MD Museum Gets Grant to Protect African American Artifacts

Maryland’s Banneker-Douglass Museum has received a $50,000 grant to preserve African American artifacts. 

The Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives announced the grant Monday from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A total of $2.2 million has been awarded to 14 grantees.

The Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, is home to more than 12,000 historic objects, exhibition spaces and archives library.

B&O Railroad Museum

The upgrades will allow the museum to properly store and preserve important pieces of Maryland’s African American history, primarily its Fine Art and African Art Collections.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

It’s time to re-think what it means to be Black in Canada

In BlackLife: Post-BLM And The Struggle For Freedom (ARP Books, $15), authors Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi argue for the need to re-think what it means to be Black in Canada. In their examination of how white supremacy marginalizes and ultimately erases Black presences in areas as varied as literature, music, immigration, mental health and public policy, the authors call for new forms of Black activism that abandon accommodationist and ineffectual approaches of the past.


At 104 pages, the book is both cautionary and provocative – cautionary about the futility of incremental efforts to achieve racial equality; provocative for bold claims that aren’t always fleshed out within the limited confines of a small book. But details be damned. The mission isn’t depth but rather an impassioned plea for renewed public discourse around the exigencies of Black life and death.


The book opens with the authors suggesting Black cultural production in Canada reached an apex of popularity in late 20th century. “The 1990s in Canada were Black,” they proclaim with a hint of nostalgia. Recounting the successes of writers Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke and Djanet Sears, as well as a burgeoning Black music scene in Toronto, they note how Black artists seemed to be on the verge of shifting industry paradigms.


They explain how the era “marked the full emergence of Black cultural politics in Canada in a manner that had not previously existed.” While this assertion arguably downgrades the importance of the Black Power and Black Arts movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s and glaringly omits reference to the current global dominance of artists like Drake, Daniel Caesar and The Weeknd, a ranking of cultural epochs is not their point.


Focusing on the book industry, Walcott and Abdillahi point out that by the early 2000s fewer Black writers were published by major publications. They argue that hopes of witnessing Black creatives achieve permanent acceptance in Canada, irrespective of the decade or the art form, always end in disappointment and exclusion. Aligned with conversations occurring today among Black filmmakers in the U.S., they imply that the establishment’s interest in centring and anchoring Black art is tenuous and cyclical. Hopes of a lasting presence are forever denied.


In light of this state of affairs, the authors pronounce their fundamental boredom with Canada, a boredom derived from the collective exhaustion of justifying the right to Black life in the face of ongoing racial antagonisms. Key moments in Canadian history such as the Sir George Williams Affair, the destruction of Africville and the establishment of the Caribana Parade – what the authors term “Black gifts” – demonstrate how various forms of Black labour and resistance are utilized by racial capitalism. Instances of Black pride or protest – take Caribana’s current commercial incarnation or Black Lives Matter Toronto’s entanglements with Pride – quickly become monetized or nullified by corporate imperatives, perpetuating tenuous and fraught relations with the state. “Indeed, Black Canada’s repeated appearance seems more routine indifference than any genuine attempt to shift what Canada might mean, and yet we keep at it.”


The book’s most important focus is the imagination, one that taps into wider debates around the limits of political pragmatism vs. imagining and then pursuing new futures.  Walcott and Abdillahi, above all, want readers to move beyond current modes of thinking, beyond what it means to exist as a human within European concepts of modernity. Building on the work of writers such as Sylvia Wynter, Frank B. Wilderson III and Fred Moten, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, they interrogate epistemologies that place Black people on the periphery of the social order and challenge us to think about Canada and its national myths anew.


What would Canada look like if Black people were placed at its centre? What would it mean to always have Blackness as forethought rather than afterthought? While the authors hedge on articulating this vision, the answer is clear: it would mean a totally different state, one that meaningfully and honestly seeks to dismantle racism and inequality in every form.


This conjecture leads inevitably to considerations of policy which form the book’s final section. Here the authors call for an imagined “Black Test,” a social measure situating Black people at the foundation of policy-making. If Black people – who find themselves at what author Derrick Bell called “the bottom of the well” in our society – have their social and economic realities improved, then Canada may one day be transformed for all. This would mean that “any policy that does not meet the requirement of ameliorating the dire conditions of Black people’s lives is not a policy worth having.”


BlackLife is both a useful distillation of complex issues concerning Black existence in Canada and a compelling call for imaginative intellectual work. It makes clear that gradual progress narratives such as voting in Black politicians or winning representation in boardrooms – actions that seek to bring about social change through existing anti-Black structures – are deeply problematic, as they forever circle Black activism back to positions of compliance and compromise within systems that resist Blackness.


In their succinct overview of how white supremacy functions to thwart Black aspirations for freedom, Walcott and Abdillahi make no pretense of being definitive in their ruminations. However, they present a thought-provoking polemic that re-ignites sorely needed debate about the path to Black liberation.


@_neilprice

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The Worlds of Kathleen Collins

Does the discovery of a lost writer change our understanding of the past, or does it shape our experience of the present? If the playwright, author, and filmmaker Kathleen Collins had received more recognition during her lifetime, would her work have changed the way we think about and create American—especially African-American—film and fiction today?

