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Year Ten 2009-2010 Season

"Some say that art and activism don't mix... but in times like these, art must act--and act ethically. Through a communion of diverse, kindred spirits, VBB's artist-activists refuse to stop dreaming of a better world."
–Ruben Martinez, author of Crossing Over and The New Americans

This year, 2009-10, marks VBB’s ten-year anniversary. We invite you to join with us to celebrate our organization's journey from a grassroots activist arts organization to a recognized alternative-still activist-arts organization. We began the season with VBB’s trademark show, living room art, a "one night stand" in a neighborhood home, to feature original work by known and upcoming artists. This year’s living room art production, Honoring Dissent / Descent celebrated dissent in Pakistan and in Houston's Eastside. Elements of the show will go on to be exhibited in homes in other neighborhoods, cities, and countries.

Our 10-Year Anniversary, East End Live Art: A Decade of Dissent, VBB's 10-Year Anniversary, was celebrated in December where we exhibited and held video screenings to honor photographers and filmmakers who have documented our journey over the past decade.

In Spring 2010, VBB will continue smaller theme-based shows, East End Live Art, in Houston’s East End at Café Flores. Please note that VBB's spring season is developed by a committee headed by VBB Project Coordinator Jacsun Shah who's working with Gunjen Mittal, Samina Mahmood, and Selina Peshori. Our second living room art show of the year will feature VBB's Art Car, and there will be a dynamic reading and perfomance by much acclaimed artist, writer, musican Patti Smith.

VBB will continue to cosponsor events presented by other organizations whose work matches the VBB mission: to cross borders, sustain dialogue, and incite social justice through art.

To get regular updates about our shows please join our email list.

Fall 2009

Living Room Art :::


Featuring Tehmina Ahmed, Chuy Benitez, Rosalinda Bustamante, Ben De Soto, Bryan Parras, Sharjil Baloch/Beena Sarwar + Sehba Sarwar
8 pm, Saturday, November 7, 2009
Home of Sehba Sarwar + René Saldivar

VBB is an organization that has long honored activists who have taken risks and spoken out. This fall, we will kick off our season with Honoring Dissent / Descent, a Pakistan Live Broadcast production that creates parallels between struggles in Pakistan and the US. This production sheds light on Pakistan 1950's student movement that was led by Dr. Mohammad Sarwar, Sehba Sarwar's father, who passed away in May 2009. The show will also honor long-time activist Daniel Bustamante, the founder of Houston's Festival Chicano, who was also involved with the United Farm Workers, and La Raza Unida. Honoring Dissent / Descent features installations and photography by Tehmina Ahmed, Chuy Benitez, Rosalinda Bustamante, Ben DeSoto, Bryan Parras, Sharjil Baloch/ Beena Sarwar and Sehba Sarwar. There will be altar-pieces by artists including Liz Alexander, Michelle Barnes, Sarah Gish, Shaista Parveen, and Greg Lira, honoring family members, activists, and those who continue to take risks. Open mic will be emceed by Yunuen Perez at 9:30 pm - bring your words and or altar art! Speakers include: Sissy Farenthold, Robert Gallegos, Bapsi Sidhwa, Alice Valdez and others. Special thanks to Kamran Ali, Claudia Baba, Salmaan Hasan, Nusrat Malik, Muzaffar Qazilbash, Mehnaz Shafi, and Bapsi Sidhwa for kicking off the project in Fall 2008.

Honoring Dissent / Descent is a VBB Pakistan Live Broadcast production, and is supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Simmons Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. This show is cosponsored by KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Houston Institute for Culture, Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), Nuestra Palabra, and Geo TV. Pakistan Live Broadcast is a traveling show, and will move to different neighborhoods, cities, and countries, over the next few years. The goal of the show is to continue shedding an alternative light on Pakistan, and honoring activists in neighborhoods where shows are installed.

