The London Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2017

'Deep Cut' by Abe Odedina.

‘Deep Cut’ by Abe Odedina.

This is the London Royal Academy’s 249th Summer Exhibition, in which up and coming artists a chance to get wide exposure.
After a recent visit to the Irish Centre, Camden last month for an Irish event , we paid a quick visit to the world famous Exhibition. The quality was excellent and exceeded expectations and much better than other years. The reach of the exhibition to include more works from artists across the world as well as artists working in differing media, exploring and celebrating the new energy of the next generation.
The Summer Exhibition Hanging Committee invited international artists to exhibit in a range of media throughout the galleries.
These include Julie Born Schwartz, Hassan Hajjaj, Secundino Hernández, Isaac Julien, Tomoaki Suzuki and Mark Wallinger. For the first time, the Summer Exhibition also included an element of performance art.
We noted even an Irish element with Skellig Rock of Kerry featuring London artist Tracey Emin and other well known ones are there plus new people. There was also lots of music and contemptorary arts related themes as well as the tropics, European ones too.
Further highlights of the Summer Exhibition 2017 will include Yinka Shonibare RA’s Wind Sculpture VI in the Royal Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard.
At over six metres in height, this impressive sculpture explores the notion of harnessing motion and freezing it in a moment of time. Returning to the artist’s use of Dutch wax textiles, Wind Sculpture VI will manifest as a large three-dimensional piece of fabric that appears to be blowing in reaction to the natural elements.
Farshid Moussavi RA will be curating the Architecture Gallery within the Summer Exhibition. For the first time, this gallery will celebrate architecture by focusing on construction coordination drawings – the drawings which show the full complexity of a building. This gallery will feature works by Royal Academicians including the newly elected David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, together with Grafton Architects, Bjarke Ingels, Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, amongst others.
Other Royal Academicians featuring this year will include Gilbert & George, who will be showing a new large-scale work from their ‘Beard Speak’ series, along with Phyllida Barlow, Antony Gormley, Sean Scully, Bob and Roberta Smith and Wolfgang Tillmans. Honorary Academicians include Marina Abramović, Jim Dine and Mimmo Paladino.
The Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission exhibition with 1200 works on display, the majority of which are for sale offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original artwork by high profile and up-and-coming artists.
It has been held every year without interruption since 1769 and continues to play a significant part in raising funds to finance the current students of the RA Schools.
It’s open to the public until Sunday, August 20th, from 10am to 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm). Admission prices include the List of Works giving details on every exhibit in the show.
Adult ticket £15.50 (£14 excluding Gift Aid donation); concessions available; under 16s go free. Friends of the RA go free. The address is Piccadilly WC1 London and to get there, go to Piccadilly or Green Park underground station on Piccadilly
The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by King George III in 1768. It has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists.
* Other exhibitions in London worth checking out include the Amy Winehouse exhibit in the London Jewish Museum, the Pink Floyd Exhibition in the Victoria and Albert South Kensington, the Russian Revolution in the British Library.
The Tate Modern has a show in Blackfriars about Black Power and Black Art from the USA. The National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, close to the Royal Academy, has paintings from Leonardo da Vinci to Rembrandt, the Dutch Master so there’s lots to see in London this summer. We travelled over via Stena Line by car, which enabled us to take in some other stops along the south coast and in Bath on return journey. The journey was smooth and hassle free, but we left the car on edge of London. RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Victor Olaiya supports planned commemoration of FESTAC ’77 @ 40

Legendary musician, Victor Olaiya, has given his support to plans by the Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation to commemorate 40 years after FESTAC”77 was hosted by Nigeria.

He tasked CBAAC to ensure full participation of African musicians in the forthcoming celebration.

Olaiya gave the support when the Director-General of CBAAC, Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe, led other management staff on a courtesy visit to the musician at his Lagos residence on Thursday.

He said he was not happy that Nigerian musicians were not allowed to interact with other African musicians during FESTAC ’77.

Olaiya appealed to CBAAC, which is the organization planning to commemorate four decades of FESTAC ’77 to ensure that all African musicians were given special opportunities to perform together to foster peace on the continent.

He said that CBAAC should endeavour to carry along in o its programme all African musicians that participated in f FESTAC ’77 and are still alive in its planning and performance to make it a huge success.

Olaiya said: “I am glad to hear that FESTAC is 40 years already, I wish you well in the planning and I want you to engage musicians that performed then like me and the younger ones.

“It was a memorable cultural event, my band featured prominently there and I made reasonable sales, but we were restricted from mingling with musicians from other countries.

“But the joy of it all was that our music was well appreciated by everyone, even up till now.

“I worked tirelessly with other musicians then to make the event a memorable and successful one, we give glory to God that the memories still linger on and we will continue to talk about it.”

Olaiya charged budding Nigerian artists to come up with positive musical contents capable of ministering to the souls and passing across positive morals.

He said: “Though the youths love the kind of music that is trending now, but we as parents must keep directing the young ones on the path to tread so as to be successful.”

Anikwe said the centre deemed it important to engage some musicians who took part in the FESTAC ’77 celebration, of which Olaiya was one, in its FESTACC ’77 @40 activities.

He said Olaiya’s contributions toward the success of the event then were significant and enormous.

Anikwe said: “We have come to draw inspiration from a musical icon like Victor Olaiya, we have heard from him and from Victor Uwaifor.

“We will still go and see Ebenezer Obey, Paulson Kalu, Sunny Ade, Mike Ejeagha and more.

“We want to commemorate the world most famous cultural event which will encompass the entire world, not only Africans, so we need to draw inspirations from respected stakeholders on how we can make it a huge success.

