Thursday, December 17, 2009
In its 2007 petition seeking court permission to sell a half-share of its Stieglitz Collection to Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum, Fisk University gave the following (now outdated) justification for the proposed transaction:
If Fisk's current financial condition doesn't improve, there is a high likelihood that it may lose its accreditation. Fisk is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which will review the University's accreditation status in 2009. In its current condition, Fisk will fail to satisfy the criteria established by SACS to establish financial viability.The petition goes on to enumerate all the dire misfortunes that would hobble or destroy Fisk if accreditation were lost, including the likelihood of being "forced to declare bankruptcy, and/or dramatically scale back or cease operations." The university asserted that it needed to accept Walton's $30-million offer to convince SACS of its financial viability.
That was 2007. Now, this just in from Fisk:
Compared to the conservative choices of previous administrations, the art that the Obamas selected for the walls of the White House living quarters was mostly contemporary art by mostly living artists. Among them was New York-based Glenn Ligon, who, at 49, was the youngest artist to have his work chosen.
The news took a while to reach Ligon.
"No one called me so when I heard about it, I thought it might be a rumor," he said Wednesday, as he helped install his work for a show at Regen Projects in West Hollywood that opens Saturday. "Then I saw my work in a list of images in Smithsonian Magazine."
The 49-year-old Conceptual painter considers it an honor, and, he says, "I'm glad to think it is in the living quarters, to be where they sleep, eat dinner, where they will be able to see it. That part, I was thrilled about."
Ligon, who is African American, is known for texts stenciled in paint on canvas. The text in the 1992 painting selected by the Obamas is from John Howard Griffin's 1961 memoir "Black Like Me," the account of a white man's experiences traveling through the South after he had his skin artificially darkened.
The words "All traces of the Griffin I had been were wiped from existence" are repeated in capital letters that progressively overlap until they coalesce as a field of black paint. The picture belongs to the Hirshhorn Museum, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, which loans art to the White House.
Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, N.Y., has organized many exhibitions that have included Ligon's art.
"I think Glenn Ligon is one of the most important artists working today," she said. "In his work, I am constantly amazed and inspired by his ability to operate on the level of deep thought and real feeling."
Ligon, who will have a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011, is exhibiting his most recent art at Regen on the occasion of the gallery's 20th anniversary.
Read the Rest of the Story Here.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Can the black family catch a break in the movies?
www.startribune.com That's what many African-Americans in the Twin Cities and elsewhere are asking in the wake of two recent films: the critically acclaimed "Precious" and "The Blind Side," a No. 1 box-office hit that has grossed nearly $130 million since its Nov. 20 release.
• In "Precious," based on Sapphire's wrenching novel "Push," an obese, illiterate black teenager is pregnant again by her father while her also-abusive welfare-recipient mother scorns her for stealing her man.
• In "The Blind Side," which stars Sandra Bullock, an illiterate, homeless black teen is taken in by a kind white family. Under their care, he blossoms into a football star.
"I'm not saying that these things don't happen and that they are not good movies," said Brenda Anderson, 59, a law firm manager in Minneapolis. "It's just that at a time when the Obamas are in the White House, it seems like there's nothing [on screen] to reflect our proud reality. Instead, we have stories that show the black family as a total failure."
Read the rest of the story here.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Four years ago when photography curator Julian Cox moved from L.A.'s J. Paul Getty Museum to Atlanta's High Museum of Art, he looked for a project that would connect him to his new community. The answer came quickly: a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr."King was a national figure, but he was also a man of Atlanta," says Cox, who set out to organize a landmark exhibition and build the preeminent collection of its kind at an American art museum. The High's tiny trove of 15 prints grew to 325 by 2008, when “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968” opened in Atlanta.The show subsequently acquired larger significance -- at the Smithsonian Institution's S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, D.C., where it became a major attraction for throngs that turned out for President Obama's inauguration.And now "Road to Freedom" has come to Los Angeles, where it is on view at the Skirball Cultural Center. The latest, expanded edition has a section on L.A.'s civil rights history and a companion show comparing Eric Etheridge's recent portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders with vintage mug shots. There are also documentary films and a lineup of public events. Concurrently, the California African American Museum will present a High Museum-organized exhibition on progressive social change.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Mr. DeCarava spent most of his career working near his birthplace in Harlem as he focused his cameras on lonely children, tired workers, expressive jazz musicians and bleak street corners. He collaborated with poet Langston Hughes on a highly praised book, "Sweet Flypaper of Life," in 1955 and received early encouragement from Edward Steichen, one of the formative figures of photography as an art form.