These are the questions raised by the posthumous publication of two collections of Collins’s writing: Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? a collection of 16 short stories, and Notes From a Black Woman’s Diary, which includes short stories, plays, and screenplays, excerpts from an unpublished novel, and a selection of letters, as well as the titular notes. Both volumes have been edited by Collins’s daughter, Nina Lorez Collins, who in the weeks following her mother’s death from breast cancer in 1988 at the age of 46 filled a steamer trunk full of her unpublished writings. Some 20 years later, the younger Collins went through the trunk’s contents, and we’re now the beneficiaries of some of the works she discovered there.

During her lifetime, Kathleen Collins saw one of her screenplays become a movie—Losing Ground (1982), which she also directed—and one story and one play published. But she never achieved critical acclaim, and with the exception of a small group of aficionados on the film-festival circuit, few people saw her movie. Had these newly published works been available in her lifetime, she would have joined an emerging group of black women writers in the 1970s and ’80s that included Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and Toni Morrison. As a filmmaker, Collins shared more with independent directors like Charles Burnett, whose films present a quiet but steady focus on quotidian black life, than Spike Lee, but Losing Ground helped pave the way for the latter’s work too, as well as for films like Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991), which was the first feature film directed by an African-American woman to be distributed in the United States.

The titles of the two volumes are compelling, if somewhat misleading. They call attention to an issue that Collins’s work rarely centers on: race. Collins doesn’t deny its existence or significance; her writing and films are not set in some post-racial utopia. In fact, in the brilliant title story of Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? she reminisces about a moment when idealistic young activists tried to live beyond race, only to remind us how entrenched we are in a world in which inequalities are often shaped by it. Even though race is a subject in her writing, her work is not driven by its drama. The stories of Interracial Love are more likely to engage race than are those of Notes, but they do so in indirect and subtle ways. “I could have occupied myself with race all these years,” Collins explains in one diary entry. “The climate was certainly ripe for me to have done so. I could have explored myself within the context of a young black life groping its way into maturity across the rising tide of racial affirmation. I could have done that. After all, I’m a colored lady…. But I didn’t do that. No, I turned far inside, where there was only me and love to deal with…. Instead of dealing with race I went in search of love.”

AACS dedicates resource room to longtime members

AACS

One of the African American Cultural Society’s (AACS) membership meetings touted the opening of the Robert A. and Erma Brooks Resource Room, compiling the couple’s contributions to the organization. 

It was recognized that Robert A. “Bob” Brooks passed away on April 9, 2017.

The defining moment occurred months earlier. Prior to a meeting, the membership was alerted that the couple – among the earliest AACS members – served as exemplars of the love of learning. 

The Brooks collected the African and African Diaspora books, films, music, works of art, and artifacts, and dedicated themselves to sharing the history and culture of African Americans. 

On point, the room honors the Brooks, and welcomes all who thirst for knowledge. 

Sybil Dodson Lucas, Resource Room Task Force Chair, said at the meeting, “At some point, we all agreed that the work, that has been assembled and donated, certainly was worthy of its own space. 

“And, we wanted to make that happen. We wanted to honor Bob and Erma’s contributions to the center,” said Lucas. 

Others representing the group were Bettie and Richard Eubanks, Dr. Reinhold Schlieper, Leuwhana Sylvain, Blanche Valentine, and curator Meshella Woods. 

Shoring up the plans included Claude Jones, Berkeley Chandler, Daniel Isaac, President Joseph Matthews, John Reid, and Merritt Robertson. 

Monetary donations were contributed by Drs. Steven and Gina Sevigny. 

AACS
Erma and Robert Brooks, shown on the right, were in attendance at an AACS event.

Rare books, artifacts 

Prior to taking a tour, Woods said, “This is the room where African and African-Diaspora history and culture have networked. We take great pride in the unveiling. (Moreover,) as you walk through our new gallery/lobby, we have learned to embrace “red” as a color and as a spirit of positive change.

“We have a vision that includes partnering with libraries, schools, youth organizations, museums. and other cultural organizations, and the use of new technology to disseminate information,’’ said the curator.

Many items displayed have been collected from the members of the African American Cultural Society. 

Woods further articulated the unique resource of rare books, ancient and historic media, DVDs, tapes, and authentic art, and artifacts.

The society’s magnificent lobby, conference room and office have been redecorated and hung with luxurious paintings of fine Black art. 

AACS
Robert and Erma Brooks.

Donations still welcome 

Woods escorted Mrs. Brooks and her guests to the resource room. 

Mrs. Brooks’ guests were her niece, Vickie Jackson, and Nickie Grays, along with Grays’ children, Montanna and Roman.

The Grays provide a lovely home in Palm Coast for Mrs. Brooks at Grays Adult Family Care Home. 

The members followed suit touring the room, and noted a perpetual donors’ plate with the opportunity of providing significant donations for the upkeep of the resource room. 

If you know anyone or entities having an interest in contributing, call the curator at 386-4477030. 

About Robert Brooks

In an afterword, Robert A. Brooks was born on Aug. 2, 1927, in Mt. Vernon, New York. 

He served our nation honorably in the U.S. Army and retired as captain of the New York City Fire Department. 

The Brooks, parents of one daughter, Mandy, relocated to Palm Coast in 1987 from Queens. 

They became members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the African American Cultural Society, the Afro-American Caribbean Heritage Organization, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and the NAACP. 

In addition to the AACS’ original library, Mr. Brooks organized the Black Studies Program and the Thursday film presentations.

He was presented the organization’s Distinguished LongTerm Service Award, implementing African-American Studies at both high schools, particularly significant in that a federal mandate had forced the desegregation of the Flagler schools. 

Mr. Brooks was the society’s first chairman of the board, along with other achievements.

