Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mary Lovelace O'Neal: Artist Talk (Rehistoricizing the Time around Expressionism)

This interview/discussion with Mary Lovelace O'Neal is from the Rehistoricizing project. "The goal for this project is to complete the digital and written gathering of exclusively 'first voice' biographical material of 23 Women Artists and Artists of Color active in the San Francisco Bay Area from the 1950’s to the late 1960’s, when their histories were undervalued because of public and personal hegemonic social and aesthetic scrutiny. The archive will be housed at the Anne Bremer Memorial Library, San Francisco Art Institute."

Carlos Villa       We Worked     Developed Theories     Tested Theories      

The Black Paintings     Abstract Concept     Made Art That Had Balls

Art Activists     Marches     Civil Rights Movement      Oliver Jackson     

Dewey Crumpler     Al Loving     LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)     

Stokley Carmichael     Joe Overstreet     Howard University Art Department     

Lois Jones     David Driskell     James Porter  

My paintings are a result of my dialogue with myself.

Gallery representation was not the least of the drawbacks for African American artists.

How do you keep fighting to get your work in mainline galleries?
Theory is so distant from making. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

From the Archives: Black Enterprise (December 1980)

In gathering notes for another piece that I am working on, Gallery 62: National Urban League, I surreptitiously stumbled upon the following articles in Black Enterprise (December 1980) and because of their timeliness, decided to share them with BAP readers. The link to this issue of Black Enterprise was provided by Google Books. The following articles, relating to the visual arts, are highlighted: 
  • Publisher's Page, Investing in Our Culture by Earl Graves (page 9). There is a strong focus on the visual arts within this issue. It serves as a celebration of the fine arts as it celebrates the visual artists, highlighting the challenges that these artists face in light of the rewards they offer viewers in general and the collector in particular; and the role of the corporate collector and the impact that they can have, as they are offered an opportunity to combine pleasure with business. Through their art, these artists have the capacity to express the struggle of Blacks for equality. In addition, there is an aesthetic reward in supporting Black artists. The following statement sums up Grave's sentiment, "an investment in art is also an investment in our culture."
  • The Bullish Market for Black Art by Judith Wilson (pages 34-36, 39-40). The subtitle gives a clear indication to the content of this article: Companies and individuals have discovered patronage of the arts can help the bottom line. The article focuses on such companies as Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, Johnson Publishing Company and Johnson Products Company, Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Brooklyn Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, etc. 
  • Where to See and Buy Black Art (page 41) This is a list of museums, galleries, college and corporate collections of Afro-American artists in the vanguard. Although it is now a bit dated because a number of the galleries have closed. However, knowing that they existed is a rich piece of history for one who continually digs to uncover any solid documentation relating to the history of Black art/artists. I am always looking, sometimes with success and sometimes not so successful, for catalogues, brochures, or any ephemera produced by galleries that were on the forefront of representing or showing the work of Black artists. Two of my biggest challenges, in terms of locating material, have been Brockman Gallery and the Barnett-Aden Collection. However, recently, I have had success with discovering approximately 12 catalogues from Gallery 62 (National Urban League). Also, I just stumbled upon a wonderful little gem from Just Above Midtown. With the list that appears in this issue, I will now expand my search strategy to include a few other galleries that I was formerly not familiar. Although a select gallery may be closed, there may just be some ephemera in the hands of a local secondhand book dealer.
  • New Rituals, New Visions (pages 43-48, 51). This article features a mini-exhibition of works by Afro-American artists in the vanguard, including Clarence Morgan, David Hammons, Jacqui Holmes, Bill Traylor, Curtis Bunyan, Jules Allen, Clifton Webb, Randy Williams, John  Scott, Richard Powell, Ray Grist, Senga Nengudi, Margo Humphrey, and John Dowell. As I read this article, a number of questions came to mind. Where are these artists 35 years after the publication of this issue? What impact have they had on broadening and defining the perspective of American art? How well have these artists and their works been documented in newspapers, journals, exhibition catalogues, standard text, etc? Are their works more included in mainstream museums than artists 35 years ago? How well are these artists compensated for their works and how does that dollar amount compare in value to 1980 selling prices? etc., etc., etc.         

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Artist Talk: Sonya Clark: Unravelling the Confederate Flag

Sonya Clark will be in NYC at Mixed Greens Gallery in Chelsea on June 11th at which time she will be deconstructing the battle flag of the Confederacy as a performance piece alongside Lowery Sims (Emeritus curator of the Museum of Arts and Design), Phyllis Galembo (photographer) and Olatunde Johnson (civil rights lawyer, professor at Columbia) to name a few. This piece is a response to the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the horrific events around police brutality on black lives. 

In this piece Sonya looks at the current events and poses the question, "How far have we moved in 150 years and how do we move forward from here?"  