Mr. DeCarava (pronounced dee-cuh-RAH-vuh) chose African American life as his subject and photographed many high-profile black artists, including Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. Yet he fought against being stereotyped as a "black artist," once going so far as to withdraw his works from an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even so, he and Gordon Parks, with whom he had a long dispute, are often considered the foremost African American photographers of the 20th century.
His fellow photographers long recognized the eloquence of Mr. DeCarava's work, but he didn't gain broad public acclaim until a 1996 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The 200 photographs in that exhibition, which traveled to Washington and other cities, presented a world unto itself as Mr. DeCarava portrayed children with unnaturally aged faces, couples dancing in kitchens and sweat-stained men trudging home from work.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The more I consider this thorny issue, the less I am convinced that the arts world has worked hard enough to dissect the true costs, benefits and implications of recent diversity efforts.
Over the past 30 years, we were encouraged, primarily by foundation and government agencies, to become more diverse in every respect: we were asked to do works by minority artists, to bring diverse audiences to our theaters, and to diversify our staffs and boards. To justify funding, the argument went, we had to demonstrate our commitment to our entire community.
Having spent a great deal of my career working with arts organizations of color, I am as committed as anyone to the diversity of our arts ecology. I do not believe that we can have a truly great artistic community if all segments of our society are not represented well.
But I do not think I believe anymore in forcing Eurocentric arts organizations to do diverse works or to put one minority on a board.
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-kaiser/questions-on-diversity_b_333470.html
Monday, October 26, 2009
Woodruff suggested Spiral as a name for the group, alluding to the Archimedean Spiral, which moves outward and constantly upward. Spiral's First Group Showing was subtitled Works in Black and White. Bearden had suggested the exhibition's black-and-white theme because it comprised both socio-political and formal concerns.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Since 2002, GLAAD has produced this annual fundraising event to support our programmatic work. Part art auction and part glamorous cocktail reception, OUTAuction NYC is the must attend event of the fall season.
Come join us and bid on 100 unique pieces of art. Last year’s live auction featured work from Pablo Picasso, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein, and Marc Chagall. Past artists include: Ross Bleckner, Ryan McGinness, Patrick McMullan, Annie Leibovitz, Karim Rashid, Mario Sorrenti, Peter Max, Rosie O’Donnell, and many others. Celebrities who have participated in the past include: Tom Ford, Susie Essman, Patricia Fields, Eva LaRue and Junior Vasquez among others.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
But Nigel Freeman, director of Swann Galleries, which will hold its fifth such semiannual sale tomorrow, says it absolutely is, both for the opportunity to bring new artists to market and to achieve higher prices for those who are already established. This year's incarnation will feature works ranging from photographs from market newcomer Cornelius M. Battey, priced in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, to Hendricks’s painting Bid ’Em In/Slave (Angie), estimated at $60,000 to $90,000, and John Biggers’s lauded Shotguns (1987), expected to pull in a quarter of a million dollars.
Demand in the African-American market has been strong recently, says Freeman, with a marked increase in institutional interest. And it can't hurt tomorrow's sale that the art world is buzzing about the 40-some works that First Couple Barack and Michelle Obama have selected to install on the walls of the White House while they're living there, seven of which are by African-American artists (surely a better ratio than that at the average museum or gallery show).
"You're out of your mind."
