Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Am A Man Photo Re-created

It was the ultimate Kodak moment.

Two hundred men and boys of African descent standing tall on the steps of the Hanson Place 7th Day Adventist Church in Fort Greene . . . all looking straight ahead . . . all wearing T-shirts proclaiming, "I Am A Man" . . . to recreate a famous 1968 photo, and celebrate at the opening reception of the "I Am a Man" exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA).

The original "I Am a Man" photo was taken in Memphis, Tenn., during a strike by black sanitation workers, who held signs declaring they were men, not boys or buzzards. The men were demanding union recognition, plus better wages and benefits.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Check out this Bi-lingual Art Exhibit

In a world with a global economy, having two languages is better than having one. That's one message of "Bi-Lingual," a new exhibition at Spaces gallery focusing on works by 11 black and Latino artists from across the United States who explore the idea of having a dual identity.

Organized by Angelica Pozo, a Cleveland ceramic artist who describes herself in the show's catalog essay as "a Caribbean Latina with African roots," the exhibition is energetic and engaging, despite the presence of several installations that lack focus and concision.

The strongest works confront the viewer sharply and immediately with the challenges of straddling two cultures and translating ideas and experiences from one to another.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Bembo's Zoo

I found this cute website. I think you'll like Bembo's Zoo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Preserving African American Art and Culture

Hundreds of years ago, when our African ancestors were brought from their native land to America, they brought with them certain customs, ideals and beliefs that soon became the African-American way of life.

Dance, religion, food and music are among the richest sources of African-American culture and sadly, they have become so mainstream that people no longer identify them with the struggles of slavery and the adaptation to a new way of life.

Since many of our customs have transformed American culture, it has always been a good time to be black. But today it is necessary for us to reclaim what has always been ours. Yes…we are proud to be American and we know that it is a privilege to live in the land of the free. However, we are also a people of rich history and we should not continue to the sell out our entertainment companies, exploit of our women and victimize of our communities.

African-American fashion, music, food, art and religion are cornerstones of black tradition. Slaves were forced to assimilate to the American ways of life but somehow maintained their practices and integrated them into American culture. Today, the preservation of this history is overlooked and oftentimes referred to as "ghetto" or "unpatriotic."

The dashiki has become a fashion statement. Purses, shirts, jackets and other items of clothing and jewelry bear this pattern. Yet, many of those who wear it are unaware of its origin and importance. Soul food is enjoyed by all races and is a product of the inexpensive resources that slaves were afforded after emancipation and economic oppression.

In order to maintain our significant position in the advancement of our country, blacks must be able to reclaim what our ancestors began and identify with our culture.

Although we have made great strides and have overcome the many setbacks of racism and discrimination, there is still much more to be done.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

RIP Brother Luke

'Brother Luke' Alexander, artist, activist

Philadelphia Daily News

morrisj@phillynews.com 215-854-5573
MANY A Philadelphia politician who needed a snazzy poster or brochure, button or banner to promote a candidacy turned to Luke Alexander Jr.

"Brother Luke," as he liked to call himself, never failed them over a 40-year span. He also did artistic promotional work for churches and numerous local civic and charitable organizations.

His creations, which also included T-shirts with cogent slogans, helped them get their messages across in a forceful manner.

Brother Luke died Thursday of a heart attack at age 67. He lived in West Philadelphia and maintained an office and studio in North Philadelphia.

In addition to promotional work, Luke did his own artwork, employing many mediums, which he exhibited across the country. In the late '60s, his paintings on black velvet were in great demand.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Slow Posting

I'll be in Louisville at a conference this week, so posts may be a little slow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama portrait to be unveiled at exhibit

Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey will unveil a new portrait of Barack Obama on Saturday at the 2008 "African American Fine Art Show Chicago" in Bronzeville's Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. Martin Luther King Drive. The color portrait shows the senator and presidential candidate at home. Bey will speak about his work from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Among the other exhibiting artists are painter Abiola Akintola, sculptor Elenora "Rukiya" Brown, painter Turtel Onli and photojournalist Robert Abbott Sengstacke (who also will speak Saturday). Admission is $8 each day, or $12 for a two-day pass. For further information, call 773-531-4313.

Banned Books Art Exhibit

An order by Burlingame schools Superintendent Sonny Da Marto in 2007 to take books out of the hands of schoolchildren landed him on an infamous list maintained by the American Library Association.

