Thursday, November 20, 2008

Swann Galleries Sets 13 Records At African American Fine Art Auction

Many auction records for works by African American artists were achieved at Swann Galleries' October 7 auction of African American fine art. Most notably, Norman Lewis's untitled abstract expressionist oil on canvas, circa 1960-64, sold to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) for $312,000 — the highest price ever realized at auction for an abstract painting by a Modern African American artist and an auction record for any work by the artist.

The MFA also acquired Walter Augustus Simon's "715 Washington Street, Greenwich Village," an abstract oil on canvas, 1947, for an artist record $36,000; and Hughie Lee-Smith's "The Juggler #1," oil on canvas, circa 1964, for $90,000.

Nigel Freeman, director of the African American fine art department at Swann, said, "Especially in light of the current economic situation, we are thrilled with the results of the auction, the fourth conducted by our new department in less than two years. There was an unprecedented level of participation by museums, indicating a recognition of the scarcity and quality of the works now coming to sale at Swann."

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

McKissick Museum: This Far By Faith

In the black-and-white photo, a boy of about 10 peers into a rustic building through a slot between weathered boards. He may not know it, but that narrow opening is a window on a century of history.

That history and how it continues can be seen in “This Far by Faith: Carolina Camp Meetings, An African-American Tradition.”

The photo and video exhibition at USC’s McKissick Museum is the culmination of a dozen years’ work by Minuette Floyd, an associate professor in the USC art department. But for Floyd it really began much earlier, when her family began taking her to the weeklong gatherings of faith, family and food.

“I could have been 3 or 4,” said Floyd, whose family lived near Charlotte. “I grew up going to several of the campgrounds.”

After moving away from North Carolina for school and work, she came to USC in 1996. Since she once again was close by, her brother asked her to come to a meeting.

“I was really just amazed how the grounds looked the same,” she said. “There were many of the same people. One lady was there selling snow cones who had been there since I was a little girl.”

The 42 black-and-white images, plus two videos, were taken at seven of the camps, including Camp Welfare in Fairfield County, St. Paul near Harleyville and Shady Grove near St. George. The others are in North Carolina. All were started between 1870 and 1880, just five to 15 years after slaves were freed.

At first the campers put up tents for the gatherings. Although they’ve been replaced with wooden buildings, cement block structures and in some cases travel trailers, they’re still called “tents.”

“I started going to all seven in 2001 and have been going back ever since,” Floyd said.

She still knew people who were at the North Carolina camps she attended as a child and was welcomed easily there — after all, she was part of the family.

At some of the other camps, she’d find someone who would introduce her and show her around. As they grew comfortable with her, the camera was little obstacle.

“I didn’t just drop in,” Floyd said. “Now I know them, and they know me.”

Reach Day at (803) 771-8518.

WHEN: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, through March 14

COST: Free

INFORMATION: (803) 777-7251 or

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

African American Masters

LINCOLN, NB.- Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln acquired significant works by 20th-century African-American artists in auctions and sales last month in New York. The purchases include works by Charles White, Alvin Loving, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Charles Alston, Lois Mailou Jones and Aaron Douglas.

Sheldon Director J. Daniel Veneciano said, "Sheldon is successfully competing with the top museums in the country in acquiring coveted works in the 20th-century African-American art market. We now celebrate these acquisitions to the African-American Masters Collection at Sheldon. As our participation in the auction clearly indicates, the Sheldon Museum of Art collects great American art in all its important and multifaceted manifestations. We will continue to collect aggressively from the vital and sometimes under-represented history of American art."

Sheldon will present these works in an exhibition, "New Acquisitions: African-American Masters Collection," Dec. 16 through March 2.

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White Lies: Black Noise

The subculture and subtext explored will feature the works of artists Ricky Day, Latoya Fazier, Anthony Fuller, Shani Peters, Amin Rehman and Philip Robinson.
Also Opening, LIVE! From New York, the work of Cacy Forgenie.

Rush Arts Gallery & Resource Center, founded in November of 1996 is one of the two main arts exhibition and education facilities that are apart of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation - a New York based arts foundation established in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons. Rush Arts Gallery & Resource Center is committed to fostering an ongoing dialogue that reflects the diversity of ideas and issues relevant to emerging artists and audiences. Since its inception, Rush Arts Gallery has exhibited the work of over 600 hundred artists and serves a growing audience of educators, students and individuals. Rush Arts Gallery & Resource Center remains dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts through its arts education programs. The gallery also creates opportunities for artists who are not commercially represented by galleries or private dealers. Rush Arts Gallery assist artists careers by providing an inclusive not-for-profit exhibition space in the heart of Chelsea's art district.

Rush Arts Gallery and Resource Center

Raed the Rest of the Story Here.

NCCU African American Modernists

North Carolina Central University Art Museum will display the "African-American Modernists Series: Eric McRay" from Nov. 16 to Dec. 19 at the Fine Arts Building on campus at 1801 Fayetteville St.