About Erma Brooks 

Erma Brooks was born on Aug. 26, 1930, in Harlem. 

She served on the AACS Board of Directors, as second vice president, in addition to Cultural Committee chair. 

Mrs. Brooks has chaired various other AACS committees and sponsored the Ebony Society for teens at both high schools.

She received an AACS Meritorious Award for the Third-Eye Youth Program and directed a one-act play for the facility’s dinner theater.

Mrs. Brooks was a member of the Underground Railroad Quilters and co-director of the East Central Florida Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. She later presided over the East Central Florida Club.

The Brooks – as an important source of learning – earned the right to be touted with a resource room.


As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.

Celebrations 

Birthday wishes to Sidney Honeyghan, July 17.

Happy anniversary to Henry “Smitty” Smith and Thea Smith, July 15.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Sounds Like Her review – singing sculptures and a choir of silence

Sounds Like Her is full of ghosts. Spectres howl from speakers, they slip in between the shadowy shapes of people dancing, they push apart thick black lines of charcoal on white paper. The thing that is invisible yet still breathing down your neck in this exhibition is sound. It’s what ties together the six female artists at York Art Gallery and it is the centre of every work, whether it is a painting, video or installation.

Like the many female-centric shows currently correcting gender imbalance in the art world, Sounds Like Her creates a space where we can encounter sound-art practitioners working beyond the rigid patriarchal superstructures. For Ain Bailey, this means recording women forcing their voices into the “preferred” female pitch (A-flat below middle C, apparently); for Magda Stawarska-Beavan, it involves embracing the roles of mother and artist and recording her son’s first cry; for Sonia Boyce, it is plastering the wall in the names of black British women in the music industry.

The Devotional Series, 2008-ongoing, by Sonia Boyce.



Tribute to black British female musicians … the Devotional Series, 2008-ongoing, by Sonia Boyce. Photograph: Courtesy the artist

Patriarchy isn’t the only hierarchy on the guillotine; Eurocentricity and disability discrimination are also up for the chop. Art flies over from America and Cameroon, touches on China and draws out artists of diverse heritage, making plenty of room for black artists for whom curator Christine Eyene has been championing for years (see All of Us Have a Sense of Rhythm at David Roberts Art Foundation). Madeleine Mbida’s colourful multi-layered silhouettes bounce around her canvases, capturing the boundless energy of Cameroonian bikutsi music. The dancers are framed by heavy black symbols similar to the notes you’d find in a musical score, but this notation references a 6/8 rhythm that doesn’t exist in music theory.

Elsewhere, Eyene places a deaf artist at the centre of her exhibition about noise. Deaf from birth, Christine Sun Kim’s drawings and performances are the star of this show, taking us to a place where sound exists as a physical form that can create paintings and movement. Videos of previous performances document Sun Kim’s various experiments using sound. In one scene, she uses the vibrations of a subwoofer to create Speaker Drawings, and in another, she conducts a choir of deaf participants to use facial expressions to “sing”. On the opposite wall, musical scores drawn by her encapsulate everyday, unnoticed noises such as footsteps on a stair, the clank of toothbrushes in a bathroom or the restlessness of patients in a doctor’s waiting room. Sun Kim can only “hear” the sounds through observing human interaction.

Work by Madeleine Mbida in the exhibition Sounds Like Her at York Art Gallery.



Capturing the energy of Cameroonian music … painting by Madeleine Mbida. Photograph: Lee Clark

Such a sweeping array of ideas has its limitations. At times it feels stretched out too far. There is little to link Boyce’s powerful celebration of black British musicians with Linda O’Keeffe’s recordings of landscapes, apart from having something to do with noise. And the only reason Stawarska-Beavan’s video installation Who/Wer is included must be because it features a poetic narrative and exaggerated sounds of a city scene, which by the same measure could have put any arthouse film from the past 90 years in the running.

But it does provide moments in which to reflect. Because Eyene has adopted a multi-faceted approach to sound art, Sounds Like Her is quieter than you’d expect. The incessant, headache-inducing squeals and beeps in such work as Haroon Mirza’s are kept to a minimum here. There’s time to stand still with Sun Kim and reflect on how sound envelopes our existence even when we are not listening. And Bailey’s immersive soundscape of women attempting to sing that A-flat note is soothing. Across a dark room, their voices wash over me, inviting me to add my voice to the chorus. I harmonise until the sound engineer comes back into the room.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Mexican Muralists’ Impact on American Art on Display at Butler

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In a studio in New York City, an artist – one of the most influential on American art in the 20th century – is experimenting with new methods of painting. With a canvas tacked to the floor, he flings paint across it. He punches holes in a can and walks across the canvas as paint drips out. The end result is a 15-foot image, splashed with color in abstract representations of the world around its creator.

It’s 1936 and Jackson Pollock is watching him do it. Four years earlier, David Alfaro Sequeiros first traveled to the United States and almost immediately began changing what it meant to be an artist in the midst of the Great Depression, attracting artists like Pollock to his inner circle.

“One of the tenants of this workshop was that to be revolutionary, art had to be technically revolutionary and the innovations of modern industry had to be transferred to the art-making practice,” said Barbara Haskell, curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art.


In a lecture at The Butler Institute of American Art Wednesday night, Haskell explained the connection and influence Sequeiros and two of his Mexican contemporaries – Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco – had on American art in the first half of the 20th century.

