to the United States and worked as a house cleaner to provide a better life for her family; Lulu embodied the drive, work ethic, and generosity that Lugo sees as representative of the “immigrant mindset.” Blue (Lulu’s favorite color) is prominent in the works and represents her presence throughout the exhibition. While the artist’s earlier art reflected the unique circumstances of his life on the streets, this new work is intended to resonate with anyone who has lived as an immigrant or was raised by immigrant parents anywhere in the world.
To harken back to the artist’s early community in New Jersey, a tribute to local neighborhood bodegas, known as papi stores in Philadelphia, will be installed in the gallery, complete with a soda machine, chip rack, toilet paper, and even a wooden bodega cat. Lugo sees the bodega as family—the owners knew him, saw him grow up, and took care of him. By bringing the bodega into the gallery, the artist acknowledges the central and familial role that the space and people have played in his life. To stay true to the bodega experience, all of the pieces within the installation will be reasonably priced. Included are $20 stickers and snack packs to $200 comic books with original art covers. The comic books’ delicate illustrations feature Lugo’s signature style, which playfully reimagines iconic, original comic book figures and covers. The bodega also has a dedicated space for a makeshift shrine, which pays tribute to Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, and features votive prayer candles and Lugo’s painting, Mucho Mucho Amor.
Immigrant Mentality marks a new chapter in Lugo’s artistic oeuvre as he tackles topics that are both deeply personal and widely shared. In presenting this work, he hopes to honor his past, connect with fellow immigrant families, and teach those who were not raised by and among immigrants about the distinct culture and mindset that comes with leaving your life behind and starting over somewhere new.
You slowly step inside an emptied-out room as if you stepped outside space and time. Everything is bright white, except the vanilla-colored doors of the closet. Another timid step towards the closet. You stop and gently touch the velvety handles. You open the doors of the curious closet like you just opened the hardcover of a lost novel. The whole story reveals itself all at once.
It is the story of Sara Berman’s Closet exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum in 2017. The precisely organized, impeccably simple closet of an immigrant who traveled from Belarus to Palestine to New York.
The new Nehera collection is inspired by the beauty and meaning behind Sara’s closet. Every piece is meticulously organized and crafted. The collection is a scene of contemplation and change, of discarding rather than accumulating, of essence over excess, of functionality over superfluous. Equally, as in Sara’s wardrobe you can mix and match everything with everything because colors lost their primary meaning, they become more subtle, more color-less, behaving as exquisite shades of white. It was a great challenge for the whole design team to translate shades of white into shades of color without losing the meaning of white and off-white.
With this single suitcase closet we target determined, radical, yet not aggressive, breakers of prejudices and “rules.” A large share of the collection is built on washed poplins and classic linen. Airy summer virgin wool and washable cotton suiting are flagships in tailoring, together with modern linen twill. These fundaments are refreshed and emphasized by sustainable novelties based on paper and plant: Tyvek and vegetable leather.
The leas character is the cactus leather used in black. Only the mature leaves are cut out of the plant without damaging the plant itself. enabling repeat harvest every 6-8 months from the same plants. The leaves are dried under the sun with no additional energy or waste. The prints are inspired by the rays of light vertically passing through fused sheet glass. Rays of sun, both imprisoned and set free, in and out of the glass as the leitmotif of the whole SS22 season print.
Another call was to interpret employing clothes, not words, the importance of proper detailed care of the wardrobe turning simples folding of shirts/dress into a kind of meditation.
NEHERA Resort 22 is a story of liberation, order, and beauty.
Emerging singer, songwriter and musician Joy Oladokun will release her highly anticipated major label debut album, in defense of my own happiness, next Friday, June 4 via Amigo Records/Verve Forecast/Republic Records.
With in defense of my own happiness,Oladokunforges her own path, sharing the unique perspective she’s gained from living in today’s world as a black, queer woman and first-generation child of Nigerian immigrants. Born in Arizona and now living in Nashville, her musical exploration began at age ten when she was inspired to learn guitar after seeing a video ofTracy Chapman—the first time she’d ever seen a black woman play the instrument—and has since gone on to become “a fierce voice demanding equality” (NPR Music).
