by Foluke Gabrielle Denis
People often associate raves with large crowds, illegal drugs and explosive house music mirrored by a light show. Stimulation of the senses at its finest. Take away the large crowd and replace it with a few hundred, the drugs with art and add in an eclectic group of musicians jamming out- you get RAW Philly.
The stimulation knew no bounds. When I walked into LIT Ultra Bar, I was greeted with the techno-hipster-hop sounds of Dream Circle. The room was heavily sprinkled with art aficionados of all sorts. One could feel the energy overflowing as artists from fashion to fine art showcased their abilities
As I scoped the room, I saw a white block in the middle of the floor. People began to gather and I realized it must be one of the evening’s many fashion shows just about to begin. The smooth sounds T.I.’s King dropped and the creative urban fashions of Crumbled Thoughts hit the floor. Flash mob style, the end of the runway became a paparazzi playground. When the designers appeared at the final walk, the applause was mesmerizing. But as fast as they came, the show was over and the next display of sensory stimulation was in full effect.
I was captivated. Artist Sterling Shaw drew a diminutive but ever present crowd. We were taken into a world of beautiful women with large asses masked in symbolism. I asked him what they meant and like most artists he told me his interpretation, which to him, surrounded religion. I saw it, too. A well-rounded black woman’s bottom half stared at me while her upper half exploded into a white boisterous cloud set by a galaxy back drop. I had only been at the venue for 15 minutes.
Many artists illustrated an unparalleled ability in their skill set. Giovanni Damiano Art was freehand/doodle art full of darkness but wrapped in intricateness. A pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers covered in eyeballs, dope lighters, eye-catching drawings and two beautiful chess sets designed with complicated and elaborate measure are just examples of things this artist had to offer.
While I was captivated in sight, the soothing sounds of singer Cameron Washington played with my ears. When he sang, I could feel the jazz undertones as lovely ballads came freely out of his mouth. I was driven to the stage to watch his 70s neo-soul style engulf the venue while people were perusing art. This amazing overload of art is not the only thing that can be found at RAW Philly. The event also serves as an organized networking opportunity. The social mixer brought artist of all types together in non-competitive platform, while allowing these artists to focus on their commonalities.
Highlighting film, photography, art, make-up, performing arts and jewelry making, the power of art was illustrated incredibly. The backdrop was also illuminating. LIT Ultra Bar has a lounge feel, but is a large club draped with a 360 bar, LED panels on the walls and beautiful chandeliers. It was an experience to remember.
I did not leave empty handed. Most of the artist had pieces for sale at reasonable prices. I copped a radical Cyborg piggy bank and a custom handcrafted crystal ring by ROKIKA. I had never experienced art in such a modern and eccentric way. It opened my eyes to what is considered art and how over stimulation can lead to interpretation. Want to be stimulated like I was? RAW Philly hosts a show every month. To attend check out their website with a list of featured artists.