Black Artists Matter
At a time when there are demonstrations in the streets, our cultural institutions need to step up to the plate and invest their resources to correct years of neglect for African American artists here in this country. At this juncture, it should be clear that our country is much more diverse and efforts must be made to heal the wounds of the past and present by acknowledging the contributions of artists who have not enjoyed the support of our cultural institutions and this has got to change!
Portrait of Cab Calloway made by my father, Arthur Singer in the 1930s
Here in our local neighborhood of Rochester, New York, I write from the birthplace of Cab Calloway - jazz star of mega-proportions - but where in town is any recognition of his star power that shines through popular music? A proud Rochester mayor should use this knowledge to connect to a wider population and instill in a younger generation a purpose that would lift people up, give them something to celebrate!
Luvon honors the life of Frederick Douglas at RoCo
I share an office at R.I.T. with Luvon Sheppard, an artist who has made a difference in this same community. So why isn't there one of his paintings on view at The Memorial Art Gallery for other generations to see and contemplate? Here, in Rochester, Luvon runs the Joy Gallery on West Main Street, and he has taught legions of students at Rochester Institute of Technology - and through his efforts he has inspired so many others - and is an inspiration to me when we can share our views about life!
William T. Williams and his recent work
The art scene is diverse but artists of color have often faced hurdles that comes from an embedded bias, so it is time to acknowledge this and move forward. Demonstrations in the streets can have helpful repercussions if we welcome the efforts and acknowledge the work of the many artists who need our support. I was reminded of this yesterday when I listened to an online presentation from the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Texas. My cousin, Michael Rosenfeld has a gallery in New York City that has championed the works of artists such as William T. Williams ( above ) , and Betty Saar among many others. Michaels' gallery let me know that the Museum of Fine Art in Houston has an important exhibition up now, and that there was going to be a online discussion featuring William T. Williams, Mel Edwards, and Fred Eversley.
William T. Williams
I myself studied with Mr. Williams at Skowhegan in the summer of 1973. His bold abstractions pushed me into a new direction in my own painting. His instruction was a very personal approach that had a lot of appeal with its bold color and edgy geometry, and he was not alone. At the Cooper Union School of Art where I studied, there were several artists of color who I studied with including the photographer Roy DeCarava, and the painter Jack Whitten. I was recently very involved in reading Jack Whitten's " Notes From The Woodshed" , a kind of diary he kept that involved all kinds of notes about his art productions. Also at Cooper Union in that moment was Bob Blackburn who ran the printmaking studios. All of these folks were very influential!
Read his "Notes from the Woodshed"
Bob Blackburn ran printmaking studios and so much more
I was very lucky to hear the online presentation this Saturday, August 1st hosted by The Museum of Fine Art, Houston with the artists William T. Williams, Fred Eversley and Mel Edwards. Mel spoke of those times in the past when his fellow artists were just breaking into the art scene. I remember meeting Mel Edwards once at a sculpture show that took place in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn over 30 years ago. Since those times his art has really taken off! His sculptures "Lynch Fragments" are very strong and evocative. They have now become part of the fabric of our art world, our society.
Mel Edwards in his studio
Mel Edwards "Lynch Fragments"
For those who have the power and influence, it is beyond time to open the doors to the creative vision of a much more diverse population and see what new light shines on a path we have yet to take. It is ABOUT TIME!