Featuring new MacArthur fellow Rick Lowe, curator Okwui Enwezor, black comics, the Cosby art collection, the art world’s gender gap, the unveiling of Frederick Douglass portrait at governor’s mansion in Maryland, Shinique Smith, Toyin Odutola, and more


Artful Genius: Rick Lowe Among 21 New MacArthur Fellows
The MacArthur Foundation announced its 2014 class of fellows on Sept. 17 and Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston (above), is among the 21 “geniuses” selected for the coveted honor which includes a $625,000 stipend paid over five years. Lowe, who describes his work as “social sculpture,” revitalized a mostly African American neighborhood by transforming 22 shot gun houses with paint and programming.


Okwui Enwezor‘How Okwui Enwezor Changed the Art World’
In the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Zeke Turner profiles Nigerian-born curator Okwui Enwezor who is “as surprised as the next person” about his growing influence in the global art world—not in the African art world, but in the international art world. In 1994, he founded “Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art,” which is still published twice a year by Duke University Press. Today, he serves as director of the Haus der Kunst museum in Munich, where since last year his global curatorial program has included Canadian artist Stan Douglas and African American artists Ellen Gallagher and Lorna Simpson, “as many major solo shows of black artists as the Museum of Modern Art in New York has in the past 20 years.” Enwezor served as artistic director of Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany in 2002, and has been appointed director of next year’s Venice Biennale. The first African to preside over either, he is collaborating with David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-born, London-based architect, on the structural designs for the citywide exhibition in Venice.

“There was nobody who quote-unquote opened the doors. The doors were resolutely shut. I’m as surprised as the next person about where I am.”
— Okwui Enwezor, Wall Street Journal Magazine

Alain Locke Finally Gets Proper Burial at Congressional Cemetery
In the Washington Post, Frances Stead Sellers reports on the circuitous 60-year journey of the ashes of Alain Locke (1885-1954), considered the dean of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African American Rhodes Scholar and Howard University professor was an avid supporter of artists. After being stored in Howard’s archives for two decades, fellow African American Rhodes scholars raised funds to have Locke’s remains buried at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill.


black comicsSheena C. Howard Talks at Length About Black Comics
In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna offers a primer on contemporary and historic black comics in a wide-ranging Q&A with Sheena C. Howard, an assistant professor in the department communication and journalism at Rider University in New Jersey and co-editor of “Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation.” Over the summer, the book won the Eisner Award at San Diego Comic-Con and apparently she is the first African American woman to receive the honor.


Cosby Art Collection to be Exhibited at Smithsonian
In the Washington Post, Lonnae O’Neal Parker reports that Bill and Camille Cosby for the first time will loan their entire collection of African American art to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art for an exhibition that will go on view in November, considering their extensive holdings of 19th and 20th century works in context with African art.


Frederick Douglass Portrait Unveiled at Maryland Governor’s Mansion
Dismayed that there were no images of African Americans at the historic Government House in Annapolis, Md., Gov. Martin O’Malley commissioned Simmie Knox to paint a portrait of Maryland-born Frederick Douglass. The Root’s Breanna Edwards reports on the Sept. 15 unveiling.


Goodnight-IreneNelson-Atkins Museum of Art Acquires Charles White Painting
The Midtown KC Post reports that the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., has acquired “Goodnight Irene,” by Charles White (at left). The 1952 oil painting depicting blues musician Lead Belly was once owned by Harry Belafonte.


The Art World Has a Gender Gap
For artnet News, Philip Boroff reports on what the numbers say about gender bias in the art world. Two new reports reveal that women run only 25 percent of major U.S. museums (the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Thelma Golden is in this select group) and in terms of representation, women artists represent a paltry 30 percent of the rosters at galleries in New York and Los Angeles.


Answers to the Question ‘Is the Art World Biased?’
In a survey of 20 women in the art world—artists, dealers, collectors and curators—artnet News shares candid opinions about bias in the exclusive field. The lone black woman among those asked, curator Naomi Beckwith of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, says, “Sexism is a broad problem that cannot be reduced to simply men oppressing women, but is about the set of expectations we have and the goals we set for each other that need serious reevaluation.”

“Over 50 percent of art school graduates are women but far less than 50 percent of monographic exhibition subjects are women. I’ve been lucky enough to work only under women directors but all the institutions they inherited had an annual budget of $15 million or less, which is the glass ceiling of female women directorships.”
— Naomi Beckwith, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in artnet News

‘If The Stars Begin to Fall’ on View in Ft. Lauderdale
In “Inside Looking Out, Outside Looking In,” the Miami Herald reports on “If the Stars Fall: Imagination and the American South” at the NSU Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, the traveling exhibition juxtaposing “outsider” art with contemporary art and black life that originated at the Studio Museum in Harlem.


no key no question
Detail of “No Key, No Question,” 2013 (acrylic, ink, fabric and collage on canvas over panel) by Shinique Smith via Museum of Fine Arts Boston

An Exploration of Shinique Smith’s ‘Bright Matter’
For the Huffington Post, Katherine Brooks writes about “Bright Matter,” the 10-year survey of Shinique Smith’s work (above) at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, a hybrid mix of mediums that draw on street art, calligraphy, fashion, fabric and consumption.

“[Shinique] Smith’s layered installations and chaotic paintings appear like the vibrant, carefully collected debris of her life and career. Any given piece can combine the dynamism of dance, the dripping aesthetic of street art, the textural complexity of forgotten clothing and the subtle brushwork of calligraphy, all in one frame.” — Katherine Brooks, Huffington Post


Shinique Smith Mural Installed in Boston’s Dewey Square
WBUR visits the wall in Dewey Square where Shinique Smith’s new “Seven Moon Junction,” mural is being installed. An extension of her “Bright Matter” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the museum says the mural is its largest public art work to date. Listen to the audio report above.


Toyin Odutola Talks About Her Work in New Mexico
An artist-in-residence at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, Toyin Odutola spoke about her work—pen-and-ink drawings that focus on the blackness of skin color as a point of departure to explore matters of identity and experience—at at the campus musuem on Sept. 18. Watch the live-streamed event here. CT


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