Slog PM: An Ultra-Millionaire Tax, Another Jacob Lawrence Painting Recovered, Miguel Cardona Is Education Secretary

Its not just a few billionaires getting wealthier, said Rep. Pramila Jayapal during a presser unveiling the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act today, there have been 46 new billionaires created during this pandemic.

“It’s not just a few billionaires getting wealthier,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal during a presser unveiling the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act today, “There have been 46 new billionaires created during this pandemic.” (The Institute for Policy Studies estimates the pandemic created 56 new billionaires.) NowThis News screenshot

Here’s your daily evening round-up of the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to The Stranger to keep it comin’!)

“It is time for a wealth tax in America,” proclaimed Sen. Elizabeth Warren while unveiling the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act this afternoon. Warren was flanked by Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Brendan Boyle from Pennsylvania. The tax “would levy a 2% annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts between $50 million and $1 billion as well as a 1% annual surtax on assets above $1 billion, for a 3% tax overall on billionaires,” describes CNN.

As Jayapal put it during the presser this morning, when speaking on the racial inequities built into the country’s tax structure: “This is no accident. Our history is that much of the wealth of white families was accumulated at the expense of Black, brown, and Indigenous families… The extreme inequality and concentration of wealth and racial inequity is baked into our tax system.”

The proposal is popular: “Polls have consistently shown Ms. Warren’s proposal winning the support of more than three in five Americans, including a majority of Republican voters,” notes the New York Times. Who is it not popular with? “Republican men with college degrees.” Here’s the bill.
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The money could be used to invest in “child care and early education, K-12, infrastructure, all of which are priorities of President Biden and Democrats in Congress,” said Warren today.

Related:

Seattle hopes an upcoming mass vaccination site at the Lumen Field Event Center will be able to administer 21,000 vaccinations a day: Of course, that depends on supply. The site, which the City expects to start running mid-March, would probably begin by administering “approximately 5,000 first doses across two days a week,” reports CHS Blog. Two more vaccination sites—at the Southwest Athletic Complex in West Seattle and the Atlantic City Boat Ramp in Rainier Beach—are opening today. Those sites also offer coronavirus testing. Here’s where our vaccine dose 7-day average currently is at, says the state’s DOH dashboard:

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New York Gov. Cuomo faces increased pressure to resign: Multiple women have accused the governor of sexual harassment and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an investigation into Cuomo’s behavior. The Guardian has an overview here.

“It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union,” said the president of the United States today. “It’s not up to an employer to decide that either. The choice to join a union is up to the workers—full stop. Full stop.” The message was directed at Amazon warehouse workers across Alabama who are voting to unionize. Biden’s move was A Big Deal, writes Sarah Jones for the Intelligencer. Jones argued there “is likely no historical precedent for Biden’s statement, which explicitly frames unionization as a material and social good.”

In Seattle, a Black Amazon manager is suing the company for alleged racial discrimination, sexual assault and harassment: Charlotte Newman, an Amazon manager for Amazon Web Services, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit stating Amazon has “a consistent practice of paying Black employees less than similarly situated white employees, and a near-total lack of Black representation in and very few women in the upper echelons of the group’s leadership.” The suit argued a senior male employee committed “vile and aggressive sexual assault and harassment” against Newman, “which had distinct racial aspects as well.” Katherine Khashimova Long reported on the lawsuit for the Seattle Times. More from the suit:

Amazon’s discriminatory conduct was not limited to paying Ms. Newman less than her white peers and discriminatorily failing to promote her for years after she had already taken on a more senior role. Underlining Ms. Newman’s vulnerable position at the Company, a senior male coworker also felt free to sexually harass Ms. Newman and at times in plain view of others.

Racial and sexual discrimination exists in Amazon’s corporate corridors, not just its warehouses—it simply takes a different form. Amazon has failed to seriously grapple with these issues among its management.

In an update, Amazon said in a statement that it is “currently investigating the new allegations included in this lawsuit.”

James Lobb resigned as the executive director of Seattle’s Pottery Northwest: The resignation comes after Seattle-based clay artists accused the org of fostering a racist, sexist, and classist environment over the past six years. Here is the statement from Pottery Northwest’s board, released this afternoon.

Miguel Cardona is confirmed as US Education Secretary: Cardona, a former public school teacher, was confirmed to the position with a 64-33 Senate vote. The days of Betsy DeVos are behind us, but public schools have perhaps never been in a more difficult position. Alsooooooo… repair the debilitating damage our education system has inflicted on our largest generation by canceling student debt, Cardona!!!

Gas prices are up: In northern Seattle, the average gas prices are hovering around $3.40. The winter storm that hit Texas is partially to blame since it shut down twenty-six U.S. oil refineries. AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano McGee said that “barring hurricane season, March may bring the most expensive pump prices of 2021.”

Looking for a nice butt exercise? Here are all of Seattle’s public stairs. Start stomping! No gas required.

Another Jacob Lawrence painting pops up in a New York City apartment: I love this. Someone, make a mini-doc:

When a nurse living on the Upper West Side checked an app for neighborhood bulletins last fall, she learned about the recent discovery of a Jacob Lawrence painting in an apartment a few blocks away. It had turned out to be one of five panels long missing from the artist’s groundbreaking 30-panel series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across Central Park.

The name Jacob Lawrence rang a bell.