“One of the notions that Mexican artists represented was the idea that art is a weapon for social change and social betterment,” Haskell said. “Siqueiros talked about art as an ideological work of the people. It was a time when the stock market crashed and people were really questioning laissez-faire capitalism.”

The prevailing wisdom in the American art field has long been that French painters like Picasso and Matisse were the ones who spurred a new generation of American artists and styles. But as a cultural exchange between the United States and Mexico sprung up around 1925, it was that influence that had a greater impact on the content of the works as the Mexican muralists spread ideas on technique, style and content that would set the stage for a century of American art.

“There was the idea that art should speak to the public about things that are relevant to every-day lives, that art has a social role that had been lost in ‘art for art’s sake’ ethos of French modernism,” Haskell said. “It returned art to the community as a communicative educational vehicle.”

What brought the trio to the United States, said the Butler’s executive director, Lou Zona, was the Works Progress Administration, created not long after Rivera completed his “Detroit Industry” murals at the Detroit Institute of Art, funded largely by Edsel Ford.

“Among the things they asked them to do was to paint murals. American artists soon learned that the greatest mural artists were Mexicans,” Zona said. “Before you know it, there were artists like Diego Rivera and Siqueiros coming to America to show artists what it’s really all about and the tricks of the trade.”

Common throughout the works of Siqueiros, Rivera and Orozco were representations of commoners and social injustices, whether it be racism, imperialism or labor conflicts. All three artists lived in Mexico during the revolution that installed a communist government, though their involvement in the party varied greatly, from the Joseph Stalin-aligned Sequeiros to the virtually-apolitical Orozco.

“They had depicted the revolution, depicted the people and their lives. Americans turned to them as models” in a time of social upheaval, she said. “What they did that hadn’t been done in America up to that time was they combined figurative imagery with very expressive paint technique. They projected content that was relevant but in a style that was both modern and native.”

Those works, along with the artists they influenced, will be the subject of an exhibit at the Whitney in New York City next spring. Side-by-side in slides during Haskell’s presentation, the comparisons between Siqueiros and Pollock or Orozco and Thomas Hart Benton are clearly apt. In both the works of Mexican artists and the Americans they inspired, bodies share the same squat stature with round faces reminiscent of ancient Olmec statues. Works depicting the Mexican Revolution depict striking similarities with picketing workers in the United States.

Two of the works in the Butler’s permanent collection – Joe Jones’ “We Demand” and William Gropper’s “Youngstown Strike” – will be part of the exhibit.

“Both of them were very involved with Mexican muralists. They showed at the same radical clubs in New York. They participated in the same exhibitions,” Haskell said. “Their idea was that art was needed to point out the abuses of industry, that policeman were killing Americans who were striking for union representation. Those two artists in particular were very involved in the struggle to bring awareness to what was happening with employment exploitation.”

“Youngstown Strike” depicts a strike at Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. in 1916, though it’s likely that he was inspired by a similar event at a Republic Steel site in Chicago in 1937, the year he created the work.

“Fifty people died, 100 people were shot. It was a common story in the 1930s, these steel companies trying to block the unionization of workers,” Haskell explained. “There was police brutality against innocent people, women, children. … There’s so much talk of it in the news now, but in the ‘30s it was in the papers all the time. These artists were motivated to make work that didn’t sell in order to provoke action and bring about a better future.”

Haskell’s lecture is the first of the “On America” series, held at the museum throughout the summer in celebration of its centennial. Other scheduled speakers include William Underwood, director of the Georgia Museum of Art; Sarah Kelly-Oehler, curator at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Eric Widing, deputy chairman of Christie’s American Art. Each topic will touch on a facet of American art, from the works of African-American artists to a behind-the-scenes look at art auctions.

“It adds prestige to the Butler when you can bring in this level of expertise to talk about our collection and other works of art,” Zona said.

Pictured: Barbara Haskell, curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, was the featured speaker at The Butler Institute of American Art’s “On America” lecture. Joe Jones’ “We Demand” – part of the Butler’s permanent collection – will be loaned to the Whitney for an exhibit on the impact of Mexican muralists on American art.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The California State Fair is Back

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Thrill rides, live entertainment and all the deep fried food you can eat. It’s officially summer, as the California State Fair & Food Festival comes to Cal Expo July 12-28.

Fairgoers will once again brave high temperatures to enjoy all the event has to offer. We’ve compiled a few highlights from the fair’s two-week run.
The popular Multicultural Gospel Celebration takes place on Saturday, July 13 . The daylong concert runs 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the PG&E Center Stage and features gospel talent from throughout Northern California. At 1:00 p.m. Tina B & The Sacramento Soul Line Dancers tak the Promenade Stage.

The award-winning R&B girl group TLC performs live on Sunday, July 14. The “Scrubs” singers hit the Golden 1 Stage from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. as part of the fair’s Toyota Concert Series shows. Concert is free with the cost of fair admission, but reserved seats are available for purchase.

On Monday, July 15, the U.C. Dancers bring their positive vibes to the Promenade Stage from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. They’re based locally at the Mack Road Community Center and have performed at Sacramento Kings games. On Wednesday, July 17, rising singer Larriah Jackson, performs on the Promenade Stage from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. While based in Sacramento, the 14-year-old has performed throughout the state. Local fans may remember her starring as Little Inez in an American River College production of “Hairspray.”

Saxophonist Shawn Raiford will be showcased several times throughout the run of the state fair. The Shawn Raiford Experience takes place in the Farm to Glass area from 12 noon to 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 18; Friday, July 19 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 21 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. For more dates see the fair’s daily schedule of events.

