ARTWALLAH is back- Los Angeles, June 24th

ArtWallah ’06 is now less than a month away in Los Angeles. SM readers have heard me sing the praises of this organization and its annual festival before. I appreciate what they do and what they are about so much that I have been wallahnteering to help run the festival for the past three years. This year I decided to retire and actually cool out to all the artists and just enjoy myself…or so I thought. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I’m the new “CashWallah.” I will leave it to your imaginations what that job entails.

Last year I decided to entice SM readers to come out to the festival with a little multimedia tour which made it pretty obvious why anyone within a hundred miles of L.A. (at least) should show up. I hyperlinked to some new musicians, artists, dancers etc. This year the ArtWallah Press Team has saved me the trouble and made a detailed program FULL of interesting hyperlinks to artists many of you have never heard of. It took me an hour to click through them all and appreciate what I saw. It was an hour well spent.

…this year’s ArtWallah festival [at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center] will present the works of over 40 artists through dance, film, literature, music, spoken word, theater, and visual arts – showcasing the personal, political, and cultural celebrations and struggles of the South Asian diaspora (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

Click on “Continued” below for a quick lick.

Click on any picture above to discover a new artist. Come to ArtWallah to experience them in person.

30 thoughts on “ARTWALLAH is back- Los Angeles, June 24th

  1. Oooooh hot artsy desis. I’m going :)

    How will I know where to find the cashwallah?

  2. How will I know where to find the cashwallah?

    Wild guess, but I think he will be the one in the fedora hat and neon pimp suit holding all the dolla dolla bills y’all. Say, whhhaaa—? I think the cashwallah has conned me into going to the festivities this year. Aww, shucks, I don’t need to be conned- Artwallah last year was great and should be even better this year…

    Shruti- so you go to artwallah, but you miss the L.A. meetup? Pshaw…

  3. Hm..Finding the cashwallah might be unnecessary if you volunteer! :)

    We need four hours from volunteers on the day of or six hours any wkday before and you can get in FREE! to the daytime festival AND the afterparty (but not the evening show). This is a over $50 value, you help out a great cause, plus you get to meet all the hot artsy desis!

    Just drop me a line at

    Thanks! Bhavna p.s. hi taz :)

  4. dammit! i hate living in texas! i’m missing all the good art festivals! the line-up this year sounds amazing. wish i could fly in, but summer clinic and board-prep ban me from socializing. and meeting hot artsy desis. oh! and i know the violinist in vidya-the quartet. haven’t heard him play, but he should be decent. have fun, and be sure to give us a post-festival report.

  5. Nice one, Abhi,

    Lots of Desi talent in there; I thought the Tabla guy was cool.


  6. This festival aint $@($. It’s just for people to party, they don’t give a flying #$@(( about new artists. They just keep accepting the same shit over and over again. How many f+#@#$ sculptures made out of tampons and movies about waxing your inner thighs can one human being withstand?

    F these people.

  7. dirtMFnMGirt- sorry your work didn’t make it into the festival again this year. Maybe you should take up another line of work, like whine tasting, since that seems to be right up your alley.

    Artwallah is an amazing festival. Don’t hate just because you didn’t make the cut.

  8. Shruti- so you go to artwallah, but you miss the L.A. meetup? Pshaw…

    Awwww, well if I knew that y’all would end up at the Saul Williams/Mos Def show at USC, I’d have been all over it ;)

    I’ll find you and the cashwalla at ArtWallah. I’m just debating whether or not to wear something that would scare the aunties. I have been known to turn heads (in the not-so-sexy kind of way).

  9. I will vouch 150% for ArtWallah–it’s the real deal. If anyone is in the area that weekend, make sure you come and check it out. The vibe you get from not only the artists but the audience is amazing.

    And yes, our artists are really really ridiculously good looking. I told the marketing team that all their efforts are going to waste, and they should pitch the festival as “hot artsy desis”, and people will come running =)

  10. dirtMFnMGirt- sorry your work didn’t make it into the festival again this year. Maybe you should take up another line of work, like whine tasting, since that seems to be right up your alley.

