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BmoreArt News: BMA Residency Application, Harborplace Revisited, John Waters Wins ACE Award

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This week’s news includes: Applications open for BMA JJC Residency, a Harborplace obituary, John Waters wins ACE Award, Jacob Kainen documentary, Dalila Scruggs named Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art at SAAM, Junius Wilson carves a backyard masterpiece, William H. Johnson exhibition at SAAM, Kreeger Museum 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Kent Cultural Alliance’s inaugural residents, Jonathan Monaghan’s Mothership auctioned at Sotheby’s  — with reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Junius Wilson, an 80-year-old Woodlawn artist, poses in front of his art evoking ancient Egypt in the backyard of his home. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

The solution to Nigerian's election conspiracy — Decentralized voting system. | by Mayomi Ayandiran | Medium

 

 

Images: JJC 2023 Artist in Residence Charles Mason III working at the MICA studio. Photo by Mitro Hood.

BMA Announces Open Call for Artists Residency
Press Release :: March 12

Overview
The Joshua Johnson Council (JJC) Artist in Residence (AIR) program is a collaboration between the JJC, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The JJC AIR program seeks applications to select two (2) artists living and working in Baltimore City for the summer residency. Applicants are not required to be alumni of MICA. Artists of color are strong encouraged to apply.

Supporting Artists Based in Baltimore City
The JJC is an affiliate group of the BMA that was formed in 1987 to both provide educational outreach and support initiatives between the BMA and Baltimore’s Black community. Named for 18th-century African-American portrait painter Joshua Johnson, the JJC is one of the nation’s oldest African American museum groups. The JJC AIR program expands the impact of the JJC by creating platforms to support artists, encourage intergenerational learning, and grow collaborative relationships. It provides artists based in Baltimore City with access to resources and helps to build connections that will allow each artist to explore and expand their practice within the community.

Residency
The residency begins on June 3, 2024 and concludes on July 26, 2024, with artists working in studios in the Fred Lazarus IV Studio Center, located on MICA’s main campus in Baltimore. Artists selected for the residency program are offered studio space for seven (7) weeks, access to MICA facilities, a materials stipend of $2,500, and the opportunity to work with low-residency MICA graduate students for critique and studio visits at the artist’s determination. After the residency, each artist will give a public presentation as part of the year’s JJC programming JJC Talks, with the potential for additional engagements with the MICA community.

Application
Applications are due April 17 and selected artists will be notified by May 10. Submission guidelines and application link are online at:Submission guidelines and application link are online at: https://artbma.org/support/call-for-artists-the-jjc-artist-in-residence-at-mica/

 

 

Harborplace’s Pratt Street Pavilion. Kylie Cooper The Baltimore Banner

RIP Harborplace: It may not be a mall, but it was a fad
by Giacomo Bologna
Published March 13 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: In the 1970s, two men came together to answer a thorny question: After decades of white flight, neighborhood demolition and the suburbanization of America, how could cities bring people back downtown?

One was an architect in Massachusetts who drew inspiration from the casbahs of North Africa and the public squares of Europe. The other was a developer in Maryland who once called Disneyland the “greatest piece of urban design in the United States.”

Together, they popularized the “festival marketplace.”

To skeptics, it was a fancy term for a shopping mall. But to Ben Thompson and James Rouse, it was a curated mix of shops and restaurants where managers reviewed every detail to create an unforgettable experience.

 

 

John Waters holds his ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award trophy at the 74th annual American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on March 3, 2024. Photo courtesy of American Cinema Editors.

In California, John Waters lauded at a film industry awards ceremony as ‘a true American icon, a true American original’
by Ed Gunts
Published March 8 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: John Waters admits he didn’t know much about film editing when he started making movies in the 1960s.

He says he was surprised when he got word that the American Cinema Editors (ACE) society wanted to give him one of its top prizes, the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, at its 2024 ceremony in Los Angeles.