The new record builds on last year’s self-released album, in defense of my own happiness (the beginnings), and features 15 songs including two from the 2020 release—“sunday” and “breathe again”—as well as recently unveiled tracks, “sorry isn’t good enough,” “jordan,” “wish you the best” featuring Jensen McRae and “Bigger Man,” written and performed with Maren Morris. Of the collaboration, Billboard praises, “The gorgeous new single sees both artists stripped down to their emotional cores…stunning,” while American Songwriter declares, “the rising singer-songwriter proves her worth as a master storyteller” and The Tennessean hails, “any Nashville musician worth their salt should be pinching themselves to work with Oladokun, among the most exciting talents this city has seen in years.”
In celebration of the new music,Oladokunwill perform a special full-band show at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley on Sunday, June 20 and will continue to tour throughout the year including performances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits as well as several dates supportingJason Isbelland the 400 Unit.
Oladokunhas continued to receive widespread attention in the past year, including recent performances of “breathe again” on NBC’s “TODAY” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” The song also received a key placement onNBC’s “This Is Us,” propelling the track to reach #3 on Shazam’s U.S. Top 200 while also charting globally. Additionally,Oladokunhas been named a member of the inaugural #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021, anNPRMusic/Slingshot’s 2021 Artists to Watch, a Billboard LGBTQ Artist of the Month, Spotify’s RADAR US: Artists to Watch 2021, Amazon Music’s Artists to Watch 2021 and Vogue’s #1 New LGBTQ Artists to Listen to Now, and was recently highlighted as part of HULU’s “Your Attention Please: The Concert” alongside 24kGoldn,Kiana Ledé,Lil YachtyandSwae Lee. In addition to “This Is Us,” her music has also been featured on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC’s “Station 19,” Showtime’s “The L Word” and MTV’s “Catfish.”
Artist, multi-platinum producer, and entrepreneur Dominique drops his new single “Soulja Life Mentality” via Win 1st Records. Dominque delivers cinematic bars blanketed by boasting beats as he gives fans a powerful preview of this forthcoming debut project True Story. “Soulja Life Mentality” is available to purchase and stream on all music platforms. Listen HERE.
“Soulja Life Mentality” pulls the curtain back on Dom’s experiences navigating as a first-generation Black Man in America and the armor that he, along with many Black men alike, must be equipped with for survival, both in metaphorical and grave literal senses.
“Soulja Life Mentality is a story of frustration that most are familiar with. You got the world on your shoulders, but you have to deal with it alone because you can’t trust too many people. You get views from a Black Man in America here that’s questioning the lack of collective identity. It’s a true story to many men out here; we not only have to be cautious of the people who are hired to keep us safe, but we also have to be wary of our own people.”
“Soulja Life Mentality” follows the success of Dominque’s recently acclaimed singles: “The Player Way” and “The Code.” All three singles will feature on his forthcoming project True Story, which will soon release.
After a knee injury ending his football career during his senior year of college, Dominique switched gears to being a record producer overnight. A proud Guyanese American originally from Broward County, Florida, he began crafting his signature sound that has attracted both mainstream and international superstars. He’s worked with artists such as the late Juice WRLD, T.I., Fivio Foreign, French Montana, Yo Gotti, YFN Lucci, T-Pain, Montana of 300, Maxo Cream, Burna Boy, Lil Yachty and more. Dominique has songs reaching RIAA certified Platinum and Gold, along with over 130 million streams of Spotify alone.
The modeling industry has two very different faces. One side are supermodels, like Gigi and Bella Hadid, glamorously modeling, making millions of dollars, and traveling the world. The other are the unknown models working job to job, facing exploitation and manipulation by their agencies and clients, and trying to make their name in the industry. The mistreatment of models is as old as the industry itself. Skinny, cis, and white models experience this brutal reality. Working as a model is only worse for people of color [POC], LGBTQA+, and immigrants because of the lack of transparency or regulation and rampant misconduct.
The current push for diversity and inclusion has caused a much higher demand for POC, and LGBTQA+ models with different body types. In recent months, a few new players in the game are building their reputations on accountability and proper treatment of the models and creatives they represent. Three small agencies and one superpower are disrupting the model representation world: New Pandemics, Zandwagon, Community New York, and film and television power player Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The way modeling deals traditionally work is that a model signs to an agency, such as Next Models, Ford Models, IMG Models, or Wilhelmina Models. The agency provides its models with certain services such as housing, transportation, portfolio shoots, and more. In most cases, anything an agency provides for a model they have to pay back to the agency, often at a high-interest rate. The interest rate means the longer they take to pay it back, the more they owe to the agency.
