MAJOR artists convened for DMV's must-see exhibitions



  Contemporary artworks by internationally-acclaimed artists, highlight Summer 2017 in Washington, DC, Maryland + Virginia  


Adam Pendleton. A Victim of American Democracy II (wall work). 2015. © Adam Pendleton, courtesy Pace Gallery


written + edited By Janel St. John d






First DMV Solo Show


Hailing from Richmond, VA, Adam Pendleton has become an art world rock star at just 33-years old. A conceptual artist, his practice includes silkscreen paintings, photographic collage, video, performance, and publishing. A master of the pastiche, Pendleton transforms old words and illustrations, into immersive, abstract, floor-to-ceiling works, imbued with new meaning.

One of the youngest artists at Manhattan’s Pace Gallery, there is a wait list for his work. Collectors include Leonardo DiCaprio, Venus Williams and Steven A. Cohen. He's been featured twice in Forbes Magazine's "30 under 30," and in 2015, he conquered the Venice Biennale, bringing the language of the Black Lives Matter movement to the world’s most prestigious contemporary art fair.

Three concurrent shows are now featuring work by the New York-based artist; The Jewish Museum's current group show in New York, and two solo shows, Adam Pendleton: shot him in the face, at the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art in the UK, and Front Room: Adam Pendleton at the Baltimore Museum of Art thru October 1, 2017.

At BMA, the exhibition transforms the wall adjacent to the East Lobby staircase with a monumental Wall Work by Pendleton. The Contemporary Wing’s Front Room features three grand Wall Works overlaid with paintings, collages and silkscreens. (photo by Peter Ross)


Black Dada is the animating force behind Pendleton's work; it explores the concept of blackness through abstraction. The artist extracts images and texts from avant-garde art and socio-political movements. By dissociating them from their original source and context, he offers them up for fresh consideration. Through collaged layers and fragments, he reveals new and unexpected relationships that comment on race and culture.

In BMA's East Lobby and the Front Room Gallery, Pendleton provides historical context by evoking the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Several works pull apart the phrase “a victim of American democracy,” derived from a 1964 speech by Malcolm X titled “The Ballot or the Bullet,” including the four large paintings that occupy the main wall of the Front Room Gallery. Pendleton’s juxtapositions are presented in a highly choreographed installation that empowers viewers to decipher personal meaning as they navigate the space of the BMA gallery. MORE work by the artist.

AAdam Pendleton/2015/Belgian Pavilion

Behind the Biennale: Adam Pendleton Brings “Black Lives Matter” to Venice from Artsy on Vimeo.



Kara Walker. Salvation. 2000. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Friends of Modern Art Fund, BMA 2001.14. © Kara Walker



Hank Willis Thomas. And I Can’t Run. 2013. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Promised gift of a MAD Gathering to The Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.



The power of two: Two innovative works by two innovative artists with two distinctly different methods have been brought together in BMA’s Black Box Gallery to explore the legacy of slavery. Black Box: Kara Walker & Hank Willis Thomas is now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art through March 18, 2018.

Walker’s Salvation, 2000, is an exploration of African American and female identity within the tragic history of American slavery. In this work, a central silhouetted female figure is gasping and perhaps drowning, in a swamp. The work’s title 'Salvation' could suggest the woman has taken to the water to escape her enslavement. The haunting scene is heightened through imagery generated by an overhead projector. Light is also critical to the imagery of Hank Willis Thomas’s And I Can’t Run, 2013. At first appearance, it looks to be an almost illegible group of white-on-white figures on a rectangular field; once the work is photographed on a cell phone, the flash reveals the entire chilling image of a black man shackled before aggressive white onlookers emerges.

BMA’s Black Box Gallery is dedicated to screen-based media works. Where Walker returns to her standard, centuries-old silhouette craft to examine the legacy of slavery, Thomas brings contemporary technology to the subject. A MacArthur genius, Walker is listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World, Artists and Entertainers. She is also listed on The New York Daily News poll of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York!




DMV Debut Fall '17

Mark Bradford is taking the East Coast by storm! His brand new monumental painting (below) is now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art, marking the first works by the artist to enter the museum’s collection. This fall, Bradford will make his Washington D.C debut at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In November, he unveils a major, new installation, marking the first time the Hirshhorn has granted the full expanse of the second-level walls, to a single artist. And that’s just a fraction of the news!

As one of America’s top contemporary artists, Bradford is currently representing the U.S. at the 2017 Venice Biennale - the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event. Tomorrow is Another Day, his work for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, on view through November 2017, was named one of the 11 best Pavilions. Well, the entire presentation is coming to BMA in 2018!!! YES, Italy is coming to the East Coast!

