Dynasty actress and fiery anti-racism campaigner

In the early 1970s she was poised to marry the British television personality David Frost, then in his early thirties and one of London’s most eligible bachelors, who had his own nightly show on American TV.

British television personality David Frost and actress-singer Diahann Carroll at New York's Plaza Hotel where their engagement was announced in 1972.

British television personality David Frost and actress-singer Diahann Carroll at New York’s Plaza Hotel where their engagement was announced in 1972.Credit:AP

But although the couple announced their engagement in November 1972, she dumped him following a slide in his ratings, and the decision by stations in the American south to cancel his programme.

By then Diahann Carroll had earned a reputation as a fiery anti-racism campaigner, only to be accused of selling out to the white establishment as a successful actress and glamorous middle-of-the-road cabaret singer.

Articulate, opinionated and cultured, she parried such charges by pointing out that she had been a black artist competing in a white world. “I’m acceptable,” she explained, noting that her skin tone was redolent of café-au-lait. “I’m a black woman with a white image. I don’t scare the audience.”

Her road to stardom was anything but trouble-free. As an ambitious black teenager she had wanted to conquer Hollywood, but realised that the only black parts on offer were either those of perfect mother figures or hookers. Producers would not cast her in grittier roles for fear of being thought racist. In the mid-1950s she addressed her anger at her predicament during four years of psychoanalysis and drug therapy, including controlled doses of LSD.

Diahann Carroll as the 19-year-old starry-eyed ingenue in House of Flowers, 1955.

Diahann Carroll as the 19-year-old starry-eyed ingenue in House of Flowers, 1955. Credit:London Express News And Feature Services

Diahann Carroll first came to notice in 1954 when, at the age of 19, she was cast as Myrt, a bit part in the film Carmen Jones, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey.

Five years later she returned to the big screen to play a supporting role in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, also directed by Preminger, who used virtually the same black cast but added Sammy Davis Jr as the drug dealer Sportin’ Life and replacing Belafonte with Sidney Poitier, with whom Diahann Carroll became romantically linked.

Although she had appeared as a singer in several popular American television shows, her big television break came in 1968 when she played a young Vietnam War widow working as a nurse in Julia, the first American primetime series to be driven by a black woman in a non-stereotypical role, such as a servant. The role earned her four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe award.

The programme was aired on ITV in 1969, and by the following year Diahann Carroll was dating Frost, who was combining five nights a week presenting an American television show with a Saturday night chat show on ITV. The couple spent Christmas 1971 with Frost’s widowed mother at her bungalow in Beccles, Suffolk.

Nudging 50 in 1984, she stormed into the American television soap saga Dynasty (1982-89) as Blake Carrington’s illegitimate and improbable half sister, Dominique Deveraux.

High-handed and tempestuous, the character was pitched into a “bitch-fight” with the show’s star Alexis, played by Joan Collins. Diahann Carroll remained with the show for three years, and make several appearances on its short-lived spin-off, The Colbys.

Dynasty's Diahann Carroll, John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins cut a cake to commemorate 150 episodes in 1986.

Dynasty’s Diahann Carroll, John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins cut a cake to commemorate 150 episodes in 1986.Credit:AP

The daughter of a conductor on the New York Subway, she was born Carol Diahann Johnson in the Bronx district of New York on July 17, 1935 and brought up in Harlem. Her parents encouraged her to take dance, singing and modelling classes, and by the time she was 15 she was undertaking modelling assignments for Ebony magazine. Graduating from the High School of Music and Art, she read Sociology at New York University.

She abandoned her studies when she was 18, after she won a television talent show, Chance of a Lifetime, and was booked to sing at two New York nightclubs. Her supporting role in Carmen Jones the same year led to her featuring in the Broadway musical, House of Flowers.

In 1959, when she played Clara in the film version of Porgy and Bess, her voice was judged to be too low-pitched and the character’s singing parts were dubbed by the opera singer Loulie Jean Norman.

With Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, she starred in the 1961 film Paris Blues. In 1962, she won a Tony award for best actress (a first for a black woman) for her role as the fashion model Barbara Woodruff in the Richard Rodgers musical No Strings.

At the same time Diahann Carroll had become active in the Civil Rights movement and was present when Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 march on Washington. In 1968 she joined Barbra Streisand and Paul Newman in an all-star concert in New York to raise funds for an anti-Vietnam War campaign, and later gave evidence to a Congressional hearing on racial discrimination.

Diahann Carroll was written out of Dynasty in 1987, after reports that she had made “racial” comments on the studio set. She continued to command star treatment, however, arranging with the Royal Garden Hotel in London later that year to have 22 quarts of milk delivered to her penthouse suite daily for her bath. Apparently she mixed it with hot water and took a long soak to keep her skin supple.

She was named alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis in the list of the Top 10 Female Style Makers of 1984, while Harper’s Bazaar magazine ranked her among the world’s 10 most beautiful women. As well as her accolades for Julia and the Tony for her role in No Strings, she gained an Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the title role in the love story Claudine (1974).

Diahann Carroll married four times, first to the record producer Monte Kay with whom she had a daughter. In 1973, having jilted David Frost, she married a Las Vegas boutique tycoon, Fred Glusman, only to file for divorce within a matter of weeks citing physical abuse.

Her third husband, Robert DeLeon, whom she married in 1975, was killed in a car crash two years later. Her fourth and final marriage, in 1987, to the singer Vic Damone, ended in divorce in 1996.

Telegraph, London

Diahann Carroll, born July 17 1935, died October 4 2019

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5 Review First the New Yorker profiled Romare Bearden. Then the artist and activist decided to tell his own story, in pictures.


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, School Bell Time,” 1978, collage on board. (Kingsborough Community College, The City University of New York. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.)
Art critic

October 9 at 8:00 AM

Romare (pronounced “ROH-mery”) Bearden liked to wear a beret, had pale skin, and looked glabrous and jowly, like Nikita Khrushchev. Unlike Khrushchev, however, he was an artist — and African American.

Born in Charlotte in 1911, Bearden grew up mostly in Harlem. He was an only child, but he was hardly isolated. His mother was an activist, editor and board member; his parents’ home was a hub of Harlem’s black community. Fats Waller and Duke Ellington were regular presences in the young Bearden’s life. As an adult, his friends included James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Billie Holiday, Hannah Arendt, Jacob Lawrence and Toni Morrison.

Bearden belonged in their company: No black artist of the 20th century accomplished more. His rich, incident-filled and (mostly) lucky life is as absorbing to contemplate as his brilliant, manifold art. So it made sense that Bearden, in 1977, was the subject of a New Yorker profile by a master of the form, Calvin Tomkins.

Bearden appears to have liked the profile. But the relationship between words and pictures is perennially uneasy and writers, especially good writers, often spur artists’ competitive instincts. Having his life story narrated in a magazine prompted Bearden to try telling it himself in a series of collages and paintings that he called, with a nod to the New Yorker, “Profile.”

Bearden worked on the series between 1978 and 1981. He divided it into two parts. Both focused on episodes from his early years, which Tomkins’s elegant narrative had skated over. The first part concentrates on his childhood in the South and in Pittsburgh (where he went to live, intermittently, with his grandmother); the second focuses on Harlem in the 1930s. Both parts are on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in a show called “Something Over Something Else.”

You could come away assuming that Bearden grew up in poverty both in the rural South and around the steel mills of Pittsburgh. In fact, although he witnessed these worlds during extended stays, the reality was more complicated. As Bearden’s friend Charles Alston said, “Romy was never a poor kid. He was straight out of the middle class, and the urban middle class at that.”


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Miss Bertha & Mr. Seth,” 1978, collage on board. (Collection of Susan Merker. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.)