As a former chairman of the center, he knew the challenges. And with more than 30 years in financial services, he knew it would be a daunting undertaking.
The center was in the midst of an ambitious fund drive in a sour economy.
It was preparing to move from cramped quarters at a 99-year-old church to a sleek uptown building.
It was struggling for a leadership vision after going through six directors in 10 years.
The organization was at a turning point, but the more Taylor thought about it, the more it appealed to him.
Taylor was at a turning point, too. He was mired in despair from the murder of his son and, at age 55, was looking ahead at the last decade of his career.
In July he took the job.
On Saturday the doors swing open on the $18.6 million Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture, expected to be among the leading black heritage cultural centers in the nation.
She bought them plenty of paper, crayons, coloring pencils and other art supplies. Open your mind, she'd say. Draw your own figures and scenes.
"She wasn't interested in us having a preconceived notion of what things should look like -- right or wrong," said her daughter, Charnelle Holloway of Atlanta. "She thought a lot about the things we would play with and the exposure she would give us."
It was the same approach Mrs. Holloway took to the performing arts. She exposed her girls to various styles of dance and theatre.
"She was an artist," her daughter said, " and that's how she decided to raise us."
In the late 1930s, Mrs. Holloway attended segregated Laboratory High, which was located at Spelman College. After the Spelman school closed, her class completed its studies at Washington High.
She eventually returned to Spelman, first as an undergraduate student and later as an arts professor. She taught at Spelman 38 years -- from 1952 until her retirement.
There, she influenced students like Lynn Marshall Linnemeier of Atlanta, a mixed-media artist. She remembers a final class project that required students to map out Africa, give an example of a regional style or artifact, then describe its characteristics.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The potential fingerprint wasn't a total surprise to everyone, though. Alessandro Vezzosi, a noted da Vinci scholar, stuck out his academic neck last year when he identified the portrait as one of the artist's in his 2008 book, Leonardo Infinito. He based his conclusion on artistic, stylistic and historic considerations. "There is some embarrassment out there," says Vezzosi, director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in the artist's hometown of Vinci, Italy. "Just looking at it, you know it isn't German."
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Being invisible may be every child’s fantasy, but for many men and women of color in America, it has been a grim reality.
For more than 30 years, contemporary Boston painter Robert Freeman has wrestled with this issue, the same one that fueled Ralph Ellison’s landmark novel about race relations in America, “The Invisible Man.” Freeman approaches his subjects from the perspective of the educated and affluent black middle class, a group often ignored by the media. But with the election of the nation’s first black president, Freeman’s work seems more relevant than ever.
“The Obamas are the face of a black middle class that has been around and flourished for a long, long time,” Freeman said from his studio on Moody Street in Waltham, “even if it has really been invisible. With the first family front and center, attention is focused on the universal values they reflect, that define what it is to be a man, what it is to be a family. For a young black child, a black president is an enormous thing. I don’t think we have felt the full effect of his election yet.
“I think there are far more ripples going out right now that are going to turn into big waves,” he continued. “A new face of America is being presented to Americans and to the rest of the world, and it has made everyone think quite differently about what we look like and who we are.”
Freeman, 64, hopes that his two young daughters will benefit not only from the political change that Obama promises, but from a change in the white world’s perception of African-Americans.
“We should always have been seen as a beautiful, cultured, elegant people,” said Freeman, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and moved to Boston in 1967 to attend the School of Fine Arts at Boston University. “But it seems that we are just being discovered.”
Freeman, who lives in Jamaica Plain, has noticed an uptick in interest surrounding his work. According to the artist, gallery sales of his work are up 33 percent over last year.
He hopes that other black artists will benefit, too. The Clark Gallery in Lincoln has represented Freeman for years, but the work of few contemporary black artists are exhibited in the Boston area on a regular basis.
Freeman began painting the black middle class in the early 1970s. He drew on childhood memories of his parents: college-educated professionals who stepped out in black tie and chic cocktail dresses - images that would inspire his “Black Tie” series. But, Freeman says, at first they were painted with “scorn, scorn, scorn.” He, like many children of the ’60s, rejected the values of his parents.
