African American Community Wants to Preserve Its Heritage

It was a U.S. community that was once the site of a regional slave market where black men, women and children were sold to white slave owners. After the slaves were freed in 1863, some stayed, forming their own neighborhood. Now a group of African Americans is trying to preserve the history and culture of the centuries-old black community that has faded over time. VOA’s Chris Simkins has more on the story from Hagerstown, Maryland.

Charleena Lyles Needed Health Care. Instead, She Was Killed.

Photo

Photos of Charleena Lyles, who was killed by the police in Seattle on Sunday. Credit Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times, via Associated Press

On Sunday morning, two Seattle police officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles in her apartment. She was pregnant, and three of her four children were home. She had called the police to report a burglary. According to the officers’ account, shortly after they arrived, Ms. Lyles, who the police knew was mentally ill, pulled a knife. Both officers shot her. Societal failure to care for mental health, which leaves the police as mental illness first responders, may well have been one deadly ingredient in this tragic encounter.

According to her family and police records, Ms. Lyles wrestled with significant mental health issues. An audiotape reveals officers discussing her police and mental health history immediately before the shooting. Seattle Police Department officers had been called to her residence more than 20 times before this Sunday, with mental illness often figuring in those encounters. The department had placed an officer caution on her address for this reason, meaning officers should be on alert for dangerous behavior from her. Despite repeated previous mental health referrals and the involvement of Child Protective Services, she was alone with her children on Sunday, in distress and with nowhere to turn but 911.

Ms. Lyles’s situation is not unique. People with untreated mental illnesses are disproportionately likely to attract police attention. The combination of mental illness, racial segregation and poverty is particularly likely to result in police contact, often leading to arrest. In fact, a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics study revealed that 24 percent of state prisoners report a history of mental illness, with other sources reporting rates in some larger facilities as high as 70 percent. But it was not always the case that mental illness would result in the cycle of catch and release that evidently plagued Ms. Lyles.

What changed over the past half-century is that the United States has seen a stunning decline in resources devoted to public mental health — during the same time the nation adopted mass incarceration. A 2009 International Association of Chiefs of Police review reported that the available hospital beds for persons suffering from mental illness dropped by 95 percent from 1955 to 2005, to 17 beds per 100,000 persons from 340. From 1985 to 2005, the nation’s incarceration rate tripled.

The shift away from hospital treatment of mental illness was not matched by an offsetting commitment to fund the health care people needed to live on the outside. Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low that it is difficult to find providers who will accept it. As a result, many people with mental illness are functionally uninsured for their most urgent health care needs. That is, state support for mental health retreated at the same time state investment in incarceration exploded — and both with disastrous results for vulnerable communities.

The consequence of the disinvestment in public mental health has also not affected all vulnerable communities equally. African-American people are at least as likely as white people to experience mental health distress but are half as likely to receive mental health treatment. This helps to explain why it’s easy to recall other high-profile cases of police use of deadly force involving black victims with documented histories of mental illness.

Continue reading the main story

Sen. Kamala Harris Drops Her Summer Playlist

Wondering how you’re going to get through summer ’17 without President Obama’s annual summer Spotify playlist?

No need to worry.

California Sen. Kamala Harris has released a sunny playlist of her own, just in time to commemorate African-American Music Appreciation Month. Her catalogue of jams ranges from Hip Hop by Cali natives like Tupac and Dr. Dre, to soulful classics like “Let’s Stay together” by Al Green and “ABC” by the Jackson 5.

“Our nation has an indelible soundtrack, songs that have become anthems recognized across the world. Much of that soundtrack is inspired and informed by the vast contributions of African-American artists in jazz, R&B, rap, hip-hop, and beyond,” Senator Harris said in a statement.

Image: Kamala Harris Image: Kamala Harris

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence member Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on April 25, 2017 in Washington. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Harris is the second black woman to be elected to the U.S Senate and as her profile in Washington grows, some beltway chatter has suggests she could be a future candidate for president. Most recently, the freshman senator caught national attention for her dogged questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

But this is not a politician’s playlist, much like President Obama’s summer soundtrack, her music choices are culturally diverse, soulful and timeless.

Related: Mixing Music and Medicine: Meet Grammy-nominated Producer Nana Kwabena

“No matter where you are from or what you look like, music is a bond that can bring us all together. To celebrate African-American music is to dance, sing, and even march to the rhythms that have long served as vehicles for honesty, inspiration, struggle, success and joy.”