“Coming to you sir, is fundamental to celebrating 40th anniversary of FESTAC ’77, we have heard from you and we promise to adhere to your fatherly advice.”

Anikwe said that the celebration would commence by November.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nigeria hosted the second All African Festival of Arts and Culture popularly called FESTAC’77 during the military regime of the then General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1977.

The popular National Theatre and FESTAC Town were built and inaugurated then for the show.

While the National Theatre served as the event centre, the delegates from various countries across the world that attended the festival were accommodated in FESTAC town.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Guest Editorial: Community Theater Transformed My Life. Prop 1 Could Change Someone Else’s.

Rehearsal time! Langston Hughes Performance Arts Center is one of the science and cultural programs that would benefit from Prop 1.

Rehearsal time! Langston Hughes Performance Arts Institute is one of the science and cultural programs that would benefit from Prop 1. Courtesy of Langston Hughes Performance Arts Institute

I am the oldest of three; we were raised by a single mother. I never had the opportunity to attend a paid dance school or professional acting classes, but I loved to dance and be around it. Where I grew up, there were little to no spaces where a young black man could go learn their craft—to say nothing of playing a lead in a summer show.

Somehow, at age 13, I got lucky enough to be in a play at a small community center in Illinois, sparking my interest the arts and putting me on a path to towards professional success—both in the arts and as an educator.

But for too many kids like myself, access to arts, science, and heritage experiences are too far out of reach. Either they can’t afford them or they are being delivered in a faraway place by people from a different community.

That’s why I’m voting ‘YES’ on King County Proposition 1.

Prop. 1 will open doors to arts, science and heritage programs for students and families across King County by lowering barriers to access. It fosters collaboration between organizations and schools by funding free field trips and in-class programs for every student—prioritizing schools with high populations of low-income students.

Funding for arts and culture programs across Washington has been being slashed in half for nearly a decade. As is all too often the case, these cuts have disproportionately affected low-income students and students of color.

When an arts classroom door closes or a school program gets shut down, however, we often don’t see the extent to which that affects students because it’s difficult to demonstrate a lack of an opportunity—especially for those with limited options in the first place.

When I arrived in Seattle at 20, I showed up to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute not realizing it was the city’s entertainment hub for young black artists of every genre. Every room was filled with a performance of some kind—dance, spoken word, music. Up until that point, I had never learned from a community that looked like me.

I know intuitively the impact of the arts on kids’ lives. It improves education outcomes and quality of life, and Prop. 1 will ensure that schools with high populations of low-income students will finally receive priority for arts, science, and heritage educational experiences.

Take Cameron Sparks. A former student of mine, Cameron literally grew up at Langston Hughes. When he younger, he was into acting and making music. He could run around the different rooms and chase his curiosity with various artists. In high school, however, his interest turned to design. He went to college and became an engineer.

As a highly sought-after talent, Cameron was often told during interviews that his confidence set him apart. Interviewers often asked where how he got this “can’t-lose attitude?” Cameron—like so many former Langston Hughes students—point to the lessons of self-discipline and confidence he learned in the summer show.

Currently, we have 104 kids registered in the program, but over 200 audition. It’s the only program of its kind. The passage of Prop. 1 will help us do more, tripling the number of shows we run and expanding the number of kids we serve.

What we often don’t talk about when we talk about arts education is that it is transformational. What we know, however, is that the impact of that experience extends far beyond the last curtain call and sets them on a path for a better life.

At Langston Hughes, we do that very intentionally. Our classical theatre training is limited. Instead, we opt to teach life-long lessons that translate to any kind. We know every kid who comes through our program will get more than dance experience.

Because Cameron was exposed to the arts from an early age, he devoted himself to schoolwork and got into college. Because I caught a break at an early age, I am now a proud educator, community organizer, and arts activist.

Join me in making sure youth across our county get equitable access to arts, science, and heritage programs, no matter where they come from or how much money their family has.

Isiah Anderson Jr. is a staffer and director at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

FICTION: SOUL SEARCHERS

What is ‘authentic’ music? Contemporary American music is built on so many different cultures coming together, reflecting the amalgam that is American society. But the blues and soul music was very much the creation of African Americans, most of whom never knew the impact their songs would have on popular music in times to come. Starting with Elvis Presley, so much of the blues has been appropriated endlessly by white American singers, producers, songwriters. Generations of whitewashing African American art and expression have led to a giant mashup of musical genres and influences. Hari Kunzru’s latest novel White Tears explores this appropriation, as much as it does the haunting of those who continue to do it and the ghosts of the past they must reckon with.

Seth is a fairly lonely, faceless college student with few friends, little impact on those around him and solely interested in sound and audio when he meets Carter, who appears like a “hipster Jesus” and pulls Seth out of his “cockroach hole.” Carter’s father is a big Republican donor, his family business a “behemoth with tentacles in construction, logistics and energy, [that] had expanded since 9/11, helping America prevail in the War on Terror.” The two young men quickly connect over their shared love for music, though when they first hang out Seth is struck by the fact that everything Carter (who is very much a white, privileged man) plays him is black music, from Jamaican dub to “ska and soca, soul and RnB, ’70s Afrobeat and ’80s electro” to “early hip hop and free jazz and countless regional flavours of bass and juke music.”