That list is an electronic compilation of book challenges and bans. That same year — when Da Marto stopped 116 eighth-graders in four English classes from reading "Kaffir Boy" by Mark Mathabane because a parent objected to a passage on Page 72 — there were 420 known attempts to remove books from classrooms and library bookshelves across the nation.

Today, the first day of Banned Books Week, American Library Association officials want the public to pick up a banned book — perhaps "Kaffir Boy" — and read it. Read it because it's available. Read it because our nation's First Amendment allows even the most painful and disturbing passages to run from an author's mind onto the printed page.

"The things that are challenged or banned are materials that say something," says Judith Krug, director of the office for intellectual freedom at the American Library Association, based in Chicago.

In Oakland, Banned Books Week is being observed with an art exhibit and public programs called "Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship." The exhibit at the African American Museum and Library is one of two displays in the Bay Area that feature work by visual artists on the subject.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Annual African American Art Fest: This Weekend

Even without money in your pocket, it's easy to enjoy MOJA. The annual African-American and Caribbean arts festival, which kicked off Wednesday and stretches through Oct. 5, will be serving up plenty of free entertainment.
"This year, we have more free events than we have paid," said program coordinator Elease Amos-Goodwin. "Everybody can't afford to buy expensive tickets and go to the theater, but we're still bringing art to them."
Amos-Goodwin and her staff of 40 volunteers are committed to sharing MOJA with the whole community.
Aside from orchestrating a long list of free events, the planning committee has given more than 1,500 free tickets to local students.
"We want to make sure kids are exposed to this," she explained.
In its 25th year, MOJA's schedule is bursting with a sprinkling of nationally known artists and plenty of local and regional flair.
Dr. Renard Harris, an education professor at the College of Charleston, will perform Oct. 2 at the Harbor Grille as part of the free MOJA Storytelling Series.
"I'll play harmonica and tell stories in a rhythmic, lyrical way," Harris said of his upcoming performance. "I call it storytelling blues because the chords and the words intertwine."
Harris says he's excited to share folk stories from the African-American perspective with the Charleston community. His craft is inspired by blues and history, with a focus on the culture of black Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Black Womanhood @ Wellesley

“Black Womanhood,” the exhibit at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center, must have seemed like a sharp idea when it was being put together. It examines the ways in which “contemporary artists are challenging historic and often stereotypical images that present black women as the alluringly beautiful Other, the erotic fantasy, or the super-maternal mammy.” By now this is familiar, if still urgent, stuff; what makes this outing special is that it gathers more than 100 objects — traditional African art, Western colonial photos and postcards, and contemporary art — that connect today’s dissectors with the origins of the ugly stereotypes they’re working to take apart.

Barbara Thompson, who organized the show for Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire, does a good job of mapping the territory. But it’s an uneven show with a dour vision that leaves a mediciny taste in your mouth — and, I think, offers signs of a generation gap among curators.

Read the rest of the story here.

Exhibit at PMA celebrates the art of quilt making

Mainly Art
By Marie Fowler
never in a million years dreamed that one of my quilts would be hanging on a museum wall," marvels China Pettway.Generation to generation, like recipes for collard greens and cornbread, the quilting tradition passed down among the womenfolk of Gee's Bend, Ala. The rural community of well under 1,000 people was, and is, poor in material things, but rich in spirit.
Gee's Bend, The Architecture of the Quilt, together with its corollary exhibition, Linda Day Clark: The Gee's Bend Photographs, is as much a sensory cultural experience as an art exhibition. Both are on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through Dec. 14.
The older ladies remember growing up in a time when they couldn't drink at just any water fountain or get served at just any lunch counter. "But I forgive," confides Pettway. "The trials and tribulations of our lives made us strong."
Quilts were utilitarian, made to keep their children warm, crafted from worn-out clothes and fabric scraps - and every scrap has a story. There are pieces from flour sacks and bits of old denim that are not as faded where the back pockets have been. The quilt made from basketball jerseys was surely prized by a fortunate child.

Artist Interview: Halima Washington

Tell us about your educational background. Do you have formal training in art? If so, who were your instructors and how did they influence you?

Though I was born with a natural talent for art, I still sought formal training because I was drawn to traditional methods of Fine Art. I received my B.A in Visual Arts and Art History from Occidental College (a small Liberal Arts college in Los Angeles) in 2000 and my M.F.A in Fine Art (Drawing/Painting) from the Academy of Art University-San Francisco in 2005.