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Maudell Sleet’s Magic Garden,” 1978, collage on board. (Collection of Pearson C. Cummin III and Linda Forrest Cummin. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

The High show’s title is taken from Bearden’s words: “I really think the art of painting is the art of putting something over something else.” The statement, which Tomkins quotes in his profile, speaks to Bearden’s favored idiom of collage — the layering of one thing over another. And it points to his specific achievement: More than any artist I can think of, Bearden pulled collage away from its associations with modernist fragmentation and precious fussiness into something loose and capacious, yoked to storytelling, pulsing and rippling with all the layers of life.

But the phrase also carries a whiff of trickery and masquerade — “putting something over on someone.” Bearden was a sophisticated storyteller — he relished the idea of the “unreliable narrator” — so he surely intended both associations.

Seeing the show, reading Tomkins’s profile and poring over a new anthology, “The Romare Bearden Reader” — which includes a useful introduction by Robert O’Meally, and essays and reflections by Morrison, Ellison, August Wilson, Tomkins (the profile) and Bearden — renewed my love of this artist, who died of bone cancer complications in 1988.

The “Profile” collages have slyly suggestive captions. “The Daybreak Express” shows a bedroom with a nude woman stretched out on her stomach. Behind her is a window through which we see a train puffing steam. The inscription reads: “You could tell not only what train it was but also who the engineer was by the sound of the whistle.”

On its own, the image has an all-at-once clarity that makes verbal description feel labored. (I didn’t tell you, for instance, that the woman’s head rests in the crook of her elbow, nor that one eye looks out at the viewer, nor what kind of room it is, nor whether it is night or day outside; yet when you look at the picture, it takes just a second to register all of that.)

Still, words can do things that images can’t. The inscription, with its double entendre and pungent specificity (were the horn-tooting habits of the train engineers really so distinct?) has a poetic concision that goes beyond the scope of images.

Throughout the series, Bearden sets up echoes, not only visually (women, windows and trains are repeating motifs) but verbally. “The last time I saw Liza was down at the station when I left for Pittsburgh on the 5.13,” reads one inscription. Another says: “Sometimes at night I used to dream of being the one who was running the train.” And a third: “The trains in the stories she told always ran North.”


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Daybreak Express,” 1978, collage on board. (Courtesy of the McConnell Family Trust. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

Beyond this roiling interplay between visual and verbal imagery, I love Bearden’s “Profile” series (and his whole oeuvre) for the way it undermines the exhausted premises of 21st century identity politics.

To grasp how, it’s important to say first that Bearden could scarcely have been more engaged with black identity. Everything he made — most everything he did — had to do with telling the story of black life in the United States. He fought prejudice and promoted visibility for African Americans at every turn.

Bitter experience had taught him how cruel and arbitrary racial distinctions could be. An exceptionally talented pitcher, he had played on a professional “colored” team while studying in Boston. He was so good that, in 1932, he was invited to join the Philadelphia Athletics, a team that had won the World Series in 1929 and ’30 and the American League pennant in ’31. But accepting would have meant pretending he was white. (This was 15 years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.) Bearden turned it down.

Like his mother, he was an activist. He had started out in art drawing political cartoons for the Afro-American newspaper. In 1963, he helped found a collective of black artists, the Spiral Group. He spent the 1960s organizing ambitious shows devoted to African American art. With Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow, he even started the Cinque Gallery, dedicated to black artists.

By then, he had “made it” as an artist; he wanted to help in every way he could. (“His phone never stops ringing,” Chris Shelton, the gallery’s first director, commented to Tomkins.)

Bearden once said that “an artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art that he sees, he sees something missing.” For him, what was missing was the experiences, dreams and projections of his people. Today’s prominent black artists, including Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas (whose collage aesthetic was heavily influenced by Bearden), Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley, are similarly motivated.

Correcting this became Bearden’s life’s work. He wanted, he said in 1964, to “establish a world through art in which the validity of my Negro experience could live and make its own logic.”

He succeeded magnificently, largely because he wasn’t interested in simplifying reality. He would have loathed the idea of depleting the imprint life left on him just to make it fit the requirements of a political worldview. It would have betrayed his understanding of identity itself.


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Johnny Hudgins Comes On,” 1981, collage on board. (Seavest Collection of Contemporary Realism, White Plains, New York. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

“We all live in a mask,” he once said. “We all have a hundred different identities.”

One of the best (and most brightly colored) collages in Part II of “Profile” illustrates this in ways that may be hard for contemporary viewers to wrap their heads around. It shows the black vaudeville mime artist, Johnny Hudgins, outside the Lafayette Theater.

Hudgins, who was nicknamed the Wah-Wah Man, often performed in blackface. This was not uncommon for black vaudeville performers (for all that we rightly condemn it now, blackface has a complicated history).

“He was my favorite of all the comedians,” wrote Bearden in the accompanying inscription. “What Johnny Hudgins could do through mime on an empty stage helped show me how worlds were created on an empty canvas.”

A black man in blackface is, if nothing else, an “unreliable narrator,” which may have been part of what Bearden loved in Hudgins. In any case, one can imagine how an African American who usually passed for white might have appreciated what Hudgins was up to, and the art he brought to his popular act.

Bearden took inspiration wherever he found it: George Grosz, Stuart Davis, Chinese painting, Picasso, Matisse, the Dutch masters, African art, Homer, Derek Walcott, jazz. His broad-mindedness was not just aesthetic. From childhood, he also straddled multiple modes of social existence. He instinctively felt, as Tomkins wrote, that “the path of separatism within a culture is basically self-defeating.” He also understood that identity — everyone’s identity — is layered.

The words we use today — “black,” “white,” “Latino,” “Asian” — may be clear. And, God knows, we all crave clarity. But the reality of selfhood is cloudier, more contradictory and harder to parse than those constricting categories allow. In the end, that is not a misfortune. It is a solace (how hard it is to be one thing!).

Art, too, is a solace. It exists to remind us that we come, all of us, in many versions.

“Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta through Feb. 2. high.org

Read more by Sebastian Smee:

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

4 Review First the New Yorker profiled Romare Bearden. Then the artist and activist decided to tell his own story, in pictures.


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, School Bell Time,” 1978, collage on board. (Kingsborough Community College, The City University of New York. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.)
Art critic

October 9 at 8:00 AM

Romare (pronounced “ROH-mery”) Bearden liked to wear a beret, had pale skin, and looked glabrous and jowly, like Nikita Khrushchev. Unlike Khrushchev, however, he was an artist — and African American.

Born in Charlotte in 1911, Bearden grew up mostly in Harlem. He was an only child, but he was hardly isolated. His mother was an activist, editor and board member; his parents’ home was a hub of Harlem’s black community. Fats Waller and Duke Ellington were regular presences in the young Bearden’s life. As an adult, his friends included James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Billie Holiday, Hannah Arendt, Jacob Lawrence and Toni Morrison.

Bearden belonged in their company: No black artist of the 20th century accomplished more. His rich, incident-filled and (mostly) lucky life is as absorbing to contemplate as his brilliant, manifold art. So it made sense that Bearden, in 1977, was the subject of a New Yorker profile by a master of the form, Calvin Tomkins.

Bearden appears to have liked the profile. But the relationship between words and pictures is perennially uneasy and writers, especially good writers, often spur artists’ competitive instincts. Having his life story narrated in a magazine prompted Bearden to try telling it himself in a series of collages and paintings that he called, with a nod to the New Yorker, “Profile.”

Bearden worked on the series between 1978 and 1981. He divided it into two parts. Both focused on episodes from his early years, which Tomkins’s elegant narrative had skated over. The first part concentrates on his childhood in the South and in Pittsburgh (where he went to live, intermittently, with his grandmother); the second focuses on Harlem in the 1930s. Both parts are on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in a show called “Something Over Something Else.”

You could come away assuming that Bearden grew up in poverty both in the rural South and around the steel mills of Pittsburgh. In fact, although he witnessed these worlds during extended stays, the reality was more complicated. As Bearden’s friend Charles Alston said, “Romy was never a poor kid. He was straight out of the middle class, and the urban middle class at that.”