It turns out that Carter listens to black music exclusively, worshipping it because it is “more intense and authentic than anything made by white people.” He often talks as if ‘white people’ were the “name of an army or a gang, some organisation to which he didn’t belong.” Seth realises that listening to old music now seems to have no ill effect on him, no “‘slippage’, no vertigo or ‘backward pull’” as it did previously, when he felt as if he were able to hear through time. He begins to enjoy Carter’s company and the advantages that come when he starts helping Carter out with DJ gigs on campus. Carter’s all-access lifestyle isn’t one that Seth can manage on his own, and once they graduate Seth finds himself at the fortunate end of Carter’s continued friendship with a job in music production alongside Carter in New York city, living a life he could never have afforded or even imagined on his own. Their appropriation of black music is something Seth does indeed recognise as wrong, confessing that the two “really did feel that our love of music bought us something, some right to blackness, but by the time we got to New York, we learned not to talk about it.”

A song takes on a life of its own, and lays bare the history of cultural appropriation

Walking around one day, Seth records a stranger singing, his voice buried under the street sounds of the city. When he and Carter clean up the audio, removing the other sounds from it until it is as clear as a cappella, Seth finds that what he thought were just a few lines are actually an entire performance of a song they’ve never heard before. It sounds — they are shocked to hear — “authentic.” Caught up in the sound of something so pure, they tinker with the song, adding the hiss and static and noise of time to make it “dirty.” They give it a name, say it’s by a man called Charlie Shaw and put it online. It’s all fun and games until the track is instantly accepted as a lost masterpiece and they are contacted by a man who insists he met Charlie Shaw in the ’50s — the same Charlie Shaw that Carter and Seth know never existed because they made him up. Or did they? The song they’ve appropriated takes on a life of its own, reminding them that no art comes without history and all history comes with its own set of ghosts — trauma and pain and fear filter through time to haunt us all.

I had a mouth, they said. No one liked a coon with a mouth. I worked. I rolled. I dumped the earth. And I knew that if one afternoon I fell in the heat, Captain Jack would set to until I died or got up again. … That’s how they do. That’d how they drive you down. Because no one remembers me and no one living will ever hear my music, because I am down in the levee where it is cold and dark. How did it take me? What difference does it make? Typhoid. Heat stroke, an accident, my body broken or cut or crushed. — Excerpt from the book

The speculative aspect of White Tears runs through the book, starting with Seth’s strange ability to fall backwards through time when he listens to music. He calls himself a geologist of sound, always trying to hear into the past, “a hidden sound that lay underneath the everyday sounds I could hear without trying. Sure enough, after months of obsessive listening, a sound did make its presence known, but it wasn’t the one I’d hoped for. No pure high Buddha tone, no aural white light. I began to hear the past, the ambience of the room as it had been 10 years previously, then 20 years, then 50. The footsteps in the hall didn’t belong to my dad or my brother. They belonged to someone else.”

White Tears is a ghost story, a jinn story, a story of possession and passion and cruelty. It is as much about old-school blues and the appropriation of black music and culture as it is about the slave trade, imperialism and the weight of colonialism on all contemporary culture, when Seth is sent spiralling into the past as he tries to trace the origins of the song he recorded. Seth isn’t the most appealing of narrators; he’s frustrating and often spineless, but he’s the blank canvas we need in order to absorb Kunzru’s searing prose that — as with his last novel, Gods Without Men — glimmers with brilliance, often visceral and muscular.

The reviewer is a book critic and editor of the Apex Book of World SF 4. She also hosts the interview podcast Midnight in Karachi at Tor.com

White Tears
By Hari Kunzru
Knopf, US
ISBN: 978-0451493699
288pp.

Published in Dawn, Books & Authors, July 23rd, 2017

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A History Of West Adams Told Through Its Iconic Architecture

One of the most realistic depictions of Los Angeles comes in the form of a television show. It’s not a mid-2010s sad-comedy of L.A.’s depressing psycho-geography, nor is it a mid-2000s reality show of L.A. as harbinger of loosening social mores. It’s Six Feet Under, the HBO classic from 2001 to 2005. The show’s legacy is one of beautifully crafted family melodrama. It painted hauntingly nuanced portraits of the Fisher family, dipping in and out of the family’s grief, loss, and growth, demonstrating how the boundary between life and death is often more fluid than we care to believe. It also made an icon of its main set piece: the Fisher family funeral home.

augustemarquis_residence.jpgThe Auguste Marquis Residence. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

The Fisher & Sons (later, Fisher & Diaz) Funeral Home sits at 2302 West 25th Street, right off Arlington Avenue. It’s a grand Victorian-style house with a wraparound porch and a massive front yard. It’s officially known as the Auguste Marquis Residence, built in 1904 for the eponymous wealthy Swiss gold miner. The house now serves as the headquarters for the Filipino Federation of America, a “quasi-religious” group and one of the first Filipino organizations in the nation.

The house has remained, in spite of its different encounters with wealth, spirituality, and media, and in spite of the different families and groups walking through its doors. It also sits right in the center of West Adams; the neighborhood roughly occupies a region that’s bordered by Figueroa Street on the east, Pico Boulevard on the north, West Boulevard on the west, and Jefferson Boulevard on the south. When most people think of wealth in Los Angeles—the kind of wealth that would afford a house as grandiose as the Auguste Marquis Residence—they do not think of West Adams. The L.A. Times’ Mapping L.A. project gives it a median income of $38,209, which is low for Los Angeles (note: the L.A. Times cuts off the neighborhood at Crenshaw Boulevard, therefore only covering half of the area the West Adams Heritage Association says the neighborhood encompasses). Jefferson Park, a neighborhood within the West Adams area, has an even lower median income of $32,654.

How did West Adams go from a neighborhood of Victorian mansions to a neighborhood where the median income is less than a third of what is necessary to buy a house in contemporary L.A.?

For an answer, or at least the outline of one, we can look to the buildings themselves.

