Sebastopol area Senior Center’s virtual art history programs

The senior center is offering a presentation by Tuskagee University Legacy Museum of Alabama,

“Windows to History” An Exhibit Almost Lost to the Ages with Presenter Doctor Jontyle Robinson Curator of the Legacy Museum and Founder of this Extraordinary History

The American Negro Exposition, also known as the “Black World’s Fair” and the “Diamond Jubilee Exposition,” was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1940 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of slavery.  The Exposition showcased African American accomplishments in the 75 years since “Juneteenth.”

There were all kinds of exhibits.   At the center of it all was a huge hall featuring 33 dioramas that depicted the contributions of African Americans.

The dioramas, supervised by African American artist Charles C. Dawson (a noted commercial artist), were created by more than 120 African American artisans. 

After the exposition closed, Dawson brought the Dioramas to what is now the Legacy Museum of Tuskegee University where they suffered from years of neglect in storage. They now offer learning opportunities for young conservators. 

The Legacy Curator, Doctor Jontyle Robinson, believed it was essential for African Americans to help restore these works portraying their history. But there was a problem. What happened next is quite a story. 

Robinson discovered that not many African Americans work in the field of museum conservation, and felt it was mandatory that she find a way for African American students to learn this discipline.  She helped launch a groundbreaking program enlisting some top art restoration centers to introduce students to the field of conservation by working on the dioramas.

Be the first to see the results, learn about the history each diorama depicts and ask Doctor Robinson questions in her live virtual presentation on December 10, 11:00 a.m., with Kate Roach and Emily Webster, producers of Virtual Art History Tours. Register with the Sebastopol Area Senior Center  https://www.sebastopolseniorcenter.org/virtualclasses or call 707-829- 2440.  All ages welcome.  $10 members; $15 non-members. 

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Windows of wonder: Gazing at holiday displays behind glass is the perfect pandemic diversion

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We all know the scene in “A Christmas Story”: Ralphie covets the Red Ryder BB gun in the window of Higbee’s department store while little brother Randy, mesmerized by the lights and toy train, smushes his upturned nose against the glass.

“I’m gonna be that kid,” says Julie Pohlman, a full-grown adult who helped plan the window decor for stores and businesses this holiday season in downtown Jerseyville.

The old ritual of looking at department store windows filled with twinkling, animatronic displays has nearly faded. But it turns out to also be a good socially distant activity for 2020.

Pohlman is one of many full-grown adults bringing out the kid in all of us with dazzling window displays in Jerseyville, Belleville, the Central West End and at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood.

Bright Nights in Jerseyville

Decorating windows for Christmas in Jerseyville

Michael Ward assembles a display titled “Elves Misbehavin'” in the window at Sweet Pea’s Floral & Design in Jerseyville on Nov. 17, 2020. 

Pohlman and her friend Michael Ward want downtown Jerseyville to look like the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie. They’re both fans of the cable channel’s famous holiday fare, and since they couldn’t host a festival this year, they at least wanted a stab at set designing.

Ward is the president of Jerseyville’s Downtown Country Christmas Festival. Pohlman also organizes and does publicity for the event. It’s usually held the weekend after Thanksgiving and includes closure of Highway 67 through town. There’s usually a parade, games for kids and booths for vendors.

The coronavirus put a halt to all that, but organizers wanted to bring people downtown to take in the ambiance of the historic buildings — and shop.

This year, visitors are encouraged to peer at more than 20 window displays, see the giant white reindeer and lights on the lawn at the stately Jersey County Courthouse, and take in the drive-thru light displays at Dolan Park. The event is rebranded as Bright Nights.

Decorating windows for Christmas in Jerseyville

Michael Ward inflates a snow globe that Santa Claus will sit inside for Bright Nights in Jerseyville. 

Pohlman credits Ward for his decorating skills.

“He is like a genius at it,” she says. “Imagine a Macy’s window in a Hallmark movie. That’s what it is. And I am seriously not talking it up because it’s our town.”

Indeed, in the front window of Sweet Pea’s Floral & Design, an elf in a red outfit climbs up and down a ladder, another spins atop a snowflake and another sits astride a Tyrannosaurus rex. In the front window of the 1880 Pizza and Pasta House, a portrait cutout of a family from that era poses in front of an exquisitely trimmed tree. Giant snowflakes dangle in the windows of city hall.

Ward has a more refined decorating taste and specializes in turning discarded items and dollar store finds into something picture-window-worthy.

“Duct tape is your friend,” Ward jokes.

Decorating windows for Christmas in Jerseyville

Michael Ward, president of the Jerseyville Christmas Festival, created a Christmas display in the front window of the Department of Children and Family Services. 

Pohlman’s taste is more playful. Indeed, a team of inflatable hippopotamuses pulls a red sleigh on the lawn of her business, Julie’s Graphics, on the east end of town.

“It’s hilarious,” she says. “On a daily basis, I watch people jump out on the side of the road and take pictures.”

When Through Dec. 25 • Where Dolan Park, downtown Jerseyville • How much Free • More info downtowncountrychristmas.com

Gingerbread displays in Belleville

Belleville gingerbread

Gingerbread houses are on display in the windows of downtown Belleville businesses through Jan. 1.

For more than 30 years, the bakers of Belleville and beyond have built gingerbread houses and structures worthy of display in the windows of downtown Belleville businesses. But with the cancellation of the Belleville Christkindlmarkt, Santa Parade and visits to the beloved Santa House, organizers of the annual gingerbread contest didn’t want to cancel Christmas completely. They knew downtown businesses needed support.

“We thought it would be important to have them in the windows downtown,” says Teresa Hessel, one of the organizers. “Just to have a bit of normalcy and have a bit of cheer and to draw people to the downtown businesses. Everybody needs that this year.”

Belleville canceled its annual cookie walk, an event where visitors collect cookies from various businesses. Revenue was lost, but there was enough of a nest egg to offer prize money to first-, second- and third-place winners in youth and adult categories of the gingerbread contest. Visitors can vote through Dec. 12, and the houses will be on display through Jan. 1.

Belleville gingerbread

Gingerbread houses are on display in the windows of downtown Belleville businesses through Jan. 1.

Contest organizers also refunded contest sponsorship money to the businesses, knowing they could use it this year. 

Creators of all ages, from kids to near-professionals, try their hand at gingerbread baking and building. Entries include a greenhouse made of gelatin, a light-covered Griswold house from “Christmas Vacation,” a lighthouse overlooking icing waves crashing against a shore and a scene from Super Mario World.

One entry is from a family, with ages ranging from 5 to 95. 

“It’s just cool that it still brings people together,” Hessel says. “And hopefully brings people to downtown Belleville.”

