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Nubian Square comes alive with ‘Nubian Nights’

Installation features jazz, art and light projections

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Nubian Square comes alive with ‘Nubian Nights’
Nubian Square comes alive with the “Nubian Nights” installation, featuring jazz music and synchronized light projections on local businesses. PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 11, Nubian Square comes alive with the “Nubian Nights” installation, featuring jazz music and synchronized light projections on local businesses. Organized by the Roxbury Cultural District (RCD), the outdoor installations provides a safe, socially distanced art experience for the neighborhood.

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

“Nubian Nights” is a team effort put together by the RCD, Jazz Urbane Café, Black Market, Nubian Gallery and the female-led production team of MF Dynamics, Hersch Visuals and Jane Long. The installation is spread across three local businesses on Washington Street, Jazz Urbane Café in the Bruce Bolling Building, Black Market and the Nubian Gallery.

Music played by local musicians from Jazz Urbane Café’s roster waft through the streets while dynamic projections timed with the music and window installations display on the three businesses. “The cultural district is really well positioned to be this connector between arts and culture and small business,” says Anita Morson-Matra, lead organizer and fundraiser for the project. “It’s something that’s very much intergenerational, and we hope people will walk away feeling like they’re a part of the Square. This should be commonplace to have these types of experiences.”

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

Jazz Urbane Café was slated to open this year on the ground floor of the Bolling Building and has pushed their launch back to 2022, due to COVID-19. “Nubian Nights” gives the community a taste of the music they can experience at the Café when it opens. The show also alludes to the rich jazz history in Roxbury, where clubs played host to Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and many others. Video recordings of the Jazz Urbane musicians playing are projected in the windows of the Bolling Building, providing the next best thing to seeing the musicians perform in person. Surrounded by colorful projections and masked and socially distanced crowds, the exhibition has the feeling of an innovative music festival with stages all across Washington Street.

“This is just the beginning,” says Morson-Matra. She says RCD hopes to run a continual series of events under the “Nubian Nights” header and encourages community members to reach out with ideas or interest in participating.

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

Nubian Nights PHOTO: HAKIM RAQUIB PHOTOGRAPHY

Major sponsors of the project include Winter Places, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the City of Boston. Other sponsors include the Nubian Gallery and Epson. Supporters of the project include Nubian Square Ascends LLC, Create and Record, Curation Agency, The Record Company and Roxbury Main Streets. Project Partners include Jazz Urbane Café, Black Market, LuminArtz and King Boston.

“Bringing people back to the Square is really important to us and doing that through the arts is right in line with our mission,” says Daniel Callahan, president of the RCD. “There may be different perceptions about Nubian Square. We see it and we know it to be a destination for arts and culture, and that’s what this event will show to the city.”

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