West Adams is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. By the turn of the 20th century, it was already the go-to neighborhood for wealthy transplants to Southern California. People like Auguste Marquis brought money to Los Angeles and built their businesses in the city. The rise of streetcars, as well the large plots of land in Los Angeles, encouraged the development of West Adams into one of the first commuter neighborhoods of the city. The wealthy wanted to return home to stately mansions where they escape downtown and enjoy the leisure time afforded to them after moving to L.A. from the post-Civil War regions of the eastern U.S.

In true make-the-West-what-you-want-of-it style, the mansions of these businessmen ran the gamut of architectural styles. Marquis preferred Queen Anne, but the neighborhood includes other subsets of Victorian architecture as well as Craftsman homes, Spanish Revival homes, and Beaux-Arts homes. For one businessman in particular, building a house in West Adams was an opportunity to advance the very item on which he was making his fortune: hollow terra cotta building blocks.

Lycurgus Lindsay was a Midwest born-and-raised businessman who moved to Los Angeles seeking out any business opportunity under the desert sun. He came across the Western Art Tile Company and became its President; not long after, they started production on the apparently groundbreaking innovation of hollow terra cotta building blocks. Lindsay, a rich, rich man, developed the plans for his own estate while serving as president of Western Art, seeking out the help of architect Charles F. Whittlesey to build the unique home. Once the mansion at 3424 West Adams Boulevard was finished, American Carpenter and Builder featured it in its October 1913 issue for being both earthquake and fire proof (a fairly impressive claim in 1913). The large house contrasted with the architecture in the area, featuring a Vienna Secession aesthetic, which prioritizes geometry and abstraction, instead of the revivalist or arts and crafts style of Lindsay’s neighbors.

Lindsay himself only lived in the house for a few years; according to rumors, actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle moved in soon after him and lived there in the late 1910s. The house now sits behind a Polish church, which maintains the property.

After 1945, West Adams transitioned from majority white to majority black (whites were moving further west into neighborhoods like Brentwood and Beverly Hills; this parallels the white flight that would occur in Compton in the 1950s). The change started with affluent black Angelenos—specifically famous entertainers of the area, like Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, who could afford to buy homes in the wealthy area. Enough black artists moved to the area to have it dubbed Sugar Hill; it encompassed the small section of West Adams roughly between Western Avenue, Normandie Boulevard, Adams Boulevard, and Washington Boulevard. At the time, though, it technically wasn’t legal for these artists to buy these properties; Los Angeles was still deep in the throes of its racist housing covenants. So, when Sugar Hill grew in popularity, the remaining white residents of West Adams began to cry foul. McDaniel and the other residents hired attorney and journalist Loren Miller to represent them in a case against the white homeowners, eventually winning and setting the precedent to take down racist housing laws in the country (Miller eventually went on to argue in the Shelley v. Kraemer case, in which the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to enforce restrictive real estate laws).

This win reflected the types of housing opportunities West Adams presented to black families in Los Angeles. Josh Sides, in his book L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present, explains how:

In Compton, West Adams, and the community of Leimert Park, on the far western edge of South Central, African American families found better housing stock, reduced crime, greater integration, and better schools than they had experienced in South Central and Watts. For these families, daily life more closely approximated the mythical Southern California lifestyle of comfort and peace.

The economic success of these black communities led to the rapid development of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance company. The Life Insurance company started in the mid 1920s when William Nickerson Jr. and a couple other businessmen moved to Los Angeles and realized none of the black citizens were able to buy life insurance. The trio sought to create a company to insure the black community, which no white-owned insurance companies would do, and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance company was born. It served the Sugar Hill and West Adams neighborhoods for years, solidifying itself as the largest black-owned insurance company in the Western U.S. The business grew until it needed to seek out a larger office. Enter: the official Golden State Mutual Life Insurance company headquarters at 1999 West Adams Boulevard.

The building’s architect, Paul Revere Williams, was a high-profile black architect who had built homes for several celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. Building the winged, statuesque structure for Golden State Mutual was a celebration of black economic power in Los Angeles. Golden State knew its worth to the community as well; it would go on to invest in a massive collection of black art and murals that were on display in its offices until the company went into financial decline in the 2000s. Before that decline, though, West Adams was an icon of black neighborhood and community viability. It represented an opportunity and lifestyle for citizens who were otherwise marginalized across Southern California.

The bubble of West Adams wouldn’t last forever, though, and the course started to turn when the ever-imposing cult of the vehicle came charging through the neighborhood. In the 1950s, the Santa Monica Freeway broke ground. The freeway to the sea was a huge undertaking for the city, involving the merging of state and national transportation infrastructure, and the freeway’s route through Los Angeles was the largest point of contention in its development. It also cut straight through West Adams. Sides describes the community’s response:

“Early in 1954, the California State Highway Commission selected a freeway route that cut a 500-foot-wide swath through what the California Eagle proudly described as the “most prosperous, best kept and most beautiful Negro-owned property in the country,” including Sugar Hill. Believing that the selection of this route was at best insensitive and at worst racially motivated, a group of West Adams residents immediately formed the Adams-Washington Freeway Committee, choosing several delegates to present the community’s grievances to the commission in Sacramento.”

The group cited black Angeleno’s difficulty with buying homes in other neighborhoods, and suggested the Commission move the freeway north of Washington Boulevard, to a community that was still predominantly white. The Commission delayed its decision, but ultimately kept the original plan. As a result, the freeway bisected the thriving West Adams neighborhood. By January 1965, the Santa Monica Freeway finally reached the ocean, leaving upturned neighborhoods in its wake.