When Through Jan. 1; voting ends Dec. 12 • Where Downtown Belleville • How much Free • More info facebook.com/bellevillegingerbread

Famous-Barr trains at National Museum of Transportation 

Famous-Barr train display at the National Museum of Transportation

A miniature scene at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood depicts a Christmas tree lot. The display spent many holiday seasons in Famous-Barr’s downtown window.

The closing of the downtown St. Louis store is the end of the line for the Christmas display.

It wasn’t the first time 4-year-old Maxen Onstott saw the old Famous-Barr train display at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood. But he could have fooled the rest of the visitors with his reaction.

“Look at that! Look at all of those trains! Look at those choo-choo trains!” the Wentzville boy exclaimed to his grandparents Judy and Ron Marth of St. Charles, and his little brother, Landen, almost 18 months.

The display captures imaginations every holiday season, just as it did from 1988 to 2012, when it sat in the Famous-Barr window at Seventh and Locust streets. In 2006, the store became Macy’s. When the downtown store closed in 2013, the train display moved to the museum.

The display got started when members of the American Flyer S Gaugers model train club lamented the lack of train displays in department store windows, something the older members enjoyed as children in the 1950s and ’60s.

Famous-Barr train display at the National Museum of Transportation

Judy Marth and grandson Maxen Onstott, 4, watch model trains Nov. 20, 2020, at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood. The setup spent many holiday seasons on display in Famous-Barr’s downtown window.

A trip downtown was often the start of the holiday season.

Charley Taylor, 74, a club member and vice president of the transportation museum board, remembers placing his hand on a store window to “start” the train. He’s not sure if electricity or some other magic made it move.

A club member approached a Famous-Barr executive with the idea of putting a train in the store windows again. The response was enthusiastic.

They came up with a deal: The store would fund the project and store the display. If the store decided it no longer wanted it, the benchwork and trains would go back to the club.

“We did it all for free,” Taylor says.

“All these years, our motto has been, ‘It’s just for the fun of it,’” says member Moe Berk, 81, who rides a mobile scooter with a license plate reading “MOE-RR.” 

The display is a multilevel wonder of trains and tracks running alongside gray-and-white cliffsides sculpted from insulation foam. Macy’s billboards dot the miniature landscape, with the occasional Famous-Barr truck or car.

Famous-Barr train display at the National Museum of Transportation

Chris Rathert, a volunteer since 2013 at the National Museum of Transportation, points to wires underneath the train display that spent many holiday seasons in Famous-Barr’s downtown window.

American Flyer train exhibit moves to Museum of Transportation.

The group modifies the scene every year. Exhibit designer Andrew Arth built “windows” — similar to the original store’s — that act as a protective barrier.

But for special visitors, like 4-year-old Maxen, Taylor offers a behind-the-scenes tour. The boy and his grandparents disappeared behind a curtain to see the back of the layout, an organized chaos of foam layers and wires. After lots of oohs and aahs, they emerged, all smiles.

When Through Jan. 4; some dates require advance reservation • Where National Museum of Transportation, 2933 Barrett Station Road, Kirkwood • How much Free with $5-$12 admission • More info tnmot.org

Window Walk and ‘Walking Xmas Carol’ in CWE

A Walking Xmas Carol in the Central West End

Visitors stop to look at shop windows in the Central West End as part of the annual Window Walk and “A Walking Xmas Carol.”

For 11 years now, businesses in the Central West End have taken care to decorate their windows for the holiday season, in an effort to attract and entertain shoppers. Then the creative minds at the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and PaintedBlack STL, a new collective of Black artists, got the idea to add more windows and incorporate a hip-hop version of “A Christmas Carol.”

The neighborhood couldn’t say no.

“They approached us, and we said, ‘Absolutely,’” says Kate Haher, director of the Central West End’s Community Improvement District. “It’s a really fun idea.”

Along with the 20 or so shop windows, decorated by designers and business owners, artists from PaintedBlack STL added about 20 scenes in other windows that serve as a backdrop for “A Walking Xmas Carol,” a musical adaptation of the Chicago-based “Q Brothers Christmas Carol.”

Painting the streets in holiday

Crews with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival paint holiday-themed designs on the streets of the Central West End on Nov. 23, 2020. 

Guests can stroll Euclid Avenue and Maryland Plaza at their own pace, listening to the performance on their phones. The show can be downloaded in advance, or QR codes can be scanned to access each scene. It’s free, but donations to the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival are accepted.

On Saturdays in December, the neighborhood adds ice carvings, carriage rides, carolers, live music and street performers to the festivities. On weekend nights, there will be live performers along the route, and businesses will serve specialty cocktails and treats. The streets have been painted with snowflakes, and giant snowflakes adorn restaurants’ rooftops in Maryland Plaza.

“We’re trying to make this as immersive as possible without immersing people in a sea of performers and live people,” says Tom Ridgely, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s producing artistic director.

In the summer, the festival worked with PaintedBlack STL to put together several Arch-shaped sculptures in Forest Park for “A Late Summer Night’s Stroll,” which included performances and interpretations from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Painting the streets in holiday

Emmi Walker paints a holiday-themed design on Maryland Avenue in the Central West End on Nov. 23, 2020. The decorations are part of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s “Walking Xmas Carol.”

Ridgely says performers are still able to use stories to bring people together, even though their usual methods — gathering spectators in close spaces — have been taken away.

“It definitely takes more energy,” Ridgely says. “It also generates some energy. I’m sure at the end of this we’ll lie down and take a long winter’s nap.”

When Through Dec. 23; live performances on weekend nights; street performers and entertainment 1-5 p.m. Saturdays • Where Maryland Plaza and Euclid Avenue, Central West End • How much Free; donations accepted • More info stlshakes.org/production/carol

Like most everything else in 2020, this holiday season will be unlike any we’ve experienced. The coronavirus pandemic continues, which means c…

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Community-led research project sheds light on racial gaps in Louisville

