Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fisk Art News from CultureGrrl

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of its Stieglitz Collection to Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum, Fisk University gave the following (now outdated) justification for the proposed transaction: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:

Ligon @ the White House and in LA

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

What do you Think?

Can the black family catch a break in the movies? 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 28, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Road to Freedom

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.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Let's Start the Holiday Season Out Right!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Roy DeCarava

Roy DeCarava, 89, whose intimate, often melancholy black-and-white images of Harlem life made him one of the most respected photographers of his century, died Oct. 27 in New York. His family declined to provide the cause of death.
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

Questions on Diversity in the Arts

I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about the issue of diversity in the arts, specifically, the drive to diversify the programming and constituents of all arts organizations.

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:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paul Goodnight


In 1963 Romare Bearden and fellow artist Hale Woodruff invited other artists to join a group. They later called themselves the Spiral group and meet at Bearden's downtown Canal Street studio to discuss political events related to the civil rights movement and the plight of blacks in America. Initially the group was concerned with logistical issues, such as obtaining busses to travel to the March on Washington in the summer of 1963. However, their efforts turned toward aesthetic concerns, rather than political. Spiral member Norman Lewis framed the question: "Is there a Negro Image?" To which group member Felrath Hines responded, "There is no Negro Image in the twentieth century—in the 1960s. There are only prevailing ideas that influence everyone all over the world, to which the Negro has been, and is, contributing. Each person paints out of the life he lives." Spiral sought to define how it could contribute to the civil rights movement and to what author Ralph Ellison called a "new visual order."
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

So late last night I got great news. One of my paintings has been selected for the Out 100 Auction/Show in New York City. That's big news for me! The show curators selected 100 established and emerging artists from across the country to include in the show and my painting, His Little Soul Up to Heaven: For Ronnie Paris was selected.

More Information Follows:

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the GLAAD Board of Directors, our Honorary Committee and Arts Advisory Committee and this year’s Planning Committee invite you to join us for OUTAuction NYC - our eighth annual art event to celebrate established and emerging artists, while recognizing GLAAD’s Top 100 Artists.
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.

Leibovitz: Official White House Family Photo

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Selling Black Art: Swann

NEW YORK—In an era when black artists like Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and Barkley Hendricks command solo museum shows, top gallery representation, and healthy auction results, it's debatable whether a sale devoted exclusively to African-American art is necessary or even desirable.
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).

David Taylor

David Taylor vividly recalls his reaction when a friend suggested in March that he consider running Charlotte's Afro-American Cultural Center:
"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.

RIP Jenelsie Holloway

Jenelsie Holloway didn't allow her children to play with coloring books. She didn't want her two daughters to learn how to color inside the lines, to put hue to someone else' s creation.
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.
Express yourself.
"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

Urban League Young Professionals

Support the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga Young Professionals Association by purchasing a ticket to Halloween at the Hunter: A Magnificent Masquerade.

OK, Not a Black Artist, But an Amazing Story

It's the flip side to the multimillion-dollar counterfeit. The art world is abuzz with the recent discovery that a portrait thought to be the drawing of an unknown 19th century German artist is now being attributed to the Italian master Leonardo da Vinci. And the way the revelation was made is straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel: researchers traced the portrait to the artist using a 500-year-old fingerprint.

The 13-by-9-inch portrait, which has now been dubbed La Bella Principessa, is a delicate profile of a young aristocratic Milanese woman, drawn with pen, chalk and ink on an animal skin known as vellum. It was bought two years ago by an anonymous Swiss collector at the Ganz Gallery in New York for about $19,000. Experts now put the possible value of the artwork at upwards of $150 million. (See the top 10 most expensive auction items.)
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

Invisible Man

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.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Barthe in Mississippi

Sculptor Richmond Barthé was an odd sort. His neuroses often made him moody and solitary. His strange religiosity led him to believe he was the reincarnation of Michelangelo.
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

Sam Gilliam Honored by CBCF

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 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

Sag Harbor

I was out of work sick yesterday, suffering from allergies, which gave me the perfect opportunity to finish Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor. I highly recommend this book. It brought back so many memories of growing up in the 1980s, growing into my own skin and trying to figure out what type of man I would become as an adult. Loved it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tyler Perry: For Colored Girls?

