Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What do you think?

What do you think about this recent letter to the Chicago Tribune? It reminds me of conversations that I'm constantly having with Black artists and performers about developing audiences of color and how we are often lacking in coverage of the arts. Hmmm . . . What do you think?

Art coverage complaint
April 28, 2009
Art coverage complaintWhen I saw the cover of the April 19 Chicago Tribune Magazine, I was happy to see it was titled "Art in Chicago." My eyes and ears are always tuned to buzz about my fellow creative travelers. Being an African-American artist, in a city where black folks comprise a third of the population, I assumed there would be at least token mention of the vibrant scene of black artists, galleries and collectors. But after browsing the pages for some visual evidence of our existence, I started again, more carefully, looking for at least some typed reference to that fact. After going back a few more times, I reluctantly concluded the Trib had managed to do something I thought impossible in the year 2009 in the city of Michelle and Barack. Its staffers had written a whole magazine titled "Art in Chicago" without a single image of or by a black artist. In fact, even the ads, which can usually be counted on for some token of diversity, were curiously for this issue "uncolored" (if you know what I mean). (To be totally accurate, there was, in a listing of shows, the name of Richard Hunt, the internationally known sculptor "of color." But there was no clue for the uninitiated that he was black, if only in hue.)
-- Lowell Thompson, Chicago

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Barnes is regarded by art historians as one of the premier figurative artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries and one of the nation's foremost African American painters.
He's also one of the most collected artists in America.
Barnes' famous "Sugar Shack" dance scene, which appeared on a Marvin Gaye album and the closing credits of the "Good Times" television show, has been widely imitated.
For five years beginning in 1959, Barnes played in the AFL for the New York Titans (Jets), the Baltimore Colts, the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.
According to Barnes' website, "In 1965, New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin recognized Barnes’ artistic potential and replaced his football salary for one season so he could devote himself 'to just paint.' One year later, Barnes made his debut in a critically acclaimed solo exhibition at Grand Central Art Galleries in Manhattan and retired from football."
Luz Rodriguez, who was Barnes' personal assistant, told City News Service that Barnes died Monday night at Cedars Sinai Medical Center after a brief illness.
Copyright City News Service

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Love This Photo

New Bibbs Sculpture to Chattanooga

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2009) − Garry R. Bibbs, associate professor at the University of Kentucky Department of Art, has won a commission for his sculpture "Family Revolution." The commission was awarded to Bibbs for his sculpture proposal by the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga.The sculpture commission was made possible by the Urban League's participation in the program "Art in the Neighborhoods," a new matching grant initiative funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation and administered through Chattanooga’s Public Art Program. The sculpture is funded by the foundation grant and matching private funds."Family Revolution" is a stainless steel sculpture that will stand 20 feet tall. The sculpture proposal submitted by Bibbs competed against ones from professional artists in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, as well as Kentucky. "Family Revolution" will be installed near the offices of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, located on M.L. King Boulevard in Chattanooga. Installation is scheduled within the coming months.“This sculpture shows the new found pride we are seeing in the M.L. King neighborhood," said Urban League of Greater Chattanooga President Warren Logan. "It is exciting and gratifying to see change as it occurs and makes sense to celebrate empowerment through the installation of 'Family Revolution.'”Bibbs' distinguished exhibition history includes showings presented through the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.; the Ruschman Art Gallery in Indianapolis; the Hertz Gallery in Louisville and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.The Kentucky sculptor is also an active member of the Pew Civic Entrepreneur Initiative, a coalition group in Lexington whose goal is to confront and solve issues relevant to the community on race relations and leadership.“Through my art, I want to share honesty about my human experience, my African-American heritage, and my environment, whether it is good, bad, or indifferent," commented Bibbs. "Life is so precious, so it is important that my viewers feel enlightened, uplifted, and free. They should be made aware that there is an answer, a power, and a glory. So live a good life and be gracious in God’s creative beauty which is given to us through the arts.”The "Art in the Neighborhoods" Program is administered by the City of Chattanooga's Public Art Program through the Department of Parks and Recreation. The program is designed to assist community groups with generating unique public art projects in neighborhoods throughout Chattanooga. Matching funds are made available through a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation and can be used for the temporary lease, purchase or commission of one or more works of art.

Charles Franklin Moss

On Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at noon, Ruth Hodge, a retired archivist from the Pennsylvania State Archives will talk about the life and work of Charles Franklin Moss. Moss was a turn of the century African-American artist and photographer. Ms. Hodge will chronicle the 83-year life of Charles Moss, a man of multiple artistic talents and accomplishments. The program will be held at 21 North Pitt Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Please call (717) 249-7610 for more details. This lecture is in conjunction with our exhibit An Enduring Gaze: The Portraits of Cumberland County which is now through October 31, 2009 supported by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Charles Franklin Moss (1878-1961) is believed to be the first African-American inducted into the National Association of Professional Photographers. Moss was a graduate of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art. He was in business in Carlisle for about twenty years starting around 1908.

This activity and exhibit has been generously supported in part by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Visit the newest exhibit at the Cumberland County Historical Society entitled An Enduring Gaze: The Portraits of Cumberland County. This exhibit will be free to the public and will run from now until Saturday, October 31, 2009. It will feature the evolution from early portraiture until today’s digital images. Some of the portraits will include: a self-portrait of prolific local artist Holmead Philips, a newly conserved portrait of President Thomas Jefferson, Admiral John Berrien Montgomery, and a scandalous 1920s flapper.

The Cumberland County Historical Society is an active history center with an award winning museum, library, photo archives, educational center, museum shop, and historic Two Mile House. The Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and promote research of Cumberland County history. Anyone interested in local history is invited to become a member. Call 249-7610 or visit our web site for more information and to see the museum virtual tour. Cumberland County Historical Society is located at 21 North Pitt Street, in Carlisle Pennsylvania. Hours are Monday 3 to 9 pm, Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 3 pm. Admission to the museum is free.