Roots Cause Research Center hosted a webinar on Thursday that presented findings of data driven research projects that community members in Louisville began investigating six months ago.“These brilliant leaders accepted the invitation to learn new skills so that we can investigate systems of oppression that had deeply impacted them, their peers, their loved ones,” said Jessica Bellamy, Founder of Roots Cause Research.Community researchers that participated were: Woody Pryor, Marlesha Woods, Shannon Floyd, Shemaeka Shaw, Missy Wilson, Katrice Gill and Whitney Majors. The Research Center chose these community members because they have first-hand experience and are necessary to unearth the whole story behind a deep-rooted problem in Louisville.The key areas the seven researchers focused on included: Art investment, housing injustice, developmental projects in the West End, hiring discrimination, racial wealth gaps and Black-led intervention strategies.“The research is clear,” said Monica Unseld, a scientist and participant in the webinar. “If you invest in things like art, crime and violence go down. Instead, this city continues to choose to invest in policing and criminalization.”Artist Marlesha Woods says the city should invest in Black artists to create murals for Louisville’s west end, like they do for the non-Black artists in the east end.“I found that the art that is displayed is not created by the subject matter,” she said.Specific findings from the researchers addressed Louisville’s longstanding housing discrimination. This includes waves of evictions present before and during the pandemic, and the demolition and eviction of tenants at Beecher Terrace Housing.“Five hundred twenty four households were evicted”, said researcher Katrice Gill. “Of these evictions how many of them were lease violations and how many of those could of been remedied or cured?”The webinar also tackled the community’s perspective of the ‘Russell: A Place of Promise’ initiative focused on generating investments in the Russell neighborhood.The project aims to bring about solutions to these issues in Louisville by making the public, policymakers, and city’s leaders aware of the data, which allows them to work toward the goal of equality and repairing a centuries old broken system.“We the community demand real clear-cut answers,” said Gill.Sponsors of the webinar included: Metro United Way, Resist and Nspire, Taunt, Kertis Creative, and Rhythm Science Sound.

Roots Cause Research Center hosted a webinar on Thursday that presented findings of data driven research projects that community members in Louisville began investigating six months ago.

“These brilliant leaders accepted the invitation to learn new skills so that we can investigate systems of oppression that had deeply impacted them, their peers, their loved ones,” said Jessica Bellamy, Founder of Roots Cause Research.

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Community researchers that participated were: Woody Pryor, Marlesha Woods, Shannon Floyd, Shemaeka Shaw, Missy Wilson, Katrice Gill and Whitney Majors. The Research Center chose these community members because they have first-hand experience and are necessary to unearth the whole story behind a deep-rooted problem in Louisville.

The key areas the seven researchers focused on included: Art investment, housing injustice, developmental projects in the West End, hiring discrimination, racial wealth gaps and Black-led intervention strategies.

“The research is clear,” said Monica Unseld, a scientist and participant in the webinar. “If you invest in things like art, crime and violence go down. Instead, this city continues to choose to invest in policing and criminalization.”

Artist Marlesha Woods says the city should invest in Black artists to create murals for Louisville’s west end, like they do for the non-Black artists in the east end.

“I found that the art that is displayed is not created by the subject matter,” she said.

Specific findings from the researchers addressed Louisville’s longstanding housing discrimination. This includes waves of evictions present before and during the pandemic, and the demolition and eviction of tenants at Beecher Terrace Housing.

“Five hundred twenty four households were evicted”, said researcher Katrice Gill. “Of these evictions how many of them were lease violations and how many of those could of been remedied or cured?”

The webinar also tackled the community’s perspective of the ‘Russell: A Place of Promise’ initiative focused on generating investments in the Russell neighborhood.

The project aims to bring about solutions to these issues in Louisville by making the public, policymakers, and city’s leaders aware of the data, which allows them to work toward the goal of equality and repairing a centuries old broken system.

“We the community demand real clear-cut answers,” said Gill.

Sponsors of the webinar included: Metro United Way, Resist and Nspire, Taunt, Kertis Creative, and Rhythm Science Sound.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Philip Johnson’s Name, Citing Racist Views

Philip Johnson was one of the most influential architects of the past century, chameleonic in each of his roles as a New York power broker, art collector and creator of his “Glass House,” a celebrated landmark of modernist design in Connecticut.

He also championed racist and white supremacist viewpoints in his younger years. Johnson’s Nazi sympathies, for example, have been well documented, and he spent the years after World War II trying to distance himself from them.

Now a group of more than 30 prominent artists, architects and academics are casting a light on the more unsavory part of Johnson’s legacy, demanding in a letter published online on Nov. 27 that institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Harvard Graduate School of Design remove the name of the architect, who died in 2005, from their spaces.

“There is a role for Johnson’s architectural work in archives and historic preservation,” the Johnson Study Group, a largely anonymous group of designers and architects, wrote in the letter. “However, naming titles and spaces inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for curators, administrators, students and others who participate in these institutions.”

The letter was signed by the contemporary artist Xaviera Simmons; the landscape architect and MacArthur fellow Kate Orff; and V. Mitch McEwen, an assistant professor of architecture at Princeton University, who is among eight of the 10 architects in an upcoming exhibition at MoMA — “Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America” — that is slated to open Feb. 20.

It cites Johnson’s “widely documented” advocacy for white supremacist views, his attempt to found a fascist party in Louisiana, and failure to include work by a single Black artist or designer in MoMA’s collection during his tenure there. (He served in various roles over six decades.) The letter called on any institutions using his name to remove it.

“He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in the field of architecture,” the letter said, “a legacy that continues to do harm today.”

Johnson’s name has been on one of the exhibition galleries at the Museum of Modern Art, where he served as its first head of architecture and design, since 1984. His name is also included in the title of the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design.

Johnson created buildings that are widely considered architectural masterpieces of the 20th century, among them the MoMA sculpture garden and the pavilion that houses pre-Columbian art at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington. The New York Times critic Paul Goldberger praised him as American architecture’s “godfather, gadfly, scholar, patron, critic, curator, and cheerleader” in his obituary.

But in his younger years, he openly admired Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” attended Nazi rallies in Germany and was investigated by the F.B.I. for his connections to the Nazi party. He rejected Nazism after the end of World War II.

Representatives from MoMA and Harvard did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Ms. Orff, the landscape architect and MacArthur fellow, said in an email on Thursday that removing Johnson’s name from the gallery and the curator position would represent a significant step in dismantling racism in design culture.

“Landscape architecture is catching up in its assessment of its own legacy,” Ms. Orff said. “To move forward with a more imaginative, just, and equitable culture in the design fields, we have to reckon with past figures who set the ground rules.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

22 Nonprofits to Donate to This Colorado Gives Day

On Tuesday, December 8 you can back Colorado nonprofits and continue their hard work during Colorado Gives Day. This year marks the 11th anniversary of statewide giving with a chance to give back to the communities and organizations that you love and support.

Over $257 million has been raised for Colorado nonprofit organizations since the first Colorado Gives Day in 2010 with the help of Community First Foundation, FirstBank and community members for continued support.

This year Colorado Gives Day has a $1 million incentive fund from the founding partners. This means that every nonprofit that receives 10% of the total amount of money raised through all nonprofits on the day will get an added 10% to its donations. With over 3,000 nonprofits in the lineup and the added incentive program, it can be difficult to choose who you want to give back to. Due to this challenge, 303 Magazine has created a list of some wonderful organizations in the Denver area that are worth looking into.

Animals

Photo Courtesy of Dumb Friends League on Facebook

Nonprofit: Colorado Pet Pantry

The Lowdown: As many human food pantries fill up for the holiday season, pets sometimes go to the wayside. Colorado Pet Pantry ensures that hungry dogs and cats are fed and are able to stay with their families through difficult times.