By Thembi Ford
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

I Can Watch Movies All By Myself

Recently I was in a group of people my age, young African American professionals, and everyone seemed to be excited about the new Tyler Perry movie, I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Hmmm. . . I didn't say anything, but I wasn't excited at all. I will probably eventually see the movie on DVD, or my sister's bootlegged copy, but I am not a huge fan of Perry's movies or TV shows. I honestly had never even heard of Perry or Madea, until I moved back to Chattanooga and one of his plays came to town. I thought everyone was talking about Medea, and was trying to figure out when did so many Black folks get into Greek Tragedies. Feeling uneasy about Perry's productions is almost like being in the closet -- some people question your blackness if you're not a fan, but for me his productions are not challenging, or thought provoking AT ALL.

Anyway, I respect Perry for what he has been able to accomplish, and for the fact that he pursued his dream relentlessley until it was in his grasp.

Many people discuss his productions as worthwhile, because there are so "few black movies out there." But I can think of many. For example, what do you think about the movies on this list: 100 Best Black Movies Ever from the Hudlin Entertainment website?

1. “Do the Right Thing” (1989; directed by Spike Lee; with Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee, Robin Harris)

2. “The Color Purple” (1985; Steven Spielberg; Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey)

3. “Claudine” (1974; John Berry; Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones)

4. “Malcolm X” (1992; Spike Lee; Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett)5. “Sounder” (1972; Martin Ritt; Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks)

6. “Carmen Jones” (1954; Otto Preminger; Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll)

7. “Super Fly” (1972; Gordon Parks Jr.; Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee)

8. “Cooley High” (1975; Michael Schultz; Glynn Thurman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris)

9. “Hoop Dreams” (1995; Steve James; William Gates, Arthur Agee)

10. “Coming to America” (1988; John Landis; Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones)

11. “Ray” (2005; Taylor Hackford; Jamie Foxx, Regina King)

12. “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974; John Korty; Cicely Tyson)

13. “Bamboozled” (2000; Spike Lee; Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith)

14. “Cotton Comes to Harlem” (1970; Ossie Davis; Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques)15.“Richard Pryor: Live in Concert” (1979; Jeff Margolis)

16. “Shaft” (1971; Gordon Parks; Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn)

17. “Dreamgirls” (2006; Bill Condon; Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson)

18. “Friday” (1995; F. Gary Gray; Ice Cube, Chris Tucker)

19. “Baby Boy” (2001; John Singleton; Tyrese Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Snoop Dogg)

20. “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961; Daniel Petrie; Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee)

21. “The Five Heartbeats” (1991; Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon)22. “Watermelon Man” (1970; Melvin Van Peebles; Godfrey Cambridge)

23. “City of God” (2002; Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund; Alexandre Rodrigues)

24. “Glory” (1989; Edward Zwick; Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher)

25. “Menace II Society” (1993; Allen and Albert Hughes; Tyrin Turner, Lorenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith)

26. “Tsotsi” (2005; Gavin Hood; Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto)

27. “The Emperor Jones” (1933; Dudley Murphy; Paul Robeson)

28. “Eve’s Bayou” (1997; Kasi Lemmons; Samuel L. Jackson, Debbi Morgan, Vondie Curtis-Hall)29. “Lilies of the Field” (1963; Ralph Nelson; Sidney Poitier)

30. “Soul Food” (1997; George Tillman Jr.; Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Mekhi Phifer)

31. “Black Caesar” (1973; Larry Cohen; Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry)

32. “Boyz N the Hood” (1991; John Singleton; Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube)33. “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986; Spike Lee; Tracy Camilla Johns, Spike Lee, Tommy Redmond Hicks)

34. “Island in the Sun” (1957; Robert Rossen; Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge)

35. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967; Norman Jewison; Sidney Poitier)

36. “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972; Sidney J. Furie; Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor)37. “When We Were Kings” (1996; Leon Gast; Muhammad Ali, George Foreman)

38. “Love & Basketball” (2000; Gina Prince-Bythewood; Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan)

39. “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1993; Brian Gibson; Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne)40. “The Mack” (1973; Michael Campus; Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor)

41. “To Sleep With Anger” (1990; Charles Burnett; Danny Glover, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mary Alice)42. “The Exile” (1931; Oscar Micheaux; Eunice Brooks, Stanley Morrell)

43. “Set It Off” (1997; F. Gary Gray; Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox)

44. “Sweet Sweetback …” (1971; Melvin Van Peebles; Melvin Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles)45. “Waiting to Exhale” (1995; Forest Whitaker; Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine)

46. “Nothing But a Man” (1964; Michael Roemer; Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln)

47. “Blade” (1998; Stephen Norrington; Wesley Snipes, N’Bushe Wright)

48. “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995; Carl Franklin; Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle)

49. “Sonkofa” (1993; Haile Gerima; Kofi Ghanaba)