“It is ironic I’m getting an Eddie Award since when I made my first film, ‘Hag in a Black Leather Jacket’ in 1964, I didn’t even know what editing was,” he said at the awards ceremony on March 3. “I was 17 years old, my grandmother had given me an eight-millimeter movie camera, and I just filmed all the shots in order of the plot and Presto! – the movie was done. No editing necessary. Very Dogma ’95. Very Lars von Queer.”

 

 

Foxfire I, 1988 Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth S. Hitch. National Gallery of Art

New Documentary Jacob Kainen: An Artists’ Artist Follows Life of Prolific but Overlooked DC Artist
Published March 5 in East City Art

Excerpt: The Jacob Kainen Art Trust has enlisted the award-winning director Mark Covino (A Band Called Death, The Crest), and producer Jon Gann (Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color, Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection) to create a short documentary exploring the life and art of Jacob Kainen (1909-2001), one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Jacob Kainen: An Artists’ Artist follows the life of Kainen, a prolific but often overlooked artist of 20th Century America. From his immigrant upbringing to his rebellious artistic journey in NYC, his leftist ideologies and eventual impact on the DC art scene, Kainen’s story is one of perseverance and passion. Despite facing challenges like McCarthyism and career limitations, he found solace in his art, especially with the support of his second wife, Ruth. His legacy as an artist’s artist and influential mentor endures, shaping generations of artists to come.

 

 

Dalila Scruggs the inaugural Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art

Dalila Scruggs Named Inaugural Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art at SAAM
Press Release :: March 11

The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today that Dalila Scruggs will join its curatorial team as the Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art. Scruggs’s expertise ranges across different types of media—including painting, prints, sculpture and photography—from the 19th- and 20th centuries. In her new role, Scruggs will help shape the museum’s exhibition program and collecting priorities as they relate broadly to African American art, a longstanding area of strength of the museum’s holdings distinguished by its depth and range. She will also contribute to “American Voices and Visions,” a major cross-departmental initiative to comprehensively reinstall the museum’s collection. She begins work at the museum April 22.

The position is named to honor Savage’s legacy as an artist, teacher and community art program director in Harlem in the 1930s. Fittingly, Scruggs has served in education and curatorial roles and has sought to draw on her experience as a museum educator to cultivate a curatorial practice that is visitor- and object-centered.

“I am delighted to welcome Dalila Scruggs to SAAM as the inaugural Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “SAAM is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world, and I am so pleased that Dr. Scruggs will bring fresh, thoughtful analysis to these works that evoke themes both universal and specific to the African American and the American experience.”

Scruggs comes to the museum from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she has been the curator for photography and prints since 2021. She also has served as a guest curator at the Brooklyn Museum since 2020. Previously, she has held positions at the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at the University of Alabama as a consulting curator, at the Brooklyn Museum as an assistant curator of American art and at the Williams College Museum of Art as a curatorial fellow.

Her publications include “Activism in Exile: Elizabeth Catlett’s Mask for Whites,” a contribution to the scholarly journal American Art, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with the University of Chicago Press, and several exhibition catalogs, including contributions to Brooklyn Museum: Highlights collections handbook and an entry for the upcoming The Awe of the Arctic: A Visual History for the New York Public Library.

Scruggs joins the curatorial department led by Randall Griffey, the museum’s head curator and joins a team of 11 curators at the museum.

Scruggs graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in art history and earned a doctorate from Harvard University in the history of art and architecture. Her dissertation “’The Love of Liberty Has Brought Us Here’: The American Colonization Society and the Imaging of African-American Settlers in Liberia, West Africa” focuses on African American daguerreotypist August Washington and his photographs in service to the American Colonization Society, a 19th-century reform organization dedicated to sending African Americans to Liberia, West Africa as an alternative to promoting radical abolition or perpetual slavery in the United States. From 2007 to 2008, Scruggs was a Terra Foundation for American Art Predoctoral Fellow as part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s prestigious fellowship program.

The Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art is generously funded by anonymous donors with a $5 million endowment gift to the museum. The donors requested the position be named for the trailblazing artist and educator to elevate her legacy.

About Augusta Savage
Augusta Savage (1892-1962) was a renowned sculptor and teacher who effectively used her work to challenge discrimination and promote civil and women’s rights. When she arrived in New York City in 1921, she met with some initial success, receiving commissions to produce busts of W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. Such works won her the attention of African American community groups.