Although models sign contracts to agencies, they are not considered employees of those agencies and instead are independent contractors who the agency aids in booking jobs. The agencies do not keep models on their payroll. They do control the money that the models earn on a job and how their money models earn is distributed. Bad payment practices reach far beyond the agencies. The agencies are responsible for billing the client right after the model completes their job. Payment for jobs by agencies to their models is notoriously sketchy because clients are not required to pay upfront before shoots and can legally take up to 90 days to settle up. Most agencies take at least a 20% fee out of any money their models make and charge clients a “booking fee,” so for a $1000 job, they would charge $1200 but only pay the model $800. Worst of all, if a client does not pay the agency for work a model did, the agency does not owe the model the money they earned. The common practice in the industry is that the model only gets paid if the agency gets paid.
The film and television management world contrasts the modeling world in many ways. The modeling industry as a whole is riddled with misconduct, manipulation, and poor treatment of models by their agencies and brands. Many modeling agencies use contracts that include fees and costs they can pull out of the model paychecks and use debt, housing, and visas to keep their models dependent.
Agencies in other media such as film, only make money if their clients make money. In film, the percentage is around 10% because of unions. Although, none of these industries are flawless especially considering scandals in the film and tv world with predators like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer. Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has a long history of representing talents across film, tv, music, and more. In August of 2020, CAA announced their partnership with KCD Worldwide, a fashion services agency, which signaled CAA’s entrance into fashion model management for the first time in the agency’s history. CAA has a strong legacy of representing high-profile individuals and building their careers. They have also stated that they only take a 10% fee out of their models’ earnings, half of the general standard of 20%. Despite their claims for better treatment of models, CAA is not blemish-free when it comes to allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct. Multiple former CAA agents have faced lawsuits.
Additionally, CAA has previously represented multiple people accused of misconduct, including Shia LaBeouf, Chris D’Elia, and Marilyn Mason; all of whom are no longer represented by CAA. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the smaller boutique agencies mentioned earlier, New Pandemics, Zandwagon, and Community New York. New Pandemics is “a casting and management agency dedicated to increasing LBGTQ+ visibility.”
Zandwagon is “a talent management company that could guide everyday life individuals who are breaking beauty standards daily” according to their website. Community New York is run by Butterfly Cayley, Moe Lamstein, and Richie Keoall, three first-generation immigrants from Laos, and “is founded on inclusivity and progressive values by changing not only the style but the very structure of management.” Cayley, Lamstein, and Keoall have impressive experience at agencies including DNA and Elite Model Management. Community New York now represents stars such as Hunter Schafer, who is well known for her work on the hit HBO show “Euphoria” and is now a brand ambassador for Shiseido.
With small diversity forward agencies up and coming, the existing modeling industry is under attack from all sides. All three of these agencies emphasize how much they value representation and inclusivity in this industry that has avoided breaking societal beauty standards for so long. They also claim they will be different from other agencies and provide better treatment for their clients. These agencies are sending the message that you’re either with them or against them, and they’re willing to think outside of the box to get proper treatment and equity for models from all walks of life.
Same Old Problems
Many of the biggest fashion houses in the world are still reckoning with the #MeToo movement. The fashion industry is known as a highly predatory business. Many of even the largest names in modeling have had to survive people abusing their power on sets and behind the scenes to become who they are. Household names, such as Kate Upton, Coco Rocha, and Cameron Russel, have all spoken out about their experiences with the abuse they’ve experienced while working as models.
Kate Upton spoke out against Paul Marciano in 2018, which led to a total of $500,000 in settlement agreements involving five individuals. He has remained an active participant at GUESS as a board member and chief creative officer, despite resigning from his position as an executive. At the beginning of February, the news broke that Marciano is once again being sued over sexual assault allegations by a woman who has chosen to remain anonymous. The allegations against Marciano are not an isolated incident. Similarly, allegations were brought against Alexander Wang in December of 2020 but began as early as 2017, yet some still chose his side despite the overwhelming corroboration of multiple individuals. If the word of a woman as successful as Kate Upton is not enough to oust a predator from power, it’s unclear what realistically can protect vulnerable individuals with less acclaim from the same experiences or worse.