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Miss Bertha & Mr. Seth,” 1978, collage on board. (Collection of Susan Merker. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.)

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Maudell Sleet’s Magic Garden,” 1978, collage on board. (Collection of Pearson C. Cummin III and Linda Forrest Cummin. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

The High show’s title is taken from Bearden’s words: “I really think the art of painting is the art of putting something over something else.” The statement, which Tomkins quotes in his profile, speaks to Bearden’s favored idiom of collage — the layering of one thing over another. And it points to his specific achievement: More than any artist I can think of, Bearden pulled collage away from its associations with modernist fragmentation and precious fussiness into something loose and capacious, yoked to storytelling, pulsing and rippling with all the layers of life.

But the phrase also carries a whiff of trickery and masquerade — “putting something over on someone.” Bearden was a sophisticated storyteller — he relished the idea of the “unreliable narrator” — so he surely intended both associations.

Seeing the show, reading Tomkins’s profile and poring over a new anthology, “The Romare Bearden Reader” — which includes a useful introduction by Robert O’Meally, and essays and reflections by Morrison, Ellison, August Wilson, Tomkins (the profile) and Bearden — renewed my love of this artist, who died of bone cancer complications in 1988.

The “Profile” collages have slyly suggestive captions. “The Daybreak Express” shows a bedroom with a nude woman stretched out on her stomach. Behind her is a window through which we see a train puffing steam. The inscription reads: “You could tell not only what train it was but also who the engineer was by the sound of the whistle.”

On its own, the image has an all-at-once clarity that makes verbal description feel labored. (I didn’t tell you, for instance, that the woman’s head rests in the crook of her elbow, nor that one eye looks out at the viewer, nor what kind of room it is, nor whether it is night or day outside; yet when you look at the picture, it takes just a second to register all of that.)

Still, words can do things that images can’t. The inscription, with its double entendre and pungent specificity (were the horn-tooting habits of the train engineers really so distinct?) has a poetic concision that goes beyond the scope of images.

Throughout the series, Bearden sets up echoes, not only visually (women, windows and trains are repeating motifs) but verbally. “The last time I saw Liza was down at the station when I left for Pittsburgh on the 5.13,” reads one inscription. Another says: “Sometimes at night I used to dream of being the one who was running the train.” And a third: “The trains in the stories she told always ran North.”


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Daybreak Express,” 1978, collage on board. (Courtesy of the McConnell Family Trust. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

Beyond this roiling interplay between visual and verbal imagery, I love Bearden’s “Profile” series (and his whole oeuvre) for the way it undermines the exhausted premises of 21st century identity politics.

To grasp how, it’s important to say first that Bearden could scarcely have been more engaged with black identity. Everything he made — most everything he did — had to do with telling the story of black life in the United States. He fought prejudice and promoted visibility for African Americans at every turn.

Bitter experience had taught him how cruel and arbitrary racial distinctions could be. An exceptionally talented pitcher, he had played on a professional “colored” team while studying in Boston. He was so good that, in 1932, he was invited to join the Philadelphia Athletics, a team that had won the World Series in 1929 and ’30 and the American League pennant in ’31. But accepting would have meant pretending he was white. (This was 15 years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.) Bearden turned it down.

Like his mother, he was an activist. He had started out in art drawing political cartoons for the Afro-American newspaper. In 1963, he helped found a collective of black artists, the Spiral Group. He spent the 1960s organizing ambitious shows devoted to African American art. With Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow, he even started the Cinque Gallery, dedicated to black artists.

By then, he had “made it” as an artist; he wanted to help in every way he could. (“His phone never stops ringing,” Chris Shelton, the gallery’s first director, commented to Tomkins.)

Bearden once said that “an artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art that he sees, he sees something missing.” For him, what was missing was the experiences, dreams and projections of his people. Today’s prominent black artists, including Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas (whose collage aesthetic was heavily influenced by Bearden), Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley, are similarly motivated.

Correcting this became Bearden’s life’s work. He wanted, he said in 1964, to “establish a world through art in which the validity of my Negro experience could live and make its own logic.”

He succeeded magnificently, largely because he wasn’t interested in simplifying reality. He would have loathed the idea of depleting the imprint life left on him just to make it fit the requirements of a political worldview. It would have betrayed his understanding of identity itself.


Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), “Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Johnny Hudgins Comes On,” 1981, collage on board. (Seavest Collection of Contemporary Realism, White Plains, New York. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

“We all live in a mask,” he once said. “We all have a hundred different identities.”

One of the best (and most brightly colored) collages in Part II of “Profile” illustrates this in ways that may be hard for contemporary viewers to wrap their heads around. It shows the black vaudeville mime artist, Johnny Hudgins, outside the Lafayette Theater.

Hudgins, who was nicknamed the Wah-Wah Man, often performed in blackface. This was not uncommon for black vaudeville performers (for all that we rightly condemn it now, blackface has a complicated history).

“He was my favorite of all the comedians,” wrote Bearden in the accompanying inscription. “What Johnny Hudgins could do through mime on an empty stage helped show me how worlds were created on an empty canvas.”

A black man in blackface is, if nothing else, an “unreliable narrator,” which may have been part of what Bearden loved in Hudgins. In any case, one can imagine how an African American who usually passed for white might have appreciated what Hudgins was up to, and the art he brought to his popular act.

Bearden took inspiration wherever he found it: George Grosz, Stuart Davis, Chinese painting, Picasso, Matisse, the Dutch masters, African art, Homer, Derek Walcott, jazz. His broad-mindedness was not just aesthetic. From childhood, he also straddled multiple modes of social existence. He instinctively felt, as Tomkins wrote, that “the path of separatism within a culture is basically self-defeating.” He also understood that identity — everyone’s identity — is layered.

The words we use today — “black,” “white,” “Latino,” “Asian” — may be clear. And, God knows, we all crave clarity. But the reality of selfhood is cloudier, more contradictory and harder to parse than those constricting categories allow. In the end, that is not a misfortune. It is a solace (how hard it is to be one thing!).

Art, too, is a solace. It exists to remind us that we come, all of us, in many versions.

“Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta through Feb. 2. high.org

Read more by Sebastian Smee:

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

EMPIRE FM’s TADIFEST Nominated For ‘Art Festival Event Of The Year’ Award At Ghana Arts And Culture Awards

Takoradi-based EMPIRE FM’s ‘TADIFEST’ has been nominated for an award at this year’s Ghana Arts and Culture Awards.

READ ALSO: Empire FM Successfully Holds Maiden Edition Of TadiFest Carnival (+Photos)

TADIFEST is in the category of Art Festival Event Of The Year and it is in this category with popular nationwide events Afrochella, Pama Festival, Black Art Street Festival, Chalewote Street Art Festival, and Wormanne Festival.

READ ALSO: EMPIRE FM Unveils TADIFEST’19 Event With Fun-Packed Activities Scheduled To Take Place

The maiden edition of the TADIFEST event was successfully held last year and this nomination really shows how far the event went.

The TADIFEST event is a week-long event which was held during the Christmas period in Takoradi and after a successful maiden event, organizers have launched this year’s event.

To vote for TADIFEST as the best art festival event, please see the attached photos;

Source: www.ghgossip.com

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Trial by Social Media

When the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee needed a partner to curate a series of 30 murals highlighting the city’s “civil-rights and social-justice journey”—a project that would capture Atlanta’s historic relevance and its current cultural cachet—the choice was obvious. WonderRoot, the nonprofit grassroots organization founded to promote social justice through art, was uniquely poised to pull it off.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the resulting murals, which stretched from Vine City to Old Fourth Ward, the game’s “lasting legacy.” Charmaine Minniefield, a former Spelman professor and producer for the National Black Arts Festival, painted two murals of female visionaries—one on MLK Drive of Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and another on Auburn Avenue of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Ella Baker—both framed by chromatic patterns inspired by West African Ankara fabrics. Near Woodruff Park, Muhammad Yungai painted New Kids on the Block, flipping the script on Norman Rockwell with suburban white children moving into an urban black neighborhood. National media, including CNN and the Chicago Tribune, heralded the series as a permanent tribute to Atlanta’s Beloved Community. Vendors organized walking and bike tours of the artworks.

