Monday, January 31, 2011

Chakaia Booker: Artist Talk

Green Art     Recycling     Artistic Exploration     Race

Retreads     Public Art Work     Artistic Voice

Communication     Sculpting Self     Experimentation

Wearable Pieces     Automobile Tires

"A penchant for scavenged rubber, Chakaia Booker began a career assembling the strips and shreds of discarded Goodyears and Firestones into intricate, elaborate, widely acclaimed sculpture. Her work has a fully organic presence. For a NASA-commissioned memorial project, she disassembled a tire once used by the ill-fated space shuttle Columbia. Booker's work communicates her need to utilize her skills as a means of experimentation and exploration."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Artist and Influence Interviews at Hatch-Billops Collection

The Artist and Influence Spring 2011 interviews are scheduled for Sundays at 2:00 pm at the Hatch-Billops Collection, Inc. which is located at 491 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, New York. The admission is free; however, no one is allowed after 2:30 pm.

Spring 2011 Schedule:
  • David Fludd, Visual Artist, February 6
  • Javaka Steptoe, Author-Illustrator, February 13
  • Ann Tanksley, Visual Artist, March 6
  • Michael Cummings, Visual Artist, March 20
  • David Henderson, Poet, April 3
  • Jimmy Owens, Musician, April 10
  • Michael Simon, Visual Artist, May 15 

According to James Hatch, "the 2010 Artist and Influence (volume 29) annual serial will be ready for release by the end of February." If you are interested in receiving a copy, please remit $15.00 to the Hatch-Billops Collection at 491 Broadway, 7th floor, New York, New York 10012. For those individuals wishing to build or supplement their personal collections of Artist and Influence, the following issues are out of print: volumes I, II, III, IV, VIII, X, XI, XII, XIV, XXI and XXV; however, other older issues may be ordered directly from Hatch-Billops, Inc. It is my understanding that volume 30 (2011) will be the last issue.

Artist and Influence interviews can be "read on-line through the libraries...of subscribers via Alexander Street Press." The interviews are included in Alexander Street's Black Thought and Culture database. For BAP readers who are interested in reading the interviews, Meg Keller, Director of Marketing at Alexander Street Press has allowed me to share a user name and password to access them through March 2011. For access, follow this link:, and then insert the user name: trial and password: alexander when prompted. This is a great opportunity to share the Black Thought and Culture database with readers and I heartily thank the staff of Alexander Street Press for making this a reality.  

The Black Thought and Culture database "is a landmark electronic collection of approximately 100,000 pages of non-fiction writings by major American black leaders..., covering 250 years of history. ...It presents a great deal of previously inaccessible material, including letters, speeches, prefatory essays, political leaflets, interviews, periodicals, and trail transcripts."     

For further reading about the Hatch-Billops Collection, Inc., see: Emory University. As time permits, search the finding aid to the archival collection at Emory MARBL to discover a variety of materials relating to African American culture and art. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Swann Galleries: Upcoming African-American Fine Art Auction

In February 2007, Swann launched a new department devoted to African-American Fine Art; and to date, they are still the only major auction house to conduct regular sales of this material. In the last sale on October 7, 2010, two items were among record prices. The top lot was Robert Colescott's A Legend Dimly Told that sold for $132,000 inclusive of buyer's premium; and Sargent Johnson's Mask that set an artist record when it sold for $67,200 inclusive of buyer's premium. Images and a write-up of this Sale appeared in a previous BAP post.

The upcoming Swann Galleries African-American Fine Art sale is scheduled for Thursday, February 17, 2011, and some of the highlights follow in this post. According to Rebecca Weiss, Media Relations at Swann Galleries, "The auction begins with early 20th-century African-American artists, including Charles Ethan Porter's Sunflowers, oil on wood panel, circa early 1880s; Archibald J. Motley, Jr.'s Harbor Bound, oil on masonite, circa 1914-20; and paintings by Edward Bannister, Robert Duncanson and Hale Woodruff."

As we move into mid-century, highlights include three artists of note. There is a "very scarce four-foot high bronze sculpture of a Standing African-American Woman, 1967, by Elizabeth Catlett; Crossing, oil on canvas, 1948, from Norman Lewis's first solo exhibition at Willard Gallery; and Beauford Delaney's Le Bayaleur, oil on canvas, 1968."

Finally, the sale concludes with a special section in honor of Romare Bearden's centennial, "featuring two iconic collages from the early 1970s, and his life-long experimental work on paper in photostat projections, monotypes, collotypes, watercolor and innovative printmaking."

There will be an online catalogue, as well as a print edition. If you are either building an African American related visual art library, collecting art, or in need of a reference source relating to this area of fine art, consider adding the print catalogue to your collection of books. Historically, many of the original pieces of art in the auction have been in private collections; consequently, the catalogue may be the only documentation of their existence available to the general public. 

As more information becomes available, BAP will share.   

Friday, January 7, 2011

Swann Galleries: Upcoming Printed and Manuscript African-Americana Auction

Eve Kahn's recent (December 23, 2010) Antiques column in the New York Times states, "In February [2010] Porter’s family sold his archive for $50,400 at Swann Galleries in New York to Emory University's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library in Atlanta, which is now sifting through 17 boxes and planning exhibitions."  For those who have been keeping up with the latest auction prices and trends relating to African American items at auction, the Porter archive was an extensive collection that included thousands of items, consisting of photographs, correspondence, exhibit catalogues, art books, and etc.

Over the years, I have found the Printed and Manuscript African-Americana auction at Swann Galleries to have an array of interesting and unusual items for the casual or seasoned collector, consisting of items suitable for both private and institutional collections. The catalogue, accompanying this auction, serves as a very useful reference resource.

The upcoming Printed and Manuscript African-Americana auction at Swann Galleries, which is its 16th annual auction, will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2011. As usual, the auction will offer a wide-ranging array of unique and unusual items, such as "a lengthy handwritten statement of purpose by Marcus Garvey on a sheet with a fine pen-and-ink portrait of him, 1922."

Black Art Project (BAP) reports that this auction is especially strong in the following sections: slavery and abolition, the Civil War, and music. According to Rebecca Weiss, Media Relations at Swann Galleries, “Featured items include a very unusual ballast stone that was recovered in 1992 from the wreck of a 16th-century English slave ship off Little Bahama Banks, whose hard surface is incised with a depiction of an elephant’s face that is similar to masks made by the Guro people of West Africa.”

Slavery and Abolition:
There are a number of items pertaining to Frederick Douglass, including “three 1859 issues of Frederick Douglass’ Paper reporting the aftermath of John Brown’s unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry, and a scarce copy of the 1848 printing of Frederick Douglass’ Narrative, bound and published by Douglass in Rochester.”

The Civil War:
This section features “55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry soldier David Spears’s NCO parade saber in its original leather scabbard; and a September 1865 letter from William Traill, one of three African-American brothers who were soldiers, detailing the hardships of service in the final days of the war.”

Two items of particular note are highlighted in this section, including an “autograph music manuscript by John Coltrane, 1950s-60s; and a series of original acetate masters from 1956 containing 33 Billie Holiday classics.”

As more information becomes available, particularly archival and primary sources relating to the visual arts, BAP will share. The catalogue, accompanying each of these auctions, is always a recommended source to add to your personal library.