She was dedicated to expanding educational and professional opportunities for African American artists. In 1932, she founded the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, she was a cofounder of the Harlem Artists Guild that secured employment for Black artists, and in 1937 she helped establish and was the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center, which received funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Through her work at these institutions, she not only nurtured the careers of many younger African American artists, including Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, and Norman Lewis, but she also actively challenged the biases among WPA administrators by insisting African American artists deserved support. As an artist, however, Savage often struggled to find backers for her own work.

In 1939 she opened the Salon of Contemporary Negro Art, the first gallery in the United States dedicated specially to exhibiting and selling works by African American artists. That same year, she sculpted a huge plaster for the World’s Fair inspired by “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song widely considered the Black national anthem. Like much of her work, it was not cast in bronze and was later destroyed. She created fewer artworks after 1940, when she moved to upstate New York, though she continued to teach.

The art historian Richard Powell calls Savage “a legend in African American art history because so much of her life was filled with struggle, with perseverance and with creativity, all mixed up.”

To learn more about Savage, listen to the episode “The Monumental Imagination of Augusta Savage” produced by the Smithsonian’s podcast Sidedoor, and explore the digital comic “My Monument Will Be In Their Work,” published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Art by African Americans at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world. Beginning in the mid-1960s the museum acquired major works, including Sargent Johnson’s “Mask” and James Hampton’s visionary installation, “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly,” and works by Romare Bearden, William H. Johnson and Alma Thomas. In 1980, the museum acquired works by 19th-century artists Joshua Johnson, the earliest documented professional African American painter; Edward Mitchell Bannister; Robert S. Duncanson and Henry Ossawa Tanner; and neoclassical sculptures by Edmonia Lewis, the first professional sculptor of color. Six years later, the museum acquired more than 400 works by folk and self-taught artists from the holdings of Herbert Waide Hemphill Jr., and in 2015, the museum acquired nearly 100 works by self-taught artists from the Margaret Z. Robson collection. A significant number of artworks in these collections are by African Americans, including William Edmondson, Bessie Harvey, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Elijah Pierce, Nellie Mae Rowe, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Bill Traylor and Inez Nathaniel-Walker.

In recent years, the museum has brought into its collection works by leading modern and contemporary artists, including Bisa Butler, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Sonya Clark, Theaster Gates, Arthur Jafa, Barbara Jean Jones-Hogu, Simone Leigh, Kerry James Marshall, Martin Puryear, Cauleen Smith, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems and Fred Wilson, among others.

In 2021, the museum acquired the L.J. West Collection of early American photography, which transformed the museum’s photography holdings with the addition of works by early African American daguerreotypists James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge and Augustus Washington. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of daguerreotypes by these three early African American photographers. This collection was enhanced by the purchase in 2023 of the Dr. Robert L. Drapkin Collection, a wide-ranging collection of photographs that represent African Americans from the medium’s early years to the near present—roughly the 1840s to the 1970s. Other important holdings in photography include works by Ball, Dawoud Bey, Roy DeCarava, Roland Freeman, Tony Gleaton, Robert McNeill, Marilyn Nance, Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems and James Van Der Zee.

 

 

Junius Wilson, an 80-year-old Woodlawn artist, has carved and laid out wooden sculptures to evoke ancient Egypt in his backyard. He is shown here surrounded by his works. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

How one Baltimore County man turned his backyard into an Egyptian wonder
by Rona Kobell
Published March 11 in The Baltimore Banner

When an 80-year-old man says he’s taken up wood carving in retirement, you might picture a backyard with a small shed, a bench, maybe a half-finished walking stick or duck decoy.

Junius Wilson’s Woodlawn backyard has none of those things.

Instead, there is a giant pyramid, a three-breasted goddess with the face of a golden calf, a carved face that is half-lion and half-pharaoh, and a replica of the lascivious serpent from the Garden of Eden. There are also Eyes of Horus, faux Sumerian carvings and plenty of ankhs, the Egyptian looped cross.