SEE: New Dominion curated by Lauren Ross, on view June 11 - July 17, 2015 at Mixed Greens Gallery.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Elson Lecture 2013: A Conversation with Glenn Ligon

Works about Unfinished Business     Repetition      Race Relations

Black and White      What a Painting Can Say      America

Important Work about American History      Condition Report

Reflections on Language     History as a Process      Decomposing

History of Race Relations      Hidden Image     Iconic Image


Further Readings: Check your local library (public, academic, museum, etc.) or favorite bookstore.

Glenn Ligon: AMERICA (Whitney Museum of American Art). New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.

Glenn Ligon: Come Out. London: Ridinghouse, 2014.

Glenn Ligon: Figure. Paris: Yvon Lambert, 2008.

Yourself in the World: Selected Writings and Interviews. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Whitney Museum of American Art, 2011. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Selection of Upcoming Art Talks: Highlighting Black Art or Artists

Atlanta, Georgia
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. | Reception Hall, Level Three
Mildred Thompson (American, 1936-2003), 1989
The Second Mystery, Etching, Artist's Proof
Lent by Wes and Missy Cochran
"In a program titled Let’s Talk About Mildred, collectors Wes and Missy Cochran join curator of the Mildred Thompson estate, Melissa Messina, and Carlos Museum Associate Curator of Works on Paper, Andi McKenzie, for a conversation about the life and work of artist Mildred Thompson, whose prints are featured in the exhibition Creating Matter."   

Birmingham, Alabama
Kelli Morgan, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow
of African American Art 
Lecture: Decoding Black Art: Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College
Sunday, June 21, 2015 | 2 - 3 p.m.

"Join Kelli Morgan, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow of African American Art at the BMA, for a lecture series on African American art. The series will analyze and illuminate important works of African American art within the Museum’s permanent collection. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Kelli will discuss Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College."

Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery
 of African and African American Art at the Hutchins Center

Sunday Afternoon at the Cooper Gallery
In Conversation: Steven Nelson and Abigail DeVille 
Sunday, April 12, 2015 | 2 p.m. | 102 Mount Auburn Street

Steven Nelson, Associate Professor of African and African American Art History, University of California, Los Angeles; Cohen Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute, Hutchins Center, Harvard University.

Abigail DeVille, Independent Artist; Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Chicago, Illinois

Gallery Talk: Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist
Tuesday, April 14 and Tuesday, June 9, 2015 | 12:15 p.m. | Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 4th Floor North

The themes of Motley's work—identity, migration and social change—will be central to the discussion. 

Columbus, Ohio
Department of African American and African Studies

Artist Talk:  Art as Resistance: Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture for The Black Panther Movement 
Thursday, April 16, 2015 | 4:30 - 6 p.m. | Barnett Collaboratory, Sullivant Hall 141

Emory Douglas, Artist
"Emory Douglas will deliver a lecture along with a power point presentation related to his graphic artwork during 1960s and 1970s Black Panther Party era, when he served as the Minister of Culture and Revolutionary Artist. He will also showcase some of his more recent work, putting into context the social and political importance of the artwork being displayed." The event being produced in conjunction with: Department of African American and African StudiesBarnett Center for Integrated Art and EnterpriseOffice of Diversity and InclusionOffice of Student LifeDepartment of Art and the Department of English.

East Lansing, Michigan

Lecture: Mickalene Thomas
Monday, April 27, 2015 | 7 p.m. | S. Kedzie Hall, 107

"The paintings of Mickalene Thomas combine iconic images of African American women alongside the classic genre of portraiture.  Drawing on art history and popular culture, her monumental works consider the relationship between black female sexuality, beauty, and power.  Her work is represented in the collections of the Guggenheim, Whitney, MoMA, and many others." Free and open to the public.

Hanover, New Hampshire 
Dartmouth College 
Artist Lecture: Victor Ekpuk: Excavating Memories
Friday, April 24, 2015| 4:30 p.m.  
Victor Ekpuk. Composition No. 13 (Sante Fe Suite),2013
Graphic and pastel on paper
Courtesy of the artist. © Victor Ekpuk

Victor Ekpuk will discuss how he mines historical, cultural, and social memories to shape his aesthetics.  

 Hartford, Connecticut

Contemporary Art Series: Hank Willis Thomas: History Doesn't Laugh
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 | 6 p.m.

Hank Willis Thomas, Basketball and Chain, 2003, digital c-print photograph, 
Gift of Jean Crutchfield and Robert Hobbs 
in honor of Susan Talbott, 2014.14.1
"One of the most provocative and innovative conceptual artists of today, Hank Willis Thomas discusses the impact of photography on his work and explores how the concepts of spectacle and display connect to notions of African American identity and commodification."

Los Angeles, California

Panel Discussion: A History of Refusal: Black Artists and Conceptualism
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 | 7:30 p.m.