East End Live Art:: 
A Decade of Dissent: VBB's 10-Year Anniversary


Featuring Laura Harrison Eric Hester Paul Hester Burnell McCray Faroukh Virani
Music by Free Radicals, Tyagaraja, and Kayumanggi Pinoy rock band
7 pm, Saturday, December 5, 2009

Houston Institute for Culture, 708-B Telephone Road, Houston, Texas 77023
$ Free

A Decade of Dissent: VBB’s 10-Year Anniversary event celebrates artists who have participated in our productions throughout the decade. Highlights will include photographs by Paul Hester, who has documented VBB’s early shows, including its 5-Year Anniversary, annual Words for Peace celebrations, and youth workshops. On exhibit, too, will be images by Eric Hester, former student of VBB’s founding director and currently a documentary artist for VBB.  Paul and Eric—father and son—both exhibited with VBB during our residency at Project Row Houses. Photographs by Burnell McCray, whose work covered the early VBB shows in southwest Houston, will be on display as well. This past year, Burnell joined us again to photograph our East End shows at the local Café Flores. A VBB documentary by filmmaker Laura Harrison, who interviewed more than thirty artists regarding their views on art, activism and dissent, will be another feature of the evening, and a brand new short film by Faroukh Virani will be screened, one that captures VBB’s first decade and current projects. The show includes performances by VBB founding members and one by director / educator Keisha Breaker’s Lee High School girls’ dance troupe. VBB will honor arts organizations that have supported us in our first decade, and we will proudly receive a Proclamation from the City of Houston honoring VBB’s work during the past decade.  As usual, refreshments will be served, including a celebration cake.

The show is cosponsored by KPFT 90.1 FM, and Houston Institute for Culture.


Spring 2010

East End Live Art ::: Artists / Mothers 2

Mothers Who Make Art

5:00 pm, Sunday, February 21, 2010
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street Houston, TX 77023
$ Free

VBB celebrates an alternative celebration of mothers, featuring dynamic artists, whose readings, visual art, and performances inspire audiences to consider the excitement and conflict attending artists who are also mothers. Artists include: Saida Carter, Michelli Cockburn, Anju Mittal, Jacsun Shah, and Yunuen Perez Vertti. After the performances, the artists will discuss how these two roles intersect, inform one another, inspire, and create conflict and creative work in their lives. They will present work that addresses the challenge of raising children while producing art. Artists / Mothers 2 is curated by Samina Mahmood, Gunjen Mittal, Selina Pishori and Jacsun Shah. VBB's Founding Director Sehba Sarwar will host the evening, and there will be an open mic and discussion. Bring your voices! Mix and mingle after the show to visit with artists, community, and eat sandwiches made with Berta Flores' famous home-made bread.

Cosponsored by Houston Institute for Culture, KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Friends of Women's Studies, Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, and Café Flores.

East End Live Art: Annual La Voz Femenina 7

La Voz

5:00 pm, Sunday, March 28, 2010
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street Houston, TX 77023
$ Free

Violence and disease have always put the world’s women at risk, whether it’s domestic violence or the violence of war, sexually transmitted diseases or diseases spawned by warring conditions.  And women, individually and collectively, often have to take responsibility for their own safety and health.  Sad, but true, it is the disempowerment of women that frequently leads to their empowerment.  Faced with seemingly impossible odds, women can and do draw upon each other for the will and ingenuity to tackle problems­­; by necessity, no challenge is beyond them.  La Voz Femenina 7, a program depicting, and underscoring, the strength of indomitable women should inspire women, and supportive men, everywhere—VBB and Arte Público applaud the artists, and you will too! This year’s collaboration with Arte Público Press to celebrate International Women’s Month includes films, art exhibits, open mic, and discussion, featuring Erica Fletcher, Liana Lopez, Delilah Montoya, and Bryan Parras.

 Cosponsored by Arte Publico Press, Houston Institute for Culture, KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, and Café Flores. The program is curated by Samina Mahmood, Gunjen Mittal, Selina Pishori, and Jacsun Shah, and is hosted by VBB Founding Member, Sehba Sarwar.