Imagine that an Alberto Giacometti sculpture and a Howard Finster painting had a baby and moved to a Levittown suburb, and you get the idea. A house that looks ordinary from the street is extraordinary in the hands of Wilson, who expressed himself as a musician and a clown before he took up carving 10 years ago as an antidote to crippling depression.

Since then, Wilson has been creating a world. He’s running out of room — his wife Ilona, a retired social services administrator, would like her house and yard back. And he is running out of time. Still healing from a 30-foot fall off some scaffolding three decades ago, Wilson just learned he has colon cancer. He’s undergoing treatment, and the prognosis looks good. But his advanced age, coupled with his health challenges, are front of mind for Wilson these days as he tries to finish what he started. He would also like a museum to take his work and display it. But he and his friends have asked around, and it turns out there are not a lot of places on the market for a backyard Egypt, complete with light-up volcanoes, two-faced babies, and a figure with a brain you can peer inside.

“He’s not a wood carver as much as he is a sculptor. He will say, ‘I don’t know what it’s going to be. I have to wait for the wood to talk to me,’” said Peter Turner, a friend and fellow artist who met Wilson when they both joined the Carroll Carvers club at the North Carroll Senior Center.

Once, Turner recalled, when the two exhibited Wilson’s work at a senior center, Wilson brought in dancing girls dressed as Cleopatra whom he knew from his connections as a club musician. “We used to joke with him, ‘Junius, you have to make something small.’ And, the next thing we know, he’s buying all these chainsaws and attacking pieces of wood.”

Most carvers place a picture over a piece of wood and trace it. For Wilson, the picture springs from his mind. He sees the figure and begins to carve. It shifts with his imagination as he works, and the finished piece looks nothing like he initially envisioned.

Another carver, Robert Dentry, recalled making a walking stick with a lion’s mane on top. Wilson liked the piece, and he asked Dentry to help him with a mane he was trying to carve. Dentry was expecting a walking stick. Instead, he found the base of Wilson’s 12-foot pyramid masterpiece, which at the time was only a pole on top of a stump.

Dentry thought his friend was crazy, but he began carving anyway.

“As I was carving the lion, Junius said it kind of looked like a pharaoh, and I said, ‘What if we did half and half?’ So he actually molded my mind to think like his, at least a little bit,” Dentry said. “The picture evolves as he’s doing it — that is what is really interesting about it. It comes from his mind, and from his heart.”

Now his backyard is full of expressions of his mind and heart.

A mulberry-colored ram has one face like a Picasso bull, another like a Matisse dairy cow. There are Black figures in chains, representing both the slaves in Egypt and the Africans brought to the ports in Annapolis. Jackals guard the premises, and a river — a landscaped brick path masquerading as the Nile — runs through the whole scene.

Throw in a basement collection filled with meticulously carved bowls that double as faces; a two-faced, three-dimensional baby; a bleeding Jesus; a sinewy figure that shows Caitlyn Jenner today on one side and her as an Olympic-winning decathlete on the other.

Many creators of so-called “outsider art” tell of an epiphany that took them from a mundane or difficult life to one brimming with creativity. From Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum to Finster’s Paradise Garden in Atlanta, stories abound about visions, signs from God, life-threatening accidents and traumas that brought on the gift of art.

Wilson is no exception. He was working as an electrician in the late 1980s when one of his colleagues got stuck on 277 volts of electricity. Wilson went to save him, and he fell 30 feet to the ground. He crushed two vertebrae and suffered several concussions. He was on crutches for five years. The experience sent him into a deep depression. For weeks on end, he and his wife say, he could not get out of bed. They said the depression lasted 30 years. He tried therapy, medication and exercises, but nothing helped.

Wilson says he bargained with God to take him; his doctor told him the best way out was to get a hobby. So he went to Home Depot to buy shelves, thinking he would start with arranging his books and maybe some building. The bookcase he made collapsed. But, as he picked up the pieces, he said, he saw a figure in one of the wood pieces.

“I went into the kitchen and got a knife, and I just started carving around this figure. I knew nothing about carving. I can’t even draw a stickman,” he said. “And I’ve been carving ever since.”

