September 2014: Invisible River, Chicken Bone Beach and Local Abundance

The Sustainable Choice

Art of Food — Produced by Monica Rogozinski

Consideration of social responsibilities is an important part of the River and Glen and parent company Local Abundance’s philosophy. Working and living conditions of laborers, the needs of rural communities, and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future are just some of the issues that the company focus on when distributing the highest quality, responsibly sourced seafood, game and meats on the market to the restaurants in Philadelphia and New York as well as to their local clientele.

Art of Food visits their distribution center in Bensalem, PA where seafood from Alaska, Maine, Long Island and New Jersey arrives fresh everyday, is quickly cleaned and packed in ice, to be delivered the same day to fine restaurants such as Lacroix at Rittenhouse Square, or to the homes of their growing client list through out Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The company aims to provide the public food that is 100% transparent and that comes with a story. The consumer is not only getting the freshest fish and organic meat in the market, but is also aware of who caught it, or raised it.

The Other Atlantic City

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

In September, Friday Art’s Art of Life segment will take viewers back in time with a visit to the historic Chicken Bone Beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also known as Missouri Avenue Beach, the site fondly got the name because the segregated beach was visited by African Americans who would come to the beach with baskets of fried chicken, and when done, they would bury the bones in the sand.

In the early 1900’s, Atlantic City was a booming resort town with several grand hotels, wealthy visitors came from throughout the country, and people were needed to help it all run smoothly. This was also the beginning of the Great Migration which lasted into the 70’s and brought millions of African Americans out of the rural southern parts of the country. They found an abundance of work in Atlantic City as housekeepers, cooks, busboys and in every other service job you can think of.

White tourists began to complain to hotel owners about the presence of African Americans on the beaches in front of the hotels, so it was decided that blacks would be given their own beach in front of the Convention Center. Although the beaches were never officially segregated, blacks continued to primarily use this beach into the 70’s.

Beginning in the 1920’s with tourism at its peak, Atlantic City became known for its lively nightlife. Restaurants and nightclubs featured the most popular entertainers and people like Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and Joe Louis became common faces at the famous Club Harlem. When their work was done, they also headed for Chicken Bone Beach because they knew they would be most welcome there. It was a place where on any day, you might even catch a glimpse of Rev. Martin Luther King in a swimsuit.

Our segment begins with an exhibition at The Art Sanctuary here in Philadelphia, of photographs by John W. Mosely from the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. The exhibit runs thru the end of August 2014, and according to the organizations Executive Director, Valerie Gay, it has been a great opportunity to celebrate an important piece of local African American history.

We talk to Valerie Gay in the segment, along with two of Atlantic City’s well-known African American residents, who are working to make sure this history continues on. Ralph Hunter, Founder and President of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey helps tell the story of Chicken Bone Beach, along with Turiya S.A. Raheem, author of Growing Up In The Other Atlantic City. Both also serve as consultants to the popular HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

The interview with Ralph Hunter took place at The Atlantic City Historical Museum at The Garden Pier, where now through September 30th, 2014, you can see the exhibit Northside: The Way We Were, a pictorial history of African Americans in Atlantic City. The museum is operated by The Atlantic City Free Public Library.


Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

Alie Vidich, the force behind the INVISIBLE RIVER organization, describes the event they put on as a “public art and boating event in which the audience travels on the Schuylkill river and, from the river and the banks, watches dance and music performances”. That description does little to describe the power one feels as an audience of hundreds of people moves between multiple tableaux, here on the bank, there on an island – using any conveyance they can – on foot, by boat, some even on bike. All the while, they are accompanied by a vessel that announces itself and shepherds its flotilla with strains of synthetic ambient music that flow out of powerful speakers like water. At another point, this loose armada is serenaded by a skillful guitar, the Schuylkill river a surprisingly appropriate substitute for a glassy Venetian canal, guided by the music made by what can only be described as gliding gondoliers. At the apex of it all, and what we are all moving towards, hang Alie and her collaborator, Amy Lynne Barr. They are suspended just inches above the water from a 50 foot harness, attached to the underside of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. They swing and pivot and fly above the water in what must be the dance of the water sprites, though that was never the intention of either Amy or Alie, to hear them tell it. Not only does FRIDAY ARTS get up close with the creators, composers and choreographers of this event, we traveled on the boat with the composer of all that music, Mike Wall, got into a dragon boat powered by the Philadelphia Police Dragon boat team, climbed the struts of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge to hang the lines from which the dancers will twirl, and finally end up earthbound watching from shore. INVISIBLE RIVER started out as a performance with as many dancers as audience members and it has grown into a platform for multidisciplinary art as well as environmental activism surrounding the river, both of which are now developed year round through the organization of the same name.

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