“Certainly, the Super Bowl and the NFL have an important role to play in addressing social justice issues in our country,” WonderRoot founder and executive director Chris Appleton told CBS This Morning days before the February 3 game, standing proudly in front of Ernest Shaw’s Atlanta Strong mural, which depicts two images of a girl wearing the American flag, near an entrance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “But also, these kinds of big events can be galvanizing moments. . . . It takes eyeballs [on murals like these] to make change.”

In 2004, when he was in his early 20s, Appleton had launched WonderRoot with two friends. Built on a romantic idea—that artists could “change the world”—the nonprofit transformed a run-down house on Memorial Drive into a space that housed studios and hosted experimental bands playing late-night basement sets. WonderRoot’s grants and resources were credited with helping Atlanta retain local artists, who in years past had left for other cities.

Appleton’s charisma and fluency in social-justice speak resonated with other grassroots arts organizations on whose boards he served, such as Eyedrum and Burnaway, as well as with national and corporate funders; in 2017 alone, WonderRoot received $100,000 from Enterprise Community Partners and $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2014, Appleton won the Emerging Leader Award from national nonprofit Americans for the Arts and announced ambitious plans to raise $2.8 million and eventually move into a 54,000-square-foot former school across the street from WonderRoot’s Reynoldstown space, hoping to turn it into one of the city’s largest arts centers. “The reality is, I’m trying to build an institution that has staying power and is going to last 50 years, 100 years,” he told Creative Loafing in 2015.

Atlanta Strong mural in front of Mercedes Benz Stadium
Atlanta Strong, a mural that WonderRoot helped bring into the city

Photograph by Audra Melton

But just four days after the Super Bowl brought the organization so much good will, WonderRoot’s triumph came to an abrupt halt. Fifteen former colleagues and staffers, seven of them anonymous, posted an open letter to the nonprofit’s board of directors on social media: “We stand together, as the named and unnamed, to condemn the egregious and systemic harm that we have endured at the behest of Executive Director Chris Appleton’s leadership.”

The February 7 letter accused Appleton of mismanagement and creating a workplace of “intimidation” with “the same dynamics of racism, classism, and heteropatriarchy that the organization purports to dismantle”—and blamed the board for passively allowing it. “Past harm can never be erased, but future harm can be minimized. We demand that you finally respond in actionable terms,” the letter stated.

Dozens of artists, former associates, and organizations shared the letter on Facebook and Instagram. Within days, the board of directors put Appleton on temporary leave, hired a crisis-management team, and recruited a law firm to look into the accusations. A week and a half after the letter was posted, and before the law firm’s investigation even had been completed, Appleton voluntarily resigned from the nonprofit. (Appleton didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment via email, phone call, text, and certified mail. WonderRoot’s board declined to comment for this story through Brian Tolleson, the interim executive director of WonderRoot after Appleton’s resignation.)

By late April, the investigators would conclude that Appleton “repeatedly behaved in an unprofessional manner with staff”—though their report did not find that he targeted employees based on race or gender or that he ever used “racial insults,” as the letter alleged. Nor did the investigation find that Appleton did anything unlawful. But without its leader, the organization had foundered financially. On August 1, the board announced it had unanimously voted to shut down operations.

Online outrage is a blunt instrument. It can flatten complicated human behavior into a binary of “victims” and “abusers”—good and evil—regardless of whether the alleged misdeed is criminal or simply offensive (or even occurred). Airing accusations on social media bypasses traditionally held notions of due process, making the highest court in the land that of public opinion.

Yet, when valid complaints or fears about prominent leaders are met with indifference or fail to generate an official response, social media levels the playing field. The platforms give voice to groups that face systemic societal discrimination—allowing their words to reverberate further and longer, and pressuring the accused and their supporters to respond quickly.

This tension is especially profound in creative communities. Many arts organizations are by nature unconventional, unstructured, and underfunded, often lacking sufficient infrastructure to resolve internal conflicts. Artists are often employed as independent contractors or work for small nonprofits that don’t offer traditional human resource channels for filing formal complaints. Jessyca Holland, the director of arts training nonprofit C4 Atlanta, says that smaller organizations “can’t put in all of these corporate-type HR constraints or else we would never operate,” though she points out that nonprofit boards can function as support systems. Start-ups running out of informal spaces help keep Atlanta’s art scene innovative, but a lack of resources can lead to less-than-ideal working conditions.

“Past harm can never be erased, but future harm can be minimized.”

Without other remedies, artists—and particularly women—have often relied on whisper networks to protect each other. But these days, whispers sometimes migrate to social networks, which can serve as megaphones.

On Dream Warriors, a collection of private Facebook groups where mostly Atlanta-based femme, women, and nonbinary members share everything from roommate listings to tattoo-artist recommendations, call-outs are common. On a 2018 post asking about local businesses engaged in “shady or unethical practices,” which elicited more than 350 comments, one member cautioned, “I’m 100% behind this post, but can we all make sure to link credible sources to back up claims? This can turn into a shit-slinging fest really quickly if we’re not careful.”

Group gatekeepers—the administrators—struggle with navigating allegations as membership grows. Dream Warriors founder Allie Bashuk says the group’s Opportunity Page, which has close to 16,000 members, has six paid administrators, but they generally rely on informal self-policing. Photographer Julie Hunter, who founded the private Facebook group RISE for local creatives in 2016, attempts to vet accusations before they are published to the group’s more than 1,000 members, asking accusers for screenshots and searching for potential police reports. “I feel like it’s partly my reputation on the line if I put something out there,” she says.

University of Georgia media-law professor Jonathan Peters says moderators and social media companies have no legal obligation to investigate claims, as long as they’re not posting the content themselves. Politicians, however, are debating how to modify the law—Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act—that protects them, arguing that the immunity is too broad. And there remains the question of moral responsibility: “I think what [social media] companies have to do ethically is think about what kind of community they want to be,” Peters says.

Of course, accusers themselves can be sued for calling out someone online. Ohio-based attorney Aaron Minc says his law firm, which specializes in internet defamation, has seen an “uptick” in people inquiring about their legal options after being accused on social media, since it can be difficult to “restore their reputation and their good name.” Minc says he supports victims of abuse and the climate #MeToo has created for sharing their stories but notes “there’s this delicate nuance where a certain percentage of people are malicious, and there’s no validity to their claims at all.”

Airing accusations on social media bypasses traditionally held notions of due process, making the highest court in the land that of public opinion.

Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries and other books, filed a lawsuit a year ago against Moira Donegan, a former editor at the New Republic, who posted an editable, non–password protected Google spreadsheet called the Shitty Media Men List. According to Donegan, the list was live for only 12 hours, but it went viral, with versions making their way onto Reddit and YouTube. Allegations against the men whose names were added to the list ranged from sending offensive messages to sexual assault. Elliott, who was accused of rape by an anonymous source, denies the charges and claims that he lost book publicity and agent representation as a result of the list. Though Elliott’s lawyer agreed to drop the lawsuit’s claims of emotional damage, defamation claims are still working their way through the legal system.

In 2017, after a woman named Chelsea Tadros tweeted that L.A. hip-hop producer and DJ William Bensussen (who goes by the Gaslamp Killer) drugged and raped her and another woman four years prior, he denied the allegations and filed defamation lawsuits against them. (One was dismissed within months.) In a 2018 statement, Bensussen wrote: “In suing Tadros, I am not trying to silence her. In fact, I am hoping to open a dialogue in which to examine this event in front of a judge and jury, rather than trial by social media.”

In July, Bensussen dropped the other lawsuit and released a joint statement with Tadros that said in part: “After engaging in heartfelt discussions with each other about the events of July 5, 2013, William Bensussen and Chelsea Tadros have decided that it is their mutual desire to move on with their lives and put this lawsuit behind them.”