The paintings feature black socialites in striking graphic compositions. They are aloof, self-absorbed and seem to resent the viewer’s intrusion. Their pretense, arrogance and materialism testify to an absence of substance and soul.
Over the years, Freeman returned to the “Black Tie” series. Today, 25 years after that first painting, it includes roughly 100 pieces. His work still focuses on the same subject matter: African-Americans in formal attire at social events. Freeman came to realize that painting the black, middle-class world of his parents was a means of understanding them and their values, as well as his own role as a parent and his place in the world.
Yet the Bay St. Louis native was also a handsome and charismatic rover, adroit at charming others into picking up the tab when the bills arrived. It's a trait that served him well when, for example, he expatriated to Europe with hardly a penny to his name, explains scholar Margaret Rose Vendryes.
"He could talk himself out of anything," she said.
All was forgiven, it seems, because of the beautiful sculptures he produced. His works are noted for their naturalism and classical balance, as well as the frequent use of the male nude figure as subject matter.
Vendryes will lecture on Barthé in the presence of four of his works at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art.
The event marks the close of two related exhibits at the museum: The Last Years of Walter Anderson and the American Masters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast traveling exhibit, which, along with Barthé's sculptures, also featured the ceramics of George Ohr and paintings by Dusti Bongé and Walter Anderson.
Together, these four artists are considered pioneers of Southern modernism. Barthé, who was born in 1901 and flourished in the 1930s during the Harlem Renaissance, is today recognized as a groundbreaking black artist.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) and the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses will recognize the contributions of two outstanding individuals in the visual and performing arts, as well as students pursuing careers and opportunities in those areas from 8:00 -10:00 p.m., during the 13th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts on September 23 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
This year's honorees are Sam Gilliam, internationally celebrated as the leading contemporary African-American color field painter and lyrical abstractionist, and Tyler Perry, the American playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and producer of numerous successful films and stage plays.
The Celebration of Leadership program will kick off the Spouses' activities as part of the CBCF's 39th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC), at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the four-day conference.
Since the early sixties, Mr. Gilliam has been recognized as an original and innovative color field painter. His works have been in the public collections of major museums including Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From his first stirring play, "I Know I've Been Changed," to his latest blockbuster film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," Mr. Perry's sense of humor, combined with a message of redemption and hope, have made him one of the most sought after Hollywood entities.
More than 300 performing and visual arts students applied for this national scholarship program - a 100 percent increase from last year. Twenty students will receive scholarships. "The increase in scholarship applications indicates the importance of the arts programs in schools," said Simone-Marie Meeks, CBC Spouse chair. "The Spouses recognize that students should have a full realm of academic challenges as well as opportunities to explore the fine arts."
For more information about ALC09 or Celebration of Leadership In The Fine Arts ticket information, visit http://www.cbcfinc.org/ or call (202)263-2869.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., was established in 1976 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and education institute to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Getting his hot little hands on Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play “For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," was coup of the year for Tyler Perry. Not only will he produce and direct the upcoming film version, the King of Coonery will also write the adaptation of what may be the most important work about black female identity ever. Ask any black woman, especially the artsy/moody/self-aware type, about “For Colored Girls…” and she will respond with a wistful look and fond memories.
I was Lady in Blue in a high school production and have told more than one sorry dude “insteada being sorry all the time, try being yourself,” quoting the Lady In Red (but playing it off like I came up with it on my own). This is classic material and now we can expect the intentionally stripped-down aesthetic of Shange’s work to be replaced by style choices that only a closeted gay man could make. Even worse, Perry has announced that he’d like to cast the likes of Oprah, Halle Berry, and Beyoncé to tackle the play’s issues, which include love, rape, abortion, and relationships. Beyoncé??? Please pass the Xanax.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Recently, I attended a meeting of Seattle-based funders and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser. One of Kaiser’s points as he travels around the country on an “Arts in Crisis” tour, is the need for greater competency in management of nonprofit arts organization. His point that we spend a great deal of resources training artists in this country but very little on the training of managers rang pretty true to me.