50. “Love Jones” (1997; Theodore Witcher; Nia Long, Lorenz Tate, Isaiah Washington)

51. “A Rage in Harlem” (1991; Bill Duke; Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines)

52. “A Soldier’s Story” (1984; Norman Jewison; Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington)

53. “Dead Presidents” (1995; Albert and Allen Hughes; Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker)54. “Hollywood Shuffle” (1987; Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Anne-Marie Johnson, Keenen Ivory Wayans)

55. “Car Wash” (1976; Michael Schultz; Richard Pryor, Bill Duke, Franklin Ajaye)

56. “The Learning Tree” (1969; Gordon Parks; Kyle Johnson, Alex Clarke, Estelle Evans)

57. “Stormy Weather” (1943; Andrew L. Stone; Bill Robinson, Lena Horne)

58. “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (1988; Keenen Ivory Wayans; Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Brown, Bernie Casey)

59. “Cabin in the Sky” (1943; Vincente Minnelli; Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong)

60. “Wattstax” (1973; Mel Stuart; Isaac Hayes, Richard Pryor, Albert King)

61. “Rosewood” (1997; John Singleton; Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Esther Rolle)

62. “To Sir, With Love” (1967; James Clavell; Sidney Poitier)

63. “New Jack City” (1991; Mario Van Peebles: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T)

64. “House Party” (1990; Reginald Hudlin; Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Robin Harris)65. “The Green Pastures” (1936; Marc Connelly and William Keighley; Eddie “Rochester ” Anderson, Rex Ingram)

66. “Hotel Rwanda” (2004; Terry George; Don Cheadle, Sophie Okenedo)

67. “Home of the Brave” (1949; Mark Robson; James Edwards)

68. “Lean on Me” (1989; John G. Avildsen; Morgan Freeman, Robert Guillaume)

69. “Hallelujah!” (1929; King Vidor; Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney)

70. “The River Niger” (1976; Krishna Shah; Cicley Tyson, James Earl Jones, Lou Gossett Jr.)

71. “Purple Rain” (1984; Albert Magnoli; Prince, Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero)

72. “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999; Martha Coolidge; Halle Berry)

73. “Krush Groove” (1985; Michael Schultz; Blair Underwood, Sheila E.)

74. “Coffy” (1973; Jack Hill; Pam Grier)

75. “Sugar Cane Alley” (1983; Euzhan Palcy; Garry Cadenat)

76.“When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts” (2006; Spike Lee; Ray Nagin, Terence Blanchard, Harry Belafonte)

77. “Cornbread, Earl and Me” (1975; Joe Manduke; Jamal Wilkes, Moses Gunn, Laurence Fishburne)

78. “Juice” (1992; Ernest R. Dickerson; Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps, Queen Latifah)

79. “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974; Sidney Poitier; Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte)80. “Jungle Fever” (1991; Spike Lee; Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee)81. “Killer of Sheep” (1977; Charles Burnett; Henry G. Sanders)

82. “The Cool World” (1963; Shirley Clarke; Rony Clayton)

83. “Buck and the Preacher” (1972; Sidney Poitier; Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte)

84. “Putney Swope” (1969; Robert Downey Sr.; Arnold Johnson)

85. “Paris is Burning” (1991; Jennie Livingston; Paris Dupree)

86. “The Harder They Come” (1973; Perry Henzell; Jimmy Cliff)

87. “Daughters of the Dust” (1991; Julie Dash; Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers)

88. “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” (1973; Ivan Dixon; Lawrence Cook)

89. “CSA: The Confederate States of America” (2004; Kevin Willmott; William Willmott)

90. “Fresh” (1994; Boaz Yakin; Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson)

91. “Miracle in Harlem” (1948; Jack Kemp: Stepin Fetchit, Sheila Guyse)

92. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967; Stanley Kramer; Sidney Poitier, Beah Richards)

93. “Hustle & Flow” (2005; Craig Brewer; Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson)

94. “Cry Freedom” (1987; Richard Attenborough; Denzel Washington)

95. “Akeelah and the Bee” (2006; Doug Atchison; Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett)

96. “Wild Style” (1982; Charlie Ahearn; Fab Five Freddy, Grandmaster Flash)

97. “Aaron Loves Angela” (1975; Gordon Parks Jr.; Kevin Hooks, Irene Cara)

98. “Sparkle” (1976; Sam O’Steen; Phillip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, Lonette McKee )

99. “Undercover Brother” (2002; Malcolm D. Lee; Eddie Griffin, Dave Chappelle, Billy Dee Williams)

100. “Imitation of Life” (1959; Douglas Sirk; Mahalia Jackson)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Corey Barksdale Mural Painting

Is There An Arts Management Crisis?

by Janet Brown
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

The Mouse House

I am always interested in how people actually live with thier art collections. This is a recent article from 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.