The silver lining of these allegations coming to light is the industry supporting the individuals coming forward more than ever before. In the past, many models lost their careers before they had even begun due to the actions of predators and the mechanisms powerful people use to silence their victims. Accounts such as @shitmodelmgmt and @dietprada have been using their online platforms to expose predators and condemn their actions openly across Instagram and Twitter. Additionally, the Model Alliance, an organization dedicated to giving models a voice in their work, has also spoken out against Wang on their Instagram saying, “We stand with David Casavant, Owen Mooney, Gia Garison, and all the accusers of @alexanderwangny in their pursuit towards justice.”
The upheaval that began in 2006 with survivor and activist Tarana Burke’s creation of the #MeToo movement has continued into 2021. Slowly but surely survivors are taking their power back and pushing to create real change in media industries that have exploited them for far too long.
Dear Melania: Why didn’t you invite the new FLOTUS, Dr. Jill Biden, for a private tour of the White House living quarter?
“Under all circumstances, we must never desert ourselves”. – Louisa Catherine Adams, the first FLOTUS born outside of the United States of America (1825 to 1829). Historically, First Ladies are mostly respected and admired. The coveted position has been uncontroversial until 2021.
Melania Trump, formerly known as Melanija Knavs, was born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia. At age 16, she began what would soon become a successful modeling career, appearing in many high profile ad campaigns and working with some of the best photographers in the fashion industry. In 1996, Mrs. Trump moved to New York and 10 years later she proudly became a United States Citizen. Former First Lady Melania Trump is the wife of the 45th President, Donald J. Trump and the mother to their son, Barron Trump. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States, and she is the only First Lady to become a naturalized United States citizen.
Mrs. Trump is the first modern former First Lady to break one of the transfer-of-power rituals; welcoming the incoming president and family into the White House. This American tradition commenced in the 1920s and was respected all the way to 2017, when outgoing FLOTUS Mrs. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama hosted Mrs. Melania Trump for tea while discussing the private residence.
“Mrs. Trump should have invited Dr. Biden in for the traditional coffee. Typically, the first lady would come prepared with questions, she’ll meet and talk to the chef, the full time residence staff and have an opportunity for them to break the ice. It’s a courtesy, but logistically it’s incredibly helpful. That didn’t happen,”Capricia Marshall told The New York Times. Capricia Marshall was the former White House social secretary in the Clinton administration.
In 2016 when former President Barack Obama welcomed Donald and Melania Trump to the White House, Former First Lady Michelle Obama held her head up high despite Donald’s reckless lies about her husband. Michelle Obama went on instagram and described how she felt during that time, sharing that while she was “hurt and disappointed,” she accepted that “the American people had spoken.” She went on to write, “My husband and I instructed our staff to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy.”
On January 19th, 2021 CNN reported, “Melania Trump left the White House with the worst popularity rating for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history. The latest CNN/SSRSpoll had Trump’s favorable rating at 42% to a 47% unfavorable rating. The 47% is the highest unfavorable rating we ever recorded for Trump. It’s also amazingly high from a historical perspective.”
On January 20th, another protocol was broken when neither the former President nor any member of his family attended the inauguration. The Trumps also bypassed the laying of a wreath atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony, where the Biden’s were joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and their spouses.
As trending headlines like “Trumps’ snub of Bidens historic in its magnitude” by CNN circulated in the media early this week, we watched Melania Trump address the nation for the last time as First Lady of the United States. This was her first on camera appearance since the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol and she had not been seen in public since New Year’s Eve. During her farewell speech she spent much of her time expressing the importance of kindness. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself.”
Was this Melania’s opportunity to demonstrate to the world that she is her own person? A proud immigrant from Slovenia who later became an American citizen who respects all aspects of what it means to be an American or perhaps Melanija Knavs has always been a Trump.
“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” – Maya Angelou
Mina Tocalini is the child of Argentinian immigrants and was born in South Bay California, at the age of five she moved with her family to Arizona, where she remained until she graduated high school. Recently, she has been living between Pittsburgh, Pa and Los Angeles, California as she completes her Bachelor of Arts in Film and Visual Media (minoring in Animation) at Carnegie Mellon University. She is expected to graduate in May of 2021 and will be taking her classes remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
This past summer Mina began working for 360 Magazine as a Digital Media intern, in which she creates illustrations and writes articles. Her career interests are mainly focused in the entertainment/marketing industry and specifically include working in: graphic design, illustration, animation, post-production, video editing and creative development.
