When Obama won the presidency, this nabe took to the streets-and you should too.
Wed Nov 12 2008
Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson
"The Prusuit of Nappiness" at Casa Frela Gallery
1. Start your uptown adventure at one of Harlem’s newest art venues, Casa Frela Gallery (47 W 119th St between Fifth Ave and Malcolm X Blvd [Lenox Ave]; 212-722-8577, casafrela.com), whose current show, “The Pursuit of Nappiness” by photographer Mireille Liong-A-Kong, is a celebration of Afrocentric hairstyles. Every Sunday at 2pm through November, the gallery offers ancillary programming, including screenings, hair shows and DIY styling tips.
2. Next, head to Strictly Roots (2058 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd [Seventh Ave] between 122nd and 123rd Sts, 212-864-8699) for delicious, healthy and economical grub—a full plate costs $6–$10. The laid-back vibe and Rastafarian decor complement the Caribbean-inspired, all-vegan menu (think: fried tofu and chili with brown rice).
3. Cap off your meal with a coffee from Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe (2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd [Eighth Ave] between 124th and 125th Sts; 212-665-7400, huemanbookstore.com), which sells hard-to-find urban fiction and tchotchkes (Obama soaps, candy dishes shaped like dolls, etc.). Hue-Man regularly hosts book signings—Magic Johnson and Wynton Marsalis are two of this month’s featured authors—and open mikes .
Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe
4. Go to 125th Street, Harlem’s main commercial artery, for fine art viewing at The Studio Museum in Harlem (144 W 125th St between Malcolm X Blvd [Lenox Ave] and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd [Seventh Ave]; 212-864-4500, studiomuseum.org; $3–$7, free Sun noon–6pm). Its current exhibit “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” is a retrospective of the painter’s works, and includes life-size portraits of people of color in the ’60s and ’70s. On your way there, snap a pic of Louis Delsarte’s Spirit of Harlem mosaic.
5. After the museum, hop over to Malcolm X Boulevard to visit another of the community’s cultural institutions: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd [Lenox Ave] between 135th and 136th Sts; 212-491-2200, studiomuseum.org,). Currently on view are works by Aaron Douglas, a visual artist from the Harlem Renaissance. His style incorporates European, Egyptian and West African touches, while the subject matter trades in African-American identity and spirituality.
6. Snack time! Swing by the Make My Cake bakery (2380 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd [Seventh Ave] at 139th St; 212-234-2344, makemycake.com) for red velvet cupcakes and sweet-potato cheesecake. The Baylor family opened its first shop in 1996, but its baking secrets date back to 1940s Mississippi.
Elizabeth Catlett's Invisivle Man sculputre
7. Turn west on 139th Street and you’ll discover the serene block of century-old townhouses called Strivers’ Row; this is where Harlem’s elite, including musician Eubie Blake and actor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, once resided.
8. Commemorate your great walk at the aptly named Straight Out of Harlem (704 St. Nicholas Ave between 145th and 146th Sts, 212-234-5944). It specializes in wearable art (handmade jewelry, shawls and African beadwork) and pieces by local artists to fit every budget (from $10 packs of black-and-white postcards to a $4,000 drawing of Celia Cruz by East Harlem’s Manny Vega).
9. End your journey at Elizabeth Catlett’s impressive memorial sculpture to Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison (Riverside Dr at 150th St). It’s located just outside the writer’s 730 Riverside Drive residence, and carries a powerful message that became indisputable last week: invisible no more.