"This panel explores the politics and legacy of African American artists, both of Charles Gaines’s generation and after, who use strategies of conceptual art to investigate identity, representation, and American culture. The panel also considers the impact of past exhibitions that examined black conceptual practices and questioned what constitutes a “black aesthetic.” With speakers Thelma Golden, director and chief curator, the Studio Museum in Harlem; Hamza Walker, associate curator and director of education, The Renaissance Society, Chicago; and artist Rodney McMillian."   

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lecture: Norman Lewis: Abstracting African American Art
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | 12 - 1 p.m.

"Norman Lewis (1909-1979) was among the earliest African American artists to explore abstraction. Ruth Fine, Independent Curator and former Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., provides a preview of PAFA’s fall 2015 exhibition, Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis, examining the parallel courses of his abstract and figurative motifs."

San Francisco
Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, de Young Museum

Docent Lecture: An African American Experience, by Sharon Walton
Sunday, April 26, 2015 | 2:15 p.m.

"This lecture reflects upon personal, national, and collective African American experiences and illustrates how they have influenced American art."

Waltham, Massachusetts
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis Museum

Artist Lecture: Melvin Edwards
Friday, April 17, 2015 | 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.

Melvin Edwards
"Pioneering African American artist Melvin Edwards will join Brandeis Professor Chad Williams (Chair of African and Afro-American Studies) and Christopher Bedford (Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum) for a conversation in front of sculptures from Edwards’s “Lynch Fragments” series, currently on display as part of the Rose Art Museum’s presentation of new acquisitions."

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Artists Talk: "Uprooted: Artists Respond to San Francisco's Black Exodus"

3.9 Art Collective        San Francisco        Uprooted          

Pushed Out        Working Together       Nancy Cato 
Rhiannon MacFadyen        Rodney Ewing       Mark Harris

Fillmore District        Displaced        Colonization Ahead

Black Exodus        Diminishing Number of Black People        

Don't Gentrify Me!       Foreclosure        Doors Being Closed

Doors a Metaphor for Home          

Buses are Representation of Big Technology

History of Trying to Find Home         

Less African American Art Makers Exhibited


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thomas Watson Hunster (1851 - 1929), Sale 2378 Lot 4, Swann Galleries

There are a number of pieces of art that I have been drawn to in the upcoming auction, Ascension: A Century of African-American Art, at Swann Galleries on April 2, 2015. However, I am particularly interested in Thomas Watson Hunster because of his Washington, D.C. connection, and the fact that I had not ever seen any of his art. Very little archival information regarding Hunster or his art is available in print; therefore, I was not as familiar with him as I was with many of the other artists in the auction. Because of the lack of information that I have in my personal archive on Hunster, coupled with the fact that I was drawn to his landscape appearing in the upcoming African-American sale, Lot 4, at Swann Galleries, I decided to some research and learn more about this artist. 
Lot 4: Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $6,500.

Thomas Watson Hunster, View of a Valley, Oil on linen canvas, circa 1900-10.
31" x 21½". Signed in oil, lower left.
Image: Swann Galleries 

My exploration led me to the Artist Files at the Smithsonian American Art/Portrait Gallery Library where I located a small archival folder for Thomas Watson Hunster. Of the 3 - 4 documents in that folder, the most promising was a small exhibition catalog from a memorial exhibition at Howard University (1951). The foreword to this catalog presented a 5-page biographical sketch written by Stanton Lawrence Wormley. Excerpts from that essay follow:   
  • For forty-eight years, until his retirement in 1922, Thomas W. Hunster served with distinction as Head of the Art Department of the Public Schools of Washington, D.C. [Hunster was over art in the black school system].
  • Art critics of the time were enthusiastic in their acclaim of the "historical accuracy of the buildings," the "exquisite models of the human figures and horses," the "faithful portrayal of artistic landscapes," and the "correctness of every detail."
  • Hunster exhibited rarely but always with success: Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition (1907), Paris International Exposition (1907), Exposition of the Society of Washington Artists (1926), Exhibition of the Independent Artists and Sculptors (1927), and Exhibition of the Washington Independent Artists (1928).
  • Thomas W. Hunster is fundamentally a landscape painter. The influences upon his work are many. Most evident are those of the Hudson River School, and especially the middle period of George Innes. It may be safely said that the work of Jerome Uhl, well-known artist at the turn of the century, had direct bearing on that of Hunster. (As an aside, Hunster was the model for Uhl's painting, The Viking, 1887.)  
  • Nature in all her seasons, in all her aspects, and in all her moods held a tremendous fascination for [Hunster], and the infinite love he bore her is apparent in his work to even a casual observer. 

Also, featured in the Howard University exhibition catalog, there was a landscape, Summer Daythat has a striking resemblance to Lot 4, appearing in the Swann auction. It is obvious that the two landscapes were painted from the same location because the left field of the canvases are fairly identical. However, the right half of the canvases present the landscape from a slightly different angle and perspective. 

I will continue this research on Thomas W. Hunster, and will share as significant information is uncovered.