East End Live Art ::: Teachers Speak Out 2

Teachers Speak Out

5:00 pm, Sunday, April 18, 2010
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street Houston, TX 77023
$ Free

Teachers, perhaps the most under-appreciated members at a time when entertainment and athletics are more valued than academics.  As a nation, we say education is very important; the money and resources we relegate to it, however, says something else.  The increasingly complicated business of teaching children and young people in a multi-ethnic environment is creating new challenges for teachers who are often over-worked, and always under-compensated.  Daily difficulties of trying to not only teach, but motivate and discipline kids who can turn off in a blink are part and parcel of a teaching career.  And yet, talented, visionary people still turn to teaching when they could probably dedicate themselves to more lucrative careers with less frustrations.  Teachers Speak Out 2 provides an opportunity for teachers to delineate their concerns by presenting the writing they have been doing in VBB workshops this year.  Come learn and support and listen to works by: Maru Garcia, Shenaz Keshwani, Emily Sketch Haines, Leslie Gauna, Keisha Breaker, Marcela Descalzi, Catherine Boswell, and Patty Henry, all of whom are part of VBB's  Writing for Self Discovery Workshops that VBB offers for teachers who work with at-risk youth in Houston. An open mic will also give you the opportunity to participate. East End Live Art Committee members, Samina Mahmood, Gunjen Mittal, Selina Pishori, and Jacsun Shah, along with VBB Founding Director Sehba Sarwar will host the show. Cosponsored by Houston Institute for Culture, KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, and Café Flores.

Click here to view photos from the Teachers Speak Out show

Cultural Narrative
Patti Smith: Just Kids

patti smith

7 pm, Monday, April 19, 2010
Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston, 77004
$5 general admission at door; no one will be turned away
(Box office opens at 6pm)
$35 with pre-signed copy of Just Kids + preferred seating (purchase through Brazos Bookstore)

Voices Breaking Boundaries is honored to present Patti Smith, a writer, performer and visual artist who gained recognition in the 1970’s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock. She will be reading from her new much acclaimed memoir, JUST KIDS (Harper Collins, NY: 2010), as well as performing a few songs. The memoir, an honest and moving coming-of-age story of her extraordinary relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, is a chronicle of friendship in its truest sense, a portrait of two innocents who, in a chance meeting in 1967, become lovers and then friends, and went on to fulfill their mutual dream of becoming great artists. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous, the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe.

Patti Smith has released numerous albums including Horses, bearing Mapplethorpe’s renowned photograph, that has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. Her art work has been exhibited world-wide, and her books include Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Patti Smith Complete 1975 - 2006. On July 10, 2005, she received the Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest grade awarded by the French Republic to eminent artists and writers who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts throughout the world. Smith resides in New York City and is the mother of two, Jackson and Jesse. In spring 2003, VBB's founding director Sehba Sarwar met Patti Smith at New York's LaGuardia airport following a rally protesting the US invasion of Iraq. Once they landed in Houston, Sarwar (along with VBB Board Member Michael Woodson), interviewed Smith on KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, and the two have remained in touch since then.

Click here to listen to Sehba Sarwar and Michael Woodson's 4/19 interview Patti Smith on KPFT Pacifica 90.1 FM; Click here to view photos from Patti Smith's performance

Patti Smith's visit is supported in part by UH's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, and Nina + Michael Zilkha. The show is cosponsored by UH-Creative Writing Program, English Department, Women's Studies Program, and History Department; Brazos Bookstore; Free Press Houston; Houston Independent Media Center; Houston Institute for Culture; Inprint Inc.; KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM; and Students for a Democratic Society. Books will be available for sale + signing after the event. Paid parking at UH Visitor Center (Entrance 1 off Calhoun).

