The Living Room Kitchen

By Carllene Brooks-Oden

Tom Robbins once said “A child’s mind is its living room; it’s going to be residing there for the rest of its earthly existence.” Memories of childhood often feature communal gathering spaces like the living room or the kitchen. The Living Room Kitchen exhibit at the Andrew Freedman Home manages to take these memorable moments and transform them into art. When you walk into the exhibit, you instantly feel like you’re at home. Located inside the Princess Room, the exhibit is full of vibrant colors, with an ambience of pure childhood memories.

The exhibit is curated by Kiara Cristina Ventura and features 11 local artists of color, many of whom are from the Bronx. Many of the pieces feature elements of life in the borough: dominoes, a piragua cart (shaved ice), family photographs, beaded curtains, paintings featuring living rooms and kitchens. En las Mananas, (In the Mornings), and Ma y Pa are oil paintings by Raelis Vasquez. Weekend’s at Auntie’s is an acrylic painting by Jessica Spence.

The aim of the collection, according the organizers, is to reveal how the gathering spaces contain experiences of celebration, consumption, ritual but also trauma and hardship.

The Living Room Kitchen is free to the public at the Andrew Freedman Home at 1125 Grand Concourse in the Bronx. The Freedman Home began offering exhibits in 2011, when the Mid Bronx Senior Citizen Council (M.B.S.C.C.) turned it into an art collective. Built in 1924, the Andrew Freedman Home was originally a retirement home for wealthy people who had lost their wealth. During the 1960s, the retirement foundation began to lose some of its funds, which sparked a petition. “The Andrew Freedman Home went from being a retirement home to a non-profit Mid Bronx Senior Citizen Council in the 1980s,” says Rhonda James, the president and senior event producer for the home. The ultimate goal of the M.B.S.C.C. is to be a driving force for neighborhood transformation, she says.   

The Living Room Kitchen Exhibit will be open from February 4, 2020 – April 4, 2020.

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