The globe-trotting Grant Drum Line will be highlighted on Thursday, July 18 and July 25 at 1:00 p.m. on the PG&E Center Stage. The band, who represents Grant High School, has travelled recently to Japan and South Africa and has been featured on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show.”

HASO Live presents Roots Reggae on the Promenade Stage on Friday, July 19. Island vibes take over from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with performances by such artists as Abja, Grammy-nominated producer King Hopeton, DJ Souljah, and Arkaingelle. Local group Jodama African Drum & Dance brings their high-energy tribute to African tradition to the Promenade Stage on Friday, July 19, They’ll perform from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m.

The Toyota Concert Series continues on Friday, July 19 with Sean Kingston. The Jamaican-American singer is known for such hits as “Beautiful Girls” and “Fire Burning” and also wrote the hit song “Whatcha Say” for Jason Derulo. Kingston’s concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Concert is free with the cost of fair admission, but reserved seats are available for purchase.

On Tuesday, July 23, the Sacramento-based band Next Phase takes the Promenade Stage at 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. The five-member band pays tribute to the Isley Brothers and others with similar sound.

The Toyota Concert Series continues on Friday, July 19 with Sean Kingston. The Jamaican-American singer is known for such hits as “Beautiful Girls” and “Fire Burning” and also wrote the hit song “Whatcha Say” for Jason Derulo. Kingston’s concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Concert is free with the cost of fair admission, but reserved seats are available for purchase.

R&B group Tony! Toni! Tone! takes the Golden 1 Stage on Friday, July 26 at 8:00 p.m. The Oakland-based group has earned fans for more than 20 years with such hits as “Feels Good,” “It Never Rains” and “Anniversary.” The Toyota series concert is free with the cost of fair admission, but reserved seats are available for purchase.

Every state fair has crafts exhibits and the California State Fair is no exception. Several African American artists will have their works on display. Award-winning fiber artist Connie Horne, a member of Sacramento’s Sisters Quilting Collective will have her Prince Purple Rain Ensemble featured in the Wearable Art display. “Wakanda Forever,” Adwoa Cooper’s nod to the film “Black Panther” will be featured in the Dolls & Toys display. Sylvia Conable will be highlighted with several pieces including “Black Widow,” “Sofia” and “Antoinette” in the display for Basketry.

Other fair highlights include Senior Savings Fridays, where local elders aged 62 and older get discounted $10 admission and free rides on the Giant Wheel and Grand Carousel; and new for 2019, is a $28 Food Festival Pass, which fairgoers can use to get tasty treats at participating vendors.

There are also special days dedicated to those who serve others. On Thursday, July 18, Vitalant presents Military & Veteran Appreciation Day. Active duty, reserve and veterans from all branches of the military can enjoy free fair admission. Military and civilian guests will enjoy a MRE cookoff, a showcase of real military vehicles, representatives from military organizations and other special entertainment. For free admission, veterans or military personnel must present valid military ID or proof of service at the California State Fair’s Box Office. Free admission is expanded to include Active Duty Spouses and Dependents until 3:00 p.m. (must show valid military ID).

On Thursday, July 25 Vitalant presents another special day of thanks, this one will be for the hard work and bravery of members of law enforcement, firefighters and first responders. They’ll enjoy free admission to the fair. All other fairgoers can enjoy a day of fun celebrating first responders complete with special exhibits, interactive activities, one-day-only entertainment and much more.

For more information on the California State Fair, including cost of admission and a complete list of events, exhibits and attractions, visit www.castatefair.org.


By Genoa Barrrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

SUMMER IN THE CITY 2019: galleries

dc galleries summer 2019, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Queer Japan’ screens July 27 at Landmark E Street Cinema. (Photo courtesy Reel Affirmations)

Washington boasts nearly 80 museums and galleries and most are inexpensive with admission prices ranging from free to $30. So, if Stonewall celebrations whetted your appetite to be out in the community, D.C. offers much more arts and culture to feast upon.  

Gallery B(7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda, Md.) will present an exhibition of work by Maryland Federation of Art members July 3-27. The exhibition is juried by Robert Yi, a recipient of the A.H.O. Roll Prize in Fine Arts and the Mae W. Jurow Scholarship who is also exhibiting at the Hylton Performing Arts Center (10960 George Mason Cir., Manassas, Va.) July 14-Sept. 8 with an opening reception July 25. Yi’s portrait paintings have ranged from Mohammed Ali and the Dali Lama to muscular men in tiny briefs. Gallery hours for the MFA show will be Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. with a public reception on Friday, July 12 from 6-8 p.m.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) presents “Queer Japan,” a colorful documentary celebrating the triumphs and struggles of being a sexual and gender minority in modern Japan, July 27 at 7 p.m. This film is part of the Reel Affirmations XTRA monthly LGBTQ film series showing at Landmark’s E Street Cinema (555 11th St., N.W.). Tickets are $14. August 2-4 is the Outwrite Literary Festival and features award-winning novelists Kristen Arnett and Jericho Brown as well as queer poet and drag performer Wo Chan. Arty Queers continues as the Center’s monthly indoor LGBTQ art market featuring work crafted by local artists, and Center Arts Gallery will hold a closing reception for professional photographer and graphic designer Todd Franson Saturday, Sept. 7, from 7-9 p.m. at the D.C. Center. For more information on these and other events, visit thedccenter.org