Having spent much of my career as a technical assistance provider focusing on professional development and in higher education as the chair of a department of fine arts and adjunct faculty for a masters of arts in arts administration program, I’ve long believed that more training opportunities for managers would benefit the field greatly. Even in the largest cities, arts administrators find themselves isolated in their work. Many don’t seek assistance because asking for help reflects poorly on their organization and themselves professionally.
And there’s the time and cost factor. Who has time to go to classes, conferences, and mentor breakfasts while they are trying to run an organization that is understaffed? For most organizations, the professional development line in their budget is the first thing to go. Even restricting travel costs means managers are unable to attend convenings where educational and mentorship opportunities are available. There is a need for consistent, meaningful training opportunities for nonprofit arts managers that are easily assessable and relatively inexpensive.
Over the years, there has been an explosion of arts administration programs in academia. They have had mixed reviews by the field. In my experience, many programs suffer from the “ivory tower syndrome” with faculty that have never operated successful organizations, faced the issues of boards of directors, facility management, artistic directors, community involvement and funding cycles. On-line programs or programs in large cities that pull adjunct faculty from the field seem to be offer some hope for academia to offer practical training. But, it seems that on-the-job training continues to the most likely hope in developing competent, knowledgeable managers.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I am always interested in how people actually live with thier art collections. This is a recent article from www.nytimes.com about collectors and their small space (500 SF, which makes even my house seem large).
GREENWICH, Conn. — Apartment dwellers who worry that they don’t have enough room to display art should take a trip to “The Mouse House: Art From the Collection of Olga Hirshhorn,” at the Bruce Museum here. Ms. Hirshhorn managed to pack some 200 works of art into a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Washington.
Of course, it isn’t her primary residence. Ms. Hirshhorn and her husband, Joseph, whose collection is now housed on the National Mall as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, had art-filled homes in other cities. But after Mr. Hirshhorn died in 1981, she wanted a cozy pied-à-terre as a base for frequent visits to friends in the capital.
The Mouse House began life as a garage built for one of the earliest electric cars. It was part of Argyle House, a Beaux-Arts mansion on Embassy Row. (A stone sculpture of a cat on the mansion’s roof was the inspiration for the smaller house’s nickname.)
Converted by the architect Richard Ridley into a 500-square-foot triplex full of nooks and crannies, the Mouse House, as Ms. Hirshhorn calls it, proved to be an ideal backdrop for the small sculptures, drawings and decorative objects acquired by the Hirshhorns over the years.
Many hold personal as well as aesthetic value. Among the contents are drawings inscribed to Ms. Hirshhorn by de Kooning and Picasso, and minuscule Calders and Giacomettis obtained while socializing with the artists in Paris and on the Riviera.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"They are exposing African Americans to world-renowned designers that they may not have known otherwise," said Dia-Stevens, who is an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design and an associate professor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.
And it's coming to an end, at least for now.
After more than 50 years of showcasing the highest caliber of fashion in the industry to mostly African American audiences, organizers of the traveling international fashion show have canceled its fall 2009 installment.
The Philadelphia Cultural Committee Inc., the nonprofit organization that has hosted the program annually in Philadelphia or New Jersey for 50 years, is among 180 organizations that will not put on a show this fall.
"The overall economic climate has presented challenges for many, including our potential corporate sponsors," said Linda Johnson Rice, the chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., in a statement.
The firm, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, hopes to bring back a retooled show starting in fall 2010.
"In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor," said Rice.
As a nonprofit endeavor, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has raised more than $55 million to benefit largely African American groups nationwide, according to Jeanine Collins, a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing.
The Philadelphia Cultural Committee uses part of its $15,000 to $20,000 in proceeds to give scholarships to college-bound high school students who are interested in the arts.