Meanwhile, southeast of West Adams, the community of Watts was facing its own level of housing discrimination. It came to a head in August of 1965, when a black man was beaten by police officers after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The Watts community rose up in rebellion against a system that was constricting black communities to certain neighborhoods in L.A., and subsequently denying them their civil rights.

Watts faced a post-riots economic decline, with businesses destroyed and wealthier black families choosing to move out of the neighborhood as crime rose and resources suffered. A similar effect happened in West Adams after the freeway cut through the neighborhood—affluent black families started moving into communities like Baldwin Hills, and West Adams (which at this point was literally a fractured neighborhood) no longer sustained an economically robust community. The decline would reverberate through the decades. Golden State Mutual closed in 2009, and the building was in disrepair by 2011. Before that, the Wells-Halliday mansion at 2146 West Adams Boulevard had to be saved from demolition in 1989 by the West Adams Historic Association.

But the neighborhood has shown its resiliency during trying times, and the buildings would remain to serve a variety of purposes. Three and a half years after it was saved, the Wells-Halliday mansion was repurposed as the Carl Bean AIDS Care Center. The home itself, a 12-room Dutch Colonial estate, was built for Eliza W. Halliday in 1901. Halliday was the widow of a “Civil War millionaire,” according to Curbed, and she lived in the mansion until about 1920.

IMG_4108.JPG
The Wells-Halliday Mansion. (Photo by Annie Lloyd/LAist)

At the time of the mansion’s conversion, “HIV and AIDS increasingly took a toll on blacks and Latinos in the community,” noted the L.A. Times. The beauty and elegance of the home made it a warm place for AIDS patients to live out the final days of their lives. When the center first opened, Michael Weinstein (yes, that Michael Weinstein) said, “Having a combination of old and new is what makes the hospice work. The patients feel like they belong: This is, after all, their last home.” The center was named for Carl Bean, a black gay minister and the founder of the Minority AIDS Project. The Center eventually closed in 2006 after serving the community for 23 years (it closed amid allegations that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was overcharging the County for operating funds). At the time of its closure, AIDS activist Tony Wafford told the L.A. Times that “[t]he facility was critical in raising awareness of AIDS in the black community.”

The present-day West Adams, like many L.A. neighborhoods, is both a reflection of the past and a beacon for the future. As of the 2000 census, the neighborhood is between 30-50% black and around 50% Latino, depending on the section of the neighborhood. It has come full-circle in housing relevance, becoming one of the most competitive home-buying neighborhoods in the nation this year. The current median home price for the neighborhood is $550,688, according to Redfin.

Sixty years ago the Santa Monica Freeway completely upended the neighborhood make-up. Now, the Expo Line follows a similar geographic path, bringing development in its wake. The effects of this development are still in nascent stages, but the neighborhood has seen some early signs of what the change will look like; last year, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, formerly the first black-owned hospital in Los Angeles, was turned into an on-site art exhibit called Human Condition. It was curated by a local art broker and advisor named John Wolf, who declares himself committed to “assisting private clients and corporations in creating outstanding collections of fine art.” West Adams isn’t foreign to corporate-owned art; the art collection in the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company’s building was one of the biggest collections of black art in the nation. It had to auction off 94 of the pieces in 2007 when the company faced bankruptcy. Human Condition featured artists like Matthew Day Jackson, Jenny Holzer, David Benjamin Sherry, Gregory Crewdson, and Chantal Joffe, all of whom are white.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A ‘Michigan Matters’ Look At Detroit 1967 The Past, Present And Future Of Our Region

By CBS Detroit

Former Detroit Police Chief Isaiah McKinnon was a young officer in 1967 and recalled with gripping detail how he was pulled over by white officers while driving in the Motor City who drew guns on him.

detroit 67 roundtable A Michigan Matters Look At Detroit 1967 The Past, Present And Future Of Our Region

The Detroit 67 Roundtable includes former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon, retail giant Hudson’s family member Joe Hudson and Detroit Historical Museum’s Marlowe Stoudamire. Carol Cain hosts. (credit: Meggan Jacobs/CBS 62)

“I knew they were going to shoot me, so I got down on the floor and moved the pedals with my hands and speed away,” McKinnon said.

It was a tinderbox time with racial strife so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Joseph L. Hudson Jr. was in charge of his family’s retail empire which included Hudson’s stores in Detroit and the region. The longtime community leader was called upon by then Gov. George Romney and Detroit Mayor Jerry Cavanaugh to convene a panel of leaders to figure how to pick up the pieces following five days of uprising in Detroit that began 50 years ago this Sunday.

“Not a single person I asked to be involved said ‘no,’” Hudson recalled.

He had Henry Ford II and CEOs of other two automakers, CEOs from the major banks headquartered in Detroit, Judge Damon Keith, and others including three young African American activists under the age of 20.

“It was important to have everyone at the table,” Hudson said. He added the conversations were raw and eye opening for everyone at that table.

McKinnon and Hudson appear with Marlowe Stoudamire, Detroit 67 Project Director, Detroit Historical Society, who talk with “Michigan Matters” Senior Producer and Host Carol Cain about the impact of 1967 on the region.

Stoudamire is a millenial and wasnt born then. But he has spent the past few years working with the Detroit Historical Society steering the project which takes a fascinating look of Detroit.

“It isn’t only about 1967,” he explained.

chatman mercer A Michigan Matters Look At Detroit 1967 The Past, Present And Future Of Our Region

Patrina Chatman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions for the Wright Museum; and Valerie Mercer, curator of African American Art for the Detroit Institute of Arts (credit: Meggan Jacobs/CBS 62)

Also appearing on the show is Patrina Chatman, Director & Curator of Exhibits, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American Studies; and Valerie Mercer, Curator of the DIA.