That piece won second prize in the first carving competition he entered; the judges told him that, had they seen the entire figure instead of just the top of it, he would have won first.

A depressed Wilson is hard to imagine now. He’s ebullient as he shows his work. It’s easy to picture his success as a clown, whom he called Freedom Man, and as a saxophonist and spoken-word poet in the East Baltimore clubs. Turner recalled that when and Wilson visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to give away walking sticks they’d carved for disabled veterans, Wilson commandeered an electric scooter and cruised around the halls, in addition to snagging a photo with a visiting beauty contestant on a goodwill visit.

On a recent trip to Egypt, his first, a guide explained why a goddess-queen at a temple was missing her head. Wilson told the guide he could figure out how to carve it back on. Though the guide didn’t take him up on it, Wilson memorialized the temple scene on one of his backyard sculptures and placed the queen’s head back where it belonged.

“He’s just a piece of sugar,” said Lonnie Margolis, who got to know Wilson when he spent months carving a Ukrainian peace sculpture out of a tree that had partially fallen in her yard. “When he is carving, he is in his own world, having a wonderful time. He is doing something so creative, and you can see it is a love.”

Even with such unassailable energy, he acknowledges that he is slowing down. He wants more time with his sons and their children. His wife wants more space. And his collection is hidden from the people he wants most to see it. Aside from a couple of shows at senior centers and a few nosy neighbors peering over the fence, few have seen his gift, which he always wanted to share with the world.

“My pieces tell stories, from beginning to end. You will not find that any other place,” he said. “My maker, you know, he gave me all this information. He said, ‘You got it. I gave it to you. And now you have to pass it on.’”

This story was republished with permission from The Baltimore Banner. Visit www.thebaltimorebanner.com for more.

 

 

William H. Johnson, Harriet Tubman, ca. 1945, oil on paperboard, 28 7⁄8 x 23 3⁄8 in. (73.5 x 59.3 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation

William H. Johnson’s Final Body of Work On View for First Time in 75 Years in DC
Press Release :: March 7

William H. Johnson (1901–1970) painted his last body of work, the “Fighters for Freedom” series, in the mid-1940s as a tribute to African American activists, scientists, teachers and performers as well as international leaders working to bring peace to the world. The landmark exhibition “Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice,” brings together—for the first time since 1946—34 paintings featured in the series, including 32 drawn from the museum’s collection of more than 1,000 works by Johnson. Two paintings, “Three Great Freedom Fighters” and “Against the Odds,” are on loan from the Hampton University Museum of Art exclusively for the presentation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition illuminates the extraordinary life and contributions of Johnson, an artist associated with the Harlem Renaissance but whose practice spanned several continents, as well as the contributions of historical figures he depicted.

“Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice” is on view from March 8 through Sept. 8 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s main building in Washington, D.C. It is organized by Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Laura Augustin Fox, curatorial collections coordinator.

“By telling the stories of those who fought for social and racial justice, both historically and in his own time, the remarkable artist William H. Johnson should be more widely known and this exhibition aims to do that by reaffirming the central importance of African Americans to the American narrative,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director. “It is an awesome and humbling responsibility to build on more than 50 years of the Smithsonian American Art Museum of preserving, displaying and interpreting a lifetime of work by this great American artist whose bold graphic images are not soon forgotten.”

Some of Johnson’s “Fighters”—Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, Mohandas Gandhi and Harriet Tubman—are familiar figures; others—Nannie Helen Burroughs and William Grant Still, among them—are less well-known individuals whose achievements have been eclipsed over time. Johnson celebrates their accomplishments even as he acknowledges the realities of racism, oppression and sometimes violence they faced and overcame. Johnson clues viewers to significant episodes in the “Fighters” lives by punctuating each portrait with tiny buildings, flags and vignettes that give insight into their stories. Using a colorful palette to create evocative scenes and craft important narratives, he suggests that the pursuit of freedom is an ongoing, interconnected struggle, with moments of both triumph and tragedy. These paintings invite the viewer to reflect on the struggles for justice today.

“Through Johnson’s ‘Fighters for Freedom’ paintings, we learn about people who changed lives, promoted equality, valued legacy and demonstrated unflagging determination in the face of almost insurmountable challenges,” Mecklenburg said. “He tells us that the continued fight for equity, dignity and equality for all is central to the American story.”

The museum has created extensive educational materials and in-gallery interpretation strategies to deepen visitors’ understanding of Johnson and the featured historical figures. A visual timeline puts Johnson’s life events in context with key moments in African American history and the lives of his “Fighters.”

The museum has produced short videos to accompany five paintings on view, each featuring commentary from curators from across the Smithsonian discussing collection objects, including Nat Turner’s Bible and Marian Anderson’s fur coat, that give insight into the people depicted in each work. Four interactive in-gallery kiosks provide information about Johnson’s visual references and historical source material that “decode” selected compositions and uncover the meaning behind the imagery. A separate media space invites visitors to experience select “Fighters” in action through archival video, audio and images. The museum’s efforts to conserve Johnson’s artworks are documented in a short video and wall panels, highlighting the recent preservation work of the “Fighters for Freedom” paintings. Additional elements include tactile reproductions and visual descriptions of key works; an all ages reading room that offers visitors a chance to gather, learn and reflect; and a mural featuring responses from students across the country about people they consider fighters for freedom today.

About William H. Johnson
Johnson was born in Florence, South Carolina, in 1901, but left the Jim Crow South as a teenager to go to New York City. In 1921, he passed the entrance exam at the National Academy of Design. By the time he finished five years later, he had won most of the prizes the academy offered. Johnson left for Europe, where he painted landscapes that marked him as an up-and-coming modernist. After three years in France, Johnson returned to the United States in 1929, meeting Harlem Renaissance luminaries Alain Locke and Langston Hughes during that time. He left again for Europe after less than a year. He married Danish weaver Holcha Krake in 1930, and they spent most of the decade in Scandinavia, where Johnson’s interest in European modernism had a noticeable impact on his work.
In late 1938, with World War II imminent, the couple returned to New York, where he was soon recognized as a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson abandoned the dazzling landscapes he painted in Scandinavia to focus instead on the lives of African Americans. He painted Southern sharecroppers, city hipsters, Black soldiers training for war, religious scenes and his last series, “the Fighters for Freedom.” It was a trying time in Johnson’s personal life. His wife developed breast cancer, and after she died in 1944, Johnson’s mental health deteriorated. In 1947, he was confined to Central Islip State Hospital in New York, where he remained until his death in 1970.

In 1967, the William E. Harmon Foundation, the patron of African American artists that cared for Johnson’s work after his hospitalization, entrusted his life’s work—paintings, watercolors, prints and drawings—to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum, in turn, offered almost 150 paintings and prints to other institutions. As a result, historically Black universities, including Fisk, Hampton, Howard, Morgan State and others, have rich collections of Johnson’s work. The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds the largest and most complete collection of work by Johnson. It has done much in the past 50 years to preserve Johnson’s art and establish his reputation by organizing exhibitions and installations of his work and an ongoing program of conservation for these fragile paintings. Most recently, the museum has loaned six works by Johnson to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s groundbreaking exhibition “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” (2024).

 

 

Jim Sanborn, Kilkee County Claire, Ireland, 1997, large format projection, digital print. Claude Monet, The Rock Needle and the Porte d’Aval Seen from the West, 1886, oil on canvas.

The Kreeger Museum Celebrates International Perspectives on Art and the Environment for its 30th Anniversary
Press Release :: March 12

Fourteen artists from nine countries reflect on our interactions with the natural environment in the Kreeger Museum’s 30th-anniversary exhibition titled Here, in this little Bay: Celebrating 30 Years at the Kreeger. The exhibition is on view from June 1, 2024–October 5, 2024.

Founded by David and Carmen Kreeger, the Kreeger Museum opened in 1994, featuring the couples’ collection of exquisite holdings in American and European modernism and African and Asian art in a stunning travertine and glass building designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. The building, which had functioned as the Kreegers’ home since the 1960s, uniquely combines art, architecture and landscape in intimate galleries, verdant courtyards, and sculpture-filled grounds. This appreciation of the living environment, heightened by the presentation of exceptional land and seascape paintings by Max Beckmann, Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and other distinguished artists in the permanent collection, inspired an anniversary exhibition that looks at artists’ changing approaches to the natural world since the French Impressionists worked en plein air during the late 19th-century. “This exhibition introduces a thought-provoking range of creative visions that address environmental disruption and sustainability today. It is an honor to have the work of these artists in our gallery spaces,” says Kreeger Director Helen Chason.

Comprising artists from Argentina, Burma, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Greece, Japan, Korea, Iran and the United States, the exhibition includes photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures with both representational and conceptual approaches considered. Artists who explore the wondrous abstract structures and patterns of nature are complemented by those who more specifically investigate the ways that labor, migration, trade and conflict interface with the environment. Nature is contemplated as a model of endurance and growth, as well as an entity subject to extreme human interventions, including climate change and nuclear devastation.

“A group of ethereal waterscapes by Monet installed in galleries punctuated with windows that let the outside in, inspired me to gather an intergenerational, global group of artists–all now living in Maryland, Washington and Virginia–who view landscape and nature through a 21st-century lens,” observes guest curator Kristen Hileman. Hileman, who brings twenty years of experience as a curator at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Baltimore Museum of Art to the project, continues: “The work of creatives such as these has been and will be instrumental to developing more sustainable attitudes towards living together on our shared planet. Our perspectives have changed since 19th-century painters emphasized the untouched beauty of nature in their works. Artists still seek the sublime in the natural world, but they also make human impact visible. Awareness has grown even since the Kreeger opened its doors in 1994. As a point of reference, the well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg wasn’t born until 2003.”

The exhibition’s title is taken from the first line of Victorian poet Coventry Patmore’s (British 1823-1896) work Magna Est Veritas. The poem juxtaposes the ocean with town-life in a meditation on time and truth. […]

 

 

Alyssa Dennis

Kent Cultural Alliance Announces the Inaugural SFW Residency Artists for Spring 2024
Press Release :: March 8

The Kent Cultural Alliance announces its first class of visiting artists for the SFW Residency for spring 2024.  This inaugural residency session features three talented artists/educators from Friendswood, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and Luray, Virginia. These artists will work under a collective theme of “LAND” as they explore agriculture, soil, family farms, and more with our local partners for the session; Kent County 4H, Kent County High School Future Farmers of America, and Harborview Farms. This social practice residency has its foundation in community engagement and seeks to create broader participation around issues important to the people who call this county home.

Meet the Artists

Austen Camille (Alvin, TX)

Canadian-American Austen Camille is an artist, writer, builder and naturalist whose studio practice is built on her early years moving schools and cities and working to note the particularities of a place.  Austen seeks reciprocal relationships between the built and natural environment in her work.  Austen’s interdisciplinary practice incorporates painting, sculpture, installation, writing, research, performance, new technologies and localized materials. She seeks to forge connections between the arts and other disciplines through it.  She received her BA in Studio Art at Reed College and her MFA in Painting at Temple University.

www.austencamille.com

Alyssa Dennis (Baltimore, MD)

Alyssa Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist, earth activist, educator & clinical herbalist.

>Her art practice centers on conventional forms of building and the convenience that keeps us compartmentalized within a dangerously abstract relationship with nature and our own bodies. The imagery she creates explores the impact of manufactured landscapes on our internal and external ecosystems, shaping our existence with non-human life and, ultimately, ourselves. Dennis’s work combines drawing, sculptural installation and the social/environmental practice of herbalism. In her multidisciplinary practice, she questions who the players are and what are the means for reclaiming non-human kinships as a necessary form of embodiment for the reversal of cultural and climate upheaval.

Dennis McNett ( Luray, VA)

With a focus on printmaking, sculpture, storytelling, and community, Dennis McNett is a multifaceted maker.  He is known for his larger-than-life woodcut print-covered puppets and masks that are used to lead narrative ceremonies and public processions.  Dennis has had more than 30 visiting artist and lecturer appointments across the US and abroad.  He holds a BFA from Old Dominion University and an MFA from Pratt Institute, where he taught from 2004-2013. His works have been featured internationally at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the MOHS Exhibit, the Museum of Print History and more.

www.wolfbat.com

Important Dates:

The Kent Cultural Alliance offers several opportunities for the community to engage with our resident artists. Some of those opportunities include the following dates: All events at KCA’s Raimond Cultural Center, 101 Spring Avenue, Chestertown, Maryland.

Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 7:00 pm

“Meet the Residents – Artist Talk”- Free.  Come meet our resident artists, and learn about their practice and past projects.  Reception to follow.

Saturday, April 27, 2024 from Noon to 3 pm

“OPEN STUDIO” – opportunity to see our artists at work on their “LAND” project.

Friday, May 3, 2024 from 5 – 8 pm

EXHIBIT OPENING – Come see the work created by our resident artists and learn from our partner organizations about this social practice residency experience.

Saturday, May 4 at 1 pm

ARTIST TALK – Join our artists one last time and hear about their work related to this residency.

The LAND residency exhibition will be open to the public for four weeks.  Gallery Hours will be Wednesday – Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

Thank you to the SFW Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Maryland State Arts Council, The Maryland Heritage Area Authority/Stories of the Chesapeake, The Hedgelawn Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.  Special thanks to our community partners for this residency, and specifically Beth Hill at Kent County 4h, Jennifer Kuhl-Depp at KCHS, and Trey Hill at Harborview Farms.

The KCA serves as the designated arts council for Kent County, Maryland. The Kent Cultural Alliance puts the arts to work creating opportunities for engagement, education, and connection across Kent County.  It is the vision of KCA that all of Kent County’s communities have access to transformational arts programs to celebrate our shared humanity.

 

 

Jonathan Monaghan Mothership, 2013. video (color, sound), media player, screen or projector, 15 minute loop Edition of 3, 1AP Music by Evan Samek

Mothership to be auctioned at Sotheby’s
Newsletter :: March 11

My 2013 video installation, Mothership, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s this week. Varied and colorful, Mothership combines elements from ranging from 3D scans I took of a European palace to virtual models extracted from my childhood video games. The 15-minute video installation guides viewers through surreal spaces, including London’s financial center, an abandoned shopping mall, and a luxury designer operating room. Featuring strange imagery blending sacred cows with symbols of power and wealth, Mothership is rather appropriate for this Sotheby’s auction, which celebrates artists and pivotal moments in the art-blockchain relationship. Premiering at the Moving Image Art Fair London in 2013 and presented by Andrea Pollan of Washington D.C.’s Curator’s Office, the collector’s package included registration through the experimental platform Keidom, making it one of the first artworks to interface with Bitcoin as a decentralized ledger, pioneering blockchain integration before the advent of NFTs.

Mothership was created during the artist residency Culturia in Berlin in the summer of 2013. There I met curator Masha McConaghy, who was working with the Node Center for Curatorial Studies, and her husband Trent McConaghy, who proposed the idea of integrating digital art with the Bitcoin blockchain. This innovative approach aimed to enhance the security and collectibility of born-digital artworks by leveraging the blockchain as a public ledger to track provenance and ownership. I thought this was fascinating and wanted to try it with my work.

By August 2013, Trent and Janislav Malahov developed an experimental prototype, Keidom. A limited of edition of 3, 1AP, Mothership was the first artwork registered and authenticated through the “Keidom SPOOL” (Secure, Public, Online Ownership Ledger). The Keidom ID and key, generated through the Bitcoin blockchain, was an integral part of the collector’s package.

Over the years, Keidom, later rebranded to ascribe, helped numerous artists register and secure their works. By 2018, the concepts and solutions ascribe developed, arisen from a place of curatorial study and care for the artist’s practice, were included in modern blockchains, such as with ERC721, and would set the stage for modern NFTs.

{R(Evolutionaries);} Digital Art Through The Decade, bidding opens March 15th, 2024.

 

 

header image: Junius Wilson, an 80-year-old Woodlawn artist (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

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