Carolyn Meyer was one of my Instructor at AAU, she pushed me to use color and to pick up the palette knife.

Tell us about your early artistic influences and experiences. When did you decide to pursue art?

I was mostly influenced by my Grandmother, Dominica Bell. She painted as a hobby even though she did amazing work. Every summer I would take lessons from her…it was fun but not easy. She knew that I was serious about art and really pushed me. Even though I continued to draw and paint well into my teens, I decided to make art my career after my first art class during my Undergraduate studies. I decided my goal in life was to be an artist full time and teach art as well. When I told my family I got mixed reviews, I was studying Biology at the time. My Dad did not speak a word to me for several months! Everyone soon got over themselves, they saw how passionate I was.

How would you say that your work has advanced over time?

Over time my work has matured. My drawing abilities are much stronger, I have mastered the fundamentals of painting all subjects and I utilize my strengths. Once I was able to paint very realistic and traditional, the hard part was finding my style. With a lot of experimentation and wasted canvases and paint I have come into my own.

Can you go into detail about your artistic process? How do you begin a piece? When do you know that a piece is finished?

I study a photo or life reference of my subject for awhile. This way I have a plan of attack! I figure out the composition and color so there will be less guessing when I start applying the paint. My style is Impasto (thick paint) applied with a palette knife, in sort of a Post Impressionist feel. With this style I have the freedom of more contemporary paintings and exaggerated color. I sketch loosely with a brush to avoid over working it, block in color and then proceed to layer on the paint. When I take a huge step back and the painting has a sense of depth, light and emotion…I put down the knife.

How do current world events influence your work? In other words, how does contemporary life impact your creative practice?

The “everyday” impacts my paintings. I am recording more of my environmental surroundings than current events. My cityscape paintings show a perspective of our urban life while driving and my still life paintings bring attention to the little things in life.

Tell us more about the philosophy behind your art. What motivates you to create?

I paint what I see everyday. I take the ordinary and add a twist. The twist is inviting the viewer to see and feel my passion for painting.

Why did you choose to work in the medium(s) that you use?

I love oil paint because of its buttery texture and pure color. It works well with my current style of painting. I add liquin and impasto gel to speed up drying time and preserve the texture.

What is your studio like? Can you go into detail about your studio routine? Do you work in silence-- listen to music?

I am used to working in my bedroom because of living in San Francisco with a load of roommates. My studio is currently in a small room in my home. I usually paint at night when it is the quietest. I paint from about 1am to 5:30am after a few glasses of wine! I put my headphones on and rock out to my ipod mixes. If you were to open up the door while I am in my “office” you would crack up. I dance and sing. I like to be loose and happy when I paint. When I have to paint for a client or a gallery, I listen to jazz, drink water and paint in the afternoon and stop around dinner time.

What are you working on at this time?

I am preparing for the Atlanta Cityscapes show at Anne Irwin Fine Art where my work is housed.

In your opinion, what are some of the problems facing artists today?

For all artists I think knowing the business side of art needs to be stressed more. For professional artists I think getting stuck in a rut, recreating work that gets attention and sells often can become a problem. The “bread and butter paintings” are good for paying the bills, but your artistic soul has to move forward and change with you. Take a risk and try something new once in a while, take classes from fellow artists you admire and trust your gift.

The Internet is changing how we discover and view art. What sites have empowered you as an artist?

My own site that I created on http://www.otherpeoplespixels.com/ gives me the boost of confidence I needed to get my self out there. Being professional is key, updating my website every other day is needed, this is a business after all! It keeps me on my toes and in touch with people from all over the world.

What are your goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

My goal is to keep learning and growing, I never want to become comfortable where I am. I love a challenge.

What is you website URL?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walker Documentary Sparks Debate

DALLAS—A PBS documentary series being offered as a supplement to the middle school and high school art curriculum in the Dallas Independent School District has become a cause for concern, reports the Dallas Morning News. The series, art:21 — Art in the Twenty-First Century, features short biographies of more than 40 contemporary artists with in-depth looks into their various techniques. Some of the more provocative fare showcased, incorporating heavier themes of sex, race, and violence, has been targeted by concerned parents as well as teachers. According to the Morning News, African-American artist Kara Walker’s famed cut-paper silhouettes of explicit images referencing slavery and Sally Mann’s nude photography of children have been singled out as especially controversial.