They talk about their respective 1967 exhibits which open to the public this Sunday.

You can hear more by watching “Michigan Matters” 11:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS 62.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The Poetics of Jazz

Ornette Coleman’s 1972 album Skies of America is more often discussed for what it could have been. The famous free-jazz pioneer’s first orchestral recording, it was conceived as a suite for his quartet with backing from the London Symphony Orchestra, but a misunderstanding with the British musicians’ union prevented the other three players from joining. The resulting 41-minute cut, recorded in notoriously poor quality, features Coleman soloing above the full orchestra rather than the concerto-grosso dynamic that he had intended. Nevertheless, there is brilliance.

Coleman takes over for nearly 10 minutes on the album’s second side, at one point slowing down over a memorable cadenza until he seems to be addressing the listener directly instead of his anxious supporting strings and winds. This slice of the composition is titled “Poetry.”

In 1997, Coleman sat down for an interview with Jacques Derrida, during which the saxophonist, composer, and bandleader spoke candidly about his well-developed aesthetic vision and the practice of jazz. The interview took place ahead of Coleman’s residency at La Villette, where he was presenting “Civilization,” a program of concerts that included his first performance of Skies of America in many years. Responding to a question about the title “Civilization,” Coleman says: “I’m trying to express a concept according to which you can translate one thing into another. I think that sound has a much more democratic relationship to information, because you don’t need the alphabet to understand music.”

Derrida is curious about the ways in which jazz can inform political action, asking, “When you say that sound is more ‘democratic,’ what do you make of that as a composer? You write music in a coded form all the same.” Coleman turns back to “Poetry,” saying, “In 1972 I wrote a symphony called Skies of America and that was a tragic event for me, because I didn’t have such a good relationship with the music scene: like when I was doing free jazz, most people thought that I just picked up my saxophone and played whatever was going through my head, without following any rule, but that wasn’t true.”

Derrida enthusiastically agrees: “But if I translate what you are doing into a domain that I know better, that of written language, the unique event that is produced only one time is nevertheless repeated in its very structure. Thus there is a repetition, in the work, that is intrinsic to the initial creation—that which compromises or complicates the concept of improvisation.” In short, a word isn’t a word until it’s repeated, and it doesn’t exist without that hope of repetition—and just so with musical sequences. Almost conspiratorially, Derrida and Coleman argue that it is the promise of repetition that provides order where many people hear chaos.

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‘Detroit’ Review: Kathryn Bigelow Powerfully Connects Historic Riots to Modern Discord

This searing historical drama traces the roots — and the devastating aftermath — of the city’s 1967 unrest


Published 2:00 pm, Sunday, July 23, 2017

“Detroit” feels like a war film — which, in many ways, it is.

During the summer of 1967, in Detroit and other major cities, discontent over racial injustice was escalating. Kathryn Bigelow’s masterful, immeasurably tense drama captures the volatility and importance of this incendiary time. The five-day uprising, which resulted in hundreds of injuries and 43 deaths, began with a police raid of an after-hours nightclub. Shortly thereafter, swaths of homes and businesses were burned down. It was often hard to distinguish between victim and perpetrator.

This extraordinarily searing film begins with the July 1967 raid and powerfully depicts the early escalation of the riots. It even more commandingly unpacks the scope of the unrest, by examining the experience of participants, specifically a group of unwitting victims.


“Detroit” has a vital sense of authenticity, rooted as it is in history, conveyed via Bigelow’s meticulously crafted cinema vérité style that, essentially, thrusts the viewer into the tense events. She is an expert at managing suspense and deftly blending sensitivity with a journalistic sense of details. Her signature filmmaking style — kinetic, visceral and immersive — works brilliantly here. “Detroit” is a work of consummate skill which kicks into high gear when the focus turns from widespread civil unrest to the very specific.

A report of gunfire near a National Guard staging area propelled Detroit police and Michigan state troopers, as well as a private security guard, to search the nearby Algiers Motel. What followed was a vicious and prolonged interrogation of motel guests: The police spent hours intimidating and physically attacking a dozen guests, in an effort to force a confession about the gunshots. Their brutal efforts result in the point-blank killing of three unarmed African-American men and the brutal beatings of nine other men and women. No confession resulted.

The film incorporates historical record and personal accounts with dialogue written by Mark Boal, the screenwriter with whom Bigelow collaborated on “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Boal has woven a riveting fact-based story, bolstered by extensive research, into an uncommonly compelling narrative.


The crimes that occurred inside the Algiers Motel that night, though publicized at the time, are no longer widely known or referenced. Bigelow has vividly reconstructed them so that audiences experience them in real time. Bigelow, cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (“The Big Short”) and editor William Goldenberg (“Argo”) intercut existing archival footage with fluid, unobtrusive documentary-style visuals, intensifying the power and authenticity of the narrative and the viewer’s personal connection to it.

At the heart of the story is burgeoning Motown talent Larry Reed, lead singer of R&B group The Dramatics, played superbly by Algee Smith (“Earth to Echo”). As the story unfolds, tragedy strikes all around and envelops him. That fateful night changes the course of his life. With his incandescently beautiful voice, Reed was deeply committed to his musical career. Earlier that evening he and his fellow Dramatics were scheduled to play Detroit’s Fox Theater, but their show was cancelled when the venue was evacuated due to nearby rioting. Reed and his pal Fred Simple (a terrific Jacob Latimore, “Collateral Beauty”) take refuge at the nearby Algiers Motel.

Another person who ended up at the Algiers that night was security guard Melvin Dismukes (an excellent John Boyega), a decent man forced into an untenable position. The film’s only flaw is not telling enough of Dismukes’ story. We see him arrested and framed for the murders that took place in the motel, and later see him freed. Bigelow omits the trial in between and how the black community turned against him.


