Juneteenth Art Events | Tired of Being Tired
By P. Andrews-Keenan
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, art & history are entwined. This Juneteenth saw exhibitions, openings and talks grounded in history, all with an eye to the future, happening across the country.
Wisconsin hosts some of the oldest Juneteenth celebrations in the country and photographer Pat Robinson has photographed the event for decades. He was in conversation with Racine’s Mahogany Gallery owner Scott Terry. The two discussed the veteran photojournalist’s approach, favorite subjects and the influence of the photos in the iconic pictorial magazines like Life and Look on his work. Mahogany Gallery exhibited some of his arresting photos, many of fathers and their children, as part of their Juneteenth Day — Retrospective.
Robinson, a Navy veteran, received his training at the U.S. Naval School of Photography in Florida, and also interned with the Associated Press. He has met, and he thinks, absorbed a bit of ‘mojo’ from his proximity to his photographer idols like Gordon Parks and Milwaukee photographer Harold Kemp. His photo at the Chicago Marathon last year made the cover of the Wall Street Journal.
He stresses mastery of the photographic basics, understanding film speed, shutter speed, apertures. Keeping up with the technology, and most of all being consistent and persistent.
In terms of capturing the ‘the shot’ he stresses timing, focus, forgoing distractions and a bit of intuition.
Mahogany Gallery also partnered to host a guided tour of Racine sites that were part of the Underground Railroad network. They showcased an exhibition of quilts and other artworks, including work by Terry. Exhibiting artists, in addition to Terry and Robinson were Kobi, James Charles Morris, Clayton Singleton, Darren Hutcherson, and Kelsey Harris.
Congratulations to artist Ted Ellis, now the inaugural Museum Director at Southern University at New Orleans. An exhibition of his works, Juneteenth Champions, at the Houston Museum of African American Culture continues through this week.
Juneteenth weekend Pamela Eatman opened her Blackbird Gallery in Detroit’s historic Fisher Buildingwith an exciting global roster of artists. Her vision is to showcase the work and contributions of Black artists without limits to geography, style, genre or medium. The Gallery’s name references the iconic Nina Simone anthem “Fly Blackbird.” Blackbird’s roster includes Pamella Allen, who is featured in the current issue of Pigment Magazine, Rajii Muhammed Babatunde, Ricky Calloway, Andra Daans, Easton Davy,Mohamed Diagabate, Ellis Eschevarria, Mikel Elam, Ron Fortier, Patricia Kabore, Frank Schroader, Reggie Singleton, Dawn Stringer and Lynette Gibson
FEELING SOME KIND OF WAY
All of us are feeling some kind of way about the Roe V. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court this week. If we take a long view of history we have to go back to the fateful nomination and ascension of Clarence Thomasto his lifetime appointment to the bench, spearheaded by then Judicial Committee Chair and current President Joe Biden. We saw the vilification of a Black woman, Anita Hill, as just another scorned lover. The current situation is one that should keep our President up at night, and bootstrapper is not the ‘boot analogy’ I’d apply to Thomas.
Artists are making their feelings known. Tawny Chatmon’s ‘Tired Post’ just made me well, tired! Paul Branton’s post was uplifting in that his art has always celebrated HER! And Gerald Griffin’s ‘Start A Riot’ postwas defiant. Nothing is ever settled until it’s settled, which is what we thought about this nearly 50 year old law. We are now required to fight for a right for our granddaughters that we thought we’d already won.
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