NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl made a “surprise exit.”

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


Big news in arts leadership. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is losing the chair of its education department. Sandra Jackson-Dumont has been named director and CEO of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the visual storytelling museum game-changing filmmaker George Lucas and Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments are building in Los Angeles. Culture Type

Meanwhile, Tom Finkelpearl suddenly stepped down after five years as commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. A former museum leader with deep connections in the city’s arts community, he is departing amid a series of bumps in the process of diversifying the city’s monuments. New York Times

READ MORE in a statement about Finkelpearl’s departure

“It’s time for new leadership at this agency. The energy that is needed to get to the finish line would be better done by a new person.” — Tom Finkelpearl

APPOINTMENTS | Set for 2020, the Texas Biennial announced its co-curators/artistic directors are Ryan N. Dennis (at left) and Evan Garza. Dennis joined Project Row Houses in Houston in 2012. She serves as curator and programs director with a focus on African American contemporary art. Texas Biennial

Across the pond, Olivette Otele, the first black female history professor in the UK, has been hired by Bristol University to examine the city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. The Guardian

EXHIBITIONS | When Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) died earlier this year at the age of 55, he was planning a major exhibition that will be realized as the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial. Staged in the United Arab Emirates in March 2021, the exhibition will feature 30 commissions by 30 international artists. New York Times

Co-curated by Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi, Prospect New Orleans announced its fifth edition theme is “Yesterday we said tomorrow” and named a slate of emerging cultural producers—Grace Deveney, Kimberly Drew, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Kristina Kay Robinson, and Maricelle Robles—charged with planning public programming throughout 2020. Prospect.5

COMMISSIONS | Since 2009, Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium has served as a public gathering space and host to a wide variety of free performances. To mark the decade, Brooklyn artist Kambui Olujimi has been commissioned to create a short video. Inspired by voguing in ballroom battle culture and Singkil, a traditional Filipino folk dance, the work debuts Nov. 19 at 8 pm EST on Lincoln Center’s Facebook and Instagram accounts (@LincolnCenter). Broadway World

AUCTIONS | Ebony Fashion Fair, the traveling runway show created by Eunice W. Johnson and the Johnson Publishing Co., in 1958, ceased operations in 2009. In the years since, multiple auctions of clothing from the collections have been held at Hindman in Chicago. The auction house is hosting the last sale of the collection. Property from Ebony Fashion Fair: The Final Show is Dec. 6, 2019. Hindman Auctions

GRANTS | Bank of America awarded 2019 art conservation grants to 22 institutions, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for the assessment and preservation of 10 assemblages by Thornton Dial Sr. (1928-2016). Bank of America

CONVERSATION | When, Where, and How We Enter: On Nov. 7, curators Valerie Cassel Oliver, Lauren Haynes, Melissa Messina, and Hallie Ringle are discussing the legacy of black women abstract painters at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. Spelman



“Melvin Edwards: Lynch Fragments” features selections from artist’s central body of work dating from 1963 to 2016. The volume coincides with solo exhibitions of Melvin Edwards at the Baltimore Museum of Art (“Melvin Edwards: Crossroads” through Jan. 12, 2020) and Alexander Gray Associates gallery in New York (“Melvin Edwards” through Dec. 14, 2019).



Speaking of diversifying New York monuments, the city has issued an open call to artists for the creation of a monument to the Lyons family, African American property owners, educators, and activists who lived in Seneca Village, a mostly black community that was destroyed to make way for Central Park in the 1850s. Deadline is April 1, 2020

The Cranbrook Academy of Art seeks painting and photography artists-in-residence (faculty) for positions beginning September 2020. Priority given to applications received by Nov. 15, 2019 CT


IMAGES: Top, Tom Finkelpearl. | Courtesy NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Above, at left, Ryan N. Dennis. | Courtesy Texas Biennial


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