MU art professor Peter Massing showing work in two new exhibits

September 24, 2008 @ 11:47 AM
2008/The Herald-Dispatch
Marshall University Art Professor Peter Massing was on sabbatical but he wasn’t just laid up at Myrtle Beach. Multiples and Collaborations is a new exhibit of Massing’s work in which he teamed up with artists from around the country to work on a common idea.
The exhibit runs through next Thursday, Oct. 2 when there will be a closing reception for the show.
The Birke Art Gallery, located in Smith Hall on the Huntington campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. Massing is also part of a new show that opened up this week at the Avampato Discovery Museum in Charleston.
The show “Autobiographies: Six West Virginia Artists,” showcases the work of prolific local artists such as Mark Tobin Moore, Robin McClintock, Eric Pardue, Emily Ritchey and Claire Sherwood.
Accompanying that show is “Close to Home: West Virginia Artists from the Permanent Collection." This exhibition presents a selection of modern and contemporary works from artists such as Paula Clendenin, Harold Edwards, James Gibson, Charles Hamilton, June Kilgore, Grace Martin Taylor, Blanche Lazzell and Vernon Howell. This exhibition includes new acquisitions and newly framed works from collections storage.

Read the rest of the story here.

Festival time

The San Diego Film Festival and the rest of this week's movie listings
By Anders Wright
The Sixth Annual San Diego Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 25, with The Lucky Ones, the new Iraq-war film from Neil Burger. The movie, which opens nationally a day later and stars Tim Robbins, Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams, is actually a road-trip flick, as all three play returning injured soldiers thrown together in a minivan due to circumstances beyond their control. I thought it was pretty thin, but it humanizes the soldiers in a nice way. Michael Pena, a charismatic actor, has clearly become the go-to guy for films involving 9/11 and the wars that followed. He was buried in the Twin Towers in World Trade Center, got killed in Afghanistan in Lions for Lambs and takes a piece of shrapnel in the opening moments of The Lucky Ones.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McKissic at CAAM

James McKissic is having a solo art show Root Workers and Railroad Tracks at the Chattanooga African American Museum (CAAM). The CAAM is located at 200 East Martin Luther King Blvd.

McKissic, a 2007 recipient of the Four Bridges Art Festival Emerging Artist Scholarship, is exhibiting 17 paintings. Most recently he has exhibited his work at UNUM and WTCI Studios as part of the Association for Visual Artists Corporate Lending Program. He also shows regularly at the Fine Line Gallery in Atlanta and OutLoud Books and Coffeshop in Nashville.

“With this show at the Chattanooga African American Museum, I want to let people see what I’ve been doing over the past couple of years. I chose the title Root Workers and Railroad Tracks because so much of my work and my aesthetic are based on my experiences as a Southern, African American man.”

The exhibit runs from Friday, August 22 to October 31. The artist reception and mixer will be held on September 11, 2008 at 6:00 PM. The CAAM is open Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 5:00. For more information, call the CAAM at 423-266-8658 or visit www.jhmckissic.artistportfolio.net
or www.caamhistory.com.

Provocative Visions: Race and Identity

On the face of it, “Provocative Visions: Race and Identity” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a modest and not exceptionally illuminating exhibition. But time spent with this display of works by seven contemporary African-American artists brings to light an intriguing dichotomy between the visual and the verbal.

On the one hand, Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole and Alison Saar all favor a kind of postmodernist faux-primitivism by which they try to connect to ancestral roots. On the other hand, Glenn Ligon and Lorna Simpson produce works of language-based Conceptualism in which the absence of visual imagery becomes a metaphor for social invisibility. And bridging the gap between the mythic-image makers and the Conceptualists, Kara Walker and Whitfield Lovell relate to themes of both primitivism and visibility.

Read the rest of the story here.

Gibbes Exhibits African Art

A number of events and programs will take place throughout the Charleston area during the run of "Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art," an exhibition on the history and culture of African basketweaving at Gibbes Museum of Art.

The exhibit, which is up through Nov. 30, visits the history of the Southeastern United States and demonstrates the enduring contribution of African people and culture to American life. It includes more than 200 baskets, made in Africa and the American South, African sculpture and paintings from the Charleston Renaissance period. The exhibit traces the history of the coiled basket on two continents and shows how a simple farm tool once used for processing rice has become a work of art and an important symbol of African-American identity.

Tickets for special Grass Roots programs can be ordered online at www.gibbesmuseum.org/events.

Read the rest of the story here.