What a wonderful world this is and what wonderful people are in it, these thoughts bounced through my brain as I dined at Merengue Restaurant with the Planning Committee for the ¡Merengue! Visual Rhythms/Ritmos Visuales Exhibit that was held in Boston (Roxbury) at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists from August 14- November 23, 2008.
We had a wonderful feast of delicious and savory Dominican food. I basked in the glow of the accomplished and good people around me and how we’d made the exhibit happen – from Barry Gaither, Executive Director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, who heard about the exhibit and reached out to grande-dame Frieda Garcia to see if she wanted to get a committee going to bring it to Boston, to Hector Pina, owner of Merengue who jumped on board immediately. The planning committee ranged in age from mid-20s up to age 70. Members were Dominican, Puerto Rican, and African-American. Some of the committee worked together for one year and others of us worked for 4-6 months. Yet work – we each did – hard, contributing in our unique ways.
Camilo, owner of Samson Projects, a gallery in the South End, and his wife, Alexandra, owner of EquiFit (a company that makes equipment for show horses), were delightful. They are doing interesting work, well-traveled, and clearly in love.
There was sparkling conversations on a variety of topics, merriment (and a little fussing) by Hector’s young children, conversations full of laughter that I didn’t get to hear (between Kevin, CEO of USES and Jacqueline, graphic designer who did outreach and designed the brochure for the exhibit). Andres (historian and raconteur and Nydia (our link to the Boston Public Schools who now heads its Newcomers Academy) where also too far away for me to hear their spirited conversations).
Plate after plate of scrumptious food (shrimp, chicken, rice and beans, mofongo, plantanos, etc.) were passed around. We feted Maria, our youngest member and Education Coordinator for the exhibit, with two renditions of Happy Birthday (her birthday is on Thursday) and she passed around her tres leche cake (3 milks cake) with us.
Meanwhile regular patrons streamed in and out, including the illustrious Roxbury native Topper Carew who was dining and happened upon our celebration.
Did I say the food was delicious? Did I indicate that the mood was buoyant? I love interacting with interesting, positive people who’ve come together for good to do good – bringing an exhibit of beautiful art by 27 Dominican artists capturing merengue music, dance, and culture. The exhibit was astounding. We are proud to achieved our goal of getting school children and community members to see it.
And I say to myself what a wonderful world (and wonderful people) in my best imitation of Louis Armstrong’s voice.