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mickalene Thomas

This summer I visited the Art Institute of Chicago and one of my favorite pieces in the new contemporary wing was a photograph by Mickalene Thomas. Check out this interview with her from NYArts.
Leah Oates: Every artist has a different path to becoming an artist. What was your path?

Mickalene Thomas: When I was in middle school I attended an after-school program at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. But during high school my interests naturally shifted and I became seriously into cross-country and track and field. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, while living in Portland, Oregon, that I began to develop the desire to make art. I was a product of my environment, heavily influenced and inspired by my friends—mostly artists and musicians—like Patrick Abbey, a painter; Thomas Lauderdale, a musician and lead of Pink Martini; and Chris Stark, a photographer. In 1994, the Portland State University hosted a solo exhibition of Carrie Mae Weems’s work and I was blown away. It was the first work I had seen by an African-American woman artist and I visited the show again at least ten times. Although so much talent surrounded me, I didn’t truly pursue art until after I spent a weekend at an art therapy retreat. Shortly thereafter, I made several works on paper and later applied to Pratt Institute and San Francisco Art Institute with the encouragement of my friend, Chris. I ended up attending Pratt for my undergraduate studies and later went to Yale for my MFA.
LO: How do you conceptualize your images and what is your working process?

MT: Believe it or not, some of my best ideas come to me in my dreams. It’s wild, in my dreams the concepts are so tangible that when I wake up I have to make it real. Other times, my work comes from the desire to dissect and understand my own journey. Sometimes it’s as simple as holding the mirror up to my face and looking deep into myself every day. There’s what you see in the mirror and what you project when you’re out in the world. I’m trying to connect the two in my work. When I decide on an idea or new body of work, I begin to research ways of executing my idea literally and theoretically. A lot of what I do formally in my work is driven by the idea of artifice, of what’s real and not real, and how we perceive the difference. Once it’s narrowed down to a particular time or space, I build up the installation in my studio and then I open it up to auditioning women. Thus, the work begins. From the session with the models, I choose several photographs to recompose as collages, from which I base my paintings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ebony Fashion Fair, Fades to Black

Mina Dia-Stevens recalls looking around the auditorium of an Ebony Fashion Fair show as a young adult and knowing that there were other African American fashionistas out there, from a cluster of giddy sorority college girls to a group of churchgoing women.
"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

Celebrate the Arts in the MLK Neighborhood!

Collaborations: Artist Talk


From the Chicago Tribune
Earlier this year, I wrote a story about the increasing number of white professors teaching African-American studies. At the center of the discussion was/is authenticity and whether white people can teach in a discipline that requires such an immersion into black culture. A story by the Los Angeles Times asks essentially this same question about playwrights. Should white playwrights direct plays about black folk? The story goes on to ask: Should black, Asian, Hispanic playwrights direct plays about white folk?
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

Ebony, Jet, Going the Way of Vibe?

Recently, I posted about an exhibit of Ebony Magazine covers in Portsmouth. This morning while perusing one of my favorite blogs, The Black Snob, I came across this post about how Johnson Publications' Ebony and Jet Magazines are struggling financially. What do you think? The comments are very interesting and present a variety of theories about why the publications are facing financial challenges: lack of support from the African American Community, lack of quality writing, lack of advertising revenue for all magazines. It's something to think about. I would hate to see such mainstays of the African American community go under; but, I have to admit the only time I read either publication is when I'm waiting at the barber shop.
Here's a link to the post on The Black Snob

Chemistry of Color

In 1988, renowned artist Jacob Lawrence visited the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) to give the school’s commencement address. During that trip, he wandered through the extensive American Art collection there, making a comment to then-Board Director Harold A. Sorgenti that would soon change the programming at the museum.
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.