Each year it gives $1,000 to five or six students who are pursuing higher education in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware. The remaining money goes to local charities.
"If we do not have the Ebony Fashion Fair show, it's going to be a deterrent to giving scholarships," said Gwendolyn A. Faison, president of the Philadelphia Cultural Committee.
Faison said the committee is meeting to discuss alternative fund-raising.
Over 4,000 shows have been performed to date in the United States, the Caribbean, and London, according to a representative from the publishing company.
The featured clothing includes cutting-edge couture fresh off the runways of Fashion Week as well as ready-to-wear "extravagant" pieces, said Cheryl Washington, a fashion designer and an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design.
"It is a multitude of talent from all over the world," she said.
The show has exhibited the work of several notable African American designers, including Stephen Burrows, James Daugherty, L'Amour, B. Michael, and Quinton de' Alexander.
It was started in 1956 to support the Women's Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans by John Johnson, then publisher and CEO of Johnson Publishing.
But Dia-Stevens says the show is more than just a few models strutting the latest fashions on the runway.
"When you see the show, it's like a performance - it's ambience, it's atmosphere," she said. "It is more theatrical than it is anything."
Thinking of her 14-year-old daughter, Dia-Stevens hopes to keep her family's appreciation for fashion alive.
"It is a special event that I would definitely want to experience with my daughter," she said.
Contact staff writer Naomi Nix
at 215-854-2797 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a controversy that has been brewing in the American theater world since this spring when a white director was tapped to stage a revival of August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," which opened on Broadway.
According to the L. A. Times story:
“The American theater has been engaged in a racially charged discussion of who should direct what. Should white artists direct plays that are black in authorship and subject? And by extension, should black -- and Latino, Asian, mixed-race and other -- directors be hired to stage plays written by white authors? Such are the questions being posed.
"I don't think there is a simple and satisfactory answer," says black playwright Lynn Nottage, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Ruined." "This conversation is part of our cultural growing pains, and it's one of the many steps in the road to defining our creative and cultural identity."
The controversy was ignited when Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher was tapped to helm the Wilson revival. Wilson, who died in 2005, had insisted that only black directors stage his work. But his widow, Constanza Romero, approved the choice of Sher, who is white. This production marked the first time a Wilson play had been directed by a white director on Broadway. And black artists have voiced concern about the precedent.”
Part of the concern for some black artists is that this only further limits their opportunities, which already are few and far between. There was a similar sentiment shared by a few African-American studies professors, lamenting the limited number of slots for professors on college campuses So here’s the question: Does one have to live a certain experience in order to be the best at putting it on stage? Or is an intense love of the subject (and the craft) enough to make it authentic?
(As a novelist, I would hate to be limited only to writing about and creating black characters.)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here's a link to the post on The Black Snob
Lawrence pointed out the lack of African-American artists included in the collection. Sorgenti, also the president of ARCO Chemical Company, realized that Lawrence was scathingly correct; he set off to build the ARCO’s art collection to make up for the PAFA oversight.
The company began to collect only work by contemporary African American artists, concentrating on the time after the 1960s civil rights battles. ARCO amassed a treasure trove, but soon the company was swallowed up. Rather than allow the collection to be sold off piecemeal, Sorgenti bought it and donated it to PAFA.
The exhibition currently on view at the Taft Museum of Art, The Chemistry of Color: The Sorgenti Collection of African American Art, highlights some of the key artists in the PAFA collection: Saar, Faith Ringgold, Howerdina Pindell, Sam Gilliam, Beverly Buchanan and Romare Bearden, as well as Lawrence himself.
Monday, August 24, 2009
She was born in 1900 in Lafayette, Alabama, and moved to Columbus, Georgia at the age of eighteen. She was married to Will Morgan in 1928, but at the age of 38 heard a voice from God telling her to become a street evangelist. She left her family and husband to move to New Orleans, where she organized an orphanage with two other missionaries.