So what can we expect next from Senator Harris, maybe a summer reading list?

See below for Senator Harris’ full Spotify Playlist.


Senator Kamala Harris’ #AAMAM Playlist

“Check the Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest

“Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G.

“Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill

“Redbone” by Childish Gambino

“Rise Up” by Andra Day

“Groove Me” by King Floyd

“Happy” by Pharrell

“California Love” by 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre

“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” by Jay-Z

“Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj

“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye

“Love on Top” by Beyoncé

“ABC” by The Jackson 5

“My Shot (The Hamilton Mixtape)” by The Roots, Busta Rhymes, and Joel Ortiz

“Have a Talk with God” by Stevie Wonder

“Sinnerman” by Nina Simone

“Kiss” by Prince

“Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayers

“All We Got” by Chance the Rapper feat. Kanye Westand Chicago Children’s Choir

“I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers

“Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy

“Tightrope” by Janelle Monae

“Humble” by Kendrick Lamar

“Tambourine” by Eve

“T-Shirt” by Migos

“Choices” by E-40

“Word Up” by Cameo

“Try Again” by Aaliyah

“On & On” by Erykah Badu

“Pretty Little Birds” by SZA

“If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai

“End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

“Think” by Aretha Franklin

“Video” by India Arie

“In Common” by Alicia Keys

“Smooth Sailin’ by Leon Bridges

“Cold Sweat” by James Brown

“Body and Soul” by Billie Holiday

“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

“Waterfalls” by TLC

“Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige

“What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner

“Bambi” by Jidenna

“Dis Generation” by A Tribe Called Quest

“Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles

“Marching into The Dark” by John Legend


Follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Children’s Clinic bids farewell to ‘compassionate’ physician

Dr. Karen Walker has been with the Infant Welfare Society for over 30 years

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 1:54 PM

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Email

“).popup({ “positionTo” : “origin”, “transition” : “flip”, “history” : false, “overlayTheme” : “b”, “theme” : “none”, “dismissible” : false }).popup(“open”); }); });

Print

Dr. Karen Walker, 65, has been busy seeing some of her last appointments at the Oak Park-River Forest Infant Welfare Society Children’s Clinic, 320 Lake St. The clinic provides dental and medical treatment, along with behavioral services, to area children from low-income families. 

Faced with a growing population of clients and increasingly unstable federal and state funding scenarios, the IWS is switching to what its executive director, Peggy LaFleur, described as a more efficient model of care that relies on nurse practitioners and physician extenders rather than physicians. 

“This is a very difficult time for health care,” LeFleur said in a recent phone interview. “We’re getting less funding than we used to.” 

Nonprofits all over Illinois, she said, are being squeezed as many state and federal funding sources are either eliminated altogether or spread much thinner, with some who support the welfare society also attempting to prop up other organizations whose funds have completely disappeared.

The precarious financial environment means being forced to part ways with someone who LeFleur described as the embodiment of the welfare society’s commitment to helping the underserved.

“Dr. Walker has been our longest standing medical provider,” LeFleur said. “She’s compassionate, a very good clinician and deeply committed to her patients.” 

In an interview last week, Walker said she’ll start seeing patients at her own private practice from now on — quite a transition, considering she’s been practicing part-time at the Children’s Clinic for more than 30 years. 

“I had started a pediatric practice in Oak Park and just needed to supplement my income a little bit,” Walker said. “So I answered an ad in one of the medical journals about the Children’s Clinic.” 

As her private practice grew, she said, it became more difficult to service patients on public aid or who were paying out of pocket. Eventually, she started seeing many of those patients at the clinic.

“The Children’s Clinic gave me a chance to service a lot of my patients because I’d say to them, ‘Yeah, you can keep seeing me, we just have to go to the clinic.’ I’ve always been into community medicine. The clinic gave me the opportunity to serve both worlds.” 

LeFleur said that roughly 25 percent of the clinic’s patients come from Oak Park. Around 1,000 come from Austin. Other community areas with heavy representation include Cicero, Berwyn and Melrose Park. Around half of the clinic’s patients are Hispanic while African Americans represent about 30 percent of the clinic’s clientele. 

Arbutus Winfrey said all three of her children and both of her godchildren have had Walker as their primary care physician. 