living room art:
Art Car Sprawl in the First Ward


Featuring David Cisneros, Eric Hester, Paul Hester, Abro Khuda Bux, Mark Lacy, Sehba Sarwar, Yunuen Perez Vertti, Ilona Yusuf, Maheen Zia, del monte films, Pakistani Artisans with Anj Rana; Introduction by Stephen Fox and Patrick McIlivian + altar for Liz Alexandar
5-9 pm, Saturday, May 1, 2010
Home of Emily Sketch Haines + Zach Haines

VBB’s living room art production, Art Car Sprawl in the First Ward, located in Houston’s historic First Ward at the home of Emily and Zach Haines, is a celebration of culture, global connections, history, human labor, and movement. The show will feature Houston art car and Pakistani truck art history, and include a preview of VBB’s first art car, Digital Meets Pakistani Truck Art, designed by Eric Hester and Sehba Sarwar. Decorations on the car include video screens showing VBB’s history, truck art designs from Karachi collected by Sehba Sarwar on a recent trip to Pakistan, and an open mic podium welded out of the passenger seat. The production will include: a documentary of art car history in Houston by Carlton Ahrens and Ford Gunter of del monte films, another documentary on Pakistani truck art by Maheen Zia, installations by David Cisneros, Yunuen Perez Vertti, and Pakistani Artisans led by Anj Rana. Photographs by Abro Khuda Bux, Paul Hester, Mark Lacy and Ilona Yusuf will be exhibited. Other highlights include introductions by Rice University Adjunct Professor Stephen Fox and First Ward Civic Council Vice-President Patrick McIlivian. And like all VBB living room art productions, there will be food, drinks, community, conversation, kids play area and open mic. Music will be provided by DJ Lotus and songs by First Ward resident Cleola Williams. Additionally, there will be an altar in rememberance of artist and arts advocate Liz Alexandar who passed away suddenly on April 23, 2010.

The show is a preview to a week of festivities hosted by the Orange Show's Art Car Parade. All art car artists who are participating in the May 8 Art Car Parade are invited to attend and display their cars! Reps from the Orange Show will be present to sell discount tix to the Art Car Ball. Don't miss the events!

Click here to view photos from Living Room Art show.

This show, a VBB Pakistan Live Broadcast production, is supported in part by Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Simmons Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Consulate of Pakistan, Houston. The show is cosponsored by KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Houston Institute for Culture, The Orange Show Center for the Visual Arts, Geo TV. This project is part of VBB’s Pakistan Live Broadcast productions that aim to shed an alternative light on Pakistan, and to recognize neighborhoods where shows are installed.

Art Car Parade


Noon-2:00 pm, Saturday, May 8, 2010
Allen Parkway
$ Free

Join the Orange Show's Art Car Parade and view VBB's car (#135), Digital Meets Pakistani Truck Art. VBB's car is created by Eric Hester and Sehba Sarwar. It's decorated with truck art stickers and reflectors from Pakistan and digital screens showing VBB's history caputured over the years by Burnell McCray, Yunuen Perez Vertti, Paul Hester and Eric Hester. Also on view are images of artists whose work inspires VBB: Liz Alexander, Iqbal Bano, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Patti Smith. The back of the car contains poetry lyrics in Urdu and English by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Patti Smith.

Writers are invited to bring their work to perform in the car.

Click here to view photos from Art Car Parade.

VBB's Art Car is supported in part by Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and this project is part of VBB’s Pakistan Live Broadcast productions that aim to shed an alternative light on Pakistan

East End Live Art ::: Un/Natural Disasters

Un/Natural Disasters

5:00 pm, Sunday, May 23, 2010
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street Houston, TX 77023
$ Free

Un/Natural Disasters focuses on the effects of government mismanagements when un/natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike have struck the Gulf Coast. The show also explores the effects of earthquakes that have devastated Haiti and northern Pakistan and India. All proceeds from this year's show will go toward grassroots Haiti, Haitian led relief efforts.