She walked over to look more closely at a small figurative painting on her dining room wall, where it had hung for two decades, its signature barely legible. It was a gift from her mother-in-law, who had taped a 1996 New York Times profile on Lawrence to the back. The nurse, who had only glanced at the back while dusting, learned from the app that Lawrence was a leading modernist painter of the 20th century — and one of the few Black artists of his time to gain broad recognition in the art world.

We’ve found Panel 28, baby! And it’s joining Seattle Art Museum’s upcoming exhibit Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, opening Friday.

The Daily Beast chatted with us and a few other alt-weeklies about surviving and thriving during this pandemic: What’s The Stranger‘s secret? It’s you, your support, and your porn. May we wank off together for years to come.

The weather is so nice: I’d say I’m feeling hopeful but I don’t want to jinx it.

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A man in Franklin County, Washington was found trapped under a 1,500-pound bale of hay this morning: Authorities airlifted the man to the hospital. The farmer who owns the hay told authorities the trapped man randomly showed up on his farm and got trapped under the hay. The investigation is ongoing.

In other bizarre tragedy news: Lady Gaga’s dog walker posted on Instagram that “a lot of healing still needs to happen” but he is recovering from his violent attack last week. The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot in the chest while walking Gaga’s french bulldogs in Hollywood last Friday. The dogs were later found tied to a pole, but they have been reunited with Gaga.

Sue Bird is staying in Seattle: In case you were worried. This has been your one-time weekly sports update from Slog.

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A&E Briefs 3/1

Simon Tam shares fireside chat with themes of perseverance, justice for Asian American musical artists

When most people think about their favorite rock band, images of furious guitar playing, stage dives, pyrotechnics, and chanting crowds all come to mind — not fighting the United States Supreme Court.

Although that is probably the furthest thing from the stereotypical band experience, fighting stereotypes has never been an issue for Simon Tam.

As part of GVSU’s yearly Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration, Tam held a fireside chat on Feb. 24 centered around his unique experience as an Asian American. 

Read more at www.lanthorn.com

Grand Rapids Symphony offers on-demand access to online concerts

Beginning in February and available through March, the Grand Rapids Symphony has made online concerts available and ready for ticket purchase. 

Available until March 6, Vivaldi’s, “The Four Seasons” will only be around for about another week. 

With Marcelo Lehninger as the Conductor, this music is inspired by poetry and enlivened by one of the greatest musicians of the Italian Baroque era, Vivaldi.

In this online experience, four Grand Rapids Symphony players will bring spring, summer, autumn, and winter into the comfort of viewers’ homes. 

Another concert available for ticket purchase, Igor Stravinsky’s, “The Soldier’s Tale,” will be online until March 27. 

Conducted by Julian Wachner, this concert features performances from the Ebony Road Players, a Grand Rapids theater company whose mission is to engage the community with high-quality theater productions focused on the Black experience.

In this music-enriched tale, the audience will follow a soldier who, seduced by riches, trades the devil his fiddle for the knowledge of what is yet to come. As the future comes sooner than expected, he struggles to get back what he lost. 

GV Art Gallery uses Instagram to highlight artist accounts every Friday

Beginning in Jan. of 2021 Grand Valley State University’s Art Gallery’s Instagram Account began posting a series every Friday called “5 To Follow” where they highlighted five different accounts of creators that they felt deserved recognition. 

Now continuing into March, the account uses this series to shine a spotlight on creators, curators, and writers every week. Four of the five posts so far have focused on Indigenous artists. But, the account did make a Black History Month post in Feb. where they highlighted five accounts featuring Black artists. 

The accounts featured come from all over the United States, some with very large followings and others working their way up. 

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Bringing More Art to Harlem

Even though Atim Annette Oton’s Calabar Gallery in Harlem has only been officially open for eight months, she has plenty of art in the corner spot on 134th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where the spotlight is on African American, African and Caribbean artists. 

“The goal was to make the gallery focus around a local community and a global community,” said Oton, who is from Nigeria and attended college nearby at City College.

She was an architect and worked in the academic world before opening her first business 16 years ago. Calabar Imports has two locations in Brooklyn. She had curated art shows there, but at this Harlem location, the focus is on being a gallery.

Oton says because of the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to have exhibitions, but online sales have increased during the same time period. 


What You Need To Know

  • Calabar Gallery is located on 134th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard
  • It is owned by Atim Annette Oton, a businesswoman who also owns two imports shops in Brooklyn
  • Oton was an Architect and Worked in Academia before starting her own business 16 years ago
  • She is originally from Nigeria and attended CCNY

“It was already growing prior to the Black Lives moment, which I think shaped and changed things,” said Oton, who says Black-owned stores or galleries experienced a spike in traffic on their websites. 

Oton attributes some of this to people being at home more during the pandemic and staring at blank walls, so they decide to redecorate and buy art. She says it’s also about building culture.

“Investing in something that looks like you, for Black art whether it’s African Art, African-American Art or Caribbean Art, it is what is important is about a connection to themselves and their African heritage in some ways.” said Oton.

She hopes to work with around 400 artists locally and globally through auction, art sales and exhibitions, and represent primarily around 10 artists. It’s all about continuing to invest in the community and cultivating art in Harlem and globally. 

“It’s part of my life, it is part of my DNA, and I don’t see it being anything different from what anyone else does. I think if you grow up around something that has value, you treat it with a certain amount of value,” she said.

The gallery’s first exhibition is scheduled for mid-April. 