“I’m trying to see if her clinic takes my son’s medical coverage,” Winfrey said. “If so, we’ll be following her there. He’s had Dr. Walker since he was born. He’s 16 years old.”

LeFleur attributed Walker’s magnetism to the fact that she puts her patients before herself. 

“We don’t make money in anything we do and we really have to be as efficient as possible,” LeFleur said, adding that Walker, in the same spirit, has passed up more lucrative opportunities elsewhere in order to deliver high-quality medical care to generations of children. 

“At the clinic, we sacrifice,” LeFleur said. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

Painting a Charles McGee mural

CLOSE

“Unity,” a mural by lauded artist Charles McGee, is painted on the exterior of the 28 Grand Building in Detroit’s Capitol Park.

At 92, Charles McGee is still creating art and still as thunderstruck as ever by the dazzling visual tapestry all around us.

“I look at our world in awe,” said the celebrated artist and teacher, speaking a week ago at his Rosedale Park home, “and how it’s all put together.” It is, he added, a fascination “that almost became a religion for me.”

That fascination and spirituality are on triumphant display in a retrospective at the Library Street Collective, which includes a number of pieces completed just this year.

If you can make only one art show this summer, “Charles McGee: Still Searching” would make an outstanding choice. The show is up through through July 1.

Hung in a spectacular, raw, pop-up space on Woodard filled with windows, “Still Searching” wends a path through McGee’s creative evolution, one that highlights the artist’s dizzying range and joyousness embedded in all his work.

Indeed, it’s a show that couldn’t be completely contained in Library Street’s temporary quarters at Woodward and Clifford. Walk around the corner to the top of Capitol Park and prepare to be bowled over by McGee’s 11-story black-and-white mural, “Unity,” completed in May.

“Still Searching” traces McGee’s creative arc from his early figurative work through the dazzling abstracts of mid-career, and then circles back to his starting point with hybrid canvases in which the artist integrates all the elements he’s explored up ’till now.

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Working with ancient Egyptian and African motifs, as well as the very stuff of life as seen through a microscope, McGee, the Kresge Foundation’s 2009 Eminent Artist, grapples with the primeval and the symbolic.

“I’ve always admired how well Charles combines his love of the figurative with abstract forms,” said Valerie Mercer, Detroit Institute of Arts curator of African-American art. “It makes his work very contemporary.”

“Still Searching” reaches back as far as 1965, when McGee was 40, with an affecting charcoal study “Mother and Child.”

That’s followed by a parade of the artist’s signature abstracts like the 2008 “Rhapsody in Black and White,” whose idiosyncratic, overlapping elements look a bit like bacteria or protozoans dressed up in party clothes.

“The forms,” said Mercer admiringly, “just seem to come alive and dance.”

The show concludes with one of McGee’s knock-out pieces, the 20-foot-wide, immensely colorful “Play Patterns II,” with its flattened, hieroglyph-people — floppy feet and all — juggling snakes as they parade across a background of what appears to be a sea of colorful microorganisms.

Those who know the DIA well will likely spot some resemblance to the museum’s huge McGee, “Noah’s Ark: Genesis.”

It goes without saying that there’s an identifiable signature to McGee’s work.

“I could recognize a Charles McGee anywhere and not confuse his with work by any other artist, ” said Mercer, who’s followed the artist ever since she landed in Detroit in 2001.

There’s no confusing the 118-foot-tall mural in Capitol Park, which echoes many of McGee’s smaller, protozoan assemblages.

Library Street owners Anthony and JJ Curis, who’ve energetically promoted public art over the years, arranged for McGee to get the commission.

“Bedrock’s new building was just coming on line,” Anthony said, referring to the downtown real-estate development company, “and they had this massive, blank facade on the north side.”

Bedrock, which collaborated with the Curises on any number of other public artworks downtown, including “The Belt” alleyway east of Woodward, was interested, so the couple approached McGee.

“I wasn’t sure how Charles would react,” Anthony said, “but his eyes just lit up. I think he realized what an opportunity it was.”

The result is a soaring, can’t-miss piece of art in downtown’s most-urbane new neighborhood, one that acts as a fitting exclamation point to “Still Searching.”

And the artist himself? Is he satisfied?