    VMN Rao

    I wouldn’t enter anything in for a million years. But if I did, I’d make sure to befriend, shmooze, or sleep with one of the organizers. or just make a movie about inner-thigh waxing. I vouch 150% for it being a place for people to wear their strongest cologne/perfume and attempt to “out-cool” each other for 2 hours. The crew turns in to crack peddlers around festival time, basically handing anyone remotely “brown looking” a flyer. Attention to all white folks reading this: never get a tan and come into LA around June. Unless you want a stack of artwalla flyers lining your bedroom.

    You wanna see real art? Check this shit out:


  11. dirt_MFin_Mgirt- you sure you’ve been going to Artwallah?? Sounds nothing like the festival I’ve volunteered for (committees and booths) and attended for the past 2 years. If you knew anything about Artwallah you’d also know that it is under new leadership this year, as well. About not submitting your work- likely story. Your criticism and bitterness about Artwallah not accepting new artists is a dead giveaway. But you should really come to this year’s evening show as I may be performing a special piece dedicated to “dirt_MFin_Mgirt”. In it, I’ll be playing the world’s smallest violin…just for you. ;)

  12. dirt_MFin_Mgirt- you sure you’ve been going to Artwallah?? Sounds nothing like the festival I’ve volunteered for (committees and booths) and attended for the past 2 years. If you knew anything about >Artwallah you’d also know that it is under new leadership this year, as well. About not submitting your work- likely story. Your criticism and bitterness about Artwallah not accepting new artists is a dead >giveaway. But you should really come to this year’s evening show as I may be performing a special piece dedicated to “dirt_MFin_Mgirt”. In it, I’ll be playing the world’s smallest violin…just for you. ;)

    Believe what you want pal. I know all about Vasa’s departure, I was there when it was IACC. I know all about Sheik, Burman and their ilk. I know everything. Don’t #$()@$ with me. And my criticism stems from internal observation. I’m the whistle blower, like that lady from enron, I don’t remember her name but you get the story. Do you think its pure coincidence that you volunteered for committees and booths and are ALSO performing?

    Look I didn’t expect my comments to get widespread acceptance. You people tow the line so hard, Karl Rove looks at you and goes, “Whoa, Slow Down…” You get some respect for the Resevoir Dogs reference though, unless you didn’t know it was a RD reference. Then you get none.

  13. Dirt McGirt, ODB, or whichever persona you are, this isn’t the best place to spew venom against Artwallah. If you don’t like the personalities of those who organize it, and you got rejected for whatever reason, how about starting your own alterna-desi arts festival and see how much work it is. And then you’ll also end up inadvertently pissing off someone else because of your management style or because you rejected their application, so they will follow the path you’ve blazed and form a splinter desi arts fest of their own. And so on and so on, until in 10 years we’ll have 10 desi arts festsivals going on simultaneously in the same week in the same city. Now that is an outcome we can all support right?

    I was at Artwallah ’03 as a musician/DJ and I have nothing but love for what they’re doing. It takes hard work to get to where they are. If handing out fliers offends your sensibilities, I wonder what other marketing tactics might turn you off. Give it a break man, start your own thing, or try again next year, or whatever.

  14. …Or how about just doing it right once? I love the “well why dont you do it yourself?” retort. So I bet you think the gays should start their own boy scouts, and the black folks should have their own lunch counters. its the same logic man. Okay so these people didn’t discriminate as a matter of policy, but the shit that I saw was effectively the same thing. But maybe thats how these things work? Anyway I ain’t gonna spew forth my credentials, like “I mopped the floor after the ’02 festival and hosted the 3rd artist in the ’03 festival” or whatever, just be wise that I know my shit. I speak from knowledge and experience. If its venom to you. so be it.

    Now I think I’ll withdraw from the lion’s den.

  15. “dirt_MFin_Mgirt”- I’m not performing, you idiot. It’s called sarcasm. Look it up while you continue to pat yourself on the back for recognizing the obvious RD refs. While you’re at it, realize that while you think you “know your shit”, your shit doesn’t jibe with what most artists and volunteers think of the festival. The only “venom” here is your bitter whining. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t a lot of South Asian Art Festivals here in LA. Why are you whining about your bad experience with Artwallah on a comment board instead of working constructively to improve things you think need improving? If you were really as involved as you say, one would think you’d be able to speak with the old and new festival coordinator(s) about your concerns, but I guess it’s more fun for you to hide behind a computer and write anonymous bitter posts to encourage people not to come. You must have been a real asset to Artwallah- I can guess why you are probably no longer involved with the organization.

