Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sketches of Open Mics: Random Thoughts on Open Mics and the Neighborhood Bookstores Hosting These Artsy Events

Sketches of Open Mics: Random Thoughts on Open Mics and the Neighborhood Bookstores Hosting These Artsy Events

Have to confess, I love open mics. I sometimes go to these events to perform, cheer other performers, other times I organize these artsy events.

It all started by my visiting and attending Open Mic events offered by the likes of Barnes & Noble . Then I discovered smaller neighborhood places like Symposia Bookstore, in Hoboken, NJ, and I got hooked.

I love Symposia and all it has to offer:

* a space where one can get lost in the world of arts and books, and, in the process, find moments of bliss

* friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff, there to answer any questions

* a fabulous manager who knows and does everything; Carmen Rusu is the heart and soul of Symposia; and the bookstore (the well-being of the bookstore and everything and everybody connected to it is her passion and purpose in life, and she's good--no, she's great--at it); Symposia's manager is also a certified yoga instructor; hence, the bookstore offers FREE weekly yoga classes (check out Symposia's website to find out more about its schedule, including yoga and meditation classes, book events and much much more).

To sum it up, Symposia Bookstore is a safe heaven, a place where one can escape, if only for a moment, from the torment and stress of the day. Symposia is a peaceful home away from home, where one can reconnect with the soul within. The bookstore has had a vital role in the lives of many local artists. Hopefully, for the sake of today's and future artists, hopefully, Symposia will remain a fixture in our lives.

Yours Truly Reading at Open Mic. Sketch by Jack Atkinson.
While some writers/readers (performers?) bring photographers and videographers to capture their... performances in front of the mic, I bring with me my own... visual artist (so to speak).

Indeed, I organize open mic events with Jack Atkinson, a fantastic visual artist showing his artwork in galleries across the country, including in Manhattan's own Chelsea Artist District. To learn more about Jack Atkinson's art and the art world in general, and to keep up with the latest happenings, check out Jack's popular blog on ARTSnFOOD

I'd like to share here a sketch Jack drew of me, during one of our own open mic events, while I was reading from a very early, prior-to-publication version of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS

To learn more about Journeys Through Darkness, you can download a PR kit (including a short free excerpt from the book). I'd be glad to answer any questions about Journeys.

As always, thanks for stopping by!
Alina Oswald


  1. Alina -Fun to see my ink and brush drawing again. Thank you for posting it. Interesting comments about OPEN MICs and good bookstores! No matter what your art form, whether it's writing, acting, art, photography, dance, playing a musical instrument or singing - the artist's craft is not complete until they have an audience. Open mics offer no risk audiences that are SO needed!!!!!

  2. Totally agree, Jack!

    Thanks for posting and thanks for your art and advice (artistic and not only). You are the life of our small and very local artsy events. They are vital for the community!

    I've learned from you throughout the years and continue to do so. Appreciate it and look forward to reading more of your blog views on Arts & Food (ARTSnFOOD)!

  3. Wonderful! I, myself, have never done an open mic (karaoke, on the other hand, was my paramour for a good ten years!), but I should. I wish we had some great, independent bookstores in the small city I live in. Sadly, there is merely one used bookstore and a big Barnes & Noble (which I couldn't bring myself to do - I'd feel much more obligated to support independent bookstores). And kudos to you for getting up there and doing it! Now, how would you feel about a round of karaoke....??? :)

  4. And once again, you, my friend, are here to support me and the independent bookstores. You can organize Open Mics pretty much anywhere, doesn't have to be a bookstore... but it does help. As far as karaoke... I went to music school (instrument and musical theory) and played in national competitions and mini concerts, even won a few prizes, and, yes, wasn't too bad at musical theory either. Now? Well, that's a completely different story. I can't even sing "Happy Birthday" LOL!

    So, I admire (and envy) your courage of getting up on stage and singing! THAT takes serious guts and talent! I'd like to attend one of these karaoke nights, though :-)

    Thanks again for your ongoing support! Also, just want to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed your "What Doesn't Kill You" post. You always offer a fresh perspective of life and ways we should look at life.