This is part of the historic collaboration between BMA, co-organizer of the U.S. Pavilion and Bradford. BMA’s new director, Christopher Bedford, is co-curator of the Venice presentation along with Katy Siegel, BMA Senior Programming and Research Curator. Bedford has been a longtime collaborator with the LA-based artist. In 2010, while chief curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, Bedford organized Bradford’s first museum survey. The exhibition toured the country, with shows at four museums including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.


Mark Bradford, My Grandmother Felt the Color, 2016, large-scale, mixed media painting, made with bleached paper, scored and molded by hand. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of Anonymous Donors, Photo: Joshua White, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

The presentation of Tomorrow is Another Day, and the Bradford acquisitions, which also include Niagara – a video work that examines the urban landscape, is part of a new BMA initiative for diversity and inclusion. The movement, driven by Bedford, who came to the museum in 2016, is a three-fold effort to expand the narrative of art history, more deeply engage museum audiences and serve as a creative catalyst for the city of Baltimore, which is 65-percent Black and like every city in America, divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. “Each of the works entering our collection is produced by artists fundamental to the development of American modern and contemporary art," Bedford said. "And many are in direct dialogue with the social and political conditions of their day.” BMA also acquired an oil on canvas by Norman Lewis, an African-American pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. BMA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, recently hosted a symposium featuring Carrie Mae Weems - on best practices for social inclusion.

One of the most inspiring stories within this story - is how Bradford, a Black man, son of a hairdresser, born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles - has ascended to become the leading American abstract painter of his generation. Get to know him!



Bradford's project sets out a powerful vision of the artist's role in society


Democracy’s Dark Side and a Glimmer of Hope in Mark Bradford’s Venice Biennale Show


Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day / U.S. Pavilion, Venice Art







Alex Bradley Cohen, Summertime. Acrylic on canvas






Mickalene Thomas, Racquel Leaned Back, 2013. © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête, at The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, is an exhibition within an exhibition! Internationally renowned artist, Mickalene Thomas, is known for her large-scale, multi-textured and rhinestone-encrusted paintings of domestic interiors and portraits. Her glitzy and alluring paintings of contemporary women, seductive and empowered, speak to a woman’s roles in a post-feminist world. This collection of photographic portraits and staged scenes reflect a personal community of inspiration. Her collection of muses includes herself, her mother, her friends and lovers emphasize the communal and social aspects of art-making and creativity that pervade her work. The exhibition will include elements from each area of Thomas’s photographic practice.

Alongside Muse is tête-à-tête. This smaller exhibition, curated by Thomas, contains work from well-known photographers who have inspired her. These pieces accentuate the dialogue within Thomas’ photographs. Artists include Derrick Adams; Renée Cox; LaToya Ruby Frazier; Lyle Ashton Harris; Deana Lawson; Zanele  Muholi; Malick Sidibé; Xaviera Simmons; Hank Willis Thomas; and Carrie Mae Weems. On view through August 13, 2017.





One of history’s most radical and influential fashion designers was also a champion of diversity. Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer to use  models of color on the runway. For his diverse casting in the ’60s and ’70s he chose Iman, Rebecca Ayoko and Katoucha Niane for his muses over the years. Naomi Campbell credits him with getting her her first Vogue cover. (image, right, a young Iman for Rive Gauche)

Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style, is on view at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts through August 27, 2017. While not a contemporary art show, it is a must-see; just like Hollywood Costume, VMFA is the only East Coast venue for this exhibition! Drawn from the unparalleled collection of the Paris-based Foundation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent and other private collections, this breathtaking show offers an intimate and comprehensive look at the lifetime achievement of Saint Laurent. Featuring 100 haute couture and ready-to-wear garments - some never shown publicly before - the exhibition reveals Saint Laurent’s artistic genius.

The Perfection of Style also includes costume jewelry and other accessories, photographs, drawings, films and video. Organized by the Seattle Art Museum in partnership with the Paris-based Foundation, the exhibition traces the trajectory of Saint Laurent’s style as it developed throughout the course of his career. It concludes with a procession of eveningwear, dating from the early 1970s to 2002, when Saint Laurent officially retired with his final runway collection.

While at VMFA, get your art fix by checking out their brand new Romare Bearden acquisition, works by Radcliff Bailey, (below) South African artist, Esther Mahlangu, and A COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY: The Black Photographers Annual, Volume 1, on view thru October. And don't forget the FREE Jazz on Thursdays!




First DMV Solo Show


A millennial would most likely call Radcliffe Bailey a ‘woke’ artist. A nationally-recognized painter, sculptor and mixed-media artist, he has produced some of the most distinctive art in America. History is at the center of his work, which is both personal and political. He layers imagery, culturally resonant materials and text to explore themes of ancestry, race and memory. Like Kerry James Marshall, Bailey has inserted into the American mind, through the channels of galleries and museums, indelible images of African American life. 

In his first solo exhibition in the DC metro area, Bailey pays homage to the vast area of Virginia and North Carolina where escaped slaves once took shelter. The Great Dismal Swamp, is on view at The Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) thru August 18, 2017. 

The show's mixed-media works explore the Underground Railroad and the legacy of slavery in Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp. The federally-designated national wildlife refuge in Southeastern Virginia spans 112,000 acres and concealed and sheltered communities of runaway slaves. Some remained at the swamp or traveled through it along the Underground Railroad. When Bailey visited the site, it piqued his interest for both its history and proximity to his grandfather’s family in Virginia. His father was a railroad engineer who had ancestors that utilized the Underground Railroad.



Windward Coast (detail) by Radcliffe Bailey, 2009-2011


Bailey’s Windward Coast, above, (2009–2011) is a monumental installation that evokes memory of the Middle Passage. Nearly submerged in a sea of wooden piano keys, a glittery bust of one man floats in isolation; a potent symbol of both persecution and perseverance. The darkness of this work is offset by the piano keys themselves. Harvested from 400 pianos, they reference the healing power of music and the cultural legacy of Africans in America.

"The universal themes of identity and ancestry, hurt and healing, displacement and endurance in The Great Dismal Swamp, are germane to us all." -Holly Koons McCullough, guest curator.








Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Bailey lives and works in Atlanta. He received a BFA in 1991 from the Atlanta College of Art. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Denver Art Museum; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; among many others.

In the video below, Bailey talks about his artistic process and what he hopes his art conveys. His "Vessel" is in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's permanent collection.










A trendsetter in textiles, Faith Ringgold, has been working as a painter, an art activist, feminist and an educator since the early 60s. Best known for her painted story quilts and her illustrated children’s books, Ringgold has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors, and holds 23 honorary doctorates. Her protests, events and exhibitions of the 60’s and 70’s took a stand for the Civil Rights movement, Freedom of Speech and equality and helped to break ground and open museum doors for artists of color and women.

The Englewood, New Jersey-based artist currently has work featured in 3 concurrent exhibitions: Soul of a Nation at London’s Tate Modern, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965- 85 at the Brooklyn Museum and REVIVAL at The National Museum of Women in the Arts. NMWA recently acquired Ringgold’s Jo Baker’s Bananas, in celebration of the museum’s 30th-anniversary year. In this story quilt, Ringgold depicts the famous African American dancer, Josephine Baker (1906–1975), who became a stage legend in France, where she lived most of her life.

Baker’s figure is represented five times across the top of the quilt, implying a sense of movement across a stage. The so-called “Banana Dance” that she performed in 1926 at Paris’s Folies Bergère music hall cemented her fame.

Often, Ringgold’s stories are told over multiple quilts; Jo Baker’s Bananas is from one of these series, The American Collection.

Her quilts fuse textiles with painting on canvas. The narratives reflect her own family traditions, such as sewing, which she learned from her mother, as well as of larger African American cultural traditions.

NMWA is the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women. Jo Baker one of nine newly acquired works female artists, now on view in REVIVAL, thru Sept. 10, 2017.



American Collection #4: Jo Baker’s Bananas, 1997, Acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 80 1/2 x 76 in., Purchased with funds donated by the Estate of Barbara Bingham Moore, Olga V. Hargis Family Trusts and the Members’ Acquisition Fund




First DMV Solo Show

Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People of 2014. A master of the mix of art and business, Theaster Gates, a cross-disciplinary American artist, came in at No. 11 on list, for his efforts in urban renewal. Last year, he debuted his brand new public program series “Processions,” at the Hirshhorn. Now, he presents a new body of work, The Minor Arts, as part of the Tower exhibition series at the National Gallery of Art. On view in the East Building, Tower 3, through September 4, 2017, In the Tower: Theaster Gates examines how discarded and ordinary objects acquire value through the stories we tell.

As with his larger projects, Gates created this exhibition out of his collections of "modern castoffs," a term he uses for materials that technology, the market, and history have left behind. The objects refer to the decline of urban institutions and traditions through their use of elements ranging from a high school gym floor to a demolished church's slate roof. Drawing from overlooked forms of craft and labor such as roofing and ceramics, the artist encourages the viewer to consider the artfulness of the everyday and gives new value to the minor and the outdated.



Installation view of Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts Courtesy of the artist, White Cube

The Minor Arts integrates a diverse range of materials including tar, slate, bronze, wood, clay, and marble. The installation's largest component, Slate Corridor for Possibility of Speaking in Tongues and Depositing Ghetto Reliquary (2017), is a 48-foot-wide and 20-foot-high portion of a slate roof saved from the decommissioned St. Laurence Church in Chicago. By detaching the structure from its function and repositioning it at eye level, Gates brings the unseen into our view and highlights the aesthetic qualities of the roofer's skillful work.

Also included is New Egypt Sanctuary of the Holy Word and Image (2017), a towering freestanding library with a marble floor, also from St. Laurence Church. The work memorializes archival issues of Ebony magazine, which were given by the Johnson Publishing Company to Gates's Rebuild Foundation when the publisher moved its headquarters in Chicago. Rebound by a Chicago bookbinder, the seminal periodicals chronicle African American life and culture from the 1940s through the 2000s.

Gates is founder of the Rebuild Foundation and serves as director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago. He is only the fourth living artist to be featured in the Gallery's ongoing In the Tower exhibition series, following Barbara Kruger, Kerry James Marshall, and Mel Bochner.


ALSO in the DMV








JAZZ IN THE GARDEN at the National Gallery of Art




The Jazz in the Garden concert series is in full swing with performances on Fridays through August 25, 2017. Musicians perform in front of the Pavilion Café, next to the grand fountain and reflecting pool. FREE. LIVE. 5 - 8:30pm


July 7 - Speakers of the House (Rock Fusion)
July 14 - Onyx Club Boys (Gypsy Swing)
July 21 - Elijah Jamal Balbed (Jazz Go-Go Fusion)
July 28 - 3Divas (Instrumental Jazz)
August 4 - Incendio (World Guitar)
August 11 - Zili (World Soul)
August 18 - Davina and the Vagabonds (Jazz, Blues)
August 25 - Black Masala (Eclectic)


Concerts may be canceled due to excessive heat or inclement weather. For up-to-date informationvisit





American Visionary:

John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times





A new exhibition commemorating President John F. Kennedy’s life and work is now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through September 17, 2017.

American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times brings together images from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Getty Images, private collections and the Kennedy family archives that capture the dramatic scope of Kennedy’s life. The exhibition is one of the most exhaustively researched collections of Kennedy photos ever assembled. It's based on the forthcoming book JFK: A Vision for America and kicks off the nationwide celebration that commemorates Kennedy’s centennial year.

The book presents Kennedy at his best - thought-provoking, eloquent and wise - on a number of topics, including civil rights, the race to the moon, immigration, the Cuban Missile Crisis and more. JFK demonstrates the deep relevance of his words today and his lasting power and influence as an American leader and orator. Contributors include Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Dalai Lama, Robert Redford, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Kofi Annan among many others. Edited by Smith and Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University; it is available at the museum store.

Senator Kennedy’s return home, Barnstable Municipal Airport, Hyannis, Massachusetts, July 1960. © Paul Schutzer (Courtesy The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)






One of our 'must-see' DC sites!

1967: Civil Rights at 50, now on view the Newseum thru January 2, 2018, tells the dramatic story of the growing militancy of the struggle for racial justice in 1967. The exhibit uses powerful photos and images of historic newspapers and magazines to explore how African Americans used their First Amendment rights to fight for change — at times at great cost. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and boxing champion Muhammad Ali faced harsh criticism for challenging the Vietnam War, and Black Power activists Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown alienated the press and the public by advocating militant tactics.

“1967” is part of an annual changing exhibit that explores the relationship between the First Amendment and the 1960s civil rights movement and is a companion to “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement.” 


Reginald F. Lewis Museum

of African American History & Culture

One of our 'must-see' MD sites!

USA Today just named The Reginald F. Lewis Museum one of 25 Must-See Buildings in Maryland! Locally, it's a Top 10 Event Venue in Baltimore. We concur! Location is everything for this museum which is Maryland’s largest, dedicated to the state’s African American experience. A Smithsonian affiliate, the Lewis Museum has a film series, live music performances and family programming in addition to the exhibitions.

Until July 30th, you can catch Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male.

On August  5th, there's Author Talk: Historic African American Leisure Destinations, covering the historic, national Negro Travelers’ Green Book, and the parks, resorts and beach communities that African Americans frequented in the Maryland area.


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