More on Franklin Moss at AfroLumens.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Barbara Jordan Statue to Grace UT Campus

Barbara Jordan was a woman of firsts: She was the first African American woman from the South to be elected to Congress, the first black elected official to preside over the Texas Senate and the first freshman senator named to the Texas Legislative Council. Next week, in the vein of her trailblazing legacy, her statue will be the first of a female personage on the University of Texas campus. The statue will be unveiled among the Battle Oaks northwest of UT's Main Building.
Jordan died in 1996 at age 59. The statue of the beloved lawmaker and UT professor has been in the works since 2002, when members of the UT community started discussing the need for greater ethnic and gender diversity in the statues on campus. Jordan's sculpture will join 15 others on campus, including a statue of the Roman goddess Diana located in the quadrangle formed by Andrews, Blanton, Carothers and Littlefield dormitories.
Joycelyn Jurado, 27, was a member of the Orange Jackets, the service-oriented group of students, who developed the idea.
The upcoming unveiling will be "amazing," Jurado said. To see "someone who looks like me being displayed as art on campus and to experience that community is very much needed in our time."
The Barbara Jordan Statue Advisory Committee, headed by Sherri Sanders, deputy to the vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, raised about $447,000 for Jordan's statue. In 2003, university officials and students approved a $2 per semester student fee to raise money for the Cesar Chavez and Jordan sculptures. The Chavez statue was unveiled in October 2007.
The artist fee for the Jordan statue is $274,000, and the overall cost of the project is about $690,000, including landscaping and transportation.
Bruce Wolfe, the same artist commissioned to create the sculpture of Jordan located in the main terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, created the UT's bronze statue, which is more than eight feet tall and weighs 850 to 900 pounds.
Dedication activities started last week and will culminate with the unveiling ceremony at noon April 24.
"Joining the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez is this statue of a great female leader, not only in our state but in our nation," Sanders said. "The statue is a testament to the can-do spirit of Barbara Jordan and to the students involved in making the statue a reality."; 445-3630

Saturday, April 18, 2009

American Violet

CHICAGO – In his third film, “American Violet,” director Tim Disney tackles the subject of unfair incarceration laws involving a poor African-American housing project in a rural Texas town. The uplifting drama is based on a true story and begins during the presidential election of 2000.
Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie) is a single mother of four children, barely getting by on a meager waitress job and help from her mother (Alfre Woodard). When her housing unit is raided by country drug law enforcement, Roberts is arrested as a drug dealer suspect, accused unfairly by a police informant.

When an ACLU lawyer (Tim Blake Nelson) comes to town to take on the unjust laws that sweeps out and jails poor African Americans, it is Dee Roberts that steps up to take on a corrupt and powerful county district attorney (Micheal O’Keefe). sat down with director Tim Disney, who reflected on his unique and powerful film. What is the strongest impression that you want the audience to gain after they view ‘American Violet’?
Tim Disney: I hope people are inspired by the Dee Roberts story as I was. There are a lot of specific issues in the movie about drug policy, abuse of informants and plea bargaining, but in a larger sense that change begins, and change is possible, when individuals make choices and stand behind them. That’s what drew me to the story in the first place.
HC: This film indicates that there are still miles to go in the civil rights struggle. What surprised you most in relating a modern story about the rights denied African Americans post the year 2000?
TD: The fact that the events take place simultaneously with the 2000 election of George Bush is just pungently ironic. Dee Roberts is in jail being pressured to plead guilty to a crime she didn’t commit, George Bush is at the Supreme Court being given an election he didn’t win. That’s wrong on many levels.
You could hear this story told and assume it happened in the 1930s. That these are contemporary people was really striking to me, and in fact the same people are still in power doing many of the same things. Progress is incremental, it’s one step forward and two steps back.
HC: There have been many examples of African American injustice films that have made changes to society’s attitude. What film would you compare American Violet to within that genre and how can the cinema art continue to shine a light in the dark aspects of racial bigotry and injustice?
TD: I don’t know where it fits in the very specific genre you mentioned. In many of the older films in that category like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ it is still the white father figure that solves the problem. We specifically tried to tell our story from the other point of view.
Even though there is a ACLU lawyer who is white and he is instrumental in the case, it is driven by Dee Roberts – an African American single mother on welfare with four children who lives in a rural Texas town – that is about as far from power as you can get in America and yet she is the catalyst for change.
In that context, it’s more similar to ‘Norma Rae’, ‘Silkwood’ or ‘Erin Brockovich’.
HC: Describe the interaction between yourself and Nicole Beharie, given that it was her debut in a film lead role. Since it was an ensemble piece, did some of the veteran actors help her out?

Read the Rest of the Story Here.

Kalup Linzy

From Longer Days, Better Art: Huffington Post

Richard Hunt has spent a lifetime and a career making art in Chicago. Next month he receives the lifetime achievement award from the International Sculpture Center, doing Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg and about a dozen others who have been so honored. He was the first African-American artist to have a major solo exhibition at MoMA (in 1971), yet in Chicago he's been a mostly overlooked talent, despite his art being highly visible from Midway Airport to Jonquil Park. Chicago's treated Richard more as a token than a talent. That's wrong and unfortunate. The work in the exhibit at David Weinberg shows the accomplishments of an artist in his 70's who can readily make metal bend at will. The predominantly bronze art -- welded, not made from molds -- soars with pride, confidence and determination. There's a powerful story here and a universal truth, a spirit that will not be contained. It's nice to see the work well presented. I left educated, impressed and a bit sad that I, for one, hadn't opened my eyes a helluva lot earlier. Richard Hunt is damned good.