The Wentworth Gallery (7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, Md. and 1807 Galleria at Tysons II, McLean, Va.) is exhibiting works by artists Charles Fazzino and Elena Bond this July and August. Fazzino, a 3-D pop artist, uses bright colors and detail to construct lithographs and serigraphs that are finished with either acrylic or glitter paint. His Batman-themed piece has a retro-look. Bond’s work is soft and impressionistic with soothing imagery such as crowds meandering down rainy streets. For more details, visit wentworthgallery.com

The National Gallery of Art (6th and Constitution Ave., N.W.) presents “By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs” July 14-Jan. 5. The exhibit marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. An exhibition of some 50 works will include a selection of photographs from the unmanned missions leading up to Apollo 11 as well as images taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. An exhibition of Renaissance artist Verrocchio begins Sunday, Sept. 15. Verrocchio, who never married, was master to other greats such as Leonardo da Vinci. For more information, visit nga.gov.

The Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market Street, Suite 103, Reston, Va.) presents “Overlooked,” a group exhibition featuring artists who seek to bring awareness to issues often not a part of “polite conversation,” July 13-Aug. 31. July 13 there will be an artist talk at 4 p.m. followed by an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Artists include Leila Abdelrazaq, whose short animated film “Still Birth” was commissioned for the 2018 Palestinian Young Artist of the Year Awards exhibition; Lorenzo Cardim, who explores how queer people and other social minorities question the status quo; former Hamiltonian Fellow Larry W. Cook; Leigh Davis, whose work navigates the line between voyeurism and empathy; Helina Metaferia, whose art asserts the black body into sites of systemic oppression; Matt Storm, whose trans-centric photography explores identity through self-portraiture; and Julie Wolfe, whose work has been reviewed in ARTnews and BBC American. Visit restonarts.org for more information.

National Geographic Museum (1145 17th St., N.W.) presents “Queens of Egypt,” which is on display through Sept. 15. This exhibition explores the role powerful women such as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra played not only in Egypt but on the world stage. The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with the last ticket sold at 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $15; for seniors, students and military members, $12; and for children ages 5-12, $10. Annual pass members and children under 5 are free. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture (1400 Constitution Ave., N.W.) presents “Taking the Stage,” an exploration of the history of African Americans in theater, film and television. Located in the fourth floor culture galleries, “Taking the Stage” provides visitors with the opportunity to reconnect with some of their favorite popular culture memories through artifacts such as Eddie Murphy’s Detroit Lions jacket from “Beverly Hills Cop” and the outfits worn by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford in the groundbreaking series “The Jeffersons.” The exhibition showcases stories of how African-American artists have enriched American culture through entertainment while also crafting possibilities for social change, such as with “Star Trek’s” first televised interracial kiss. The museum offers free timed passes for entry, which can be reserved at etix.com. For more information, visit nmaahc.si.edu

The Freer|Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave., S.W.) presents “Body Image,” one of many multicultural exhibitions displaying at the gallery this summer. “Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent” explores through art how the human body is central to artistic expression on the Indian subcontinent in terms of sharing fundamental beliefs. The first room considers the perfect bodies of the Hindu gods before turning to the Indian courtly body as site of both pleasure and power. The rear gallery introduces the enlightened bodies of Buddhist and Jain traditions, as well as divine conceptions that transcend physical form. Admission is free. For more information, visit museum.oas.org.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave., N.W.) hosts “Power in My Hand: Women Poets, Women Artists and Social Change” through Oct. 31. This exhibit shows the enduring solidarity between women poets and artists using words and images illustrating the communication and inspiration across geographic boundaries and historical eras. Examples include Muriel Rukeyser’s honor poem for the German artist Kathe Kollwitz and Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” artistic homage to poet Emily Dickenson. Regular admission is $10; $8 for visitors 65 and older and students and free for museum members and children 18 years and younger. For more information, visit nmwa.org.

The Foundry Gallery (2118 8th St. N.W.) offers an alternative gallery experience, through artist talks, workshops, opening receptions, demonstrations and consultations. This summer’s exhibition includes “The Habitual Line” by Joseph Shelter July 3-28 with an opening reception on Saturday, July 13 from 5-8 p.m. Sheltler’s work is post-minimalist reflecting the practice of simplicity in art and life and honoring his Mennonite heritage. The Foundry Gallery is a non-profit organization supported by member dues, sales commissions and community donations. For more information, visit foundrygallery.org

Hillwood Museum (4155 Linnean Ave. N.W.) presents “Mid-Century Master: The Photography of Alfred Eisenstaedt” and the art collection of Adelaide Close Riggs. The Eisenstaedt collection features nearly 50 photographs from his career in photojournalism, focusing on his images of mid-20th century life and the era’s most celebrated figures. Riggs, eldest daughter of patron Marjorie Merriweather Post, was a notable art collector whose collection includes portraits, clothing and more. The exhibits run through Jan. 12 and suggested donations range from $5-18. Visit hillwoodmuseum.org for details. 

Artists and Makers Studios (12276 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, Md.), an art center complex hosting about 150 resident artists, will host Black Artists of D.C. and the National League of American Pen Women for the month of July. Saturday, July 20, 1-3 p.m. is the Black Artists of D.C. talk. Other events include Theremin Music with Arthur Harrison, Solo Acoustic Guitar with David Ziegele and a Montgomery County Camera Club exhibition titled “Photojournalism and Street Life.” Exhibits continue through July 24 and viewing hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday and Sundays/Mondays by appointment. For more information, visit artistsandmakersstudios.com.

The Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) presents “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement” on display through Dec. 31. This exhibit explores the modern gay rights movement in the U.S. and marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 raid of New York’s Stonewall Inn. The Newseum also screens “Into the Streets,” a film exploring how the LGBTQ rights movement harnessed the power of public protest to change policy and shift culture, in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Big Screen Theater on Level 5. Admission is $24.95 for adults ages 19-64, $19.95 for seniors ages 65 and older, $14.95 for children ages 7-18, and free for children 6 and younger. For more information, visit newseum.org.

Hemphill Fine Arts Gallery (1515 14th St., N.W.) presents its summer show July 13-Aug. 23 with a reception on Saturday, July 20 from 4-6 p.m. The exhibition features modern and contemporary art in all media by artist ranging from emerging to mid-career to modern masters. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and by appointment. Visit hemphillfinearts.com for more information. 

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Stepping Inside The Broad’s Black Power Art Exhibit Triggered Something Deep

Barbara Jones-Hogu, Unite (First State),1969. Screenprint. (Barbara Jones-Hogu, courtesy the Broad)

There’s a question I grew up hearing here on the West Coast. It feels like casual inquiry, but it’s code among Black folk — particularly those from or with roots in the American South:

Who’s your people?

It’s shorthand: a way to quickly acquire context across time and space. The question acknowledges the diaspora: The many lives and souls it took to get here — to get to us.

That question circled through me as I made my way through the deeply compelling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983” at the Broad.

As I walked through the galleries, I couldn’t separate the art from the music that was made during this era — a soundtrack to the many questions that explore and help define the Black experience.

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Who are our people? What are we connected by — geography and history? Revolution and resiliency? “Soul of a Nation” explores the expansive and complex territory of self-making, and how artists strategize a plan more far-reaching than survival: one that articulates pride and knowledge of self.

The exhibition presents work over two explosive decades, 1963 to 1983, by more than 60 Black artists.

David Hammons, Black First, America Second, 1970. Body print and screenprint on paper. 104.8 x 79.4 inches. (David Hammons, courtesy the Broad)

The Broad museum showcases an authoritative L.A. presence, repped by key figures Betye Saar, Charles White, John Outterbridge, and David Hammons among others.

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Stepping inside the first gallery triggered something deep — that highly-charged sensation you might experience when you recognize something or someone familiar in an unexpected place — a profile, an intonation, a gesture. The imagery — the raised fists; the halo of afros; the red, black, and green of pride and liberation — yes, that, but also a piece of yourself in the story, where you entered and found your voice, your own footing.

“Soul of a Nation” is not organized chronologically. Rather, it’s set up aesthetically, the groupings or chapters dedicated to collaborations, or collectives, or medium or region. This lends an associative feel — ideas sparking another across time.

Inside the Broad’s “Soul of a Nation.” (Pablo Enriquez, courtesy the Broad)

The first pin in the map is 1963. Harlem and the formation of the Spiral Collective, a group of artists based in New York who were grappling with the notion of what it meant to make Black art during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement.

They asked a question that was only by degrees rhetorical: “Is there a Negro image?” The group, who first met in Romare Bearden’s Harlem studio, were named such by the artist Hale Woodruff because he saw the “spiral” as a metaphor: moving outward, embracing all directions, yet continuing forward.

Norman Lewis’s black-and-white expressionist canvasses are paired with Bearden’s loose and intimate collages that echo busy street scenes or rural homesteads. There is inherent power in the juxtapositions. Side by side, like collage, as Bearden asserted: “Assemblage [itself] forced a variety of contrary images into one unified expression.”

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Activism energized the streets, redrew lines, and urgently threaded through the Black arts community.

The West Coast’s expression of upending the status quo found voice in 1965’s Watts Rebellion and in the work of Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, John T. Riddle, and Betye Saar. Some of them collected wreckage from the streets and turned broken glass, twisted metal, and other found objects into trenchant works of art. What was deemed as trash or ruin was transformed. The Black artist’s gaze determined what was valuable.

Betye Saar, Rainbow Mojo, 1972. Acrylic painting on cut leather, 19 3/4 x 49 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. (Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy the Broad)

The powerful and varied prism of Black subjectivity — naming and defining oneself — is deeply freeing, and the most compelling gift of this exhibition. Betye Saar observed that artists had begun to look beyond crisis, to find cures through “rituals”: totems, altars, observances. As she reflected, “They’ve got over the violent part and have become more introspective.”

That’s the gesture, or soul, that forges connection. Beauford Delaney’s portrait of James Baldwin offers an alternate view of the writer, depicted not with the worry of the world etched on his face, but rather in a moment you might imagine him seated in the restorative glow of love from friends and found family.

Roy DeCarava, Mississippi freedom marcher, Washington, D.C., 1963. Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper. Courtesy Sherry DeCarava and the DeCarava Archives. (Roy DeCarava, courtesy the Broad)

It’s much in the same way that photographer Roy DeCarava’s gradient grays and murky half-light force viewers to adjust themselves to truly see — not just slow down, but stop. Lean in close and examine the image to see humanity.

Lorraine O’Grady’s series of images, “Art Is…” in a lighthearted way goes to the very heart of this matter. Do we simply survive or do we thrive? In 1983, under an alter ego, she entered a float in Harlem’s African American Day parade —its “feature” was a 9×12-foot gold frame. She hired 15 dancers to carry large gilded frames into the crowds. They’d raise the frame and “make” street portraits. In so doing, the work answers its own open-ended question: “We are.”