Two months before the Super Bowl, Appleton stood onstage at downtown’s Loudermilk Conference Center as part of a sold-out TEDxCentennialParkWomen event. He was spreading the WonderRoot gospel of art creating social change, inviting the crowd “to engage, to get involved, and to be purposeful and intentional about how you engage with the cultural community.”

Former WonderRoot employee Stephanie Kong had noticed the event being promoted and was bothered by it. In 2015, Kong had joined WonderRoot as a program director, feeling “privileged” to be there “because there aren’t many organizations in Atlanta that [were] doing this type of work, especially in the arts,” she says.

But by 2017, she says, she had become disillusioned with its leader. Kong claims Appleton routinely berated her and other employees in an unprofessional manner. Her frustration came to a head when, she says, he lost his temper because a funder complained about a gap in communication. According to Kong, Appleton stormed into her office, yelling profanities so loudly that other employees could hear through a closed door. A few days later, Kong says, the funder apologized to Appleton, admitting they’d accidentally overlooked her messages.

Kong called the resulting workplace culture “toxic” and “disempowering.” She says she met with WonderRoot board member Odetta MacLeish-White about Appleton’s behavior, and that MacLeish-White told her that change wouldn’t happen overnight. (In an email, MacLeish-White declined to comment for this story.) Kong says that two weeks after the alleged incident over the funder, Appleton met with her and apologized. She says that she asked him to promise that he wouldn’t lose his temper like that again, and his reply was that he couldn’t. Kong says she resigned on the spot.

Chris Appleton
Chris Appleton, executive director of WonderRoot, helped bring a series of high-profile murals to the city shortly before allegations against him led to his resignation.

Photograph by Kent D. Johnson/AP images

The report WonderRoot commissioned from the law firm states that the board met in April 2017—just after Kong and another employee left—to address staff complaints. At the time, the board required Appleton to go through “executive coaching” and formed an HR committee. However, those precautions had not been communicated to employees, the report would later find, and current and former staff told investigators they had observed “no sustained change” in Appleton’s leadership style or management.

Nearly two years later, in January 2019—weeks after Appleton’s TEDxCentennialParkWomen talk—Kong got an email from Jenne Lobsenz, another former WonderRoot program director. Lobsenz told her that a small group of former employees and others who worked with WonderRoot in various capacities—mostly women—had started an email chain exchanging stories about their experiences working for Appleton. Would Kong be interested in joining?

Kong said yes and was looped in. Like Kong, Lobsenz says she had met with a board member, Tina Arbes, the CFO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, to discuss Appleton in 2014—without observing results. (Arbes declined to comment for this story.)

Kong says she still believed in WonderRoot’s mission and wanted to make it a better place, but, based on previous attempts, she didn’t think a private message to the board of directors would yield results. She says she, Lobsenz, and others on the email chain felt that a public letter would pressure the board to respond—immediately.

The email participants collaboratively wrote the letter and tried to vet one another’s stories, asking about witnesses and documentation, Lobsenz says. Seven group members signed the letter anonymously, but Kong says she knew some needed to attach their names to give the letter weight.

Kong says she worried about possible legal retribution and ruining relationships in Atlanta’s small arts world. She says she also didn’t relish the thought of starting a witch hunt of Appleton. But she says going public also seemed to be the only way to draw attention to what she calls “the systems in place that support harmful behavior.”

On the morning of February 7, the letter-writers began posting it on their social media pages, along with the hashtag #RemoveChrisAppleton.

For curators, gallery owners, event organizers, and others in the arts community, the risk of online accusations raises the stakes for determining which creatives they should support. Atlanta Contemporary executive director Veronica Kessenich says, “We don’t vet [artists and partners], per se, but we’ve worked with them for such a time [that] they know who we are and we know who they are. We’re confident not only in what they’re going to bring artistically and programmatically but who they are as people.”

Kessenich says the institution adheres to professional standards of nonprofit best practices—contracts, bylaws, conflict-of-interest policies—to guide staff and contractors and to protect the organization. However, those methods can be out of reach for smaller, grassroots groups that have trouble affording legal review or that work with less-established artists.

In the absence of an official public record, like a lawsuit or police report, and in circumstances where alleged offenses occur behind closed doors, supporters and associates of the accused must make their own judgments about how to handle accusations.

Monica Campana, founder and executive director of public arts nonprofit Living Walls, says a woman came to her, accusing an artist Campana was working with of sexual misconduct. She started to fact-check the woman’s claims but then realized, “[by coming to me,] she was putting at risk her image, her name and reputation,” she says. Since that moment, Campana says, she believes women first. “There’s no fact-checking involved. And if I have to go and do that, then [the accused] is probably already someone that I don’t want to work with.”

In January, Philippe Pellerin of Pellerin Real Estate revoked plans to host muralist Ray Geier’s Squishieland gallery at his Beacon Atlanta development in Grant Park two days after artists accused Geier on Facebook and Instagram of sexual harassment. Geier, whose nom d’artiste is Squishiepuss, was one of the city’s most in-demand muralists; his paintings—many of which featured a pink, tentacled French bulldog—had become ubiquitous on the sides of buildings around town.

Under the headline “Social media firestorm erupts over Atlanta artist,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted one of his accusers, Aliya Smith: “In the first 24 hours, I got 30 to 40 stories about women being harassed (by Geier).

. . . I feel like when one person was comfortable saying what happened, more people felt comfortable saying, ‘I thought I was alone.’”

A tagged-over mural originally by Ray Geier, aka Squishiepuss
A tagged-over mural originally by Ray Geier, aka Squishiepuss

Photograph courtesy of Julia Burke

At East Atlanta’s Hodgepodge Coffeehouse, owner Krystle Rodriguez arranged to paint over an expansive, outdoor Squishiepuss mural as soon as she saw the allegations online and released a statement on Facebook. (“We #believewomen,” it read in part.) Drogo Coffee and Tea owner Barrie Sanders blacked out a Squishiepuss-made logo on her retail bags of loose-leaf tea with a Sharpie “without a second thought,” she says. More than a dozen businesses eventually covered up or took down Geier’s work, and vigilante street artists tagged over his murals.

Geier, a prolific podcaster, went silent for three months. Then, two new episodes popped up on his channel. He appeared to address his accusers, stating: “I’ve never done anything against someone’s will. Everything was always—What’s the fucking word?—everything was always consensual. . . . If you consider sexual harassment, like, making a move on them and then someone rejecting that move, I have done that. But guess what? All of us have. . . . Women do it, too. But to sit there and fucking make me out to be this thing that all the rest of the people aren’t? This is fucking bananas.”

Earlier this year, Geier responded to Atlanta magazine’s requests for comment: “Ray Geier/Squishiepuss LLC is retaining legal counsel and will be purs[u]ing any and all civil and criminal claims to the fullest extent possible against parties that make applicable public statements.” Since then, he has not responded to repeated requests for comment via email.

After the Beacon removed Geier’s artwork from the development and terminated its agreement with the muralist, Pellerin donated the gallery space for an art show about sexual harassment and violence called If I Told You . . . Curated by 15 female-identifying artists and featuring work exploring themes of sexual harassment and violence, the event also included programming like therapeutic yoga classes and conversations about sexual health, domestic violence, and self-healing.

Pellerin is unsure what additional measures he could have taken in sizing up Geier. He says his company performs background and credit checks—once deemed a sufficient evaluation—on potential tenants, and he meets with them before signing. But how much should organizations excavate an artist’s past? And what’s the method for searching beyond what comes up in public records? “How do I do that?” Pellerin asks. “I don’t have an answer.”