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Artists Archives Lecture Focuses on Four Black Women Artists

Work by Camille Billops

Fifty years ago, the late art historian Linda Nochlin wrote a widely discussed essay called “Why have there been no great women artists?” which was just re-published in book form in a 50th anniversary edition. In it, she talks about the obstacles that have historically faced women in making art and getting recognized for the art they do make.

Now multiply those difficulties for BLACK women artists. Facing discrimination at every turn, in education, in galleries, in museums and among taste-making critics and other gatekeepers, who are overwhelmingly white and most often men, they have an even higher mountain to climb.

To celebrate Women’s History Month (and looking back at Black History Month), Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is presenting a program called “4 African American Women Artists You Should Know.”

The virtual program is hosted by author/educator/artist Dr. Amalia Amaki. She’s done more than 30 solo shows of her photography, which explores the lives of African women of the Diaspora, incorporating found objects; published five books; curated shows; and taught at multiple colleges and universities, including such top-ranked institutions as Spelman and Morehouse College.

The hour-long program will look at the stories and work of four important artists who are not widely known in contemporary art circles, despite their influence and high level of their work: sculptor Augusta Christine Fells Savage (1892-1952), sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960), painter/printmaker Norma Gloria Morgan (1928-2017) and printmaker/sculptor/documentary filmmaker Camille Billops (1933-2019). These artists have been the focus of Amaki’s personal research.

“The nature of their art, creative individualism and impact warrants a revisit of work that is under-discussed and historically undervalued,” she says. “These women changed the face of art through their support, teaching, and most importantly through their creation. Their work is not only masterful, it also represents important eras in the advancement of African American art.”

The lecture is free and open to all. To register go to artistsarchives.org.

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Pandemic and racial reckonings fuel Black artists

click to enlarge For musicians such as Avis Reese (left) and Marshay Dominique, 2020 was a time of collaboration and renewed creative focus. - PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH

  • PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH
  • For musicians such as Avis Reese (left) and Marshay Dominique, 2020 was a time of collaboration and renewed creative focus.

For artists, the extreme changes of 2020 — from the world being put on hold by disease to the country’s reckoning with racial injustice — had an undeniable effect on their creative output and, in some cases, led to more radical art.

Sweeping and sudden COVID-19 regulations meant artists were forced to contend with the notion that they were deemed “non-essential.” As museums, galleries, theaters, and music and arts venues shut down and major arts events — like the Lilac and jazz festivals — were canceled, creatives were left in the lurch.

But the Rochester arts community quickly made moves to adapt.

In April, the WOC Arts Collaborative held “COVID-19 Live ROC,” a 24-hour live-streamed event of local performances to raise money for emergency grants for BIPOC creatives who lost income. In May, several Rochester art spaces collaborated to produce a virtual First Fridays event, and Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s annual “6×6” opening was held exclusively online.

By the end of spring, as artists and audiences were adjusting to a “new normal,” the image of a Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd inundated TV screens and prompted artists to respond anew. It happened again in the late summer, when the public learned of the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester police officers five months earlier. Their deaths brought systemic racial injustice to the fore.

In speaking to a few Rochester artists to see how the crises of last year affected them creatively, two themes emerged.

Rare opportunities for reflection and connection

For local R&B singer-songwriter Marshay Dominique, the events gave her time to reexamine her sound, work on new projects and take her writing in a more honest direction. One outcome of this process was freeing herself of preconceived notions about what it takes to reach success as a musician.

“[2020] taught me that I can definitely stand on my own as an independent artist,” Dominique says. “I want to just be raunchy. I wanna swear. I wanna be angry. I wanna party. I wanna sound like a rapper even though I’m not.”

Dominique released a mixtape on Soundcloud last year that she says hints at her new sound.

Artist, filmmaker, photographer, and organizer Adrian Elim says time suddenly allowed them to focus more intimately on their art, and in particular, collaborations — some of which culminated in the “New Futures” project, a series of videos inviting Black people to envision their future beyond injustice, oppression, and turbulence. Preview visuals, published on Elim’s social media, featured femme voices and bodies from across the diaspora, broadcasting what a new era for global Blackness looked and felt like, from Elim’s lens.

One of Elim’s goals was to shake up perceptions of how people working in the advocacy space should behave.

Elim wanted to challenge the idea that “just because you fight for social justice, you have to live a very tortured, impoverished, really shitty life on the backend.”

“That is not fucking true at all,” they say. “We deserve luxury, we deserve creativity, we deserve to look as fab as possible. . . . We are human and this is a holistic thing.”

click to enlarge Avis Reese. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Avis Reese.

A forced break from traveling and touring enabled Avis Reese, the songwriter, keyboardist, and music director of Danielle Ponder’s soul band, to work on a project she might not have been able to otherwise.

Reese contributed to the progressive hip-hop band Suburban Plaza’s tracks “Philando/Nat” and “Nat II.” The latter appeared on the group’s EP “TULSA,” released in November to fortify and inspire Rochester Black folks demonstrating all summer.

“It felt really good to have it be not just a song just for pure entertainment, but really a song that spoke to the moment that we’re in right now,” Reese says of the song, her first collaboration with the band.

Her sentiment is a common one. When the Rochester community’s focus turned almost entirely to the fight against local police brutality, artists uplifted the message of the movement in their own personal ways.