Nonprofit: Denver Dumb Friends League

The Lowdown: The Denver Dumb Friends League takes in homeless pets that are in need of a second chance. The league rescues guinea pigs, horses, turtles and, of course, cats and dogs that each need help and a forever home.

Nonprofit: Colorado Wildlife Federation

The Lowdown: The Colorado Wildlife Federation advocates and educations for conservation, management and stewardship of the wildlife and fish habitats and resources that Colorado has to offer. The federation’s programs include workshops, day trips and outdoor recreational activities.

The Outdoors

Photo Courtesy of The Colorado Trail Foundation on Facebook

Nonprofit: 350 Colorado

The Lowdown: 350 Colorado works locally to help build up the climate and clean energy movement. As the climate crisis intensifies, the need for action and sustainability is at the forefront.

Nonprofit: Denver Botanic Gardens

The Lowdown: With three different locations (York Street in Denver, Chatfield and the Mount Goliath Alpine Trail on Mount Evans) the Denver Botanic Gardens gives visitors a chance to explore Native Colorado plant life. Programs from the gardens include research, conservation efforts, art installations and more.

Nonprofit: Denver Urban Gardens

The Lowdown: Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) aims to make lasting changes at the community level by cultivating and producing nutritious food with gardens around the city. Each garden and farm is led and started by community efforts resulting in currently 188 gardens in six counties within the Metro Denver Area.

Nonprofit: The Colorado Trail Foundation

The Lowdown: The Colorado Trail Foundation aims to maintain and provide a sustainable, linear and non-motorized recreation trail that spans from Denver to Durango. The trail is maintained with the help of voluntary and public involvement and help from the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Bureau of Land Management for a natural educational environment within the high mountains.

The Arts

Photo Courtesy of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance on Facebook

Nonprofit: 5Point Film Festival

The Lowdown: The 5Point Film Festival aims to fund the Dream Project scholarship which helps student filmmakers tell their stories of adventure. The festival believes that change can be sparked through adventure films and the stories that people have to share.

Nonprofit: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 

The Lowdown: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) is an international and cross-cultural organization that gives access to educational programs in African American traditions while providing instruction, performance and community programs for the general public.  

Nonprofit: Art Students League of Denver

The Lowdown: Art Students League of Denver allows access to high-quality arts education to artists of all status and age. The league strives to provide programs throughout the Denver metro area and more to ensure that Mile High communities can have a chance to express themselves through art.

Nonprofit: Colorado Black Arts Festival

The Lowdown: Colorado Black Arts Festival presents a festival filled with talented local visual artists, who may not have had the means to sell or show their works otherwise. The event is always free and open to the public.

Museums

Photo Courtesy of MCA Denver‎ on Facebook

Nonprofit: Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

The Lowdown: At the height of innovation and expression –  the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is a space that allows artists to explore themselves. The MCA provides workshops for both youth and adults alike, to engage the community for a more culturally enriched society. Donations provide the MCA with funds to continue to support the community and creative artists with a place to engage in dialog and inspiration.

Nonprofit: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Lowdown: The Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s mission is to help people learn about the amazing world they live in while also preserving it for future generations. Donations will allow the museum’s “Everyone, Everywhere” strategic plan to move forward – keeping science accessible, meaningful and fun while also contributing to the future of Colorado.

Nonprofit: Clyfford Still Museum

The Lowdown: Clyfford Still Museum’s mission is to study, preserve and continue to exhibit the unique collections it holds. The museum aims to be a gathering place for artistic endeavors with education programs, research and more.

Youth

Photo Courtesy of Denver Children’s Choir on Facebook

Nonprofit: Impact360

The Lowdown: Mile High 360 is a long-term youth development collective that provides 13 years of consecutive life skills, academic, health and wellness programs. The organization aims to prepare students from sixth grade to 24 years old to ensure a life full of success.

Nonprofit: Pop Culture Classroom

The Lowdown: Through the use of comic books and pop culture media – Pop Culture Classroom helps increase literacy rates and education. The organization has found that popular culture can be a wonderful tool for diversity, inclusivity and engagement in communities.

Nonprofit: Denver Children’s Choir

The Lowdown: The Denver Children’s Choir believes that the use of music can make a positive change in children’s lives. The organization provides in-school musical education with the support of DPS and after-school choir programs. Denver Children’s Choir will never turn a child away – no matter the financial constraints or training history.

Education

Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library Friends Foundation on Facebook

Nonprofit: Slow Food Denver

The Lowdown: Slow Food Denver nurtures the appreciation of local food with members of the community by creating a more sustainable and just food system for all.

Nonprofit: Denver Scholarship Foundation

The Lowdown: The Denver Scholarship Foundation’s goal is to inspire and empower students in Denver Public Schools to pursue post-secondary school education by providing knowledge, tools for success and the financial means to so. Donations will allow the Denver Scholarship Foundation to continue to gives students in the Denver Area a chance to succeed.

Nonprofit: Denver Public Schools Foundation

The Lowdown: Denver Public Schools Foundation invests in the progress of the community through education in the classrooms. The foundation continues to help over 200 schools and more than 90,000 students succeed while in school.

Nonprofit: Denver Kids, Inc.

The Lowdown: Denver Kids supports children in Denver Public Schools who are in higher-risk environments to exceed in high school, pursue the best post-secondary options and become successful members they can in their communities.

Nonprofit: Denver Public Library Friends Foundation

The Lowdown: Denver Public Library Friends Foundation helps to improve the community by raising funds to boost library services and educational programs.

If you want the full list of 2,500 nonprofit organizations to choose from for Colorado Gives Day you can check it out here


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Mammoth COVID-19 vaccine rollout highlights need for national vaccine registry, some experts say

The COVID-19 crisis and an ambitious vaccine campaign ahead highlight a gaping hole in Canada’s health-care system where a cohesive, national vaccine registry should be, some public health experts say.

But because health care falls to the provinces and territories, no such system exists to help Canada’s public health leaders identify gaps in uptake of routine vaccinations, let alone keep track of what will be the largest immunization campaign in our history.

“As with most things related to public health, it is a patchwork approach with technology ranging from the 19th century to the 21st century,” said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Even for routine vaccinations, we don’t have a particularly clear picture whether immunization rates are high enough to keep infections such as measles at bay, said Culbert.

“For many of the routine vaccine-preventable diseases, you need to have community immunity that’s typically 85 to 95 per cent. We don’t know that today.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada surveys about 2,000 people every two years and uses those answers to project how many people are immunized, he said.

“But we don’t have real data.”

Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association, says ‘we don’t have real data’ on how many people are actually immunized. (CBC)

The fundamental issue, said Culbert, is that “when public health systems are working and things are normal, no one pays any attention to them” — hence, politicians don’t want to pay for things such as vaccine registry systems.

