Seven City Art Society and The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association collaborate to bring you the 2015 SWAN DAY CELEBRATION

Have you ever heard of SWAN DAY?
Support Women Arts Now (SWAN) Day is a national celebration of women in arts.

hosted by Shelly Bell
March 26, 2015
7pm, $15 to support women artists

Get your tickets now:
You can also pay at the door

The Athenaeum
201 Prince St.
Alexandria, VA 22314



Live Painting by Lola Leopard:

The ability to see my talent develop in front of a crowd has been a humbling experience. To show my appreciation, I challenge myself by pushing my creative ability with consistent variety. The courage to step outside of my comfort zone with new designs; while remaining true to my personal style, has strengthened my craft and given me the confidence to become a professional live painter. I am learning to come alive on stage; unveiling uniquely evocative artwork that illustrates who I am as an artist. What began as just a creative release, is developing into a movement of the masses. I have dedicated my talents to empowering African American women, raising awareness against the silent cycle of abuse, and creating a safespace for women personally looking for a release through artistry.


Liturgical Dance by Mia Jackson:

Mia doubles as Swim Instructor by day and writer/dancer by night. Joining the church at a young age Mia began to explore the the ways that music could motivate and provide a positive experience for listeners. Mia enjoys the art of conveying the message of her song with beautiful fluid body movements.

Poetry by Tori Lane Kovarik, Poet Laureate of Alexandria

Tori Lane Kovarik (also known as T.Lane) is an Alexandria-based poet, speaker, artist, and educator.  Tori is currently serving at the Poet Laureate of Alexandria City in northern Virginia.Tori’s work is known to have a fairly dark sensibility, routinely addressing issues of spiritual crisis, sexual trauma, depression, and self-injury.  In writing about these tough issues, Tori aims to shed light on things often clothed in silence, grappling with them in a way of seeking healing and hope.This theme of giving voice expands beyond Tori’s writing and visual art and into her work in the community and the church.  She works with victims of sexual trauma, connecting them to resources and support systems, and speaks publicly about her own experience with sexual trauma and the struggle to find healing.  Tori also provides training and resources to churches so they are better equipped to support trauma victims in their midst.


Poetry over Music by SB Cooper:

To merely refer to North Carolina native and Alexandria, VA resident Shelly Bell aka “SB Cooper” as a curious and talented consumer of life’s most positive energies would only tell half of the story. She is an award-winning performance poet, event host at DC’s hub for poetry and great food – Busboys and Poets, and author of All Women are Stupid Sometimes – a contemporary tale of what women endure for love. Her poems have been published for academia in Critical Articulations of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation which examines the relationship between race, gender and sexual orientation. Shelly has published articles on music, arts, and culture as a contributor for Brightest Young Things, Brooklyn Bodega, and editor of Straight Razor Hip-Hop. She is the founder of Women Writers Rock – an advocacy group for women readers and writers in the DC metro area and beyond. Excelling as a truly dynamic force in local, national and now international media, her work as performance poet has led to an arts partnership with the Northern VA Fine Arts Association, a performance with the world renowned Washington Metro Philharmonic Association, and serving as a former Arts Commissioner for the City of Alexandria,VA.

Looking forward to celebrating with you! For questions about the event email

Twitterview: Iggy Azalea on Azealia Banks, Privilege, and Being a Hip-Hop Artist

On this edition of Twitterview is Iggy Azalea…

Hi Iggy Azalea, how are you today?


So Iggy what is your response to Azaelia Banks and all of the things she’s been saying about you:

What is your relationship with Hip-Hop? Are you a Hip-Hop artist?

Oh wow! So you’re getting Hip-Hop awards, performing with Hip-Hop artists, and making a name for yourself with Hip-Hop but you’re not just a Hip-Hop artist?

Well, It’s clear that you couldn’t care less about Azealia Banks’ rants. It’s also clear that you don’t have to care about preserving Hip-Hop culture as long as you can straddle the pop/hip-hop fence and make money. Privilege allows you the space to meddle in any form of music you like and still win awards for being Hip-Hop all while saying you’re not a Hip-Hop artist. Awesome! So what do you really care about Iggy?

What’s next for you?

Taking your Hip-Hop, oh I mean pop act, on tour?! NICE!!

Welp! Thank you for Twitterviewing with me!

This concludes our Twitterview with Iggy Azalea. Thanks for tweeting Iggy!

*Please note: These tweets are embedded here directly from Iggy Azalea’s timeline therefore if any tweets are missing it is because she has deleted them.*

Headphones On: J. Cole tops charts, here’s why…

J. Cole was that high school kid that kept saying “Ms. Bell, imma be a rapper one day.” I would respond by nodding and saying “OK well let’s just work on getting your project done for now.” Then I’d think “J is a great kid. He just needs to apply himself. ” Forest Hills Drive is J. Cole giving his personal stories by applying himself lyrically in a manner we have yet to see from him. The result is the number one album in the country and the best selling Hip-Hop album of the year. Forest Hills Drive has a coming of age theme with topics ranging from Cole’s first sexual encounter to the numbness of growing up without a father. He channels his inner Mos Def with raspy slow singing over a melancholy beat in “Apparently.”