Conversations with the movement

Rapper, singer, and actor Chi The Realist, aka James Boykins, returned to Rochester from Los Angeles to join the protests. He wrote a song for the cause called “Flippin’ Shit Over,” which he calls a “battery for the revolution.”

“Protesting became such a ‘I’m getting ready to go to work’ thing,” Boykins says. “It’s emotionally draining. It’s mentally draining, especially knowing that I have to put on this gear and get ready to go out there and potentially have my life in danger. So it was like, well now that this song is done, if anybody needs anything to fuel them, I will fuel you.”

Mixed media artist and Monroe Community College faculty member Athesia Benjamin won a Wall Therapy mini-grant, which enabled her to create a mural at the Rochester Public Market. The piece is simple and vibrant: “Black lives built this country” written in black, green, and red against a white backdrop.

“That was inspired by some of these incredible handmade protest signs,” Benjamin says. “There’s one sign this young man in South Carolina was holding, and it just really struck me. It said ‘“Matters” is the minimum.’ So I kind of added to that.”

Benjamin says that it’s important to honor and teach the societal contributions of Black people, beyond a mere acknowledgement that “Black lives matter.”

“I just felt so inspired to put that really radical truth — but more truth than radical — on that wall,” she says.

One of Elim’s artistic priorities in 2020 was centering on darker skinned Black femmes, who are often on the front lines of Black Lives Matter protests, and challenging perceptions placed on them by the world at large and even other activists.

“Trying to flip these notions on their head, you know, dark-skinned Black people can’t be soft, or they can’t be tender,” Elim says. “When people think ‘soft’ they think ‘light,’ and I’m like, ‘Why?’ I know why that is, but I’m not interested in that narrative. How do you treat people who are experiencing trauma, who are at the forefront of these things and who are now reacting to things, but then they are not allowed the space to process, be afraid, and be vulnerable?”

click to enlarge Marshay Dominique. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Marshay Dominique.

Dominique channeled the long history of oppression against Black people in her music. On her Instagram page, she previewed a song called “Maafa (Roses Remix).” In the post, over a track called “Roses,” produced by SAINt JHN, Dominique sings her take on the true story of a runaway slave while a selfie snaps in and out of focus, as if there were static interference.

“I flash images from the Black Holocaust, from slavery: people with whipped backs, people with chains on, just very horrifying images — someone hanging from a tree — and this is all in the middle of my pretty face,” she says. “That was the point.”

Dominique says she didn’t want to shy away from the reality that injustice toward Black people is ongoing.

“When I go research what happened to my people and I still see it happening today, I’m not okay,” she says. “So it was like, ‘Put this here and leave it. Don’t take it down. Don’t put it on private.’”

Irene Kannyo is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.

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Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton Lead 2021 ACM Awards Nominations

With six nominations each, Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton are the leading nominees for this year’s ACM Awards.

Reigning Female Artist of the Year, Morris’ “The Bones” was nominated for Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and songwriter of the year.
Morris is also a nominee for Female Artist of the Year, and for Music Video of the Year. She was also nominated for Group of the Year award alongside The Highwomen.

Stapleton was nominated for Entertainer of the Year and Male Artist of the Year. He also receives a nod for Song of the Year as both songwriter and artist, and for Album of the Year as artist and producer.

Miranda Lambert received four nominations for “Bluebird.” In addition, Lambert receives her 15th nomination for Female Artist of the Year, a category she’s won nine times.

For the first time in ACM Awards history, four Black artists are nominated for awards in a single year: Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, Mickey Guyton and John Legend.

Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Luke Combs were nominated for entertainer of the year, leaving female artists out of the top prize.

Producer Jay Joyce, Ashley McBryde and Thomas Rhett received four nominations each.

The 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards show, honoring the biggest names and emerging talent in the country music industry, is set to air on CBS from Nashville, Tennessee, on April 18.

For comments and feedback contact: editorial@rttnews.com

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Spring Awakening: Meet the Iconoclastic Angelenos Taking the Art World by Storm

Styled by Star Burleigh Produced by Richie Villani Photographed by Magnus Unnar


Melahn Frierson

Artwork by Theodore Boyer

Two years ago, after a series of odd jobs, Melahn Frierson heard about an opening at Jeffrey Deitch’s Hollywood gallery. Following a marathon meeting where Frierson and Deitch bonded over their mutual admiration for outsider New York artists, Frierson was awarded the gig. She took over the gallery’s Instagram account and helped produce a few exhibitions, and now she’s cocurating her first major show, Shattered Glass, featuring the work of 40 emerging artists of color. “We’re tired of going into places and not seeing ourselves reflected on the walls,” says Frierson. The striking gallery director has become a muse for young Angeleno artists like Katherina Olschbaur, Theodore Boyer, and Alison Blickle, who’s currently painting Frierson as Medusa. As Donatella Versace once observed, “The Medusa is…about going all the way.”

Dress: J’Amemme | Boots: Alevì Milano | Earrings: Dsquared2 | Rings: Ettika


Jess Valice

Artwork by Jess Valice

Magnus Unnar

In 2017, after spending a few not-so-happy years studying neuroscience in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica-born artist Jess Valice returned home. “The only thing that felt good in school was painting between exams,” says Valice, 24, who has since worked as a waitress and prop-house fabricator while developing her own brand of figuration, full of hyperbolic subjects in all manner of caricature: think prairie girls driving station wagons across the desert and sheriffs riding inflatable horses in kiddie pools. “A lot of it is about redoing childhood—you want to be the outlaw but you can’t run away on a horse, so you do it on a floaty raft,” says Valice, who just had simultaneous solo debuts at ATM Gallery in New York and Bill Brady Gallery in Miami. “I like walking in the shoes of others,” she says. “Their psychology, but with my eyes.”
Bustier and trousers: ITMFL | Sandals: Shoedazzle | Earrings: Celeste Starre | Ring: Alexis Bittar


Morgan Elder and Allison Littrell

Artwork by Bri Williams

Morgan Elder and Allison Littrell first met in high school in Santa Monica, but lost touch when Elder went off to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and Littrell decamped to Bard. Soon after reuniting in L.A., they teamed up to start their own art space. “Initially, the idea was to start a gallery,” says Littrell, “but we ended up turning it into this multifaceted environment.” Murmurs, which opened in 2019 in a warehouse just south of the Fashion District, houses a popular cafe and a shop packed with a panoply of artist-made goods. Before the pandemic, the gallery in back was the scene of elaborate multimedia exhibitions, dinners, and plays. Up next: Sula Bermudez-Silverman’s solo show on the history of zombies. “We don’t mind mixing it up!” laughs Littrell.

MORGAN ELDER | Dress: Max Mara | Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Earrings: Ettika | Bracelet: Celeste Starre ◍ ALLISON LITTRELL | Jacket and trousers: Max Mara | Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Necklace and earrings: Mounser | Necklace: Celeste Starre


Ulysses De Santi and Graham Steele

Artwork by various

Dinners at the art and design-packed Hollywood Hills home of gallery director Graham Steele and his Brazilian-design-dealer husband Ulysses De Santi used to draw a guest list as eclectic and glittering as the decor, from MOCA chief Klaus Bisenbach to Courtney Love. “We love mixing artists, collectors, people from Hollywood, with doctors, lawyers, and architects,” says Steele, who recently departed a high-profile post at Hauser and Wirth to strike out on his own. “We like to open up the way we live our lives.” Vows De Santi: “As soon as COVID is past us, we’ll continue throwing those salons to bring people back together.” Until then, Steele is working to bring under-represented Brazilian artists to the U.S. market while De Santi is planning a series of pop-ups around the globe to showcase the best of mid-century Brazilian design. The first will take place at the Aspen offshoot of Mexico City’s Galeria Mascota, with other offshoots coming up in Seoul and Los Angeles. “If nothing else, last year taught us we don’t want a permanent space because of the overhead,” says De Santi. “Ulysses thrives off finding specific work for a specific city, with a specific energy, and his attitude also inspired me,” says Steele. “I didn’t leave the best gallery in the world to open a space that has to be one thing or another. We’re in a period of incredible flexibility, and it’s exciting because we don’t feel we need to commit ourselves to one particular idea right now. We can do what feels right at the moment.”

ULYSSES DE SANTI | Jacket: Emporio Armani | Top: Bombas | Sneakers: Kenneth Cole | Bracelet: Mr. Ettika ◍ GRAHAM STEELE | Jacket and top: COS | Pants: Banana Republic | Boots: Kenneth Cole


Jennifer Rochlin

Artwork by Jennifer Rochlin

Magnus Unnar

Baltimore native Jennifer Rochlin was a painter until she got a teaching gig at a Catholic girls school in La Cañada, where she launched a ceramics program in the early aughts. “I had never touched clay before,” says Rochlin, who began painting tiles in 2008. “But from then on, I just couldn’t stop. I love the feel of clay. And the alchemical process—the initial immediacy—is kind of addictive.” In the years since, her pots—filled with narrative paintings, sgraffito scratches, even bite marks—have teased out facets of her psyche, earning her solo shows at the Pit in Glendale, Maki Gallery in Tokyo, and Greenwich House Pottery in New York. In April, she’ll have her third major show at the Pit, in dialogue with works by the late ceramic icon Viola Frey. “There’s no baggage with clay,” she says. “I can go full tilt with it and just play.”

Blazer, tunic, and trousers: Michael Kors | Shoes: Rene Caovilla | Earrings: Zhendong Wen


Monique McWilliams and Lauren Halsey

Artwork by Lauren Halsey

Magnus Unnar

South Central-born artist Lauren Halsey had just come off a meteoric three-year run—one in which her sculptural environments depicting Black life earned her the $100,000 Mohn Award at the Hammer Museum’s 2018 Made In L.A. biennial—when she signed a lease on a building next door to her Inglewood art studio. The plan was to use the space as a community center. But in the wake of the pandemic, Halsey switched gears and turned the space into a distribution outpost that delivered more than 19,000 boxes of produce to feed more than 100,000 residents of South Central. Helping head up the effort was Halsey’s girlfriend, Monique McWilliams, who left her popular vintage-clothing business, relaunching this year as Tru2Form, to serve as her aide de camp. “We’re exhausted,” says Halsey. “But this work re-energizes me.”
MONIQUE MCWILLIAMS | Shirt: Chanel | Pants: Tru2Form | Shoes: Found/vintage ◍ LAUREN HALSEY | Top: The Family Clothing | Pants: Kevin Emerson | Shoes: Found/vintage


Nicolette Mishkan and Ben Lee Ritchie Handler

Artwork by Katherina Olschbaur

Magnus Unnar

In 2014, when he was the archivist at the Gagosian gallery, Ben Lee Ritchie Handler, 41, discovered the Insta account @permaidmermaid, which featured L.A.-born artist Nicolette Mishkan, 34, staging impromptu performances as a black-latex-clad mermaid. “Permaid was the synthesis of everything aesthetically and curatorially I was interested in,” says Ritchie Handler, now the global director of Nicodim Gallery. “Most people come at curating from an anthropological point of view, but I like creating a narrative.” In 2016, Ritchie Handler, also a fixture of the downtown scene for his drag alter ego, Olivia Neutron Bomb, began collaborating with Mishkan (whose mermaid paintings earned a recent solo show at Shoot the Lobster) and the rest is history. “We’re both creating personas that fill a void,” says Mishkan.

NICOLETTE MISHKAN | Top and pants: J’Amemme | Earrings: Mounser ◍ BEN LEE RITCHIE HANDLER | Blazer and pants: ITMFL | Shoes: Saint Laurent


Terrell Tilford

Artwork by Tiffanie Delune

Magnus Unnar

In his twenties, Terrell Tilford began buying artworks by seminal Black artists. “At one point, I probably had installment plans going on with five different galleries,” says Tilford, who worked as an actor before he became a gallerist, establishing the Artist Showcase Series in New York with four other budding dealers. “I laugh now because the acronym was ASS,” he says. In the early aughts, Tilford and his wife, actress Victoria Platt, moved to L.A. and spent a year hosting shows out of their Mid-City home. “We moved all of our furniture out on the weekends,” says Tilford. Then, in 2015, Tilford relaunched his art group as Band of Vices. Since, they’ve become kingmakers for emerging talent like Grace Lynne Haynes and Penda Diakité. But Tilford steers clear of the frenzy around BIPOC artists. “I tell my staff, “Let’s just do the work,” he says.

Jacket and sweater: Stella McCartney | Pants: COS | Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti | Glasses: Warby Parker | Watch: Hublot | Necklaces and bracelet: Mr. Ettika


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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Lightning Strikes Twice: Another Lost Jacob Lawrence Surfaces

When a nurse living on the Upper West Side checked an app for neighborhood bulletins last fall, she learned about the recent discovery of a Jacob Lawrence painting in an apartment a few blocks away. It had turned out to be one of five panels long missing from the artist’s groundbreaking 30-panel series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across Central Park.

The name Jacob Lawrence rang a bell.

She walked over to look more closely at a small figurative painting on her dining room wall, where it had hung for two decades, its signature barely legible. It was a gift from her mother-in-law, who had taped a 1996 New York Times profile on Lawrence to the back. The nurse, who had only glanced at the back while dusting, learned from the app that Lawrence was a leading modernist painter of the 20th century — and one of the few Black artists of his time to gain broad recognition in the art world.

Could lightning strike twice in just two weeks’ time? The woman told the story to her 20-year-old son, who had studied art in college and quickly Googled the Met’s exhibition. He found a murky black-and-white photograph of their very painting being used as a place holder for Panel 28. It was titled “Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840—115,773,” and the wall label read: “location unknown.”

“It didn’t look like anything special, honestly,” said the owner, who is in her late 40s and arrived in New York from Ukraine at 18. “The colors were pretty. It was a little bit worn. I passed by it on my way to the kitchen a thousand times a day,” she said in a phone interview.

“I didn’t know I had a masterpiece,” she added.

After she had connected the dots, she called the Met, but her messages went unreturned. By day three, her son suggested they just head over on his motorbike. His mother recalled: “I grabbed a young kid at the information desk in the lobby and said, ‘Listen, nobody calls me back. I have this painting. Who do I need to talk to?’” Eventually, an administrator from the modern and contemporary art department met them downstairs and asked the owner to email her photos of the work — which she did on the spot, from her phone.

By that evening, Randall Griffey and Sylvia Yount, the co-curators of the Met’s Lawrence show, and Isabelle Duvernois, the Met’s paintings conservator, were making their second trip to an Upper West Side apartment in the space of two weeks to verify the authenticity of a Lawrence painting that had not been seen publicly since 1960.

The nurse, who has agreed to lend her painting for the last two stops of the traveling exhibition, was granted anonymity because she said she was concerned for her family’s security living with a now-valuable artwork. The panel will debut March 5 at the Seattle Art Museum in “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” and remain on view through May 23.

Before the discovery of Panel 16, first reported by The New York Times on Oct. 21, the Met’s team had known only the work’s title and subject matter — Shays’ Rebellion — but had no image to help authenticate it. Griffey recalled the revelation of the first panel as “a great bright spot” for him professionally and for the pandemic-weary city. “It turned out to be the feel-good story of the season in need of feel-good stories,” he said.

With Panel 28, they had a low-quality photograph of the work, which had been exhibited in the late 1950s at the gallery of Lawrence’s dealer Charles Alan.

The painting, in vivid red, gold and brown tempera on hardboard, shows two women draped in shawls flanking a man in a broad-brimmed hat, their heads bowed and oversized hands clasped toward the center of the image. The panel, evoking old-world travelers, was inspired by immigration statistics in Richard B. Morris’s 1953 “Encyclopedia of American History,” part of Lawrence’s exhaustive research on the foundational contributions of immigrants, Blacks and Native Americans to the building of the nation. (He refers specifically in the title to the number of immigrants who came to the United States during the early years of the 19th century.)

The “Struggle” series that he executed from 1954-56 stylistically interweaves Cubist forms in agitated compositions. It was a break with earlier work like “The Migration Series” (1940-41), painted with simpler blocks of color.

While Panel 16, dominated by a palette of brilliant blues and in pristine condition, could immediately join the traveling exhibition for its final days at the Met, Panel 28 had suffered some flaking and lost paint and needed conservation to stabilize it. Griffey passed the baton to his colleagues at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., where the show originated.

“We think Lawrence unknowingly used some bad tubes of paint because there are certain colors, including red and brown, where the adhesive quality seems to be faulty across works produced in 1956,” Lydia Gordon, coordinating curator of the exhibition at the Peabody Essex, said. The museum collaborated with the Seattle Art Museum and the Phillips Collection in Washington, the exhibition’s final stop, to pay for treatment of Panel 28 at ArtCare Conservation in New York.

When the new painting was unframed in the conservation lab, an alternative title, “The Emigrants — 1821-1830 (106,308)” became visible in Lawrence’s handwriting on the back. “He wrote the word ‘Emigrants’ with an ‘e,’ which we all thought was really interesting because that adds this idea of permanence to their arrival,” Gordon said.

The owner’s son was the first to point out that the curators’ description of Panel 28 in the wall text needed to be revised: What had looked like a prayer book in the hands of the male figure in the grainy photograph was actually a flowerpot with a red rose, the official flower of the United States. A nursing baby in the arms of one woman in the painting had been entirely obscured in the black and white reproduction.

“We’re now able to see so much more of this tender hope and optimism — this symbolism of fragile life growing in the new place for these people that have emigrated,” Gordon added.

“Struggle” was the only one of Lawrence’s 10 series that had not been preserved intact. Public institutions weren’t receptive to his expansive and racially integrated narrative of American history in the 1950s. “We know from the archive that his dealer Charles Alan wrote all these letters to major institutions and no one wanted to touch it,” said Gordon.

After exhibiting the series twice at his gallery, Alan sold “Struggle” to William Meyers, a New York collector who quickly dispersed the panels. Griffey, the Met curator, speculated that Meyers may have offered Panel 16 to the local Christmas art auction where the Upper West Side couple (who also requested anonymity) had purchased it in 1960 for about $100.

The owner of Panel 28 doesn’t know how her mother-in-law, who immigrated from Poland, raised her family on the Upper West Side, and amassed an eclectic array of inexpensive artworks, acquired the painting. “I have a feeling my mother-in-law didn’t pay much more than $100,” she said. “Is there a possibility they were bought at the same auction? I think there’s a very good chance.”

When Lawrence’s catalog raisonné was published in 2000, the whereabouts of seven of the 30 panels in the “Struggle” series were unknown. The collector Harvey Ross, who in 1996 began acquiring the paintings still in private hands, was thrilled when his wife spotted Panel 3 — titled “Rally Mohawks!” — in a 2008 Christie’s auction.

“I was shocked because nothing had come up in decades,” said Ross, who bought the panel for $206,500, the low end of the $200,000 to $300,000 estimate. Ten years later at Swann Auction Galleries, he snapped up Panel 19, titled “Tension on the High Seas,” consigned by an estate in Florida, for $413,000 — paying more than four times its high estimate. (The auction high for a work by Lawrence is just over $6.1 million, in 2018, for a major 1947 painting, “The Businessmen.”)

Ross has lent his 15 panels of “Struggle” to the exhibition and intends to work with scholars developing an educational curriculum based on the series.

The nurse who owns Panel 28 said she would consider selling it. (The couple that owns Panel 16 is not interested in selling at this time, according to Gordon, the Peabody Essex curator.)

Panel 14, Panel 20 and Panel 29 remain at large. The Peabody Essex has set up the email missingpanels@pem.org to make it easier for people to share information. Gordon is pinning her hopes on the huge community of Lawrence’s former students and supportive gallerists and curators in Seattle, where the painter lived for the last three decades of his life after leaving New York.

“Oh, we’re totally going to find them!” she said firmly.

Residents of the West Coast, check your walls on the way to the kitchen.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Muted Golden Globes response to diversity woes appears unlikely to quell firestorm

The furor over the Golden Globes’ snubbing of several prominent Black-led projects and industry outrage over the absence of Black members in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. were center stage heading into the 78th Golden Globe Awards.

Several wins by Black artists and a brief pledge to increase Black membership delivered by three representatives of the HPFA during the telecast appear unlikely to calm the firestorm.

“The HFPA’s statements tonight and over the last several days indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of the depth of the problems at hand,” wrote Time’s Up President and CEO Tina Tchen in a letter to the HFPA’s board on Sunday. “Your stated version of change is cosmetic — find Black people. That is not a solution.”

A separate letter called for the network that airs the Globes ceremony to use its influence for change. “Much of the credibility of the Golden Globes is drawn from its affiliation with your network,” Tchen wrote. “NBCUniversal has a reputational interest in fixing these issues.”

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HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, HFPA President Ali Sar, and HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne

HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, HFPA President Ali Sar, and HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne attend the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

(Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The wave of disapproval aimed at the HFPA kicked off after the nominations, notable for omitting four Black-led films from best picture contention —“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “One Night in Miami…” and “Da 5 Bloods” — and passing over several highly acclaimed series with Black themes and multicultural casts, including HBO’s “I May Destroy You” and Netflix’s “Bridgerton.”