Nearly three months after the #RemoveChrisAppleton hashtag spread across the social media accounts of the local creative community, McFadden Davis, the law firm WonderRoot hired to examine the letter’s claims, released its report. After interviewing 35 people, including Kong and the other named letter-signers, as well as WonderRoot’s board members, McFadden Davis found Appleton had acted unprofessionally, including “becoming irate with staff, yelling, outbursts, and using profanity when upset.” (The report did not state whether Appleton was interviewed, and the firm declined a request for comment.) But in reference to the letter’s allegations of “dynamics of racism, classism, and heteropatriarchy,” the report concluded that Appleton’s behavior wasn’t targeted toward women or minorities.

The letter had also accused Appleton of “inappropriate attempts at intimacy inside and outside of the workplace,” “solely taking credit for” the work of his nonwhite, female, or queer staff members, and “financial dishonesty.” But the report found no evidence of Appleton engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior” or harassment and stated that he did not “inappropriately or intentionally take credit for the work of others.” And while the report concluded that Appleton “repeatedly engaged in poor financial management practices,” it cleared him of “financial theft or misappropriation.”

The next day, the AJC wrote, “After a three-month investigation by a firm specializing in employment law, the ousted director of the community arts organization WonderRoot appears to be responsible not for racial insults or financial impropriety, but for having a bad temper.”

The story also cited a text from Appleton to the newspaper: “For the past 15 years I have been focused on WonderRoot’s external growth and development and apologize for not doing more to ensure there was a stronger culture of respect toward WonderRoot’s team members and the impact this caused.”

“It made me feel that, did I put a lot of energy into something that’s not going to make a difference?”

In June, WonderRoot laid off most of its staff, acknowledging the “challenging” last few months. In August, the organization officially announced its closing: “Regrettably, since the departure of WonderRoot’s founder, Chris Appleton, the organization has not been able to reestablish the financial support needed in order to continue,” the statement read in part. “We are collaborating with the community to find permanent homes for the projects and programs of WonderRoot.”

Occasionally, Kong drives by the former WonderRoot space on Memorial Drive and sees its bright yellow and blue facade, now empty inside. She says she was heartened by some of the conversations the letter started in the arts community but says she and other letter-signers remain disappointed; Lobsenz says she felt the primary purpose of the law firm’s report was to salvage WonderRoot’s reputation rather than to “prioritize healing the pain” of the people who signed it.

Kong says, “It made me feel that, did I put a lot of energy into something that’s not going to make a difference?”

Disclosure: In 2018, Vashi was paid $350 by WonderRoot for coteaching an eight-session journalism program for teenagers.

Additional reporting by Jewel Wicker.

This article appears in our November 2019 issue.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

US briefing: Ukraine, China’s missiles and Facebook’s backdoor

Subscribe now to receive the morning briefing by email.

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Texts suggest Trump exerting pressure on Ukraine president

US diplomats told Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that his hopes of meeting Donald Trump to improve Kyiv’s relations with Washington rested on his vowing to investigate allegations against the Bidens. The exchange emerged in texts released as part of the impeachment inquiry, hours after Trump himself made an extraordinary public demand for China to investigate his prospective Democratic rival, threatening: “If they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous, tremendous power.”

  • Kurt Volker. The first witness in the impeachment inquiry was the former special envoy on Ukraine, who believed he could maintain the US policy of upholding Ukrainian independence despite Trump’s attachment to Putin. He was wrong, as Julian Borger reports.

  • ‘Deep state’. The president’s allies continue to blame the so-called “deep state” for his impeachment, despite Steve Bannon himself debunking the conspiracy theory. In fact, says Richard Wolffe, Trump is becoming his own worst enemy.

Russia helping China build missile defence system, says Putin

Putin, right, with China's president, Xi Jinping, in Tajikistan in June.



Vladimir Putin (right) with China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Tajikistan in June. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said his country is helping China to develop a ballistic missile defence system of a sort that has so far been used only by Russia and the US. The network of ground-based radars and space satellites would give Beijing early warning of intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Speaking at a conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin said it was “a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability”.

  • Eurasian cooperation. The news demonstrates increased cooperation between Moscow and Beijing at a time when US relations with both powers are complicated by controversy over the Kremlin’s ties to Trump and the trade war between the US and China.

US to demand Facebook ‘backdoor’ to encrypted messages

Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year.



Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

The US, UK and Australia plan to pressure Facebook into providing governments with a “backdoor” to its encrypted messaging system, allowing them to access the content of private communications, according to a letter from top officials to Mark Zuckerberg, which has been obtained by the Guardian. The signatories to the open letter, dated 4 October, include the US attorney general, William Barr, and Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel.

  • Data access. The US and UK have also unveiled a “world-first” data access agreement, permitting law enforcement agencies investigating serious crimes to demand certain data directly from the other country’s tech firms without going through their governments.

Los Angeles homeless face alarming increase in violence

A homeless encampment in Downtown LA’s Skid Row neighbourhood.



A homeless encampment in Downtown LA’s Skid Row neighbourhood. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

As a housing crisis forces more and more people on to the streets, homeless people and their advocates in Los Angeles are reportedly facing a rise in harassment and violence. Statistics have long shown that homeless people are more vulnerable to crimes such as assault, harassment and vandalism than the housed. The Guardian’s Carla Green spoke to almost a dozen homeless Angelenos, who all said there had been a noticeable increase in attacks in the past year, by people who target them for being homeless.

  • Arson attack. Prosecutors are reportedly considering charges of attempted murder against two men, including the son of a local chamber of commerce president, for setting fire to a homeless encampment in LA’s Eagle Rock neighbourhood in August.

  • Public banks. In a bid to tackle the affordable housing crisis, California has legalised the creation of public banks by cities and counties, which could provide public agencies access to loans at interest rates much lower than private banks.

Cheat sheet

  • The EU has urged the UK government to publish its new Brexit plan in full as Boris Johnson heads to Europe for talks with Angela Merkel and other leaders, while Ireland’s prime minister has accused Johnson of misleading the British parliament.

  • The actor James Franco faces a new lawsuit claiming he and other staff at his acting school “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students”, accusations that Franco refutes as “not accurate”.

  • Google reportedly told subcontracted workers to target people with “darker skin tones” when harvesting face scans from the public to improve the firm’s facial recognition algorithms, which are notoriously inept at identifying people of color.

  • Thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets in masks after the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, prepares to implement harsh colonial-era emergency powers banning face masks.

Must-reads

Kim Gordon: ‘There’s a wall of faceless men I have to climb over’



Kim Gordon: ‘There’s a wall of faceless men I have to climb over’ Photograph: David Black

Art-rock legend Kim Gordon: ‘Consumerism is killing us’

Sonic Youth, the seminal art-rock band Kim Gordon co-founded with her ex-husband Thurston Moore, came to a natural conclusion when the couple split in 2011. Now, at 66, she is releasing her first solo record. “Playing bass was never my desire,” she tells Jenn Pelly. “It was a byproduct of wanting to make something exciting.”

Why is ‘junk science’ still sending people to death row?

For decades, US law enforcement has used ‘forensic hypnosis’ to draw out testimony from witnesses and victims, despite growing evidence that it is unreliable, relying on a false notion of memory as “a vast, permanent and potentially accessible storehouse of information,” as Ariel Ramchandani reports.

The week’s best film about an extremist loner is not Joker

The superficial similarities between the much-hyped revisionist supervillain movie Joker and Rob Lambert’s grimy low-budget drama Cuck are striking. But it is Lambert’s portrait of an online racist who turns to IRL violence that is the more repellent, honest and astute, says Charles Bramesco.

Israel’s Arab wineries illustrate the Palestinian struggle

There are just two commercial Palestinian-owned wineries inside Israel, with clients including Yotam Ottolenghi and those Tel Aviv restaurants that want to avoid wine made on controversial Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Miriam Berger meets the vintners keeping an Arab-Palestinian tradition alive.

Opinion

From teachers and hotel workers to nurses and auto workers, US labour groups have staged a wave of industrial action in 2019. But Democrats have yet to put forth policies that show they stand with the workers in this punishing economic climate, says Malaika Jabali.