The ensemble cast is topnotch, particularly during the emotionally taxing and relentlessly brutal scenes in the motel. Anthony Mackie (who also starred in “Hurt Locker”) is terrific as a courageous hotel guest accused of being a pimp because of his friendship with two young white women, who police insist are prostitutes.

Bigelow’s explosive film is all the more emotionally charged because of her close examination of the abuse of power by white cops, led by the callous and malevolent officer Philip Krauss, played chillingly by Will Poulter (“We’re the Millers”). The riots — and the night of terror inside the Algiers Motel — are an American tragedy, whose reverberations continued to be felt: in Los Angeles in 1992, in Ferguson in 2014, in Baltimore in 2015, and in far too many individual clashes between white police officers and black men.

The trial of the abusive police officers is featured in the final third of the film. The officers are found not guilty of any wrongdoing; the parallels between the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Philando Castile are resoundingly clear. Bigelow has said she hopes the film will spark a much-needed conversation on race. Cinematically, she takes a fascinating route toward that goal: a direct path from the riots to an intense look at the Algiers Motel incident, as it unfolded and in the subsequent trial.

The first third of the film juxtaposes a musical celebration inside the Fox Theater with the mounting chaos on the streets. (The film’s Motown-heavy score is a fantastic addition.) Meanwhile, we see people looting, setting buildings on fire, throwing Molotov cocktails. The police are soon backed by National Guard troops. It’s a startlingly incongruous visual: behemoth tanks, vessels of war, wending their way through downtown avenues. The second third of the film focuses on the tortuous, claustrophobic and stomach-turning events inside the hotel, with the final third centered on the trial and its outrage-provoking verdict.

In an animated prologue, Bigelow incorporates African-American artist Jacob Lawrence’s evocative series of panels on the great migration. The text is provided by historian and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It’s fitting that Gates contributed to the film, given his own 2009 arrest, which drew national attention to race relations and law enforcement. The prologue contextualizes racial segregation.

Weighty context informs “Detroit” throughout, reminding viewers of lasting, unresolved racial injustice in the U.S. Decades of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice loom large as we watch the film. One can only hope that awareness will be raised and consciousness awakened by those who see the film, which should be required viewing. The legacy of the Algiers Motel case has contributed to where we are today, still struggling with a perilous racial divide.

“Detroit” is an impeccably-rendered and pivotal battle in a much longer, shattering war.


Read original story ‘Detroit’ Review: Kathryn Bigelow Powerfully Connects Historic Riots to Modern Discord At TheWrap

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US Plastic Artist Exhibits in Cuba

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In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction. (Photo taken from plenglish.com)

Ben Jones lives in New Jersey and participated years ago in three collective shows in Havana and shared presentations with local musicians

US plastic artist Ben Jones expressed his dissatisfaction with the stance of US President Donald Trump, opposed to enhance relations between his country and Cuba, where he’s presenting a personal exhibition.

Most US citizens don’t like him, said the artist who recently arrived in Havana with some of his works that on exhibit at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, from July 21 to October 23, in the Transitional Hall of the Fourth level of the Universal Art Building.

Jones thinks that many of Trump’s voters are very racist and barely care about the environment, interested only about money, and do not want to accept that the world has changed.

Several doors between the United States and Cuba have been opened since the administration of Barack Obama, most of the people of my country want to come to visit Cuba and those who have already visited this island once, have a desire to return, he said in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina.

I always advise everyone to go to Cuba to create their own opinion about the country, said Jones, who after so many visits -from 1977 to the date- feels already like a native of the Caribbean archipelago.

The artist has many friends in the island, including eminent figures of Cuban ballet. When he was young was also a folkloric dancer and within his plastic creation he has reflected more than once his passion for Yoruba culture.

The African root becomes a common element among the peoples of the United States and Cuba, but racial discrimination in his homeland sometimes reaches violence at the highest level and the murder of innocent civilians.

In recent years, a series of incidents involving police officers has mourned more than one African-American family, Jones denounces and questions it from his art, faithful to his generation, an essential protagonist of the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jones grew up in the time of the Vietnam War, the Black Power and the Black Panthers, whose ideas motivated the emergence of the Black Arts Movement, from which he emerged as one of the main exponents.

In 1968, he was appointed advisor to the Black Freedom Society while enriching his style with elements of Expressionism, Action painting and Pop Art, influenced by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, exponents of this art movement.

Icons of US culture as singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan and African-American activists Malcolm X and Fannie Lou, appear in Jones’ works as obeisance to personalities who imposed their talent on the unjust social order of the time when they had to live.

As he recalled, Fitzgerald, Holliday and Vaughan, three of the most beautiful voices that his country has given to the world, despite being the stars of the shows, were forced to enter the hotels through the back door, among other discriminatory measures. In addition to racial segregation, different forms of violence such as wars take human lives, without distinction of race, and disrupt the souls of those who fight them.

According to Jones, many police officers have problems in Latino and African-American neighborhoods because they were soldiers who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq and now roam the streets of the United States very tense as if they had not yet left those countries.

In addition to the traumas for racial, gender and warmonger violence, Jones’ exposition in Cuba, under the title of Resistance, aims with a critical eye also at several environmental problems, such as the oil spill in the oceans, with terrible consequences for all living beings.

The artist recalled the oil disaster caused by British Petroleum Company in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which destroyed the life of plants, fishes, birds and endangered coastal villages.

Where will the children live? What planet are we going to pass to the new generations? He asked in horror and immediately affirmed: We should and can give them a cleaner planet.