“It’s much sexier for politicians to say they’ve invested to reduce the wait times for MRIs or hip replacements,” he said. “And in normal times it’s fine that individuals and parents are responsible for that yellow [immunization] card — it’s never really put to the test.”

Until something like a pandemic comes along.

‘Like nothing we’ve experienced’

Now, with an imminent COVID-19 vaccination campaign — and a number of different vaccines likely to be offered — the problem of incomplete data has come sharply into focus, experts say.

“This vaccine rollout is going to be like nothing we’ve experienced,” said Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and founder of the CANImmunize vaccine tracking digital platform, a startup company spun out of a research lab at the Ottawa Hospital, where Wilson is a senior scientist.

Unlike with other immunization campaigns, some of the COVID-19 vaccines being administered will require one dose, Wilson said. Others will require two, and the length of time between shots will vary depending on the specific vaccine.

Dr. Kumanan Wilson is a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and founder of the CANImmunize vaccine tracking app. (Dr. Kumanan Wilson)

“So we’re absolutely going to have to be able to identify these vaccines digitally at the level of the individual,” he said.

Another likely scenario is that, in time, data will show the immunity from one vaccine doesn’t last as long as another.

“We would then need to be able to notify individuals that received that vaccine that it’s time to get perhaps another vaccine.”

Asked about the need for a national registry, especially in light of the COVID crisis, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC Radio in an email that immunization programs are run by the provinces and territories, and that its survey method of monitoring vaccine uptake “allows for consistent data collection across the country.”

“Moreover, surveys collect information that is not captured by registries, such as socio-demographic data, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs and reasons for non-vaccination,” it said.

“When COVID-19 vaccination begins, PHAC is planning to use data from [provincial and territorial] registries and national surveys to monitor vaccine uptake.”

WATCH | Officials discuss logistical challenges of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The federal government is finalizing its plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccines once they are available in Canada. The plan needs to include how to transport, store and deliver millions of doses quickly and may involve military assistance. 1:54

Following up on vaccinations will be particularly important for groups that are most at risk of getting a severe form of COVID-19, said Dr. Joan Robinson, a pediatrician and director of the University of Alberta department of pediatrics’ division of pediatric infectious diseases in Edmonton.

“For example, the elderly, maybe we’ll start out with a vaccine they don’t respond to very well, and then we’ll get a far better vaccine, and it will become logical to give them a different vaccine,” said Robinson. “Wouldn’t it be great to actually have records, so that we have very efficient use of vaccines?”

Unfortunately, provincial and territorial health-care systems aren’t designed for that, with the current disconnected collection of tracking systems.

Siloed systems

Creating a national vaccine registry isn’t as simple as connecting what’s already in use at the provincial or territorial level.

The systems that do exist vary considerably in their sophistication and in who is compelled to report into them, said Culbert. 

Eight use, to varying degrees, an IBM-made vaccine registry called Panorama: British Columbia, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. But even these are siloed versions of the same system that don’t really speak to one another.

Add to that the complication of the number of places that administer vaccines, he said. Some provinces may require their local public health units to share vaccine data but not the thousands of family practitioners whose offices also administer vaccines, for example.

WATCH | Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, discusses how vulnerable populations will be prioritized when a  COVID-19 vaccine rolls out. 9:01

What’s needed is for all vaccine data to reach the federal Canadian Institute for Health Information, said Culbert.

“But reporting of all health data is voluntary, and it is through negotiated arrangements with all provinces and territories,” he said.

He said most Canadians aren’t aware until they move from one province to another, or their family doctor retires, that there’s no one looking after this information on their behalf.

“I can attest to that by the number of calls we get when there’s an outbreak of measles,” Culbert said.

When a family doctor retires, it’s likely that any health records they held will no longer be accessible, said Culbert. “So you end up having to revaccinate people, which is a waste of resources.”

Lost records

That’s exactly what happened in Diana Rickard Coote’s family.

“We had a really great pediatrician and loved her and then she left the practice. We couldn’t find her. She took all of our records,” said the Ottawa mom of two.

Her youngest son, Evan, now 11, ended up getting suspension notices in Grades 4, 5 and 6 because of missing vaccine records — and actually did get suspended for a few days the first year while they searched in vain for the boys’ former doctor. (In Ontario, children are required to be vaccinated against certain diseases in order to attend school, unless their parents go through steps to receive an exemption.)

Diana Rickard Coote, shown with sons Evan, 11, and Casey, 14, said her son Evan got suspended from school several times because of missing vaccination records that got lost when his pediatrician left her practice. (Submitted by Diana Rickard Coote )

With no records, they ended up having another caregiver re-do vaccinations they knew he’d had previously. “We had no other choice,” Coote said.

Robinson says that while it’s rarely harmful to receive an extra vaccine, it is a waste of time and money. If your physician, nurse practitioner and pharmacist could look up that information, that would be considerably more efficient and less error-prone, she said. 

Need to track adult immunizations

Wilson said one major issue in the COVID context is that existing systems are designed to track children’s routine immunizations.

“They really aren’t focused on tracking vaccination in adults … and this vaccine is going to primarily be provided to adult older Canadians. That’ll be the initial target population.”

Toronto family physician and vaccine researcher Dr. Iris Gorfinkel said difficulties executing a wider seasonal flu vaccine program this fall show why a comprehensive and higher tech solution is needed for tracking who has had what vaccines.

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel says using barcodes on vaccines — along with barcodes assigned to individual patients — should automatically populate a patient’s own electronic health record. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

She told Dr. Brain Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art, the technical foundation has already been laid to make this happen, given a system already established that assigns distinct barcodes to individual vaccine doses, so they can be scanned at the time they’re administered and associated with the person who receives the shot. 

“Virtually every single vaccine has a … barcode on it. And those barcodes came because public health met with infectious disease [experts], met with IT people. And this cost a tremendous amount of money at the time when it was developed.”

White Coat Black Art3:58Doctor calls for national vaccine registry in Canada

Toronto family doctor and vaccine researcher Dr. Iris Gorfinkel talks to Dr. Brian Goldman on White Coat, Black Art about how this year’s flu season is a “dress rehearsal” for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. She says the current gaps in the system point to the need for a national vaccine registry. 3:58

That system could be used to automatically populate a patient’s own electronic health record, that of the local health unit and the provincial or territorial database, and in turn, be shared federally, said Gorfinkel. And unlike during this year’s outsized flu shot campaign — when many doctors’ offices and pharmacies ran short — the information could be used to determine the volume of vaccines clinics need, she said.

Identifying at-risk populations

Culbert said that kind of data is also essential for spotting areas of need where people are at-risk because they haven’t received their COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps because they can’t get to a daytime appointment, giving public health the opportunity to intervene.

