Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. President-elect Barack Obama had the audacity to hope. MoZaic celebrates them both with “The Audacity to Dream.”
MoZaic is Venice’s monthly celebration of art, music and poetry put together by Nickie Black, aka “The Impressario” (spelled with double “ss” as in “to impress”). On Friday, January 16th, the revelry includes the birthday of King and the impending inauguration of Obama.
Footage from speeches of Obama and King will be screened throughout the course of the evening’s art, music and poetry.
This is MoZaic’s Seventh annual birthday party for King.
“The very first MoZaic was the Dr. King birthday celebration, which was six years ago,” says Black. “This year is even more special with the Barack Obama inauguration just four days later. It’s a demonstration that Dr. King’s dream has come true, where the content of a man’s color means more than the color of his skin. In 1964 Dr. King said that in 40 years there would be a ‘Negro’ president. He was only 4 years off.”
MoZaic has permanently taken up residence at The Talking Stick Coffee Lounge, which recently moved to Venice after five years in Santa Monica.
“Nickie isn’t limited to one genre or one kind of music or one kind of poetry,” says Talking Stick owner Rich Braaksma. “He wants to see the mix that is the community. To nurture that and just let it flourish. And that’s the whole motive of The Talking Stick too.”
The celebration begins “on the downbeat” at 7 p.m. Friday, January 16th, with The Expressionz, a local acid jazz band, followed by resident singer/songwriter Vinny Fazzari. Oz Williams, a funk and reggae band then performs at 8:30.
The spoken word portion of the evening, “The Live Poets Society Club” hosted by Matt Sedillo, begins after the live music. However, DJ Noj will continue to spin tunes throughout the evening.
“DJ Noj is the glue that keeps it all together with his incredible blend of eclectic music,” says Black.
For the King Birthday Celebration, Sedillo specifically composed a poem entitled “Nicodemus You Must Be Born Again,” which is drawn from one of King’s speeches. The poem begins with the couplet: “Stripped in name culture and religion / They built a new church and redeemed a tarnished faith.”
Sedillo hosts spoken word poets from the Inland Empire to Venice. Among those to be featured are Ordell Cordova, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza and Darnel Davenport, who performed on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam.
Also appearing will be Mike Sonksen, sometimes known as “Mike the Poet.”
Black describes Sonksen as “one of the pioneer spoken word poets that L.A. has produced.”
Sonksen, who teaches poetry and journalism at a charter high school in the Crenshaw District, will perform several poems.
“Many of them are about the forgotten history of Los Angeles,” says Sonksen. “My intention with my work is to both celebrate Los Angeles and also critique it.”
Some of Sonksen’s students will also be performing.
“They have poems about Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr. and growing up in inner-city Los Angeles,” adds Sonksen. “We use art and poetry to dialogue about our city, and for that matter the nation and the world at large.”
Because no art goes uncelebrated at MoZaic, the evening also features a world premiere trailer for Malcolm May’s new film Trouble. The 17-year-old African American produced, wrote, and directed the film for Sony.
“This is another example of Dr. King’s dream coming to fruition, and we’re celebrating it,” says Black. “We’re celebrating the art, the kids, the diversity.”
One thing’s for certain in these uncertain times — MoZaic certainly has a lot to celebrate.
The Talking Stick Coffee Lounge is at 1411 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice. Admission is free.
Information, (310) 450-6052, www.thetalkingstick.net/.