Cole is great at giving the listener a story they can identify with. Being accessible is the key to remaining relevant at a time where it’s easy for the average music listener to get lost in the quantity vs. quality of Hip-Hop. Lately, listeners who haven’t given up on Hip-Hop have been flooded with subpar lyrical content and catch phrases over hype beats.  J. Cole balances the status quo by offering you a selection of anthems to compliment your perception of day-to-day life.

Cool facts about the album…

  • The album is titled after his address in North Carolina.
  • There aren’t any featured artists on this album.
  • The album was released without any supporting singles.
  • I did not see ONE commercial promoting this album. His promo team took a different approach.

Find the album, buy it, listen to it, or all of the above. It’s worth it.


The Mystery Model

A few weeks ago I created a blast asking for people who may be interested in being my partner in a photo shoot. I would like to thank all of the awesome people who responded. Picking the final person to be the “mystery model”  was a challenge. I ended up choosing an old friend of mine whose identity will not be revealed until the photo project is up for view. I wanted someone who is not well-known in my poetry scene, someone who nobody really knows, someone I have chemistry with, and someone beautiful. I did not have a preference on gender but I will tell you that the mystery model is a woman.

History of the mystery model and I:
This person is awesome! I met her the summer of 2010. Throughout our friendship our personalities have clashed something terrible, yet we are able to continue to be friends. She taught me a lot about relationships. I believe that some people come into your lives to usher you into being the better person that you will be. She has most definitely been that person for me. She taught me to focus on intimacy instead of sex. She taught me that building a friendship is the most powerful bond you can build with a potential mate. Somewhere around March of 2011 we had a disagreement which caused a separation between us. We stopped hanging out, then later in the year she got a new job and moved away.

The argument was my fault. I had lost a great friend. I had lost a bond with someone who could finally teach me something. I felt so bad about it. I wanted to send her a thousand hugs and a million apologies but it didn’t matter. Her personality would not hear of it. I wrote her this dumb long letter about how sorry I was. She never responded (LOL). I figured I would never have a chance to speak with her again. During the time that we were not speaking she became the little voice in the back of my head with every possible relationship opportunity. So many times I wanted to call her and ask for her opinion on something, but was too afraid of what she might say. Somewhere around August 2011 I decided I was just going to text her and see what happens. I text her  “Hi” and she replied “Hi Shelly.” I was so hype! You would have thought someone said yes to a marriage proposal (HA!). I was just so glad that she didn’t fill her reply with 140 characters of expletives.

From then on I would just send her messages every now and then just to make sure it was for real. Just making sure she was really going to text me back. The interaction was very minimal still, which was cool I was just glad to be back in contact with her. When I sent out the info for the intimate friends photo shoot I really had no clue who to choose.  As I scrolled through my phone for potential models I came across her name. I was so afraid to ask her. I felt like I would be pushing it to ask her to come from her new home to do a photo shoot with me. Then I said “oh well, what the heck all she can do is say no.” So I text her and SHE SAID YES! I was soooo hype! I couldn’t believe it! We set the date and everything was ready to go.

The day of the photo shoot (December 18, 2011)

I pick up the mystery model from the bus station. I hadn’t seen or really spoken to her in 8 months. The morning started out rocky. I was like 5 minutes late, it was super cold outside, she was hungry and waiting. A woman who is hungry, cold and waiting is never a happy camper. She had the usual amount of attitude. It was to be expected. We went to this awesome brunch at a place called Freddie’s in Crystal City. Everybody and their mama must go to Freddie’s as soon as their life allows! This place is completely awesome! The mystery model and I picked up our conversations with sentiments from the new people we have become. I would have to say over the past 8 months we are not the assholes we used to be. We both were a little uptight and stuck on some things then that we are much more clear on now. Conversations with her always make me reflect on myself. I like that. We headed over to Clinton, MD for the shoot at about noon. Feeling awesome from good conversation and mimosa we were ready to get the party started.

Douglas Jacobs is by far my favorite photographer. His energy is awesome. He and his friend are inspired by great art. Therefore, when they get a good shot they express it with an “ah man” or a “yes!” or some other funny saying they’ve created. This was her first photo shoot and I was feeling insecure about my weight. Once the camera started rolling none of that mattered. We had fun! We got awesome shots! I won’t say too much about the poses or images from the shoot. I will just say that you are in for an artistic treat. Afterward we went to dinner. I dropped her off at the bus station and retired at home with my babies. This photo shoot experience was awesome to say the least. I truly appreciate her coming all the way here to do it for me. I will take that as a display of forgiveness. Even though our lives have totally moved forward since the last time we’ve spoken we were able to pick up and hang out again. It was nice to have yesterday back for a few hours. As I return to today I am thankful for yesterday’s intriguing inspirational conversations. My new friend will get the best of me because my yesterday has taught me so much.

INTIMATE FRIENDS PHOTO PROJECT….DONE! Check out “The Liberation Movement” link above for info on the next project.

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Pura Vida,

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