He said a crisis comes along every decade or so — the SARS epidemic, for example — that “shines light on a public health system that is grossly underfunded compared to acute care in our country.”

We do reasonably well at fixing people once they’re sick, but less well at keeping them healthy in the first place, said Culbert.

 The need to have reporting on a set time frame, that’s not negotiable. That is absolutely critical.– Ian Culbert, Canadian Public Health Association

Just as SARS led to the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Culbert said, he hopes the pandemic will also prompt meaningful change and open some line of communication for timely vaccine reporting from the provinces and territories.

“If nothing else comes out of this, the need to have reporting on a set time frame, that’s not negotiable. That is absolutely critical.” 


Written by Brandie Weikle. Dr. Iris Gorfinkel interview produced by Dawna Dingwall.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The secret to Order of Canada inductee Denham Jolly’s multi-million dollar empire

Columnist image

Denham Jolly is a man of many titles: Businessman, human rights activist, author and philanthropist. And in a phone interview from his home in Toronto, the 85-year-old describes himself as “a serial entrepreneur.”

Jolly’s empire, which he began building at age 33, started with the purchase of student rental housing in downtown Toronto, made possible with a loan for the $5,000 down payment. Building on that success, he went on to purchase retirement and nursing homes in Canada and the U.S., a Days Inn motel, medical laboratories as well as a Toronto-based publishing company.

But he is perhaps best-known for his tenacity in launching Canada’s first Black-owned radio station, FLOW 93.5.

That lifetime of work for social justice and the breadth of his financial success was recognized Friday when Jolly was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours. He joins 114 other appointees including Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear as well as Olympians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

When pressed about his net worth, Jolly says it’s “somewhere between $20 and $30 million dollars.” And when asked to share something surprising about himself, he says: “I know some people think I’m hard-nosed but I have a heart.”

Though the founder of the Black Business and Professional Association is proud of his entrepreneurial acumen, Jolly says he is most proud of his three children and his philanthropic efforts. When asked what keeps him up at night, he cites injustice and inequality that he views as “rampant” in our society.

Early days in Canada

Jolly was born in Green Island, Jamaica and first came to Canada at age 19 to attend McGill University in Montreal where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. Back then, newcomers such as himself on a student visa had to check in every three months with Immigration Canada “like a parolee.” In 1960, Canada was freely accepting immigrants from Europe, but, in Jolly’s view “did not want Black people in Canada.”

Despite obtaining his science degree in three years and graduating in the top fifth percentile of his class, he was told to “go home” after completing school. “I had no choice,” he says. “It was either that or jail, where they put refugees.”

He returned to Jamaica but came back to Canada for “more opportunities” and a better life in 1962. He says a “drinking buddy” with ties to the Canadian consul helped him get his papers.

Jolly worked briefly as an air pollution monitor for the City of Toronto, which involved scaling icy heights during the colder months before taking high school teaching jobs in Sault Ste. Marie followed by Forest Hill Collegiate in one of Toronto’s most prestigious neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, Jolly’s side hustle in the late 1960s, renting to students after the purchase of a rooming house on the University of Toronto campus, was becoming more profitable. He eventually left teaching to expand his business.

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Denham Jolly at the FLOW Studios (Photo supplied)

Canada’s first Black-owned radio station

It was after his purchase in 1982 of the weekly publication Contrast – Canada’s first newspaper for the Black and Caribbean diaspora – that Jolly recognized the need for daily news that served his community.

“We needed a radio station,” he says. “Plus there were a lot of promising Black artists but no Black music being played on any radio stations in Toronto — it was forbidden on some stations. You had to tune in to Buffalo or Detroit to listen to Black music.”

Jolly saw an opportunity and applied for a radio station licence. It would take him three tries, 12 years and nearly $1.5 million dollars to accomplish this. Local media and The Washington Post chronicled his plight as a battle against racial barriers in Canada.

“I decided, I’m not going to let you guys dissuade me or beat me down. I’m going to stay in your face,” Jolly says. “It was a lot of money back then, not to mention the time spent. We had to hire lawyers, engineers, consultants, rent an office. Eventually, we got it.”

That station is FLOW 93.5, which in 2001 became the first mainstream station to play hip-hop in Canada and went on to be the first to play Drake. With Jolly at the helm, the station hired Black employees ranging from accounting to its broadcasters, launching many careers.

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2001 FLOW 93.5FM launch party (Photo supplied)

Racism in Canada

According to Jolly, the notion that racism exists because the system is broken is a fallacy.

“It’s not broken, it was built that way on purpose to preserve the status quo,” he says.

Jolly says he has been on the receiving end of subtle and not-so-subtle racism over the years. He wrote about his experience with “polite” racism in Canada in his 2017 book In The Black: My Life.

For BNN Bloomberg, he recalls a conversation with a bank manager in the 1980s.

“I had a bank manager tell me ‘I’ll lend you money but I wouldn’t want you marrying my daughter.’ He says that to my face,” Jolly says.

He says he was treated differently than his peers because of his race, which is why he would send his white accountant to deal with banks whenever possible. When he looked at potential houses to live in, he would bring a white friend and pose as her contractor. Jolly says this was necessary to avoid discrimination.

In the late 80s, Jolly says he had a $3-million loan on a nursing home coming due and there was no problem, until he deviated from his cautious strategy.

“I made the mistake of going to a function where the bank manager was and he discovered I was Black,” he recalls. “Up until then, everything was fine with the loan but the next day he says they couldn’t go ahead with it.”

When asked if things have gotten better over the years, his answer is quick and without animosity: “No, not much.”

Embedded Image
Jolly with Michaëlle Jean who was Canada’s Governor General from 2005 to 2010. She was the first Black woman to occupy Canada’s highest office. (Photo supplied)

Secret to his success

According to Jolly, the key to his success involved being several steps ahead of everyone — his competition, his creditors, his bankers. Jolly says he wasn’t granted the same leeway given to white men of privilege.

To deal with that difference, Jolly says he always had liquid assets available in case loans were called in early, and he prepared a Plan B for loans that were denied.

“I know white people better than they know themselves. My survival in business depended on it,” Jolly says.

In his experience, there are many people in positions of power in the financial world “that don’t want minorities to exceed them.” In his view, these “friendly” gatekeepers seek to constrain a person of colour’s success.

“I managed to outsmart them, managed to stay ahead of the curve,” he says.

Embedded Image
Jolly is a longtime sponsor of a boys’ soccer team in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood. (Photo supplied)

The plight of the poor

When asked what keeps him up at night, Jolly gets fired up. He cites the fact that so many people, in one of the richest countries in the world, don’t have access to basic needs: shelter, food and water.

Jolly decries “people freezing to death on the street” or Indigenous children without access to clean water, living in deplorable conditions.

