Tribeca statue celebrates transgender comm.
BY GABE HERMAN
A new sculpture unveiled on Monday in Tribeca
Park is dedicated to the transgender GNC (gender
The ten-foot-tall fi berglass sculpture is in the shape of
a butterfl y. It’s by visual artist Rubem Robierb as part of
his “Dream Machine” series. Each work in the series is
named for a person, whether famous or forgotten, who
lived or died fi ghting for their own dreams or the dreams
This piece is called “Dandara,” named for a transgender
woman who was murdered in Brazil in 2017 at age
“We are all here for the right reasons, we are all here
because we care,” said Robierb at the Nov. 4 ceremony
in Tribeca Park, which is just below Canal Street where
West Broadway and Sixth Avenue converge.
Robierb thanked everyone for coming to the event and
referenced the work’s tribute to Dandara and the transgender
“This is a monument for dreamers,” Robierb said.
“Imagine yourself between these wings, close your eyes
and make a wish. See yourself in a place where dreams
Sam Champion, the ABC weather anchor who is married
to Robierb, hosted the event. He said the sculpture is
a place for all people to come and share dreams. “We’re
the same and there’s strength in that,” Champion said.
Another speaker was Peppermint, a transgender woman
from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who is an actress and activist.
“I never dreamt of such a beautiful day,” she said. “I
feel blessed and thankful to be one of the fi rst to lay eyes
on this beautiful sculpture.”
Peppermint said that going back decades; there has
often been a lack of visibility for the LGBT community
and negative images associated with transgender women.
“It’s pretty clear to see how that can serve as a barrier to
The sculpture will be in Tribeca Park until May 4, 2020.
someone seeing themselves in a positive light,” she said.
She added that transgender women are gaining more
visibility but are also victims of violence at increasing
rates, including in Brazil and the U.S.
Peppermint noted of the sculpture being dedicated to
Dandara, “To have her name and essence carry on is such
PHOTO BY GABE HERMAN
a beautiful thing.” She said she hoped the sculpture could
be the beginning of others having a space and knowing
that dreams can be realized. “Hopefully this can be the
beginning of change we need to see,” she said.
The “Dandara” sculpture will be at Tribeca Park until
May 4, 2020.
‘Harry Smith at the Chelsea Hotel’ packs LES theater
BY SHARON WOOLUMS
Harry Smith at the Chelsea Hotel, a black
comedy with a feminist underbelly, was read
at Dixon Place on Oct. 23 to a packed audience.
Set in 1970, it follows the mysteriously fraught love
story of Bix and Gwinn, and moves on to scenes in the
salon-like atmosphere of their friend Harry Smith.
It’s set in some famous hangouts of the era — Max’s
Kansas City’s back room, a Chelsea Hotel suite art
opening with few buyers, the El Quijote Restaurant,
and later Harry’s room at the Chelsea, where he regales
friends, artists, and other visitors with his wideranging
intellect and abrasive wit. The dialogue is
peppered with satirical talk about art, relationships,
auras, and money.
Here wordplay is rampant, repartee razor-sharp.
Though this is a portrait of the irascible and charming
Harry Smith, author-director Terese Coe’s late friend
and mentor, she describes what she sees as a feminist
motif in it: “Gwinn’s salary as editor-writer with the
underground press is a pittance. So-called friends begin
joking that she should become a prostitute. She
refuses and fi nds ways to make them look ridiculous
in return. Harry teases her as well, but later relents
when he sees she is not about to be railroaded into
something she refuses to accept.”
“You couldn’t help but laugh, even when, inevitably,
IMAGE BY VERONICA MARINO
“Harry Smith at the Chelsea Hotel.”
Harry insulted someone — even you — in the
early 70s.” It was a time when “politically correct”
speech had not yet been invented. Harry teases and
taunts Gwinn, as do others, but Harry defends her.
Cain Perry plays Harry Smith; Cordis Heard is his
companion Peggy Biderman; Brianna Fragomeni is
journalist Gwinn; Brandon Culp is poet Claude Pelieu;
Jody Prusan is actress Fania; Tim Mullins is Bix;
J.L. Rey is the possible patron; and Nicholas-Tyler
Corbin is Jerry. Cordis Heard, founder of Red Harlem
Readers, was especially impressive in her role as
Theater-goers who had known Harry personally
said Ms. Coe’s introduction of Harry to the audience
before the play was an authentic portrait of him:
“Harry was a living lesson in how to survive as an
artist and satirist at a time when young people needed
that paradigm and practice. He was fond of playing
Brecht-Weill’s Mahagonny, the opera from which he
was making a Manhattan-based fi lm, or else Woody
Guthrie; he sometimes displayed his collection of Navajo
costumes, his adeptness with string fi gures, and
always his whip-smart wordplay and mockery,” she
“It was a subculture of the counterculture, and
Harry had a huge circle of admirers,” Coe said. “Folkrock
musicians showed up as if on a pilgrimage, many
of them aware he had put together the fi rst compendious
‘Anthology of American Folk Music,’ which came
out on Folkways in 1952. They said it had infl uenced
their music.” In fact, it’s often agreed that Harry
Smith’s “Anthology” paved the way for the entire folk
music revival of the early 1960s as well as for the development
of folk-rock music.
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