  16. Sigh. Back to the lions den

    Okay. sarcasm I get it now. and of course, printed text is the most EFFECTIVE for sarcasm. (That was sarcasm) But you could rub your thumb and forefinger together, say something about undergarmets and the partition, and voila you’re the next artwalla spoken word artist! So don’t write yourself off so soon.

    I don’t jibe do I? Well. thats a surprise. (again, more sarcasm) I guess all the people critical of the president should pack up and go home because it doesnt jibe with Cheney, Rove, Liddy, and the rest of the line towers.

    As a fact though, you seem infinitely more pissed off than me, for someone who just sits in a booth. I’m no longer involved because I thought that maybe, hmm, artistic work shold be evaluated based on artistic merit. But the real world doesn’t work that way. So why should this, right? You and I are complete agreement.

  17. Lemme get this straight — you have issues (whatever they might be) with people running a local arts festival, and suddenly you’re akin to an Enron whistleblower who’s seen the equivalent of blacks excluded from lunch counters, gays excluded from the Boy Scouts, and people who disagree with Bush? Wow.

    Of course, if you were really all that, you would have remembered to throw in victims of genocide and people tortured at Abu Ghraib, as well.

  18. I thought about throwing in genocide, but remembered that Hitler never pretended to “create a country that all people were welcome” Neither did those asswipes in the Sudan.

    And I like how you wanna minimize the festival by calling it a “local arts festival” like you’re turning it into the west kentucky corn on the cob contest. But when they advertise, all we ever see is “largest, biggest greatest, attracting people from all over the world, bla bla bla” You can’t have your cake and eat it too, unless you plan on throwing it up on a canvas and submitting it. It’s all good then.

    “Puffy is good, Wu tang is the best” -Dirt Mgirt

  19. Does anyone here have any info about this years festival? I heard there may not even be one. Can anyone confirm?

  20. Artwallah is back again – IN THE WORKS…2007 TICKETS SELLING FAST!

    ArtWallah Proudly Presents the first annual IN THE WORKS… a festival of the written word. Created by Shishir Kurup and Lina Patel, IN THE WORKS… is a play reading series festival designed to nurture and develop the work of South Asian writers.

    IN THE WORKS… provides a platform for the collaboration between playwrights, screenwriters, directors and performers living in North America , as well as in South Asia. It is a day of works-in-progress, a day to share your thoughts and feedback with the writers and a day to be part of the dialogic process of seeing South Asian stories truly reflected and elevated onto the national stage.

    In The Works 2007

    Featuring Parvesh Cheena, Hari Dhillon, Reena Dutt, Ravi Kapoor, Shishir Kurup, Sunil Malhotra, Viji Nathan, Naveen, Lina Patel, Winston Rocha, Rabeya Sen, Meena Serendib, Amita Sheth, Meera Simhan, and Shaheen Vaaz.

    DATE Saturday, June 30, 2007

    LOCATION East West Players 120 North Judge John Aiso Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

    TIME 1:00PM-10:00PM

    BUY TICKETS at Online Purchases – One Play Reading $15, All Day Pass $20 At the Door – One Play Reading $20, All Day Pass $25

    1:00 pm – PICTURIZE THIS by Shishir Kurup. 4:30 pm – MISS INDIA AMERICA by Meera Simhan. 7:00 pm – SANKALPAN (DESIRE) by Lina Patel. A Q&A follows each reading.

    Music and refreshments between readings.

    In The Works… 2007

    PICTURIZE THIS: Bollywood and Hollywood collide in this rollickingly, madcap screen(play) by Shishir Kurup. The piece examines the cult of personality that both dream factories perpetuate and explores the clash of culture when a fading Bombay Talkie diva, her director and his crew come to Los Angeles to picturize a song for their new film. Crippled by a dwindling budget but convinced of the surety of success by shooting a song or two in the heart of Hollywood, they have to schmooze the local Desi community in all its grace and garish glory.