McGee laughed. “I’m never totally satisfied; I always say things can be better.” ”

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

‘Charles McGee: Still Searching’

Library Street Collective (pop-up gallery), 1505 Woodward, Detroit

Noon-6 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays

(313) 600-7443

lscgallery.com

‘Unity’ mural

28 Grand (north side), 28 Grand River, Detroit

Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/2sJHmCr

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Texas Derby and Pride Houston Events

The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, and this Friday the Houston Dynamo is defending El Capitán against FC Dallas.EXPAND

The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, and this Friday the Houston Dynamo is defending El Capitán against FC Dallas.

Photo by Marco Torres

Tuesday, June 20

Gladiators are typically depicted as the chiseled models of athletic perfection. In this case, they literally are chiseled — into stone. The Houston Museum of Natural Science will present Gladiator Graffiti & Roman Blood Sport: Findings from Aphrodisias by Peter De Staebler, a one-day-only lecture that shows how archaeologists captured previous cultures and daily lives through etching pictures into rocks. After participating in the NYU excavations at Aphrodisias, an ancient Greco-Roman city in Turkey, Dr. De Staebler found plenty of artifacts to talk about, and an overwhelming number of them focused on the popular sport. “I’ll talk and tell the story of gladiators and fights. There are images of the graffiti of places and spaces where the fights took place. It tells us how everyday people thought about their city,” he says. 6:30 p.m. June 20. 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4783 or visit hmns.org. $12 to $18. – Sam Byrd

Wednesday, June 21

Recharge your battery and fill your soul at Houston’s world-famous Rothko Chapel. During its annual, all-day Summer Solstice Observation, guests will have the opportunity to greet the day with a 6 a.m. “Sunrise Introspection,” followed by some noontime meditation led by Dr. Alejandro Chaoul and the mowing of a new labyrinth into the chapel grounds. Those who stay until nightfall will be treated to the music of Kaminari Taiko, a Houston-based Japanese drumming ensemble that will perform “all sorts of different rhythms and energize people for the exciting summer season,” says Volunteer and Program Coordinator Kelly Johnson. “The chapel is a very unique place for Houston and the world. It’s one of the few places you can really go to have a moment for yourself. The art calls you to reflect in a busy world.” 6 a.m. June 21. 3900 Yupon. For information, call 713-524-9839 or visit rothkochapel.org. Free; suggested donation $10. – Vic Shuttee

From King William of Orange’s efforts to increase domestic production to London’s famous Frost Fairs along the frozen River Thames to British naval officers receiving compensation in gin, the history of the spirit dates back hundreds of years. Now the Houston Maritime Museum is delving deeper into gin’s history, with a maritime twist, during its June Gin Summer Celebration. Sip gin cocktails (courtesy of mixologist Kimberly Paul), nosh on tasty hors d’oeuvre and hear guest speaker Sean Dougherty unfurl the meaning of proof. 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 21. 2204 Dorrington. For information, call 713-666-1910 or visit houstonmaritime.org. $15 to $25. – Susie Tommaney

The enduring themes of love, betrayal and vengeance always make for great drama, and they’re part of the reason Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) has endured as a favorite of opera fans around the world. As performed at The Metropolitan Opera, with its vibrant sets and stunning performances by soprano Diana Damrau, tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, the production brings to life all of the mystical wonder of Southeast Asia as the rival suitors vie for the affections of the beautiful priestess Leïla. The MET: Live in HD recorded the performance for the big screen, and now audiences can view this Penny Woolcock-directed production during a special, one-night-only, summer encore. 7 p.m. June 21. Edwards Houston Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX, 7600 Katy Freeway. Price varies by location; visit fathomevents.com for participating venues. $13.53. – Susie Tommaney

Thursday, June 22

Want to hear a juicy story? Grab a gaggle of friends and attend Story Hole: A Pride Celebration of Queer Stories. “The theme is ‘My First Time,’” explains organizer Ryan Leach, who says he originally wanted to talk about what people immediately think of when they hear that phrase: their first time between the sheets. But then, he adds, “it evolved into something more heartfelt and humorous, so that’s where it’s really coming from.” The stories include those from half a dozen artists who cover everything from a first kiss to a first time attending a gay-straight alliance meeting at a high school. Leach’s personal story is about how he came out to his law-school buddies by accidentally sending an email to the wrong listserv. Oops! We bet he’ll never hit “Reply All” again. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. June 22. Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. $10.  – Sam Byrd