Despite this growing progressive fervor, the Democrats’ congressional leadership – including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – have focused almost entirely on targeting Donald Trump.

Sport

Gardner Minshew II, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ mustachioed rookie quarterback, has turned out to be far more than just an Uncle Rico lookalike, writes Hunter Felt. The first four games of his NFL career constitute one of the most impressive quarterback stretches in Jaguars history.

Leicester City travel to Anfield on Saturday, hoping to derail Liverpool’s perfect league start, while on Sunday Manchester United and Newcastle will both want to hit their stride after a slow spell when they face each other at St James’ Park. Those are two of 10 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Meshell Ndegeocello Speaks About Life as a Black Artist at Provost Lecture Series

Jackson Schneider, Contributing

American singer-songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello spoke about her experiences as a black artist and her search for musical truth at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts on Oct. 3. The event was part of the Provost Lecture Series.

Ndegeocello, 51, was born in Berlin and raised in Washington, D.C. Her father was a saxophonist in the military band. 

“My father played [and] practiced all the time in the military, so I grew up hearing music,” Ndegeocello said. “My ears are everything to me. I hope that, when we evolve as a species, we have no eyes.”

Ndegeocello acknowledged that she has trouble connecting with other people because of childhood loneliness and her limited interactions with her parents while she was growing up. She found she was socially unprepared for blatant racism when she entered college, and recalled becoming discouraged.

“It was heartbreaking how the light-skinned people treated dark-skinned people and vice versa,”  Ndegeocello said. “I didn’t have a lot of friends, and my mother had severe mental illness. … The thing that lifted me up was my ability to make music.”

Ndegeocello’s love for music helped reshape her relationship with her parents. After traveling around the world and encountering various cultures and stories, she realized that she could not judge her parents because she lacked a full understanding of their stories. 

“It’s the travel and meeting people that has taught me what I know,” she noted.

Through recounting her travels, Ndegeocello contemplated what it means to be a person of color in the United States and what she can offer her children’s generation. Regardless of fame and money, Ndegeocello said her primary goal in producing art is to influence others. 

“I want to offer something [they] can’t find in the book, like being kind,” Ndegeocello said. “We are losing our ability to be kind towards one another, to be open-minded towards one another. You lose that ambition once you find peace in yourself. I no longer needed people to clap for me, and I want to make something that is meaningful to other people.”

During a question-and-answer session with Kevin Karnes, professor and chair of the Department of Music, Ndegeocello mentioned that the inspiration for her music comes from meeting new people and collaborating with different artists.

Rolande Kangnigan (23C) said the lecture exceeded her expectations, and expressed satisfaction for having attended.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in because I’ve never heard of her. I only went because her name reminded me of Africa, which is where I’m from,” Kangnigan said. “But I’m really glad that I went. She is really cool and I love [that] she puts herself on a level with us and doesn’t hold herself above us.”

The Provost Lecture Series aims to provide students, faculty, staff and the public with opportunities to interact with prominent scholars and foster a culture of excellence that attracts and inspires scholars of the highest order.

“Bringing innovative thinkers, speakers and artists like Meshell [Ndegeocello] to campus each year supports this unified vision of Emory as a world-class research university, implementing the ‘One Emory: Engaged for Impact’ academic plan,” Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dwight A. McBride said to introduce the lecture.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

It’s a modern, musical world at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s annual Grand Gala Ball often tips its hat to the past. Recent themes have celebrated Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball, Degas’ dancers and “Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits.”

Imagine patrons’ surprise, then, when invitations to the 2019 black-tie benefit revealed “Abstraction: Moving into Modern” as this year’s motif.

‘Glee’ best describes the mood outside the Caroline Wiess Law Building last Friday, as some 300  guests arrived via a hot pink carpet. Here’s a theory: It’s impossible not to have a smashing good time when such a vivid shade sets the tone. Thus, color landed a starring role in the night’s success.

Take Susanne Pritchard, who served as chairman alongside husband Bill Pritchard and wore a watermelon hue for the occasion. With its gold-flecked shoulder detail, her cape-like frock radiated sunshine every time she moved – which fortunately, was often.

And that’s because the Pritchards spotlit music  (hey, it’s an art medium, too) in a big way. They somehow convinced Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/pianist Bruce Hornsby to make a pit stop in Houston en route to the first weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival. VIPs were privy to a 10-minute meet-and-greet with the renowned performer in the Law building’s African Gold Gallery before he later graced the main stage in Cullinan Hall.

That’s where Hornsby’s three song set-list kicked off with his biggest hit to date, “The Way It Is,” which famously depicts aspects of homelessness, the American Civil Rights Movement and institutional racism. At least six rap artists, including the late Tupac Shakur, have sampled the well-known track.

Hornsby’s opening number felt like a full-circle moment and fitting complement to Houston-based, African-American artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, whose 54 feet by 18 feet mural-scaled backdrop, “Good Vegan Procession #5,” swathed the dinner scene. The artwork, originally created for Ballet Austin’s “Cult of Color: Call to Color,” illustrated a brightly colored forest glade, with silhouettes of more than 100 trees dancing across a field, deploying the palette and visual energy of Abstract Expressionism.

In contrast, The Event Company’s lucite tables and chairs added a contemporary touch to the rainbow of wildflower centerpieces. All the better to frame City Kitchen’s cauliflower soup with preserved lemon and parsley, pan-roasted Maine Lobster and beef tenderloin medallion, and lemon meringue tart with raspberry sorbet.

Color. Color. Color.

Presenting sponsor Harry Winston doubled the sweet treats by placing chocolate-filled “jewelry boxes” at each place setting.

The extra desserts came in handy once Jessie’s Girls really got the dance-floor hopping. Per usual, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor bested the crowd as king and queen of cutting a rug, though Drs. Ishwaria and Vivek Subbiah gave the reigning couple a run for their money.

By night’s end, gala-goers raised $1.9 million. As representatives from the Harry Winston Bright Futures Charitable Program noted, the company is dedicated to supporting organizations, including the MFAH, that strive to remove barriers for disadvantaged youth and enable healthy futures.

Maybe that’s why the sight of a predominantly African-American cover band leading revelers through the “Cupid Shuffle” and “Old Town Road” felt fresh, fun and progressive. Perhaps we are moving into modern times.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Jordan Casteel solo exhibition at the Cantor

Jordan Casteel, widely recognized as one of the most innovative emerging artists working today, brought her first solo museum exhibition, Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, from her hometown museum in Denver to the Cantor Arts Center. This is the second and final venue for the exhibition, which is on view through Feb. 2, 2020.

Artist Jordan Casteel gestures to her painting Benyam (2018) on view at the Cantor Arts Center’s presentation of “Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze.” (Courtesy of the Cantor Arts Center)

The exhibition features 29 paintings made in the last five years, many featuring people Casteel encountered while walking around her Harlem, New York, neighborhood. Upon returning to her studio, photographs she took of her subjects became the source material for electrically colored, large-scale painted portraits that chronicle Casteel’s personal observations of the human experience.

“Her monumental, exquisitely tender paintings remind us that everyday existence can also be extraordinary,” said Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, assistant curator of American art at the Cantor.

The title of the exhibition, Returning the Gaze, acknowledges the many levels of engagement within Casteel’s work. There is Casteel’s personal engagement with her subjects as a neighbor and artist, and the subjects in the works are often depicted gazing straight out of the canvas, engaging viewers and holding their attention.

Artist Jordan Casteel in front of her painting Yahya (2014) at the Cantor Arts Center. (Courtesy of the Cantor Arts Center)

The broad exhibition reveals Casteel’s evolving practice. Inspired to address ideas of black masculinity, Casteel began by painting portraits of those closest to her including family members, friends and boyfriends, to transform the negative representations of black men often encountered in society.

The result was her early series, Visible Man (2013–14) and Brothers (2015), which include details such as furnishings and personal belongings that deepen the viewers’ understanding of the subjects. Casteel also decided to paint some of her male subjects in the nude, after discovering that clothing seemed to mask the essential humanity of those she was painting.