    MISS INDIA AMERICA: Read/performed, by Actor/Writer Meera Simhan. A beauty Queen at eight. A party for her periods at twelve. Swore to her mother that she was a virgin at nineteen and became a dusky English Rose at twenty -two. What’s left for a Miss India America to achieve? Meera Simhan takes us through a comic coming of age story about growing up as very good little Indian girl in Orange County.

    SANKALPAN (DESIRE): A politically and emotionally searing new play, by Lina Patel. SANKALPAN, a semi-finalist for the Sundance Theatre Lab 2007, set in India, 1903 is a story of self-determination—both in the psyches of individuals hungry for change and in the psyche of an evolving national identity. Personal struggles play out on a national stage, a stage that is rapidly changing as the demands of Independence refigure relationships between British Imperialists and Indian Nationalists,rich landowners and poor peasants, and most explosively, in the new possibilities in the relationships between men and women.

    IN THE WORKS… About the Artists

    Shishir Kurup: Actor, writer, director, composer and ensemble member of the nationally renowned Cornerstone Theater Company. His modern verse play, Merchant on Venice, received California Arts Council, Kennedy Center, and NEA/TCG Awards and was work-shopped at NY’s Lark Theatre and L.A.’s East West Players and Mark Taper Forum. Merchant on Venice opens in Chicago at the Silk Road Theatre Project this September. His plays On Caring for the Beast and As Vishnu Dreams played at the Currican Theater in NY and East West Players respectively, the latter receiving critic’s pick from the L.A. Times and Weekly. His one-man show, Assimilation , is published in the anthology Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing. Shishir is one of only six people nationwide to receive the TIME (Time for Inspiration, Motivation and Exploration) Grant from the Audrey Skirball Foundation in recognition of his body of work. He’s also a Princess Grace fellow and Herb Alpert nominee for theater. Last year he Co-composed songs for and directed Cornerstone’s twentieth anniversary show, Demeter in the City, at Redcat in Disney Hall written by Macarthur Fellow Sarah Ruhl. This June he directs Los Illegals written by new Cornerstone Artistic Director Michael John Garces with stories culled from and cast with the LA undocumented community. Shishir has an extensive TV and film list but was most recently on Lost, Sleeper Cell and played a recurring character on NBC’s Surface. He currently recurs on Heroes.

    Lina Patel: Trained at New York University (B.F.A) and the Old Globe Theatres/USD ( M.F.A.) Lina’s television appearances include guest stars on, NUM3ERS, CSI, 24, Alias. Theatre credits include leading roles in, The Importance of Being Earnest (opposite Patrick Dempsey); MacBeth (with Victor Garber); the West Coast Premier of David Edgar’s, Pentecost at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Rice Boy for Taper,Too; the premier of Jose Rivera’s Brainpeople and Shishir Kurup’s, Merchant On Venice, at the Kirk Douglas. Lina is also a voice-over artist and has recorded titles for Random House and Penguin. Most recently Lina recorded William Faulkener’s, As I Lay Dying. Lina is currently working on a new play about fashion, race and babies called, Perfect Fit, which will have its first staged reading at The Groundlings Theatre in August. She is one of nine playwrights invited by the Center Theatre Group to their year-long Writer’s Workshop (2007-08).

    Meera Simhan: Bio-After graduting from college in Southern California, Meera trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and worked as an actor in England for six years. Her acting credits include feaure films, Date Movie and Iron Man; and recently she has been seen on television as a recurring character on: Nip/Tuck and Invasion, and guest starring in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Without A Trace, Judging Amy , Cold Case and NYPD Blue. Her stage work includes Queen Of The Remote Control at East West Players and Rice Boy at the Taper Too. She has written and performed a number of solo theater pieces at various venues in Los Angeles and New York, including ArtWallah in 2000 and 2002. Meera can also be heard reading the Mann Booker prize winning novel Inheritance Of Loss for Penguin audio.

    A special note from our fellow community member…

    Every year many South Asian patients are diagnosed with blood-related diseases. In order to survive, they need a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor. Our friend Vinay is 28 years old and has Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He was informed recently that he is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

    Unfortunately, a very small percentage of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis) are registered to be marrow donors. South Asians comprise approximately only 1% of the National Marrow Donor Registry.

    Representatives will be at IN THE WORKS… for those of you who would like to sign up.


    1. Fill out a consent form
    2. Provide a swab of cheek cells for tissue typing

    For more information visit or