Even as diversity onstage blossoms, playwrights of color can have difficulty getting their words produced. But thanks to showcases like Fade to Black Play Festival, ten more up-and-coming wordsmiths will have an opening night. Founded by writer/director S. Denise O’Neal in 2012, the event was designed to correct “a lack in support” for the African-American playwright in Houston, says festival Artistic Director Trey Morgan Lewis. “She realized there was underrepresentation, even with Encore and The Ensemble — theaters that do celebrate the African-American artist.” Among this year’s lineup are plays by out-of-staters Chuck Cummings, Evonne Fields-Gould and Markietha Ka’Von, alongside Houston’s own Rachel Dickson and Lorna Taylor. “I’m so proud of Lorna,” says Lewis, “because she started volunteering with us two to three years ago. She always said she wanted to write a play, and she surprised us all with what she created.” 8 p.m. June 22-24. 3400 Main. For information, 713-521-4533 or visit matchouston.org. $25. – Vic Shuttee

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but, in this modern age of television and streaming, we can become numb to the ever-present images of war that flicker across our screens and the nightly news. There’s something about the written word that helps us get inside a story, to think about how it feels to experience loss, anger, joy, fear and courage. A new term has been coined – America’s “Forever War” – that describes our country’s persistent state. It also has given rise to a new sort of fiction that looks at the aftereffects of the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Come hear a panel discussion with some of the writers who contributed to the 2017 veteran fiction anthology The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War at Brazos Bookstore, with moderation by Brian Van Reet; he is a Houston native and author of the 2017 Iraq war novel, Spoils. 7 p.m. June 22. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. – Susie Tommaney

Friday, June 23

After last week’s controversial stoppage time goal turned what we thought was a victory against LA Galaxy into a draw, we’re more than eager to get back in the saddle for this Friday’s match against our enemy to the north, FC Dallas. It’s more than just bragging rights. We’re fighting to hold on to El Capitán, a replica 18th-century mountain howitzer cannon. Victor gets the spoils and, if we lose to Big D, they’ll be hauling that howitzer back up I-45. The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, so show your H-Town pride and come support the Houston Dynamo. Plus, check out the all-inclusive specials – there’s the $36 Bud Light Beer Garden Package and the $99 Papa John’s 4-Pack – so put on your orange, cheer on our team, and stay after for post-game fireworks. 8 p.m. June 23. BBVA Compass Stadium, 2200 Texas. For information, call 713-276-4625 or visit houstondynamo.com/2017texasderby. $25 to $107. – Susie Tommaney

The beat keeps rolling during LGBT Pride month with Rainbow On the Green, which kicks into high gear Friday with local drag entertainers Crawford Nation and violin-toting female impersonator Angelina DM Trailz. Next up on the stage will be Stephanie Rice, a Texas-born pop-rock singer who made it big on Season 12 of The Voice; and, since no party is complete without a diva, stick around for international dance-music and R&B artist CeCe Peniston. “It will be a night to celebrate community. We don’t do big speeches or show videos. We just celebrate each other,” says Discovery Green President Barry Mandel. “It’s all about celebrating the diversity and the size, shape and colors that we all come in.” 7 to 10 p.m. June 23. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/rainbow. Free. – Sam Byrd

It wouldn’t be summer in Houston without the Houston Symphony’s wonderful — and free — programming at Miller Outdoor Theatre through the ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights series. Friday’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) will show off the composer’s little-known flair for the dramatic. Hailed as the birth of the Romantic era, it was originally inspired by Napoleon. “When it was first performed, it was nothing short of a transformation in classical music,” says Associate Conductor Robert Franz. “The first movement starts off with two notes that can be explained as explosions. The second movement is a funeral march, but it reminds me of one of those New Orleans marches that are heartfelt and passionate. Then the last two are themes written as a piano piece and expanded.” 8:30 p.m. June 23. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 832-487-7102 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. – Sam Byrd

What better way to flex those orchestral muscles than by performing L A Variations by conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, a man so confident in the Los Angeles Philharmonic that he sent the musicians on a roller coaster ride full of ups, downs and numerous technical challenges. Now, for the double-whammy, back-to-back concerts during week three of the month-long Texas Music Festival, guest conductor Brett Mitchell will lead violinist Matthew Lee and the festival orchestra through those “Big Chords,” “Big Machines” and that famous fast section in the middle. Also on the program for Orchestral Variations are Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99 and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36. The Saturday performance includes a 6:30 p.m. pre-concert lecture and entertainment. 8 p.m. June 23, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins, The Woodlands, (free), and 7:30 p.m. June 24, Moores Opera House, 3333 Cullen Boulevard. For information, call 713-743-3388 or visit uh.edu/cota/music/tmf/season-schedule. $15 to $25. – Susie Tommaney


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Shinola’s Detroit Turntable Factory

CLOSE

“Unity,” a mural by lauded artist Charles McGee, is painted on the exterior of the 28 Grand Building in Detroit’s Capitol Park.

