Though a “trolley ride” may have connotations of a quaint meandering through town, do not be fooled. The Bronx Culture Trolley zips through the edgy South Bronx on the first Wednesday evening of each month to explore the hidden treasures and authentic Bronx styles of local artists.
Your best bet is to catch the trolley when it leaves from Hostos Community College at 5:30 p.m. This is the earliest slot, and it will allow you to keep hopping back on the trolley as it circles around the neighborhood.
One of the trolley’s stops delivers you at the run-down apartment building of artist Luis D. Rosado. Up four flights of stairs in a live-in gallery named LDR Studio Gallery, the artists literally invite you into their home for a rotating exhibition—this month’s titled Five Points.
More like a housewarming party than an art show, LDR’s intimate setting makes the artistic scene more personal and real. Rosado proves that art is a fixture of everyday life, not just of traditional isolated gallery displays.
Every inch of the studio apartment is a piece of the creative puzzle. Even the colors of the walls contribute to the greater exhibit, creating and asserting a message about our culture. The fiery blue and red strokes gilding the bedroom walls represent the demonic racism of our society, yet this growing danger halts at the bright blue ceiling emblazoned with a golden sun spreading rays of hope.
Rosado’s Latino heritage shines through as a signature of this particular voyage into the Bronx. Poetry scribbled in black Sharpie directly on the bleak white walls illuminate political controversy and paper mache collages alongside photography enhance political advocacy through art in this month’s installation. Graciously, the artists discuss their work with viewers as they walk the gallery, offering explanations and a taste of their souls.
Further along the trolley route, Interaction at Synthetic Zero Art Space provided a different sort of interface with community artists. This exhibition emphasized the artistic process and encouraged active participation. Curator Carey Clark proved that even a blotted lipstick imprint is a work of art at the Kissing Booth, and even a game of paintball can transform a blank canvas into modern art.
But by far, the most exciting and entertaining venue of the evening resides in the back room of the unassuming Bruckner Bar & Grill. Whether you want to participate or not, you’ll be forced to be the performing artist at Mistress Wanda’s Karaoke Survivor.
With over 1500 songs to choose from, you will find the perfect track for your voice—or else Wanda will do it for you. From raunchy humor to drunken debauchery, there is nothing old-fashioned about this trolley stop.
With drink specials galore, it doesn’t take long for the crowd to warm up for some laughably terrible performances in competition for the Golden Gallo Award. Always looking for a challenge, Wanda springs surprise songs on audience members (gifted and tone-deaf alike) to see how well they survive the shock.
A stage that attracts roughly the same crowd each month, Wanda quickly welcomes “Karaoke Survivor virgins” into the family. Alive with Latin flavor, Mistress Wanda encourages a relaxed atmosphere easy to meet people, learn some Spanish slang, dance embarrassingly, screech into the microphone and hurriedly mark your calendar for the upcoming first Wednesday of the month.