“How do we sleep at night knowing this happens? And yet we have billions of dollars to do other things,” he says.

People may know him for his business ventures, but Jolly says that these days, his charitable deeds are a constant.

“I started a breakfast club at my ex-high school in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I do a lot of things but don’t broadcast it. I support a lot of people without them asking. I send regular cheques to people in the mail,” he says.

Embedded Image
In November 2019, Toronto named a new street in Scarborough after Denham Jolly as a tribute to the pioneering broadcaster and business leader. (Nick Wons)

Lessons from 2020

Jolly says he and his family are taking the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously, because he belongs to a vulnerable demographic. He feels lucky to be able to shelter in place comfortably.

“I’ve learned to be thankful for small mercies and not get fixated on things you can’t change,” he says.

One thing that surprised him about this year was the groundswell of support, including that of Corporate Canada, for the Black Lives Matter movement. He says he was “quite taken and encouraged” by the collective “awakening” brought on in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in the U.S.

But Jolly says he frets that much of what unfolded in recent months, and the grand proclamations by leaders in Corporate Canada haven’t resulted in lasting change.

“If you look around I don’t see a lot of changes that are commensurate with the concern that was manifested. If you look around Toronto, what institutional change has really happened around here?”

That prompted him to write a letter last month to Toronto Mayor John Tory, asking that the city move quickly to re-examine its approach to policing. Specifically, when it comes to mental health “wellness checks,” some of which have been captured on camera and show situations that have turned violent, even deadly. In Denham’s view, sending one or more uniformed police officers to perform these checks is a recipe for escalation.

At 85, Jolly says he’s not quite prepared to “stop opening my big mouth when it comes to human rights.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Oklahoma US Navy Veterans Lung Cancer Has Endorsed the Lawyers at Karst von Oiste to Be the Go-To Lawyers for a Navy Veteran with Lung Cancer in Oklahoma-Compensation Might Exceed $100,000 if He Had Asbestos Exposure

Oklahoma US Navy Veterans Lung Cancer Has Endorsed the Lawyers at Karst von Oiste to Be the Go-To Lawyers for a Navy Veteran with Lung Cancer in Oklahoma-Compensation Might Exceed $100,000 if He Had Asbestos Exposure – African American News Today – EIN Presswire

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Justin Bieber’s Grammy complaints show pop music’s ignorance toward genre appropriation

Hours after the 2021 Grammy nominations were announced, pop star Justin Bieber took to Instagram to make a statement. Bieber had just been recognized for his 2020 LP Changes in a variety of pop categories, ranging from best pop solo performance to best pop vocal album. His lengthy post voiced neither excitement nor gratitude, but his frustrations at the Recording Academy for misclassifying his nominations. Bieber stated that “Changes was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.” 

His words suggest he feels owed a place and a voice in the R&B genre, a musical space that has long been pioneered and popularized by people of color. As far back as Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, and as recent as Beyoncé, contemporary R&B has transformed traditional rhythm and blues into a mainstream musical force. Rhythm and blues, first introduced by African American communities in the 1940s, underwent a dramatic sonic shift to become the R&B sounds we know today — yet, the history and culture remain deeply intact. In an attempt to claim a place in R&B, particularly in its Grammy nominations category, Bieber is not only disrespecting the genre’s history, but would also potentially be overshadowing the many Black voices that comprise its industry.

One particularly prominent voice is Beyoncé, whose most recent single “Black Parade” received multiple nominations in a variety of R&B categories. The track, a tribute to the Black experience in America and a symbol of cultural pride, illustrates the rich heritage ingrained into R&B music and its artists. Imagine instead “Yummy,” Bieber’s lead single off of Changes, staking claim on the nominations list and sidelining “Black Parade” or the multitude of other tracks from Black R&B artists. This would effectively minimize Black folks’ art in a space they themselves created, suppressing an artistry so deeply intertwined with race and racial struggle in America — wherein Bieber is frontrunning himself for his own uncanny agenda. 

Of course, this is not to say that a non-Black artist is barred from creating within the genre, because there are many that in fact do. The key difference here is intention. 

Listening to Changes, R&B, hip-hop and trap influences are certainly present, but the record still remains overwhelmingly pop. It is worth noting, however, that a genre switch is apparent, though the case for its reclassification as R&B is extraordinarily weak. The album is still ruled by the structure and sound of pop music, making the purpose of Bieber’s switch from electronic dance music-inspired “Sorry” to tracks such as “Yummy” appear to be less about appreciating R&B, and more about riding popular trends. The trends in recent years have leaned heavily in favor of rap, R&B and hip-hop, overtaking the EDM-pop genre, which saw singles such as “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean?” dominate national charts. Naturally, many pop artists adapted their sound — and in Bieber’s case, toward one he clearly lacks appreciation for.

Overall, this trend saw the rise of R&B-infused pop music often from non-Black pop artists. However, white pop artists morphing genres isn’t a singular occurrence — in fact, this kind of trend happens periodically, and is visible in much of Britney Spears’ earlier work and likewise littered throughout the early 2000s. 

Switching genres in this way has become increasingly normalized in the pop industry, often simply because artists balance a fine line between appropriation and appreciation. Many times it slides by without second thought, because genres such as R&B have become so popular that their tropes and styles become commonplace in any popular song. Only in these moments, such as Justin Bieber’s cry for recognition on Instagram, do we get to see the implications of normalizing the appropriation of Black-led genres like R&B.

When the culture gives permission to white artists to put on appropriating costumes and perform in a Black-led space, it becomes easier for non-Black people to take up more room than the people of color who’ve dedicated their careers to the genre. In the case of Bieber, we see him actively trying to enlarge himself in R&B, staking claim to the genre’s Grammy nomination categories, even if this is only an aesthetic he wears for an album cycle or two. When he eventually sheds this aesthetic — whether it be because R&B has fallen out of fashion or a shiny new musical style has caught public attention — he would have left a quieter, more invisible Black artist in his wake had he gained access to the R&B category.

This, in essence, is the main flaw in pop music’s affinity for genre appropriation: It feeds the privileged pop star the sustenance necessary to continue the racist trends that have for so long plagued Black folks — and perpetuates a success that rides on the shoulders of those who built it in the first place. 

Contact Ryan Garay at [email protected].

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

John Edmonds and the Allure of Africa

The young photographer John Edmonds traveled to Ghana last January, searching for something he couldn’t name. Having recently begun collecting and photographing African sculpture, he thought the trip would lead to a greater self-knowledge.

“I’m an African-American using African objects, so it was important to me to understand the source,” he said during an interview in Brooklyn. The pieces he’d been studying were masks and figurines crafted for the tourist market, raising questions of authenticity that were linked in a complicated way to racial consciousness. He was also navigating the minefield of cultural appropriation: Would such decorative art assume a different significance when used by an African, African-American or white photographer in a shoot?

