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Community in change

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 6/20/2013, 11:33 a.m.

You should be happy to know that the Upper West Side is vibrant, alive and well. The commercial scene is bursting with businesses and their patrons are busily transacting, keeping commerce and the economy alive and well. The stretch between 181st and 160th streets is the best to find the freshest variety of fruits. While the 150s have the usual fare from Kentucky Fried, beauty salons and barber shops, it's the 140s that really get interesting.

Beginning with the corner of 148th Street, the former home of the popular Oasis is now occupied by Dunkin' Donuts. A little further up the block, going down the steps is the Chipped Cup, formerly known as Miss Evelyn's spot. Packed with regentrifieds on a Sunday afternoon, the Chipped Cup is one of those cute little coffee shops that has an offering of exotic coffees and teas and where everyone is either busy on their laptop or conversing with friends.

No matter what, even if you are only looking for a peaceful refuge away from the bustling crowd, the Chipped Cup wins the award for this week's best kept secret.

If you want someplace with a little more action, then you only have to travel a few feet to the Harlem Social. There--if you can get in--is a place you would expect to find in the Village and is, quite possibly, a place where everyone knows your name. Looking to sit down and have a little bite to eat? Next stop, Tonelli's. Nice decor, ambiance, service, food and prices; who could ask for anything more?

A little off the beaten path but worth traveling to just the same is Queen's So So Unique Boutique. Located on Amsterdam Avenue between 141st and 142nd streets, this is an eclectic shop with something old, something new, and everything unique and one-of-a-kind. You simply must check this shop out. It's more than a shop; it's an experience. Its owner is Queen, a graceful, soft-spoken creature--formerly a peddler--who decided, in the essence of Malcolm X, to go legit and get a real business going, mainstream-America style. Easy? No.

An adorable boutique? Yes. Do we need to support this? Absolutely.

While the Whitney Museum of American Art held its 22nd annual American Art Award Gala, the Mackey Twins Art Gallery Inc. presented "Art's Conscience," an art exhibition and panel discussion, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Presenting an art exhibit and sale in the Langston Hughes Atrium, the program also featured a panel discussion, moderated by Danny Simmons, brother of Russell Simmons. Panelists included Betty Blayton, Stacey Brown, Leroy Campbell, James Denmark, Essud Fungcap, Ruth Miller and Charly Palmer. Amongst the topics covered were whether African-American artists have a responsibility to depict African-American life in its truest form or if they can just paint whatever inspires them most.

One artist, Palmer, offered his personal opinion, stating that taking on the responsibility is a personal choice, and sharing that it is one that he has personally accepted. Currently living in Atlanta, Palmer, in between painting, teaches art courses at Spelman, Morehouse and Clark. Passionate about the life of an artist, Palmer confided that art should be a required course in every college institution and that art history should be mandatory.