The following review presents a snapshot of recent news in African American art and related black culture:
 

NEWS
Joined by a sea of onlookers gathered in Times Square, Kehinde Wiley unveiled “Rumors of War” (2019) on Sept. 27. The artist’s first public monument is made of patinated bronze and stands more than 27 feet high on a stone pedestal. “Rumors of War” will be on display on the Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets through Dec. 1. After the New York City presentation, Wiley’s largest work to date will be moved to Richmond, Va., where it will be installed permanently in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. New York Times

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser continues to target the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities with actions aimed at limiting its power. Since the summer, the commission has been transitioning to an independent agency. In the meantime, the mayor announced a new Office of Creative Affairs, temporarily restricted staff access to the commission’s art vault, and a few days ago sought to replace commission board members with new appointees. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson continues to challenge her unflagging efforts. DCist

The Odell S. Williams African American Museum in Baton Rouge, La., recently reopened with plans to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays. The museum has been closed for two months, since Sadie Roberts-Joseph was found dead in the trunk of her car in July. She founded the museum 19 years ago and her son is attempting to keep it going while maintaining a job elsewhere and searching for a curator to hire full time. WBRZ-ABC

 

APPOINTMENTS
Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, was elected to the National Gallery of Art board of trustees in Washington, D.C. Walker has been the target of public scrutiny over his support for replacing Rikers Island with four smaller prisons. More than 100 Ford Fellows signed an open letter expressing opposition to his stance and similarly aligned groups protested the foundation. ARTnews

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore announced Deborah Willis is joining its photography department as the inaugural Stuart B. Cooper Endowed Chair in Photography during the 2019-2020 academic year. Serving as a critic-in-residence for photography students in the BFA program, she will make eight visits to the campus, curate an exhibition, “Migrating Bodies: Artists Reimagine Migration” opening Jan. 30, and give a public lecture likely in March. Willis is a university professor and chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. MICA

 

ACQUISITIONS
The Orlando Museum of Art acquired “Speak” (2018), a mixed-media collage on paper by Deborah Roberts. Based in Austin, Texas, Roberts explores black representation and notions of beauty, power, innocence, and vulnerability in her portrayals of African American boys and girls. Featuring a young boy wearing a striped shirt and watermelon print shorts, “Speak” was on view at “Deborah Roberts: Native Sons: Many thousands gone,” the artist’s recent show at Vielmetter Los Angeles. ArtDaily

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced a gift of nine works of art, all by male artists, from Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida. The San Francisco-based collectors and philanthropists are giving seven works by Radcliffe Bailey, Zander Blom, Moshekwa Langa, Clifford Owens, Adam Pendleton, and Purvis Young to the museum and have promised two additional works, large-scale paintings by Meleko Mokgosi and Angel Otero, that will be transferred to the museum at a future date. The acquisition coincides with the opening of “Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art,” which showcases dozens of works from the Joyner/Giuffrida collection alongside key selections from the museum’s holdings. Baltimore Museum of Art

 

ART FAIRS
What sold at Expo Chicago? Works by quite a number of African American artists. Galleries presenting solo shows did well, including Lorna Simpson at Hauser & Wirth, Marcus Brutus at Harper’s Books, Nick Cave at Jack Shainman, Hank Willis Thomas at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, and Alex Gardner at The Hole. Works by Stanley Whitney (Lisson Gallery) and Roy DeCarava (David Zwirner) sold, too. Buyers also snapped up works by Amoako Boafo and Jerrell Gibbs at Mariane Ibrahim gallery, which recently moved to Chicago from Seattle. Artsy

 

BOOKS & MAGAZINES
Work by Atlanta artist Fahamu Pecou illustrates the cover of “The World Doesn’t Require You: Stories,” a new collection of stories Rion Amilcar Scott. The graphic designer commissioned to select the cover visual considered “dozens of black artists” and looked no further when she saw Pecou’s 2013 series “I Know Why the Caged Bird Blings.” A critically acclaimed new voice in fiction, Scott’s first book “Insurrections: Stories,” won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. He teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland. Atlanta Journal Constitution CT

 

HONORS & AWARDS
The Root released its 2019 Root 100 List of influential African Americans. Stacey Abrams tops the list and the highest-ranking creative is playwright Jeremy O. Harris at No. 13. His “Slave Play” recently debuted on Broadway. Other notables in the arts that made the list, include photographer John Edmonds, writer and historian Tanisha C. Ford, curator Jeffreen Hayes, artist Amanda Williams, curator Chaédria LaBouvier, artist Diamond Stingily, artist Alexandra Bell, and artist Delano Dunn. The Root

 

IMAGES: Top of page, “Rumors of War” © 2019 Kehinde Wiley. Used by permission. Presented by Times Square Arts in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Sean Kelly, New York. | Photo by Kylie Corwin for Kehinde Wiley; Above right, DEBORAH ROBERTS, “Speak,” 2018 (mixed media collage on paper, 38 x 38 inches / 96.52 x 96.52 cm, paper size; 49.87 x 46.87 x 1.75 inches / 126.66 x 119.04 x 4.44 cm, framed). | Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles

 


MELEKO MOKGOSI, “Pax Afrikaner, Good Boy, Panel 2,” 2011 (oil on canvas). | Promised gift of The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection

 

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