These are some of the socially resonant issues that Mr. Edmonds investigates in “A Sidelong Glance” at the Brooklyn Museum, his first solo museum show, which accompanies the award of the inaugural UOVO Prize for an emerging Brooklyn artist. To add a wrinkle, his photographs also explore his queer identity. In the exhibition, several portraits depict handsome, shirtless Black men alongside an array of African objects. “He’s really interested in the connection between collecting and photography as acts of possession and desire,” said Drew Sawyer, curator of photography at the Brooklyn Museum.

African sculpture has been central to modernism. “Black people have always known they were the inspiration for art,” said Mr. Edmonds, 31, who shoots on film with a large-format view camera. “The African art object has influenced, as we know, everything within the lexicon of culture, from entertainment culture to painting and sculpture.”

In the early 20th century, avant-garde artists in Europe and the United States embraced sculpture from Africa (and later Oceania) that they classified as “primitive.” The 1907 painting “Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which manifested Picasso’s fascination with the African masks at the Palais du Trocadéro ethnographic museum, is the revolutionary exemplar, but a 1926 photograph by Man Ray, “Noire et Blanche,” presents the premise more directly. Man Ray posed his lover, Kiki de Montparnasse, holding a Baule-style mask next to her head. Her eyes are closed, as if she is dreaming, and the curves of her eyebrows, eyelids and lips — as well as the flatness of her hair and the oval of her face — are as stylized as the features on the mask. Along with his fellow Surrealists, Man Ray believed that women have a profound connection to the irrational and the primal, qualities that he associated with African art.

Mr. Edmonds composed a photograph in the current show that constitutes a response. Called “Tête de Femme,” it shows a Black woman who, like Kiki, is holding a decorative African mask on a table. But this woman keeps her head upright and her eyes open, gazing confidently at the camera (and the viewer). It is one of a small series by the artist that reimagines Man Ray’s iconic photograph. “I made three pictures — one person who identifies as a woman, one as a man and one as gender-nonconforming,” he explains. “A lot of my work has to do with unlearning gender.”

Made in 2018 (the masculine version appeared in the 2019 Whitney Biennial), the series inaugurated Mr. Edmonds’s inclusion of African objects in his photographs, using tourist pieces that belonged to the Brooklyn family of a friend. The objects he later began collecting himself derive from the crafts market, too. He relates to these pieces not as an art historian, but as someone who uses and shares them — which, indeed, more closely approximates the role that rare sculptures served in their original environments.

When Mr. Sawyer asked if he would be interested in photographing the museum’s recently acquired collection of African sculptures, Mr. Edmonds relished the opportunity. The collection had been formed by the eminent African-American novelist Ralph Ellison. “They had invited a few artists to work with it but no one accepted the idea,” he said. “I found it to be quite beautiful. It’s a collection that’s been largely not seen. Photographing these objects was assigning life to them.” Continuing a tradition that dates to Man Ray, Walker Evans and Charles Sheeler, he photographed the sculptures frontally and from the rear, evoking a mood rather than simply documenting an archive. “I’m interested in these objects as little presences that are looking at and looking away from the viewer,” he said.

Instead of conventional white and gray modernist backdrops, Mr. Edmonds photographed the objects against shimmering gold cloth. He also carefully varied the scale of his prints in the exhibition, combining small images of the Ellison objects with larger portraits of friends. “He works in black and white and in color, and at different scales, and sometimes as portraits, sometimes as still life, and sometimes as combinations,” said Jane Panetta, director of the Whitney Museum collection, who co-curated the 2019 Whitney Biennial. “He’s disrupting expectations about photographic seriality.”

He is also subverting a tradition of white gay photographers, from Carl Van Vechten to Robert Mapplethorpe, who eroticize Black male bodies. Mr. Edmonds’s models are subjects as well as objects. A muscular shirtless man with dreadlocks is sitting on a table that supports a cluster of African statuettes. They are all objects of desire. If a white artist made this portrait today, he would be open to charges of objectifying Black bodies in an act of post-colonial fetishism. However, it is Mr. Edmonds’s humanizing of his subjects that, even more than his race, exonerates him of that accusation. He is not presenting his model simply as a body to lust after but as a man absorbed in contemplation of the African art with what Mr. Edmonds describes as a “look of discernment.”

The engagement of African-American artists with African art gained momentum during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. In the exhibition, Mr. Edmonds includes a portrait of a man in a fedora who seems entranced by a Senufo sculpture of a woman. This photograph breaks stylistically from other pictures in the show. The sepia undertones as well as the retro clothing evoke the Harlem Renaissance, especially the photographs of James L. Allen, whose portrait from about 1930 of the graphic designer James Lesesne Wells examining a Kuba vessel is a direct ancestor of Mr. Edmonds’s picture.

The earliest photograph in the exhibition is a 2017 portrait of three young Black men wearing durags. (The connection to Africa, which otherwise unifies the exhibition, is subtle here: the headgear is green, red or black, the colors Marcus Garvey chose for the Pan-African Black liberation flag.) Mr. Edmonds has also produced several series of photographs based on fashion styles, including hoodies and hairdos. (A generous sampling is contained in “Higher,” his 2018 monograph.) He associates these portraits with Renaissance paintings he saw as a boy on visits to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where he was raised by a mother who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency as an office administrator and a stepfather who is an engineer. After graduating from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Mr. Edmonds earned an M.F.A. at Yale and moved to Brooklyn.

His photographs make wide-ranging art-historical allusions from Titian and Michelangelo to Rotimi Fani-Kayode, a photographer who was born into an eminent Yoruba family in Nigeria and employed ritual objects in homoerotic images. Mr. Fani-Kayode died in London of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. “He’s somebody that I have a huge amount of admiration for,” Mr. Edmonds said. He relies on artistic precedents, as he does on the friends whom he enlists as models, to further a process of self-awareness. “In life, at times we run away from ourselves,” he said. “I’ve gotten closer to the people I want to photograph and in doing so, I’ve gotten closer to myself. That is something art can do.”

On his journey to Ghana, Mr. Edmonds attended traditional religious ceremonies. Raised as a Baptist, he regarded with fascination the old African beliefs that exist like a palimpsest behind the Christian institutions there. On the last day of his stay, Mr. Edmonds was initiated into the Akan religion. The ceremony ratified a cultural bond with Africa that his photography had been exploring. He wears a wire-metal ring on the ring finger of his left hand to commemorate it. “I have religion — you don’t have to call it religion to have religion — but I think in my time there, it was supposed to happen,” he said. “In a way, that is what I went to Africa for, without knowing it.”

John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance

Through Aug. 8, 2021, Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, information@brooklynmuseum.org; 718.638.5000

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment