Arts

Community Spotlight: Haitian business owners show resilience in Malden

By Jack Drees The Haitian community in Malden has a heritage rich in tradition, art, and food and a culture built on resiliency and determination.    Massachusetts now has the third highest concentration of Haitian-born immigrants in the United States, after Florida and New York. Of the 86,000 Haitians in Massachusetts, most live in Malden, Somerville, Boston, Randolph and Brockton. This city is home to many Haitian-owned businesses, ranging from restaurants to retail to cultural expression. These are the stories of three of them. “THE ISLAND” RESTAURANT: CHANTAL QUESSA Chantal Quessa, the owner of The Island. Photo by Jack Drees Malden is not just home to one of the larger Haitian populations in Massachusetts, but to various Caribbean restaurants,  including The Island, located on 118 Ferry St. Opened in April 2018 by Chantal Quessa, this restaurant calls itself “A paradise for everyone!”. “Everyone” refers to those in Malden, Massachusetts, her family and others. The front exterior of The Island, located on Ferry Street. Photo by Jack Drees Quessa’s passion for cooking started when she became a […]

Arts

ARTLine Covid Memorial Park aims to bring healing to Malden

By Sharon Santillo With reverence for the healing power of the arts, Malden Arts announced plans for a COVID-19 memorial as the newest addition to the ARTLine on the Northern Strand Community Trail, a public art gallery that stretches long the Malden section of the 10-mile path.  The COVID-19 memorial, consisting of a sculpture, bench and a mural of poetry and art, will be located at the Franklin Street crossing of the trail in Malden, as part of Phase Two of the ARTLine.  “This pocket park will not only serve as public art, but also be a special space to remember and honor those that we lost to the COVID pandemic, the families who are grieving, the workers who went above and beyond, and our neighbors who pitched in and came together,” said Malden Arts President Ari Taylor.  State Senator Jason Lewis had state funds set aside for this project; Malden Councillor Debbie DeMaria provided additional funding for the sculpture and the bench; and State Rep. Paul Donato was instrumental in working with the MBTA. Artist Thomas Berger […]

Arts

Malden residents enjoy the city’s first Winter Festival

By Martha Bezzat, Fern Remedi-Brown, Laura Cummingham, Susan Margot Ecker, Nikita Sampath On Saturday, Dec. 4, the sidewalks of Pleasant Street were lined with about 55 local artists and craftspeople, eager to share their wares with Malden residents as part of the first Winter Festival, sponsored by the City of Malden.  Malden Reads held its 2022 season “kick-off” event during the festival in the J Malden Center lobby. The group hosted poetry readings from local poets, children’s activities, dance videos from local dance group Monkeyhouse, and a raffle. J Malden Center also hosted the Chamber of Commerce’s 130th Anniversary closing event, which provided history and hot chocolate for crowds seeking warmth and nourishment from the cold weather.   The event had the dual goal of “bringing customers back to our downtown to support our businesses and [giving] our residents an outdoor activity to enjoy themselves safely,” said Kevin Duffy, the Strategy and Business Development Officer for the City of Malden. However, a runaway car parked on Pleasant Street momentarily shook up the festive atmosphere when it began to roll, went […]

Arts

Malden Reads never stopped reading: 12th year kickoff will happen on Dec. 4

By Martha Bezzat Malden Reads, a community organization with the mission of literature for all, will launch its 2022 season with a kick-off event at the Winter Festival on Dec. 4 that showcases this year’s selection: An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo, the first Indigenous Poet Laureate of the United States. Malden Reads members are excited about the opportunity to showcase a book by an Indigenous author. “This is going to be a very unique reading experience,” said Meredith, a self-described “recent recruit” to Malden Reads. Meredith is an alum from NYC’s New School with a background in the poetry performance arts scene, which includes poetry readings and slams. “It’s a very different experience than reading a core curriculum by mostly white people. It will highlight the differences between Indigenous and colonial writing. It’s a great shift in perspective,” she continued. Felicia Ryan, another first-year steering committee member, said, “It’s a brave choice because poetry can be off-putting for people but this book of poems is extremely accessible for people.” Highlighting Malden Reads’ role […]

Arts

Cultivating healing, softness, and self-love: Q&A with artist Maddie Lam

By Christina Appignani. Photos by Keren He. Maddie Lam, an up-and-coming musician, was born and raised in Malden, Massachusetts. For Lam, music is a means to express her pain and a dream that does not let itself be abandoned. Lam’s interest in music started young and continued throughout high school — as a child, she learned how to play various instruments before gaining an interest in writing her own songs. Lam graduated from Malden High School in 2016 and participated in the Malden High School Choral Arts Program. Lam has released her own music on online platforms such as Spotify and SoundCloud, her most recent single being “Sunflower Song.” Her musical style, which often includes melancholic but sweet lyrics accompanied by slow piano and ukulele melodies, is showcased in her latest release. She also helped arrange the performing arts festival “Our Voice, Our Stories: The Beauty & Resilience of Immigrants” as part of the larger Malden Summer 2021 Festival on August 7. This festival celebrated immigrants, children of immigrants and multicultural communities through music, art, […]

Arts

Green Thumbs in Malden: How Does Your Garden Grow?

By Martha Bezzat Bonnie Blanchard contributed to this story. Behind every cucumber is a vine, and behind every vine is a gardener. Here are stories of Malden gardeners and why they love the green. Some of our interviewees asked that only their first name be used. Peggy Mixes Flowers and Veggies for Her “Quiet Place” Walking through Peggy’s vegetable garden in Ward 4 brought on salad cravings. Cucumbers vines wrapped around trellises, and green tomatoes seemed to watch as you walked among them. Peggy started gardening 34 years ago and grows her vegetable and flower gardens in her front yard, so they often invite neighborly chats which lead to her sharing her vegetables. Her garden is “her quiet place.”   She grows juliet tomatoes, romas, zucchini, summer squash, hot peppers, carrots, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, early girl tomatoes, basil, cilantro, parsley, romaine lettuce, banana peppers, spinach, swiss chard, kale, green beans, black beauty eggplants, and Japanese eggplants. She bought raised beds for her vegetable garden from Costco, as well as other gardening supplies, like soil and fertilizer.  Peggy rotates her crops […]

Arts

Alexandria Onuoha blends dance, psychology, and activism in her quest for equity

Malden resident Alexandria Onuoha has a multifaceted approach toward her social justice work.  From psychology to dance to advocacy, Onuoha channels her passions into working for equity and equality in diverse ways for the local BIPOC community. A PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology at Suffolk University, Onuoha is the Director of Political Advocacy at Black Boston, a nonprofit community organization that fights to end racial inequities while uplifting the creativity and solidarity of the Black community of Greater Boston. She is the founder of ACO Styles,  a business that aims to give advanced meaning to the complexities and excellence that comes with being Black, by centering Black women and girls through developmental science, dance, and fashion She is also a dancer; she performed at the Urban Media Arts studio for the virtual Juneteenth celebration last month. “I’m really interested in how fashion and dancing come together to make sure that women and youth of color feel their best, as well as how these different art forms and counseling come together. How do [youth and […]

Malden CORE member Ted Louis Jacques raising the Juneteenth Flag at City Hall Plaza
Arts

Juneteenth marked in Malden with joy and reflection

By Christina Appignani  The 4th annual Juneteenth Celebration, hosted June 19 by Malden CORE (Community Organizing for Racial Equity), was extra special this year. African Americans have marked Juneteenth annually since the late 19th Century, but this year Juneteenth became a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Juneteenth commemorates when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver the news of emancipation to the last remaining African American slaves on June 19, 1865. The day began with the in-person 3rd annual Juneteenth Flag Raising at the new City Hall Plaza. Later in the evening, Malden CORE held a virtual celebration on Zoom.  Erga Pierrette, a co-convener for Malden CORE, noted that Malden CORE made history this year by raising a Juneteenth flag at every school in the Malden district. The Juneteenth flag has also been raised at the Malden Police station and Fire Department.  Karen Colón Hayes, a Malden CORE member, opened up the flag-raising event with a land acknowledgement. “In Malden, we acknowledge that the […]

Arts

Green Man mosaic now on display at Cedar Park in Melrose

Nearly three years after the project began, the Green Man mosaic is on display at Cedar Park in Melrose. A community art project curated by Melrose artist Lisa Tiemann, the Green Man is a 5-foot by 5-foot mosaic based on the mythical green man. Originally conceived as a 70th birthday present to herself, Tiemann and 35 artists (amateur and professional) from the Malden-Melrose area worked to put this collaborative project on display, which depicts humans’ intertwined relationship with nature. The installation of the artwork was financially supported through grants and private donors, while the mosaic itself is a donation from Tiemann and the participating artists. For the full story behind the project’s origins, see this previous article in Neighborhood View. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New England weather, getting the Green Man installed at Cedar Park has been a long process. Tiemann says that “it’s kind of fitting that mother nature had the final word on the installation.” The installation of the Green Man was supposed to take place in fall of 2020, and […]

Arts

Malden aims to purchase District Court Building to transform into the Malden Center for Arts and Culture.

By Saliha Bayrak  An imposing but empty brick building stands on the western side of Malden — abandoned after being deemed unfit to serve its original purpose as a courthouse. Now, city officials hope to turn the nearly 100-year-old building into a center that would house Malden’s lively arts and culture scene. The city of Malden is aiming to purchase the former Malden District Court building and transform it into what would be known as the Malden Center for Arts & Culture. Members of local government and Malden artists say that a center dedicated to arts and culture would be a much-needed benefit to the city. “We knew that there was this kind of nebulous cluster of artists that just needed a point to coalesce around. And that’s why we’ve been looking for an art center,” said Kevin Duffy, Malden strategy and business development officer. The idea was initiated by Mayor Gary Christenson; Duffy is playing a critical role in the first stages of this initiative — acquiring the building. Duffy worked with Christenson to […]