God told her to begin painting in 1956 and in 1957 heard a voice telling her that she was the Bride of Christ. Hearing this news, she adopted a white habit and moved out of the orphanage to establish "The Everlasting Gospel Mission" in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Music was one of the tools of her ministry, and in the early 1970s, Let's Make A Record was recorded in order to capture Morgan singing and playing her tambourine.
She painted in order to create visual aids for her preaching, and her paintings use a colorful religious iconography. Some of her favorite subjects are the Book of Revelation and her and Jesus flying in an airplane, this last accompanied by the poem "Jesus is my air Plane." She painted on whatever was at hand, including styrofoam trays, window shades and even toilet paper rolls.
Her art brought her fame and notoriety, and in 1974 she announced that the Lord had ordered her to cease painting in order to concentrate on her preaching and poetry. She died in 1980.
In 2005, the New Orleans Museum of Art presented the first comprehensive collection of her art. Also in 2005, the Ropeadope label released King Britt presents Sister Gertrude Morgan, which took the a cappella/tambourine recordings of Let's Make A Record and added contemporary beat programming and instrumentation. The album received rave reviews and created a new, young audience for Sister Gertrude Morgan. The album artwork featured her paintings.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Local artist Shawn Pelech and SAACC Vice President Kelvin Edwards spent three months collecting covers of the magazines from people throughout the country. Ebony is a monthly magazine for the African-American market that has been published continuously since 1945. Some of the covers were framed and are now part of the 40-image display — the first exhibit at the SAACC since it moved to the Discover Portsmouth Center at the city's former library.
The exhibit opened last weekend and will remain on display until early October. The covers feature African-Americans who made contributions in all realms of society over the past 60 years, from politics, the arts, religion, sports, science and education.
Pelech said it was a pleasure putting the exhibit together and she learned a lot by doing it. She said she also felt it was important to highlight the publication in a time when so much is material is read online.
"It's printed material, it's visual and we don't want to lose that printed word," she said. "As we were doing it, I was thinking of how magazines are becoming extinct and how special it is to be able to show this at this time."
SAACC President Vernis Jackson said the first exhibit in the new space is fitting because Ebony is the only African-American magazine to have chronicled the lives of African-Americans continuously during a period of enormous changes.
"When I saw the covers it just sort of jolted me back and I remembered all contributions these people have made," Jackson said. "I expect to see African-American culture and history to be displayed here and I think we've accomplished that goal."
Pelech said she'd like to share the exhibit with another cultural group in another city and perhaps bring a different outside exhibit to Portsmouth.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
T. Hunter Lecture Series on September 15, 2009. Ms. Carter is a leader in the environmental
justice and green‐collar job movements. In 2006, Ms. Carter was the recipient of a MacArthur
genius grant for her work in bringing sustainable development and green‐collar jobs to her
South Bronx neighborhood. The George T. Hunter Lecture Series is sponsored by the Benwood
Foundation, in partnership with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Ochs Center
for Metropolitan Studies, and CreateHere.
Ms. Carter will replace Van Jones in the lineup of George T. Hunter Lecture Series speakers. Mr.
Jones was recently appointed by President Obama as Special Adviser on Green Jobs. “We regret
that Mr. Jones won’t be available for the September lecture, but we understand that his new
position in the Obama Administration will require his full and undivided attention,” said Corinne
Allen, Executive Director of the Benwood Foundation, “However, we couldn’t have found a
better replacement speaker than Majora Carter. Like Mr. Jones, Majora is a young leader in the
green collar job movement and can speak about the importance of creating healthy and
sustainable communities for all residents.”
Born, raised, and continuing to live in the South Bronx, Ms. Carter’s work takes her around the
world in pursuit of resources and ideas to improve the quality of life in environmentally
challenged communities. She founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 and since then, she has
been instrumental in creating riverfront parks, building green roofs, working to remove poorly
planned highways in favor of positive economic development, and successfully implementing
the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) program— a pioneering green‐collar job
training and placement system ‐‐ seeding a community with a skilled workforce that has both a
personal & economic stake in their urban environment. Ms. Carter worked with Van Jones to
co‐found Green For All, a national initiative dedicated to creating quality jobs in green
industries by collaborating with government, business, labor, and grassroots communities.
