Every so often the work of contemporary black artists is selected and curated in a series of exhibitions that gives one just a slice or taste of the range of the work that is being created; but their work as a collective is rarely seen in one setting with a power focus of art as healing and with 40 contemporary veteran and emerging artists - black, Caribbean and Central American. Then, like a blink of an eye, there is an opening that speaks to the burst of creativity, verve and the possibilities of what exist hidden in private Brooklyn art “backyards”. ArtCurian, is one such powerful concept and movement; an exhibition sorely focused on the theme -”Artists Speaking for the Spirits”. It is an exhibition that brings together the work of art staples like James Denmark, Otto Neals, Betty Blayton, Emmett Wigglesworth, Stanwyck Cromwell, Dindga McCannon, Che Baraka, and Ademola Olugebefola to the forefront.
However, the staple black artists are not necessary what should draw one to this exhibition, but it is the diverse range of work, the collection of artists and the spectacular size of the paintings that speak volumes, and illustrates the depth and rich heritage of contemporary black art that was created over three to six months for this show. The spirit of the exhibition is clear: black artists have talent and their work eludes some moments of shear brilliance.
Organized by a collaboration between the artists and two organizations – Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation and its affiliate, Urban Resource Institute (ARTC-URI), the exhibition is a renewed mission of philantropy and support that black artists need in this time of recession, and speaks to a possibility of future commissions and alliances from the non-profit world.
Some of the artists whose work speak the most volume in style, content and intensity in this exhibition are:
- Doba Afolabi’s Talking to the Spirits, Ancestors Here We Come, whose powerful acrylic painting done with a knife combines impressionism with modern Nigerian painting techniques reminiscent of the Zaria Art School and what is currently prevailing in style at Yaba College in Lagos.
- Alethia Brown’s Color N’ Time, a mix of acrylic and fabric paint is an abstract painting with its vibrant colors and dynamic energy that captivates one even with its whimsical black figures.
- Ramona Candy’s Shine, a tribute to her mother, continues in her expansion of the relationship between dance and art, movement, Haitian heritage and collage techniques at a larger than life scale.
- Robert Daniels’ Spiritual Rhythm, another acrylic painting in the stark black and white is a collection of symbols, movement and rich imagery.
- Wilda Gonzalez’s The Cohoba Yukayeke, which combines vivid images of Indian with Puerto Rican folklore with African and Spanish cultural traditions into a powerful painting.
- Gaylord Hassan’s Jump Ball, focused on children is simply rich in its playfulness and full of dots that combine to add fun to his art making process.
- Linda Hiwot’s Yam sticks Guardians of the Blue Mountains, a bold landscape painting takes me to Jamaica’s mountains that produces coffee, and cools me with a sense of color hues- blue and mauve, with its softness.
- Al Johnson’s Assault on the Conscience, a quiet gem in depth, technique and layers, a defining statement about the Gulf War that can be extended to what modern wars means.
Others whose work gives the exhibition more additional dimension include Charlotte Ka, Sonnia Sadler and Jean Dominique Volcy. What is encouraging about the exhibition is that it is in Brooklyn- the place for black art, and it shows that black artists willing to take risk again, and in bleak times and crisis points, we need artists to breath new life, new spirit and energy. The exhibition is hoping to travel, and hopefully, it will, but you can seen the works in person in Brooklyn all of February at Arthur Bennett Hall which is located at 22 Chapel Street near Jay St., between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and online here. This is a must-see exhibition.
The schedule is as follows: Thursday-Friday 11 a.m -5 p.mand Sunday 3-6 p.m., with artist-talks each Sunday. Visitors and school groups are welcome by appointment. For information, call 718-260-2909.