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The “spiral” that Hale Williams settled on as metaphor was a sturdy one. And it was predictive of the fact that the work is ongoing. “Soul of a Nation” is a bold and vibrant exultation of presence and passion, unifying many disparate approaches and perspectives into vivid visual language.

There’s something striking about this show, given the backdrop of the current looping news cycle — spiking gun violence and hate crimes, retrograde race relations. This doesn’t feel like a retrospective, but rather a collection of much-needed tools and templates for how we as a people, collectively, can shape destiny, find community and pride, and, most important, make beauty out of wreckage.

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” is at the Broad through Sept. 1. There are related live music events on July 17 and Aug. 14.

Inside the Broad’s “Soul of a Nation.” (Pablo Enriquez, courtesy the Broad)

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Scott Joplin, Donizetti operas highlight Festival of the Voice

Scott Joplin

African-American talent will be showcased in two operas at the tenth annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, August 2-4, in the Shandaken hamlet of Phoenicia. Damien Sneed, who led the previous Festival’s extraordinary gospel concert, conducts excerpts from Scott Joplin’s ragtime-influenced opera Treemonisha on Saturday afternoon, August 3. That night, Donizetti’s comedic Elixir of Love is set in an African village, featuring dancers and a drummer originally from West Africa.

Outside of black companies such as Opera Noir and Opera Ebony, opportunities for African-Americans to sing the traditional repertoire can be hard to come by. However, Festival executive director Maria Todaro said, “We take whoever is knocking our socks off at auditions. We don’t care about the color of their skin.” Baritone Lawrence Craig, who has been featured in past Festival productions, including Of Mice and Men, will sing Dulcamaro in Elixir. Bass Morris Robinson returns on Friday, August 2, for the opening concert, a selection of favorite arias from the past ten years of Festival presentations.

This year’s featured operas provide an abundance of roles specifically for black artists, including singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and the multi-talented Sneed, whose career, not unlike Joplin’s, spans composing, arranging, conducting, and piano-playing, as well as combining classical and popular music.

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Scott Joplin was born just after the Civil War, the son of a freed slave. He became the leading composer of ragtime, which was named for its syncopated or “ragged” rhythm, blending European march and dance forms with African polyrhythms. Ragtime gained enormous popularity across the U.S. in the early 1900s, with Joplin’s most famous composition, “Maple Leaf Rag,” selling millions of copies of sheet music, each individual sale earning him one cent in royalties.

Around 1903, Joplin, who had classical training, turned to opera, creating The Guest of Honor, about black leader Booker T. Washington’s controversial dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. A tour of the show failed when the box office receipts were stolen. Although the score of Joplin’s next effort, Treemonisha, was praised by a reviewer, he died before he could raise enough money for a full production.

Ragtime waned in popularity with the rise of jazz, which built on the rag’s syncopated rhythms. In the 1970s, when Joplin’s music was used for the score of the film The Sting, a ragtime revival brought the form to the attention of classical musicians. The music and libretto for Treemonisha were rediscovered, and several productions were mounted, including one at the Houston Grand Opera, where Sneed is currently Music Director and Composer in Residence. “He’s given Treemonisha a jazzy twist,” said Todaro.

The plot deals with conflicts in post-Civil War African-American culture, when the desire to move into mainstream American society conflicted with the pull of the old African ways and superstitions. The title character is a young woman who is sent off to receive an education but has difficulty reentering her community, leading to her kidnapping by “conjure men.” Joplin comes down in favor of education as vital for both men and women, while honoring the vitality of African tradition.

Todaro, who has turned in recent years from singing to directing, decided this year’s opera, Elixir of Love, should be “a comedy, instead of all those characters being stabbed, drowned, and hanged. The music is bubbly and light.” But when she sat down with the libretto, she realized the opera she had adored as a teenager now felt superficial and absurd. Seeking a way into the text, she decided to shift the qualities of the characters. Instead of presenting the lovelorn Nemorino as a fool, she has made him shy, unable to express his attraction to the most beautiful girl in the village. Adina, traditionally depicted as a slut, has become a girl who secretly loves Nemorino but flirts with men in order to provoke him into speaking his mind.

To add a further twist, Todaro relocated the action from Italy to Ghana, probably a first for Elixir. “We’ve been researching weddings in Ghana, local deities, the economy,” said Todaro. “We’ll have four chickens onstage, and a goat named Houdini. It’s all part of our mission of making opera accessible. People see opera as snobby, elitist, too expensive, and impossible to understand. We have supertitles, we keep our ticket prices low, and we make the performances fun,” while bringing world-class performers to sing under the night sky in Phoenicia’s Parish Field.

Other events scheduled for this year’s Festival include the a cappella group Lady Parts, returning to sing songs of the abolition movement; Stephen Templeton’s play Souvenir, about dissonant diva Florence Foster Jenkins, an amateur operatic soprano; pianist Justin Kolb playing music of the African diaspora, with writer and actor Carey Harrison reading relevant texts, some by himself and others by Langston Hughes; the local Rock Academy students performing the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; a closing gala of talent-rich locals including Loren Daniels, Robert Burke Warren, Harvey Boyer, and student performers; and to top it all off, a Sunday night DJ dance party for everyone, held on the Festival stage.

The 10th annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will run from Friday, August 2, to Sunday, August 4, at Phoenicia’s Parish Field and other locations around town. For tickets and schedule, see https://www.phoeniciavoicefest.org.

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