Jones’ family attended the inauguration of his first personal exhibition in Cuba, however, it should not be forgotten that this artist, who lives in New Jersey, participated years ago here in three collective shows and shared presentations with local musicians.

In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction, which was accompanied by about 80 Americans who visited art schools and art galleries in Havana.

Years ago I said: I’m going to visit Cuba, and now I just say: I’m going to visit my country, and everyone understands that I’m going to Cuba because my heart is in Cuba, he said.


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Looking back at ‘The Summer of Love’

This weekend, I’m hosting an hour-long special on the BBC World Service, looking back at that wild revolutionary moment in the cultural and political life of America. And really the world.

I met some fascinating people in San Francisco making this radio documentary for the BBC, and I want to share with you some of what they told me. Because when you look around America and the world in 2017, it’s hard not to think back about what a small community did to challenge the establishment 50 years ago.

At the Haight-Ashbury annual street fair last month, I met a man who was thinking about all this. His name is Helger and he was born in 1967.

Helger is German. He and his wife moved to the Bay Area for work about a decade ago. They loved it and decided to stay.

I asked him whether the hype around the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is nostalgia — or something else.

“I mean you know who [is] the president of the United States, and what we’re seeing around the world, whether it’s in Turkey or in other countries. We see a movement of democracy being abolished in some of the countries,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to go out again and connect to people in real life and try also to have a conversation. I mean maybe we’re a good example.”

Dennis McNally, former publicist for the Grateful Dead and a historian of the Summer of Love, said the cultural life of America was fermenting in said Haight-Ashbury in 1966.

“They experimented with psychedelics, with consciousness, with sexuality, with music, with all kinds of things.”

“They experimented with psychedelics, with consciousness, with sexuality, with music, with all kinds of things.”

The ones doing the experimenting were an eclectic mix of artists and writers, from Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick to Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. They were folkies and jazz cats — actors and dancers. There were local business owners in the Haight, college kids, high school dropouts and people who just wanted to be part of the scene.

“They had such a good time that, at the end of it, they said, ‘let’s throw a party,’” said Dennis.

A party that would last, in theory, for three months. … Word spread fast.

School was out, and the idea of being part of something exciting, radical and fun drew as many as 100,000 people to the streets of Haight-Ashbury that summer. The streets of the Haight were constantly packed.

Joel Selvin, a writer and former rock critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, said “San Francisco was this glorious beacon of this new life and it echoed throughout the world.”

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela had fled the apartheid regime back home, and became part of the LA music scene. In June of 1967, Masekela played the Monterey pop festival. Before he had his big 1968 hit “Grazin’ in the Grass,” he was grazin’ in something else.

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“When you walked down the Haight Ashbury at any time, it was difficult to find somebody who wasn’t floating,” he said.   “When you say everybody was ‘floating’ in the Haight, what do you mean?” I asked.

“They were high. Everybody was high,” he answered.

“Were you high?” I asked. Of course, he said.

“Did you try LSD in California?” I asked.

“I didn’t try it. I took it. I took it regularly. … Very few people were not tripping,” Masekela explained.

Just imagine the freedom the Haight presented for a young black artist from apartheid-era South Africa.

And, remember what else was going on in the world. It was the Cold War. Vietnam was at full tilt. The civil rights movement had gripped America.

Harry Strauch provides a pretty clear sense of the mood in the country — and the world — back in 1967.

His family had emigrated to the Bay Area from Vienna, and he ended up in the Haight, opening what was probably the first head shop in the US — In Gear. But in between, he made a stop at Harvard, where he saw the schisms in America on full display.

“I went to Harvard University where Henry Kissinger and Timothy Leary were teaching, both at the same time, in the same building where I was the philosophy librarian. And that was in Emerson Hall,” he said. “And at each end of the building there were two lecture halls. And sometimes I would go down to one, and there was Kissinger talking about Realpolitik, and it was all loaded with these young future senator types. And at the other end of the hall was Leary talking to the psychology graduate students, and they were all taking mushrooms with the prisoners in the state’s prison system.”

Yeah kind of mindblowing. But that image neatly sums up the 60s.

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There are so many legacies of the Summer of Love. But we’ve got to single out the music. 1967 was already a prolific musical year.

And then the San Francisco sound caught fire.

Writer Joel Selvin told me about how Paul McCartney had to see the scene for himself.

“He flew in from Los Angeles where he was doing some business, borrowed Frank Sinatra’s Learjet, and spent the day and flew out without staying the night,” he said. “He had a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s and it was a test pressing. And he walked in unannounced to a rehearsal by the Jefferson Airplane. Can you imagine that? It’s 1967 and you’re playing with your little band in San Francisco and in your rehearsal, ‘Hullo fellas,’ comes Paul McCartney!” he said while laughing. 

Well they knew what to do. They took him over to the Airplane mansion, and dosed him with DMT, which was a very cool designer psychedelic that was short-term, like the trip was like an hour,” Selvin explained. “They called it working man’s acid. And they sat around, and when everybody came back to Earth, they listened to the test pressing.”

“He wanted to see San Francisco. … He’d heard about it. He’d made this record that was a sort of imagining of it. This was something happening, what, 8000 miles away that he’d just heard about. It was a rumor.”

“He wanted to see San Francisco. … He’d heard about it. He’d made this record that was a sort of imagining of it. This was something happening, what, 8000 miles away that he’d just heard about. It was a rumor.”

But it wasn’t a rumor, it wasn’t a dream. It was real. So real that musicians all over the world continued to fall under the spell of San Francisco for years to come.

From PRI’s The World ©2017 PRI

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