Richard Mayhew @ MOAD SF

Museum of the African Diaspora: The Art of Richard Mayhew, Oct. 9-Jan. 10, 2010. Deep, lush, brilliant color that will knock your socks off is just one of the many pleasures offered by Mayhew's paintings in a retrospective that includes landscapes and figurative works from the late 1950s through the 1970s. Mayhew, an activist and artist of African and Native American descent swept up in the fervor of the 1960s, was, along with Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis, a founding member of Spiral, a legendary coterie of black artists who addressed issues of racial equality through their art.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sister Gertrude Morgan

Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) was a preacher, missionary, artist, musician, and poet who worked in New Orleans in the 1960s and '70s, notable primarily for her folk art.
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

Gordon Parks Remembers

Parks Collection to SUNY Purchase

In the 1940s, a photographer named Gordon Parks broke into a scene that had previously been dominated by white men. He was the first black photographer to work for magazines like Life and Vogue, and the first to work for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. Born into poverty and the youngest of 15, he had a sensibility about poor living conditions. But as a renowned photographer, he also had access to some of the most famed athletes and celebrities, like Muhammad Ali and Ingrid Bergman.

This summer, it was announced that more that 4,000 prints and 20,000 negatives of Parks' work will be moved to Purchase College/State University of New York to be preserved, cataloged and made available for public view and study. The groundbreaking photographer died in 2006, and the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation acquired his work the following year. The foundation will also be sending photos by Timothy O'Sullivan, Mathew Brady and Ed Clarke along with Parks' collection to be housed by Purchase.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ebony Cover Exhibit

PORTSMOUTH — For the next two months, a new art exhibit at the Seacoast African American Cultural Center will bring visitors on a visual journey through six decades of African-American history, as chronicled by Ebony magazine.
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.

"We borrowed and begged from all around and got them up," Pelech said. "It's the first show in the new space, and I think it looks pretty good."
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

Majora Carter, Speaker in the Hunter Series

Activist and environmental leader, Majora Carter, will be the next speaker in the 2009 George
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

Struggling to survive, and still making art

In 2006, Brian Joiner's life was as wide open as the landscapes he painted. His work hung in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. His exhibits drew crowds to the Weston Art Gallery. His salary was edging on six figures and his artistic star rising.

By January 2009, Joiner was three months behind on his mortgage and not only fearing foreclosure but wondering what an artist does with the years of work he's accumulated if he becomes homeless.
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."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vogue Evolution

And now a word from our sponsor . . . get real.

I usually try to keep things light over here on BlackVisualArtist, but I have to take a short commercial break today.

Have people lost their minds? I have never seen anything like the foolishness that's going on at these Town hall Meetings. Why are these fools fighting AGAINST healthcare reform? Why are the fools fighting against healthcare reform all on national healthcare, medicare, medicaid, VA benefits themselves. This is an outrage. Let's be real -- this is not about healthcare, because any moron can tell you that we need a system that works for everyone. This is about America having a Black president. This is about America coming into the 21st Century. This is about a bunch of fools who want to take us back to plantations, hoop skirts, and mint juleps for master on the veranda.

I work at a local social service organization and one of our projects helps people find low cost or free healthcare. This project has opened my eyes to the suffering that goes on when people have no healthcare and few options. And, these are not lazy people, they just cannot find a job or have a job with negligible "benefits."

I have seen:

Diabetics without any insulin.

Hypertensives with no medication, blood pressure out of control.

Tons of people who have no clue about their HIV status.

People who can barely see.
People who've done thier own stitches.

And, a young man who had "set" his own broken arm because he could not return to the emergency room and incur any more bills (this one took the cake).

Get real, these fools protesting are not fighting against healthcare. They will not bear the brunt of the costs. They will benefit from any improvements made to the system. They need to be honest and claim their racism. Stop hiding behind signs of socialism, stop screaming about taxes and how their kids will have to pay in the future, stop crying for politicians to be lynched. Join the Klan and let the rest of us move forward with getting the healthcare that our country and its citizens so need.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

5 Black Homo-Hop Artists You Need to Know About

Last Offence
Origins: 2005 - Los Angeles, California
Albums: 2
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.

Meshell Ndegeocello
Origins: 1993 - Washington, DC
Albums: 8
Stand-Out Album: The Anthropological Mixtape (2002)
Hear This Now: “Leviticus:Faggot”

The first female artist signed to Madonna’s Maverick record label, German-born bisexual Meshell Ndegeocello (pronounced Mee-shell N-deh-gay-o-chel-o) predates Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill by half a decade and has put out more than both women combined. Ndegeocello doesn’t call herself a hip-hop artist; to her, hip-hop’s a watered-down mainstream derivative that’s hardly countercultural anymore. So instead, she works a postmodern mix of jazz, funk, and rock that’s more Marvin Gaye than Missy Elliot; but don’t let that fool you. She’ll sing about fucking your boyfriend with all the swagger of a pimp then turn around and ponder the dual nature of desire in a gentle upper register.