The art museum is across from the Farrison-Newton Communications Building. Every effort is made to make all museum events accessible to the handicapped. For general information or assistance, please call 530-6211. For group visits, please call in advance. The museum is open Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Lovell @ Hudson River Museum

Large-scale tableaus with drawings from the past decade by the well-regarded New York City-based African-American artist Whitfield Lovell are the subject of a powerful exhibition at the Hudson River Museum. It is the excruciating consciousness of the weight of history that makes these works so memorable, along with the fact that they are really beautiful.

Born in the Bronx in 1959, Mr. Lovell focuses on the lives of black Americans from about the end of the Civil War through World War II. History and memory ooze from his assemblages, which evoke for viewers ideas and feelings linked to the period’s societal and political changes. They are sort of sweet and scary, uplifting and depressing at the same time.

Dominating the artist’s assemblages are exquisitely detailed life-size charcoal portraits based on historic photographs of anonymous people whose biographical details are now lost to time. Mr. Lovell imagines a new life and a world from scratch, posing them in domestic interiors or homemade settings using furniture picked up in flea markets, tag sales and salvage yards.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Emory Douglas in the UK

The first UK exhibition of the works of Emory Douglas, official artist of the US Black Panther civil rights activists of the 1960s, kicks off at Manchester's Urbis gallery this autumn.

Previously unseen in the UK, Douglas' work from the 1960s, including posters, cartoons and campaign pamphlets, will appear in a provocative new exhibition at Urbis in Manchester, from 30th October 2008 to April 2009.
Emory Douglas, campaigning artist of the Black Panther Party and its first and only Minister of Culture, created a compelling, motivational graphic style. His Black Panther salute is an unflinching reminder of the mood of the late 1960s, and his art from this period, documents growing civil unrest and rapid change.
'Black Panther' will show how Douglas' visual messages helped to encourage a largely illiterate community to challenge the police brutality, economic inequality and social injustice they were experiencing, against a backdrop of growing civil disobedience and the assassinations of Malcom X and Martin Luther
King Jr. Working alongside Urbis, Manchester, and with support of lender and Black Panther historian, Billy X Jenkins, Emory Douglas has helped to select the materials to relive the story for British audiences.

Exhibit highlights watercolors

By Melanie Vignovich For The Almanac

When people describe artist Ruth Richardson's watercolor paintings, they use phrases like "wonderful" and "amazing" to describe the colors, layers, and depth of the landscapes and billowing flowers that have become signatures of her work.
But they could also be describing Richardson and her life as a woman and an African-American pursuing her talents, education, and career throughout the social changes of the twentieth century.
Richardson's latest work, including a series of abstract watercolors, can currently be seen at an exhibit called "Autumn Lights," presented by South Arts, at the historic Schoolhouse Arts Center, Bethel Park, through Nov. 7. South Arts is a nonprofit organization offering membership and educational opportunities for amateur and professional artists as well as any interested community members.
Born in Washington, D.C., in the 1920s, Richardson showed artistic talent at an early age; she recalls painting a picture when she was five that was chosen to be featured in the lobby of her school. She continued to take art classes throughout high school, experimenting with oils, acrylics, ceramics, and sculpture.

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From Hope to Hero: Political Art In Election 2008

Check out this discussion about visual imagery from the 2008 campaign, From Hope to Hero: Political Art In Election 2008 from one of my favorite shows, NPR's News and Notes.

What will a new president do for the arts?

Michelle Obama recently took some relatives to see a revue at a Chicago theatre. Her husband did not accompany them. He'd already been to see a production of The Color Purple a few nights before, and anyway, it probably wasn't appropriate: the show was called Between Barack and a Hard Place, and it made comedy of the last days of the primaries as Hillary Clinton fought vainly to knock down a man who, the show suggested, somehow managed to be black, white, Jewish, Latino, gay and, if needs must, a soccer mom too. He was something to everyone, and a liberal's dream.
Liberals may or may not see their dreams come true tomorrow, but whether Obama or McCain is elected the 44th President of the United States, we might wonder what will unfold in the arts in the coming years. Won't many writers and artists lose their muse - along with their enemy - when Bush disappears? We've had countless Bush-era movies, from Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss to Oliver Stone's W.; we've had books such as Nicholson Baker's Bush-assassination novella Check-point and Curtis Sittenfeld's roman à clef, American Wife, wondering at how Laura Bush turned from a liberal-leaning librarian into the Republican First Lady.
The past eight years have also produced a flourishing of political art, so much so that when a Los Angeles print publisher decided to produce a portfolio to be sold in aid of the Obama campaign it managed to extract designs from the likes of Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly and Ed Ruscha, and raised $3 million.
No, creative liberals won't be sorry to see the back of Bush. But might an Obama presidency be just too much of a good thing? Happiness writes white, after all. John Lahr, the theatre critic of The New Yorker, says: “Historically, in times when there is change or hope, there is much more protest and wideranging opinion and activity in Broadway's experimental theatres. People feel that someone will listen. What we've had for the past eight years is a kind of torpor and resignation, and that's made theatre lose a lot of heat. I think there will be a lot more political, polemical stuff.”