“I think a lot of this has to do with historical painting and the notion of who has the right to depict what bodies at what scale,” Casteel wrote in the catalog produced by the Denver Art Museum that accompanies the exhibition. “I was really interested in humanizing a history that is often criminalized and sexualized. I didn’t want the black male body to be taken advantage of any more than historically it has been.”

Included in the exhibition are works from Casteel’s 2017 series Nights in Harlem, an investigation of light and color. Other subjects represented in the exhibition include cityscapes, subway scenes, women and local business owners.

Having Casteel’s work at the Cantor complements ongoing conversations in the museum’s galleries about representation, including discussions about who is represented and the artists doing the representing.

“A portrait historically has been a physical manifestation of one’s wealth, because you had to pay considerable sums of money to have yourself represented that way, so often the images we have in portraits are of wealthy white people,” Alexander said. “Initially you might not think that just painting your community members would be a radical gesture, but when looked at in the larger context of art history, it’s a radical and deeply empathetic gesture.”

Born in 1989 in Denver, Colorado, Casteel earned her bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, and her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking from Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut. She now lives and works in New York and is an assistant professor at Rutgers University-Newark. Her work is included in public collections at The Studio Museum, MOCA Los Angeles, The Ford Foundation and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Casteel, who was the inaugural artist honoree at the Museums By Moonlight gala, the annual event that supports the Cantor and Anderson Collection at Stanford University, was recently profiled in both the New York Times and Vogue magazine and was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list of influencers in art and style in 2019.

While on campus, Casteel gave a gallery tour to undergraduate students in a survey course offered by the Department of Art and Art History in the School of the Humanities and Sciences that examines works made by African American artists in the United States and abroad. She also spent time in the classroom discussing how artists have contended with issues of race, gender and sexuality and how collectors and museums make decisions about their collections.

The Cantor plans to offer two in-gallery talks by Alexander, one on Thursday, Oct. 24, from noon to 1 p.m., and the other on Thursday, Jan. 16, from 1 to 2 p.m.

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A Conversation With Critic and Curator Antwaun Sargent

Nbv Cover Render Mid ResThe Scene’s fall guide predicted that one of the highlights of this season’s visual arts calendar would be the Oct. 8 appearance by critic and curator Antwaun Sargent at Austin Peay. An essay from Sargent’s forthcoming book The New Black Vanguard was published in September inThe New York Times, and it gives a great foundation for understanding the important work of the young but extremely prolific critic.

“There’s a burgeoning new vanguard of young black photographers,” Sargent writes, “who are working to widen the representation of black lives around the world — indeed, to expand the view of blackness in all its diversity.” Sargent sees his work as a form of visual activism seeking to challenge the “idea that blackness is homogeneous.”

Last week, the Scene spoke with Sargent from his home in New York to talk about his work and his upcoming visit to the South. Read a snippet of that conversation below. Sargent will be at Austin Peay tomorrow at 6 p.m. — clear your calendars, fill your gas tanks, do whatever it takes to be there.

Antwaun Sargent HeadshotAntwaun SargentThe story about your decision to start getting into writing and curating art is so specific, it’s almost like a superhero origin story. You saw, I think it was, Mickalene Thomas, is that right?

Yeah. As a kid I grew up in Chicago, I had access to really major encyclopedic museums and great contemporary art institutions, and there were some really great contemporary artists living there. And so, I’ve always been interested, I’ve always gone to museums. But it was also a thing where, growing up in the Midwest in a black family that didn’t have much, the ideas around what is possible for someone to do as a job or to devote their life to as a career — the ideas that we all devote our lives to one way or another — those are limited.

And so, what we had was doctors, lawyers and traditional career paths. So for the longest time, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. And I went to a high school that had a legal focus and I, in turn, did mock trials. I did legal nonprofit work, and then went on to Georgetown. I thought I’d spend four years in D.C. in the school of foreign service, and then I would go off to law school.

I was pretty fixed. I did that, and then I moved to New York to do Teach for America. And while I was in New York, I became friends with artists and people who were cultural workers in the New York art scene. And I was just blown away by the types of conversations that they were having around issues of identity, and equity, and beauty, and being, and all these things that I thought about — and then all of these things that I was invested in.

And so in 2012, Mickalene Thomas had a show — her first major survey at the Brooklyn Museum. I walked in and I saw these paintings. I just saw women I knew and their lives being reflected, which is to say something of my own life. I really want to write about this. And I really want to figure out a way to be close to what’s happening in an artist’s studio.

And so, I started to write about black artists, and that was eight years ago. And it has been hugely impactful on my own life, my own ideas, and challenging me to grow as a person.

Right. Plus, now you don’t have to go to law school.

That, too! We have enough lawyers in this world. I was happy to give up that dream to chase another one.

Yeah, absolutely. Have you heard any specific stories about someone having an idea about black people or about themselves that was changed by an artwork? 

I can tell you a story about myself, actually. When I was in college in Georgetown, I took those critical theory course and we had to do these case studies and it was all these artists. And one of the artists was Kara Walker. I had never seen work like that before, that was challenging the narratives that we told ourselves as a country about the enslavement of black people in this country. And there were narratives that I had not been familiar with, and I really broke down in the class and had a really visceral reaction to her work that inspired me to learn more about it — and inspired me to eventually go on to meet her, and interview her, and write about her work, and really engage her point of view. 

And I think that, more so than it changing me, it helped me to see that narratives are naturalized in this country. And the narratives that we tell ourselves over and over again, some of them are true and some of them are not. We should be approaching our histories and our institutions and the stories that we pass down — and photography, and art, and all these neat ideas — as being constructed from a human point of view. If we have that kind of perspective, we’re able, I think, to get closer to the truth of it all. And not just assume that because knowledge has been normalized, [that is] the truth. 

And so, that was a critical moment for me personally, academically to realize that the ways in which race had been in history and beauty. And all these ideas that have been constructed, we’re looking deeper at, in some cases contesting.

Do you feel like this is an even more important conversation to have in the South? Sometimes it feels like the history of slavery is a lot closer in the Southern imagination. Maybe because Southerners have strong feelings about traditions and the South’s identity from that time, but it definitely feels like something that’s a little bit harder to grapple with for Southern artists.

My point of view is that every part of this country has to reconcile its relationship to this history. I think that history shows up differently in different parts of the country, but it’s still in every aspect of this country. I think about the Great Migration, people moving from the South who are being terrorized — they had to leave their homes for opportunities, for safety, for what have you. And those people spread out across this country. There’s parts of Chicago that remind you of Mississippi. And so, I think that while the South is a closer site, in some ways, to these histories, I think the histories live on through every institution and every person that lives here. And I think that what’s important is to expose the ways that those histories live on, because often we like to think of history as being progressive, as marching forward. And that has not often been the case. I think that showing where and how history intersects with each of our lives is super important. And I think that it’s just as important in the South as it is in the North or the West or the East.

Right — racial inequality is an American issue. It’s not a Southern issue.

Exactly, yeah. I think the ways that racism shows up is definitely particular to place, but it definitely shows up. And so, I think we just need to just acknowledge that and keep on thinking of ways to dismantle that and point to our future. I think that’s about reclaiming our institutions. This time our institutions are in such a crisis. And I think it’d be a mistake if we ran away from them or said that we don’t believe in them anymore. I really just think that when things are in crisis, you should run towards them, not away from them. And so, I think about that in terms of art, and in terms of institutions of art. I think about that in terms of publishing. I think about that in terms of our government. I think about that in terms of our universities. I really do think that institutions, if anything, are [made of] people. And we need to make sure that we have people in there in these institutions that are helping us to reflect the world in better ways. And so, I really do think that for me, the way that I work and the way that I — from writing to curating to just living my life — really do believe that. I’m interested in trying to help reconsider some notions that we assume to be true.

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