“Given the involvement in the green movement within the UTC community, we are proud to
have Ms. Carter, a dynamic environmental leader, participate in the lecture series,” said UTC
Chancellor Roger Brown. “We know she will be an engaging speaker for our students and
faculty, as well as the broader community.”
Ms. Carter will be the third speaker in the 2009 George T. Hunter Lecture Series. Prior speakers
were author and historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and PBS Education Correspondent, John
Merrow. The lecture will be at 7pm at the Roland Hayes Concert Hall located inside the UTC
Fine Arts Center. All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, visit
Monday, August 17, 2009
He didn't need anybody's quarterly reports to tell him the economy was writhing. For two years, attendance at art shows had been dwindling. Some of his most ardent collectors couldn't buy the work he was selling cut-rate.
Hard times hit artists differently than they hit the rest of us. Harder, for one thing.
A National Endowment for the Arts survey shows the unemployment rate for artists was double that for other professionals for the last quarter of 2008, leaving 129,000 artists out of work. While the labor force grew by 800,000 that year, the artist work force shrank by 74,000.
The loss of a job for an artist isn't just the loss of a paycheck and benefits. An artist's career is built on vision and self-belief. It's seeing a world different from the one everyone else sees and believing not only that he can capture it in paint, but indeed that he must.
Artistic visions are singular things. They can't be outsourced. They can't be handed off to a lower-paid colleague or wrapped into someone else's job descriptions. Each time a talented artist walks away from his calling, there is a hole in the firmament no one else can fill.
Leaving one's art isn't departing a career but is as Joiner puts it, "throwing away an inheritance."
It should surprise no one, then, when Joiner's first reaction to his dire economic straits was to be "balled up in my bed in the middle of the afternoon thinking of a new career path."
He did not, however, stay there.
The reconstitution of this man and the rebirth of his work is art in and of itself. First Brian Joiner painted self-doubt, struggle and overcoming. Then he lived it.
At age 46, he got out of bed, applied everywhere from hospitals to Ikea to do everything from housekeeping to inventory and finally landed a job in a company's mailroom. "Human beings are made for adjustments," he says simply.
The sensitive, slim-fingered painter who used to make rounds greeting supporters at exhibit openings now makes rounds delivering memos and magazines. He does it with gratitude and humility, and a constant eye for scenes that can feed into his art.
Joiner's vision never left him or, more precisely, he never let it go. With a mystic sense of destiny, he heard about the Taft Museum of Art's Robert S. Duncanson Artist-in-Residence competition and began saving vacation days.
He applied and was selected. He will spend two weeks this fall giving gallery talks, presenting school programs and hosting his own lecture at the Taft.
More important, he will create a new exhibit of paintings that echo those of Duncanson, an African-American artist of the mid-19th century, but will incorporate modern social issues and modern art techniques.
Then he will go back to the mailroom - except for nights and weekends, when you can be sure he will be painting.
"For everyone else who has a dream and is going through a difficult time, I'd just say this," Joiner says. "Sometimes our dreams become our reality. But sometimes our reality also becomes our dreams."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Origins: 2005 - Los Angeles, California
Stand-Out Album: Not For Non-Profit: The Mixtape (2009)
Hear This Now: “So Magical”
Though Last Offence has got the aggressive manner and hard beats you’ve come to expect from a hip-hopper like Jay-Z, he’s a million times hotter and gayer than Jigga. Alongside his blunt wise-cracks about pounding guys and making asses bleed, he also raps about the so-called Christians that killed men like Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard. His albums are perfect for working out some good old-fashioned sexual aggression and even better, he’s giving them all away for free on his MySpace blog. They feature the talents Bry’Nt and Nano Reyes and other homohop artists that didn’t make our list.