At 92, Charles McGee is still creating art and still as thunderstruck as ever by the dazzling visual tapestry all around us.

“I look at our world in awe,” said the celebrated artist and teacher, speaking a week ago at his Rosedale Park home, “and how it’s all put together.” It is, he added, a fascination “that almost became a religion for me.”

That fascination and spirituality are on triumphant display in a retrospective at the Library Street Collective, which includes a number of pieces completed just this year.

If you can make only one art show this summer, “Charles McGee: Still Searching” would make an outstanding choice. The show is up through through July 1.

Hung in a spectacular, raw, pop-up space on Woodard filled with windows, “Still Searching” wends a path through McGee’s creative evolution, one that highlights the artist’s dizzying range and joyousness embedded in all his work.

Indeed, it’s a show that couldn’t be completely contained in Library Street’s temporary quarters at Woodward and Clifford. Walk around the corner to the top of Capitol Park and prepare to be bowled over by McGee’s 11-story black-and-white mural, “Unity,” completed in May.

“Still Searching” traces McGee’s creative arc from his early figurative work through the dazzling abstracts of mid-career, and then circles back to his starting point with hybrid canvases in which the artist integrates all the elements he’s explored up ’till now.

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Working with ancient Egyptian and African motifs, as well as the very stuff of life as seen through a microscope, McGee, the Kresge Foundation’s 2009 Eminent Artist, grapples with the primeval and the symbolic.

“I’ve always admired how well Charles combines his love of the figurative with abstract forms,” said Valerie Mercer, Detroit Institute of Arts curator of African-American art. “It makes his work very contemporary.”

“Still Searching” reaches back as far as 1965, when McGee was 40, with an affecting charcoal study “Mother and Child.”

That’s followed by a parade of the artist’s signature abstracts like the 2008 “Rhapsody in Black and White,” whose idiosyncratic, overlapping elements look a bit like bacteria or protozoans dressed up in party clothes.

“The forms,” said Mercer admiringly, “just seem to come alive and dance.”

The show concludes with one of McGee’s knock-out pieces, the 20-foot-wide, immensely colorful “Play Patterns II,” with its flattened, hieroglyph-people — floppy feet and all — juggling snakes as they parade across a background of what appears to be a sea of colorful microorganisms.

Those who know the DIA well will likely spot some resemblance to the museum’s huge McGee, “Noah’s Ark: Genesis.”

It goes without saying that there’s an identifiable signature to McGee’s work.

“I could recognize a Charles McGee anywhere and not confuse his with work by any other artist, ” said Mercer, who’s followed the artist ever since she landed in Detroit in 2001.

There’s no confusing the 118-foot-tall mural in Capitol Park, which echoes many of McGee’s smaller, protozoan assemblages.

Library Street owners Anthony and JJ Curis, who’ve energetically promoted public art over the years, arranged for McGee to get the commission.

“Bedrock’s new building was just coming on line,” Anthony said, referring to the downtown real-estate development company, “and they had this massive, blank facade on the north side.”

Bedrock, which collaborated with the Curises on any number of other public artworks downtown, including “The Belt” alleyway east of Woodward, was interested, so the couple approached McGee.

“I wasn’t sure how Charles would react,” Anthony said, “but his eyes just lit up. I think he realized what an opportunity it was.”

The result is a soaring, can’t-miss piece of art in downtown’s most-urbane new neighborhood, one that acts as a fitting exclamation point to “Still Searching.”

And the artist himself? Is he satisfied?

McGee laughed. “I’m never totally satisfied; I always say things can be better.” ”

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

‘Charles McGee: Still Searching’

Library Street Collective (pop-up gallery), 1505 Woodward, Detroit

Noon-6 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays

(313) 600-7443

lscgallery.com

‘Unity’ mural

28 Grand (north side), 28 Grand River, Detroit

Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/2sJHmCr

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment