Friday, February 20, 2009

Sam Gilliam in Augusta, GA

Internationally-known contemporary painter and sculptor Sam Gilliam will be in Augusta Feb. 26 for the Morris Museum of Art’s Terra Cognita lecture series. He will talk about his life and career with MMA director Kevin Grogan in a program that begins at 6 p.m. An informal reception will follow.
“Sam Gilliam took traditional painting out of its traditional structure,” Mr. Grogan said. “He literally took it off the wall and out into the same space that we occupy.”
Born in Tupelo, Miss., in 1933, Mr. Gilliam grew up in Kentucky, earning an M.A. in painting at the University of Louisville. In 1962 he arrived in Washington, D.C. in the second wave of Washington color school painters. From his “draped” canvas paintings of the 1970s to his cut metal or wooden shaped works in the 1980s and 90s, to more recent works painted on plywood with wooden attachments, Mr. Gilliam gives equal importance to color and structure. His art continues to evolve as he experiments with rich saturated colors and expressive explorations of the painted surface.
Augusta’s museum-goers will remember seeing his work last spring in the group exhibition “Something to Look Forward To: Abstract Art by Distinguished Americans of African Descent.”

RIP J. Max Bond, Jr.

NEW YORK—Pioneering African-American architect J. Max Bond Jr. died on February 18 of cancer, the New York Times reports. He was 73. Bond was known for making his way in a white-dominated field and for being an educator and a socially conscious architect. In his early career, he worked in France with AndrĂ© Wogenscky, in New York at Gruzen & Partners and Pedersen & Tilney, and in Ghana, for the government from 1964 to 1967. He returned to New York to lead the Architects Renewal Committee of Harlem before founding the firm Bond Ryder & Associates in 1970, which 20 years later merged with another firm to become David Brody Bond Aedas. Among his most notable projects were the Martin Luther king Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, and the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park for Columbia University. He served on the New York City Planning Commission in the '80s, and taught at City College and Columbia. At the time of his death, he was the partner in charge of the museum portion of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Display of Black Power

That's what it looks like anyway, at Hemphill Fine Arts, where "Selections From the Barnett-Aden Collection: A Homecoming Celebration" is on view. The art on the walls -- by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, John N. Robinson, Aaron Douglas, Alma Thomas, Henry O. Tanner, Elizabeth Catlett, John Biggers and others -- makes for a virtual who's who of 20th-century black art. None of it is for sale. Yet this contemporary commercial gallery setting really does feel like a homecoming.
That's because, despite the museum-caliber work on view, the show has its roots in another commercial Washington gallery. Albeit one that many have never heard of.
Founded in 1943 in a private home in Northeast Washington, the now-defunct Barnett-Aden Gallery was a collaboration between the late James Herring, a Howard University professor of art, and the late Alonzo Aden, a student of Herring's and curator of the school's art gallery. It was named after Naomi Barnett-Aden, Alonzo's mother and the owner of the house at 127 Randolph St. At a time of widespread segregation, the gallery gave a home to African American artists, many of whom could not exhibit elsewhere.

Black heritage Art Show in Baltimore

Artists and craftspeople from around the country will gather at the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend for the 14th annual Black Heritage Art Show, which celebrates African-American culture in a wide range of expressions.Since it began in the Fellowship Hall of Baltimore's New Psalmist Baptist Church in 1995, when six artists attracted several hundred patrons, the event has grown into a three-day event that draws thousands of visitors and showcases more than 100 visual, literary and performing artists, including musicians, poets, dancers and fashion designers.Visual artists range from painters, sculptors and lithographers to makers of jewelry, ceramics and handmade dolls. Maryland Institute College of Art graduate Larry "Poncho" Brown and Baltimore native Karen Buster are among the exhibitors. Out-of-town artists include Stu McLean of Atlanta and Charles Bibbs of Los Angeles.Events include a silent auction that will benefit an African-American scholarship fund; a line dancing party with Randy Dennis; "empowering" workshops; an "artist spotlight competition"; and a fashion show featuring the work of Baltimore designer Travis Winkey.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

30 Americans

The artists of 30 Americans challenge, provoke, and, by the power of their incomparable images, force the viewer to consider them not as the unit the show's title suggests but as fiercely independent windows into the African American experience in the United States.
Through more than 200 works on view at the Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood, 31 artists offer expansive notions of what it means to be black, to be male and female -- and to be an American, a label they don't all wear with the same degree of comfort.
The exhibition of emerging and establish artists, a timely discourse on identity and history, has become more poignant with the inauguration of the first African American president. But 30 Americans extends beyond obvious issues to display a richness of visual language, technique and approach.
Some artists work with unique materials -- matches, shea butter, hair clippings swept from the floor of a Harlem barbershop, advertising images -- while others ply more traditional acrylics and oils.
Some appropriate hurtful images -- KKK hoods, the stereotype of black face -- and use them to explore the emotional pain of injustice. Others chronicle with faithful accuracy the bling culture, the hip-hop world, poverty and violence.
All display their condition as observers and participants through the extraordinary access of insiders.