Glenn Ligon works in multiple media, including painting, neon, video, photography, and digital media. Mr. Ligon's work is informed by his experiences as an African American and as a Gay man living in the United States. The Whitney Museum here in New York City will be presenting a mid-career retrospective of his work; starting March 10th, 2011. With his work in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern in London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington,DC and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Mr. Ligon continues to push the envelope of racism and its context within the realm of this country. Mr. Ligon uses the text of famous authors to convey the social climate of the times. The title of his retrospective is, "Negro Sunshine" taken from a Gertrude Stein novella titled,"Melanctha", which describes a mixed race woman. One of Mr. Ligon's work resides in the private quarters of the White House,"Black Like Me #2" on loan from the Hirshorn to the Obamas. Do see this wonderful work at the Whitney in New York.
Sidenote: Approaching the Whitney Museum in bright neon signage is "negro sunshine" in lower case lettering. The exhibit is a journalistic overview of a mid career retrospective of Mr. Ligon----I found the exhibit to have it's good points and also it's "What's the fuck's going on here?" for example, the Robert Maplethorpe photographers of nude black men, and I forget the name of this famous book, but, this is something i've seen time and time again---this work was exhibited in a room alone and a museum docent sprouting rehearsed dialogue to her patrons on Mr. Maplethorpe and how Mr. Ligon collected quotes from famous and not so famous individuals to corespond with the nude black photos. Hmmm...not much of a stretch. I thought the most remarkable quartet of art--was in the next to last room...somewhat hidden...words were printed on black paper to denote that the viewer should create whatever scenario to complete the picture. This was by far the most incredible work presented by the artist.
Remember Ms. Shirley Sherrod, the USDA's Director of Rural Development in Georgia, who help save a white farmer from losing his land. The video that documented her speech at a gathering was re-edited to make her out as a racism by Andrew Breitbart. The Obama administration immediately asked for her resignation from the Agriculture Department and retracted the resignation by saying their were "snookered" in believing that the video was true. Well, Ms. Sherrod is finally suing Mr. Breitbart, stating "that the video has damaged her reputation and prevented her from continuing her work." It's about time, and for those people who continue to bait and re-edited contents for their contingency's satisfaction will continued to be sued and held to the law. Great News for Ms. Sherrod!!! Justice will prevail!!
UPDATE!!!! The case goes before the judge today in Washington, DC...Can't wait for the outcome.
Rapper Jay Z has a book on the New York Times bestseller list called, "Decoded". This well written biography depicts his life and lyrics of most of his famous songs. Here's a quote that I will use for the rest of my life," Art elevates and refines and transforms experience. And sometimes it just fucks with you for the fun of it." Nicely said!!!
I've be a Teena Marie fan since Square Biz and Casanova Brown. But, one night at Nassau Coliseum over two decades ago, Ms. Teena walked on the stage to sing with Rick James and amid the boos, the tough crowd embraced this tiny woman whose skin color had nothing to do with her powerful voice and homegirl presence.
I have her music on permanent rotation and will forever love this woman. Goodbye sweet Vanilla Child....you will be missed.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a Ghanian born, London bred artist with a penchant for portrait art. The heavy rotation of art dealing with people of African descent has propelled this young artist to new heights. Having solo exhibits around the round, Ms. Yiadom-Boakye's work has come to the Studio Museum in Harlem. On view from November 11,2010-March 13,2010, Any Number of Preoccupation will feature works created between 2003-when the artist completed her postgraduate work at the Royal Academy Schools and 2010. The total works are twenty-four of fictional portraits in oils on canvas. Enjoy the exhibit and tell me what you think?
I read in Walter Mosley's book on becoming a writer, that potential writers to be should take a poetry class to help with their writing rhythm. I haven't taken a class as of yet, but I found this poem while reading,"Freedom in this Village" Twenty-five years of Black Gay Men's Writing edited by E. Lynn Harris and it goes like this:
One of those D.C. nights in the summertime.
Either damp or soggy
at 2:00 a.m.
but always hot
mist cloaks the street lights
no animals on the street
because it's too hot outside
but the men are out.
The air is limp
a membrane of dust, moisture and pollen
incubating anger and violence
witness, the sirens through the night
communicating lust and passion and immediacy
as i walk into Malcolm X Park
and smell the heat
strong like ripe fruit brewing in a trashcan
do you risk a taste?
still the smell compels
drawing you closer and deeper
into the rhythm of the heat
the shadows and instinctive movements.
I walk up the stairs bounding the downward watercourse
my eyes lingering on the forms
positioned along the path
I touch my face
fingers slowly tracing the sweat on my brow
searching their black wet faces
for their eyes
(it shows in the eyes)
and I'm hot and keep walking.
Ahead someone walks towards me
an image with long black limbs
stuffed into tight white shorts
and a shirt open to the waist
set against the thick darkness of the night
but the darkness recedes before him
there is not doubt that I am staring
our eyes touch
a spark flies between us
leaving the smell of lust
lingering in the moist air
and it settles in the pit of my stomach.
He stops before me
too close to ask for the time
or a light
just one hot, damp breath away
sweat drips down the side of his nose
and disappears in the corner
of his mouth
he embraces his lips with his tongue
there are words
hard and provocative and we know the deal.
We turn and climb the stairs
leading to the park's upper level
we stop on the landing
there are words
a joint is produced
inhaling each other's breath
he leans back into the shadows of a corner
I lean forward following
he is thin and firm but pliant
he welcomes my arms
and I am lost in his ahs and his sweat
our torsos disengage
but we remain locked below the waist
I put my hand inside his shirt
the hairs on his chest
another spark flies
and I feel his dick pressing into my stomach
I think about assault with a blunt weapon
he widens his stance
it's time to go home
I wake up.
This poem brought back strong memories of living in Washington D.C. during the height of it's Black Gay Decadence---late 1980's-mid 1990's. It was a time of freedom of sexual expression and wanting, longing and going to the parks late at night and finding release from the summer heat.
Denmark Vesey was an African American slave brought to the US from the Caribbean. After purchasing his freedom, he planned what would have been one of the largest slave rebellions in the US. Vesey and others were tried, convicted and executed. Many antislavery activists came to regard Vesey as a hero. I truly appreciate his efforts and bravery. Me:Friendly, outgoing fellow interested in what makes things look beautiful. Jay Z quotes in his new book, "Decoded"---"Art elevates and refines and transforms experience. And sometimes it just fucks with you for the fun of it". I couldn't said it better!!