As a fine artist, Mina goes by Pia, her middle name. She mostly creates expressionist portrait paintings and is often drawn to using a wide range of colors and shapes to define the features of the face. Mina loves the texture that develops through the use of various colors and believe it gives each portrait its own personality. Her favorite styles of art are psychedelic, fauvism and anything that veers away from reality.
Halston Dare is not your average pop star. Growing up in a musical family to a Cuban American, immigrant father, Halston grew up with music in her blood. As a child, she grew up listening to classic 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music from the likes of Patti Labelle, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Donna Summer and Whitney Houston. As one of the brightest young voices in both the musical and digital influencer space, Halston is used to wearing many hats. “I want to be known as the girl who does it all. Music, fashion, make-up, sports. I want people to know that I’m a real person.”
Halston’s creative savvy and relatable personality has helped her amass a following of over 150,000 fans on instagram.
Halston started sharing covers of her favorite songs on Youtube a few years ago. She then branched out into the world of makeup, beauty and lifestyle. Her fanbase grew rapidly and when she finally released her single “Drowned Love”, it was received to much fanfare. Her fans instantly connected to the raw emotion and personal narrative. Over the years, Halston has fostered a uniquely deep and personal relationship with her fans. “Lots of fans I’m actually friends with. I rely on them as much as they rely on me. Let’s be friends, tell me about your day. Tell me about your problems.”
More About Halston:
Unlike many young musicians, Halston did not wait to get discovered. By age 11, the plucky and vivacious curly-haired preteen was googling agencies and managers and setting up her own meetings. That year, she heard an advertisement calling for aspiring young singers and Halston jumped at the opportunity. She begged her parents to attend the audition and because they saw her passion and dedication, allowed her to go. She attended the audition and the agency ended up flying her to Orlando, where she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” in front of 5,000 people. That’s when Halston and her family realized the stage was Halston’s home.
She then picked up piano and started vocal lessons. It was actually her first vocal coach who introduced Halston to song writers and producers and helped hone her talents. She started writing original music that she felt compelled to make. She says her lyrical inspirations come from a mix of real life and fantasy. “I love writing based on fairytales and stories I make up in my head. I love sharing my hopes, fantasies and daydreams.” Recently, Halston has been taking a much more personal approach to songwriting, writing about personal situations and real life events. Her new single “Something Special”, details a real-life situation about infatuation, dealing with ego and the misadventures of youth.
Aside from music, Halston is passionate about global issues like environmentalism, animal rights and female empowerment. Halston’s message has always been about empowering young women and making them feel important, beautiful and valued from the inside out. “In today’s Instagram world, we’re always comparing ourselves to these fake, filtered photos and that’s not really realistic. That’s just what people want them to see.” She says. “I want young girls to know that they’re beautiful the way they are and that they don’t have to look like an Instagram photo to be enough.”
For the future, Halston is excited to keep performing, making original music and connecting even deeper with her fans and followers. As Halston looks ahead she advises her followers to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, “If you want to sing, SING! Reflect you, show everyone how you can be the best you can be. If someone tells you, you can’t. Don’t listen to them. The only person who can stop you is you.”
Multi-platinum rapper Belly released debut album “IMMIGRANT” October 12, 2018, via Republic Records. On this album he reflects on his own struggles as a young Muslim immigrant, but also stands in solidarity with immigrants worldwide. The negative rhetoric around immigration reform dominating today’s headlines is more than politics for Belly; it’s a deeply personal, as demonstrated by all the philanthropic work he’s done.
“A personal and reflective ode to immigrants around the world.” – ABC News
“Belly looks towards his next chapter with positivity.” – Billboard
During his packed set on the main stage at the Made In America festival, multiplatinum-certified rapper, songwriter and producer BELLY announced that his new album Immigrant [XO/Roc Nation/Republic Records] will be released on October 12th and also revealed the artwork for the album that features a photo of BELLY as a boy in Jordan.
“I came here as an immigrant, I came from nothing & made myself into something. I want to show every young immigrant in the world that anything is possible.” Says BELLY.