Come learn and support and listen to works by artists and community activists: Neela Banerjee, Nick Auger, Karla Aguilar, Sacha Lazarre, and Almas Intocables. La Tienda, a fair trade art co-op operated for and by a group of women in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, will be there to sell jewelry and other handmade items.

All proceeds from this year's show will go toward Haiti relief efforts. Un / Natural Disasters is curated by Samina Mahmood, Gunjen Mittal, Selina Pishori and Jacsun Shah. VBB's Founding Director Sehba Sarwar will host the evening, and there will be an open mic and discussion. Bring your voices! Cosponsored by KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Houston Institute for Culture, and Café Flores.

2009–10 Co-sponsorships

Tariq Ali Speaks About Pakistan


Rothko Chapel

1409 Sul Ross St., Houston, TX 77006
7:00pm Friday, November 13, 2009
$ Free

Writer, journalist and film-maker Tariq Ali was born in Lahore in 1943. He was educated at Oxford University, where he became involved in student politics, in particular with the movement against the war in Vietnam. On graduating he led the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. He owned his own independent television production company, Bandung, which produced programmes for Channel 4 in the UK during the 1980s. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio and contributes articles and journalism to magazines and newspapers including The Guardian and the London Review of Books. He is editorial director of London publishers Verso and is on the board of the New Left Review, for whom he is also an editor. He has produced prolific non-fiction and fiction. Public reception following Tariq Ali’s talk sponsored by VBB.

Honoring the Legacy

Dr. M. Sarwar

Commemorating Pakistan’s first nation-wide student movement
Featuring: Alia Amirali, Ammar Sindhu, Ali Cheema and Varda Nisar; Tina Sani, Fehmida Riaz; Sharjil Baloch & Beena Sarwar; I.A. Rehman + Laal band
4 pm, Saturday, January 9, 2010
Arts Council, Karachi (Bokhari Open Air Auditorium)
$ Free

Honoring the Legacy is an event honoring Pakistan's first nationwide student movement (1950-54) led by the late Dr M. Sarwar who was then a medical student. The movement was remarkable for its focus on education-related issues and student unity, its independent political position (non-alignment to any political party even though many activists had strong affiliations mostly to left-wing parties), strong organization and commitment. Re-visiting this little known part of Pakistan’s history is particularly relevant now, since the current elected government has announced the revival of student unions, banned since 1984 by the then military dictator. The aim of the event is to look back in order to plan moving forward. Highlights include poetry by the feminist writer Fehmida Riaz and renditions by well-known singer Tina Sani both of whom were close associates of Dr M. Sarwar. Youth activists Alia Amirali, Ammar Sindhu, Ali Cheema and Varda Nisar, all associated with various universities, will share their thoughts. Beena Sarwar and Sharjil Baloch  will show their new documentary film, based on extensive research and interviews, featuring animations based on old photographs, on the student movement. Veteran journalist and activist I.A. Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a strong proponent of students’ rights, will make concluding remarks. The popular band Laal (Red) (will perform songs based on progressive poetry including the famous poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib. There will be a tea break. Co-sponsored by ‘Friends of Dr Sarwar’ and VBB.



Directed by Lester James Peries
(Sri Lanka, 1964, 120 min., in Sinhala dialogue with English subtitles)
Saturday, February 20, 7:00 p.m
Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston 77005

A seminal work in Sri Lankan cinema, Gamperaliya launched “a revolution, not only in the way films were made, but also in the content,” according to producer Anton Wickramasinghe. Based on the novel by Martin Wickramasinghe, the film focuses on Piyal, a teacher and member of the new rising middle class, who falls in love with the daughter of his village’s leading aristocratic clan. Defensive positions are assumed and the girl’s parents insist upon a marriage to a stuffed shirt of her own class. For its elegant style, Gamperaliya has been compared to Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, a classic of Indian film history. Copsponsored by VBB.


Houston Palestine Film Festival

film fest

For more details go to the HPFF website.
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VBB is a multidisciplinary arts organization. Our mission is to
cross borders, sustain dialogue and incite social justice through art.