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As the awards neared, the HFPA faced further criticism in response to a Times investigation that detailed ethical lapses and self-dealing in the organization, as well as that the voting body does not have a single Black member. Several leading industry figures and organizations, including director J.J. Abrams, actors Sterling K. Brown and Ellen Pompeo, comedian Amy Schumer, Time’s Up and the Directors Guild of America called on the group to cultivate inclusivity and address diversity in its ranks.

Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler wasted little time addressing the controversy during the ceremony’s opening monologue. Fey jokingly referred to the HFPA as a group of “around 90 international no Black journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life.”

Later, Poehler said, “Everybody is understandably upset at the HFPA and their choices. Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated. But that happens. That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”

Added Fey: “We all know that awards shows are stupid. The point is even with stupid things, inclusivity is important, and there are no Black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I realized, HFPA, maybe you guys didn’t get the memo because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald’s. You got to change that. So here’s to changing that.”

Later in the broadcast, three representatives of the HPFA appeared to announce that the organization vowed to diversify.

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Helen Hoehne, the group’s vice president, said, “Tonight, while we celebrate the work of artists from around the globe, we recognize we have our own work to do. Just like in film and television, representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.”

Meher Tatna, a former president of the organization, added that the HFPA “must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen.”

Ali Sar, the organization’s current president, concluded the 43-second sequence: “That means creating an environment where diverse membership is the norm and not the exception.”

He said the group looks forward “to a more inclusive future.”

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Jane Fonda, winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 78th Golden Globes.

Jane Fonda, winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 78th Golden Globes.

(NBC/NBC)

Criticism of the HFPA was relatively muted throughout the remainder of the telecast with only a handful of celebrities, including winners Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) and Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Trial of the Chicago 7″) and presenters Brown and “This Is Us” costar Susan Kelechi Watson making reference to the controversy. Perhaps the biggest impression of the night on the topic was left by Jane Fonda, recipient of this year’s Cecil DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The legendary actress said the lack of diversity in Hollywood is an issue that can no longer be pushed to the side.

She said it’s “a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry. A story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So, let’s all of us — including the groups that decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards, let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”

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Black Golden Globe winners this year included the late Chadwick Boseman (lead actor in a motion picture for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”); Andra Day (lead actress in a motion picture for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”); Daniel Kaluuya (supporting actor in a motion picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah”); John Boyega (supporting actor in a series, miniseries or motion picture for TV for “Small Axe”); and Jon Baptiste (co-winner of best original score for “Soul,” which also won motion picture — animated).

The HFPA also came under fire last year for failing to recognize topical Black-led projects and other films and TV shows with non-white perspectives, including such acclaimed titles as “When They See Us” and “Watchmen.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Spike Lee to Golden Globes: ‘Put some sistas and brothers up on that wall’

Director Spike Lee is calling on the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to do the right thing when it comes to diversifying its voting body for the Golden Globes.

After the HFPA snubbed his 2020 war drama, “Da 5 Bloods,” and appointed his children Golden Globe Ambassadors in the same year, Lee released a statement to Variety referencing his seminal 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” while criticizing the group’s lack of any Black members.

“The Hollywood Foreign Press clearly has much werk to do,” Lee told the publication. “However, it’s been a joy to watch our children Satchel and Jackson serve as the ambassadors to the Golden Globes. I hope the HFPA understands in order to stay relevant, they must diversify their membership. Put some sistas and brothers up on that wall. Y’all buggin’ out!”

Lee’s children with producer Tonya Lewis Lee made history earlier this year as the first two siblings of color to be appointed ambassadors to the ceremony, which has recently been marred by scandal.

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“I had never heard of Golden Globe Ambassadors and then I had never heard this is the first time the Golden Globes was having [sibling] ambassadors of color either,” Lee previously told The Times of his kids’ groundbreaking achievement. “So, I guess, better late than never — and it’s an honor that it’s Satchel and Jackson.”

Sunday night’s awards show comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation by the Los Angeles Times that exposed years of corruption within the HFPA and revealed there are no Black members in the organization.

Fanning the flames were this year’s controversial nominations, which drew sharp criticism for snubbing Black talent in major categories. For example, critically acclaimed films directed by and starring Black artists — such as “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” — were excluded from the best-picture race.

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The Times probe prompted an outcry from the entertainment community as well as a statement from Time’s Up urging the HFPA to reform beyond “a cosmetic fix.” Among the many celebrities who spoke out ahead of the show were filmmaker Ava Duvernay, “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, director Judd Apatow, producer Shonda Rhimes and “Little Fires Everywhere” star Kerry Washington.

“Selma” mastermind DuVernay offered her “two cents” on the controversy shortly before the 2021 ceremony, asserting that the “pressure applied to the Golden Globes and its partners from now on isn’t about validation of shiny things from this particular group.

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“The truth that’s not often discussed is that awards play a part in the economic reality of Black filmmakers, artists of color and women creators in this business,” she wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “Unfortunately, these shiny things matter to those who finance, greenlight, produce, distribute and market our projects.

“Therefore, everyone must have balanced access and consideration so that the playing field can be more equitable for artists of all kinds, colors and cultures.”

In a recent statement to The Times, the HFPA vowed going forward to be “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, tv and the artists inspiring and educating them.

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“We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds,” the HFPA continued in its response, “and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment