the singular, national, voice of diversity in art + design







Brooklyn, NY

by Janel St. John l SEPTEMBER 20, 2018



Art In The Age of Black Power 1963-1983


Opened SEPT 14, 2018 at the Brooklyn Museum.

With more than 60 artists on the roster, this exhibition is a virtual mecca of African American art history. As an unprecedented show with only one East coast venue - it's the number one must-see show of the season!

Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is a show over 150 works from 1963 to 1983 and considers how Black artists, across the country and across disciplines, responded during one of the most crucial periods in American history. With significant works by influential artists, Frank Bowling, Sam Gilliam, Barkley Hendricks, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas and William T. Williams, Soul is a rare opportunity to see some of the most defining works of an era.

The show begins in 1963 with the Spiral collective. This group of NY-based painters, including Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis and Emma Amos, explored the role of Black artists in the struggle for civil rights. It traces the rise of Black Power Movement and the formation of AfriCOBRA. So many historical gems in this show...there's 24 striking illustrations created by Emory Douglas, who was the minister of culture for the Black Panter Party, which was founded in Oakland, California, in 1966. His graphics became powerful symbols of the movement. Jack Whitten's Homage to Malcolm (1970) was a memorial to the late activist.

Lacking institutional support and inclusion, these artists, year after year, worked in collectives, communities, and individually, to empower their community, support each other, and push African American art forward. Now they are finally being recognized for having created some of the most amazing artworks produced in the late twentieth century - works that continue to resonate with our present.
On view through FEB 3, 2019. MORE.


Barkley L. Hendricks (American, 1945–2017). Blood (Donald Formey), 1975. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 50½ in. Courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Montague | The Wedge Collection, Toronto. © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum).




Washington, DC





The Art of Bill Traylor


Opens SEPT 28, 2018 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM).

2018 will be remembered as the year we lost the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin - an icon and a national treasure. And it will go down in history as the year a man born into slavery received a major exhibition on the national mall.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor, is not only one of the most anticipated shows of the season - the artist, who was born on an Alabama plantation in 1853 - is being hailed as one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

Bill Traylor was an eyewitness to history - the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and the Great Migration. In the late 1930s, a decade after leaving plantation life, he moved to Montgomery, took up pencil and paintbrush, and created a visual autobiography. With very little means, and living mostly on the streets in the black business district, he fleshed out his memories and experiences on pieces of discarded cardboard. He developed his artistic voice on his own, and became an artist of powerful vision and ability.

When Traylor died in 1949, he left behind more than 1,000 works of art, the only known person born enslaved, and entirely self-taught, to create an extensive body of graphic artworks.

A groundbreaking show, Between Worlds features 155 drawings and paintings. With 17 of the works from the SAAM collection, it's described as the most comprehensive survey of the artist to date.

Traylor's art looks back at a hard rural past and forward at a rising African American culture. Many of the works echo the oral histories that have been passed down in Black culture, from slavery through many decades.

On view through MAR 17, 2019. MORE.

Fig. 9. Bill Traylor. Man in Black and Blue with Cigar and Suitcase, c. 1939-1942. Poster paint and graphite on cardboard. 21 1/2 by 16 in. Collection of Jerry and Susan Lauren; photo by Matt Flynn, copyright Smithsonian Institution.




Richmond, VA




3. HOWARDENA PINDELL: What Remains to Be Seen

“Pindell was among the first wave of academically trained artists to dismiss the separation between pure abstraction and political art.

“She asserted that the pressures, prejudices and exclusions placed upon her as an African American artist and as a woman - both in the art world and the world at large - were fair and necessary themes to explore in her art.”


- Michael Taylor, VMFA chief curator and deputy director for art and education



Night Flight, 2015–2016, Howardena Pindell (American), mixed media on canvas. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.


Now open at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen is an extraordinary exhibition of firsts and a trifecta of black female empowerment. New York–based multidisciplinary artist, Howardena Pindell, was the first African American female to earn a master's degree in studio painting from Yale University in 1967. Upon graduation, she became the first black female curator hired by the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Now the first major survey of her five-decade, groundbreaking artistic career, is being orchestrated by two black female curators at major U.S. art museums! Wow, wow ... and wow!

What Remains to be Seen opened to rave reviews at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where it was organized. The show features Pindell's early figurative and abstract paintings, photography, video, film and performance art. Personal, political and social, the exhibition covers a lifetime of Pindell's assertion of her place in the world as an African American, a feminist and an activist.

Since the 1960s, she has used unconventional materials like glitter, talcum powder and sewing thread, to stretch the boundaries of tradition and create works that have a lush textural and ethereal quality. To the curators and a growing national audience who've seen the show, Pindell is nothing less than iconic.

Valarie Cassel Oliver, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Naomi Beckwith, senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, co-curated Pindell's show. Three years in the making, the exhibition marks Cassel Oliver's curatorial debut at VMFA.

“Howardena Pindell has proved herself to be ahead of her time...” said Cassel Oliver. “Through her innovations as a painter, she has provided solid groundwork for so many artists and yet, she has been woefully under-recognized. It has been our - my and Naomi Beckwith’s - goal in organizing this exhibition that we can finally acknowledge the intellectual and artistic rigor of this artist and place her squarely in the canon as an iconic figure in contemporary art.” On view through NOV 25, 2018. MORE.




Baltimore, MD






Mark Bradford


"Tomorrow is Another Day addresses the difficulties experienced by so many others who are trying to create foundations for themselves and find their footing.

The exhibition is not just about me, but about all of those who feel like they're on the periphery."


- Mark Bradford


Opens SEPT 23, 2018 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Hailed as one of America's leading contemporary abstract painters, Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford, is a globe-trekking artist in demand. He is known for large-scale mixed-media paintings made from a variety of collaged materials like maps, billboard posters and magazines. Through a process of scoring, bleaching and sanding, he turns discarded elements, into works of art that confront social issues like racism, urban poverty and global justice.

This year, he was the featured artist at the launch of Hauser & Wirth's brand new Hong Kong gallery and completed a 32-panel site-specific work for the new U.S. Embassy in London. Last year in Italy he presented Tomorrow is Another Day, for the United States Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. The installation, which received critical acclaim, is now making a stateside debut at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA).

Another highly anticipated show, Tomorrow Is Another Day is a complex, multi-layered narrative using painting, sculpture, and video. Bradford - staying true to form - created works that reflect his interest in how traditionally marginalized communities address issues of social and economic justice, as well as his belief in art’s power to expose contradictory histories and affect positive change.

“Tomorrow Is Another Day addresses the difficulties experienced by so many others who are trying to create foundations for themselves and find their footing,” said Bradford. “The exhibition is not just about me, but about all of those who feel like they’re on the periphery.”

The exhibition is co-curated by Christopher Bedford, BMA Director, and Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion, and Katy Siegel, BMA Senior Programming and Research Curator and Chair of Modern American Art at Stony Brook University.

On view through March 3, 2019.

Mark Bradford. Tomorrow is Another Day. 2016. Mixed media on canvas. 124 x215 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joshua White




Pittsburg, PA




5. CARNEGIE International: 57th Edition

Opens OCT 13, 2018 at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

It only happens once every five years. Inaugurated in 1896, the Carnegie International is the oldest international survey exhibition in the world, after the Venice Biennale. For five months, non-stop, CMOA will be animated with thought-provoking contemporary art projects, special installations, film screenings, photography, live performances and a 'bounty of dynamic programming.'

Thirty-two world artists and artist collectives have been tapped for a stellar line-up that includes, El Anatsui, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Kerry James Marshall.

Marshall currently holds the record for the highest auction price paid for a work by a living African American artist; a title he nabbed from Mark Bradford. The artist will revisit his Rythm Mastr comic series, which he debuted almost 20-years ago in the 1999 Carnegie International. The graphic novel panels feature a band of black superheroes that he created because they were 'underrepresented and undervalued' in American pop culture.

Set in Marshall’s Chicago neighborhood, the characters channel African mythology and debate history, philosophy and politics, while dealing with the present day struggles of the African American community. An on-going project, Marshall expanded the comic strip series in 2008, to include puppets and film storyboards.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Marshall came of age in Los Angeles, during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and witnessed the 1965 Watts rebellion. He is one of 20 U.S. artists in this year's exhibition.

Curator Ingrid Schaffner pulled together an all-female team for CMOA's largest, most ambitious show. With artists from Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East, the exhibition invites visitors to explore what it means to be 'international.'

On view through March 25, 2019.


c. Kerry James Marshall. Photo by Kendall Karmanian. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.



New York, NY






Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2016


Now on view at The Met Breuer.

A contemporary master and one of the most important artists of his generation, Jack Whitten, was also born in Alabama in 1939 - in Bessemer. An abstract artist known for his mixed-media paintings, his work is also informed by growing up in the Jim Crow South and participating the Civil Rights marches and demonstrations. Yet two things proved to be pivotal influences in the direction his art would take.

In 1958 and 1959, Whitten visited The Met and Brooklyn Museums where he was introduced to African art. He believed African sculpture was a vital inheritance for artists working in the African diaspora. In 1969 he began spending summers on the Greek island of Crete. There he expanded his materials to include local wood and marble, and bones from his fishing excursions. Almost 60 years later, The Met Breuer will present the first exhibition dedicated to Whitten's sculptures.

Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2016, features 40 of Whitten’s sculptures made in Greece over the course of his five-decade career. Since the artist made sculpture in private, the show, organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, reveal an extensive and entirely unknown body of the artist’s work. The exhibition also unites Whitten’s Black Monoliths series - his tributes to W.E.B. Du Bois, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou and others - for the first time.

Whitten was experiencing a late career revival when he passed on January 20, 2018 at the age of 78. Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting, toured the country from 2014-2016, and was the first exhibition to survey his entire career and examine the depth of his practice. In 2016 President Obama presented him with a National Medal of the Arts and he signed with Hauser & Wirth. Last year the gallery presented an exhibition in New York and his first-ever solo exhibition in London.

A major influencer of younger African American artists, Mark Bradford was so moved by his passing, he created Moody Blues for Jack Whitten.

On view through December 2, 2018. MORE.

Jack Whitten, Tomb of Socrates. 2009. Wild cypress, black mulberry, marble, brass, mixed media. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Genevieve Hanson.



When an entire city celebrates works by artists of's important! For artists, it's recognition of their valuable contribution to the fabric of America - a validation that's almost always, long overdue. For the public, it fosters greater understanding of cultures and the universal connectedness to people of African descent.

And that's why these exhibitions in Columbus, OH, have 2 spots on our list! The following shows are part a city-wide celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. A full year of events and arts performances, there's also a juried art show and a series of talks by author, Wil Haygood, who serves as guest curator for the CMA exhibition.





Columbus, OH






I Can't See You Without Me

Opened SEPT 13, 2018 at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Like many African American artists, Mickalene Thomas was provoked to paint positivity. She sought to counter the negative depictions of young black females that was prevalent in mass media. "I found this presentation of black women to be deeply in conflict with my understanding of myself and most black women I knew," she said. "It was crucial for me to flip these ideas."

Flipping these ideas have made Thomas an internationally renowned visual artist and filmmaker and the winner of a 2018 Wexner Center Residency Award. Her major solo show, Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me, is set to debut this month, and will fill every gallery in the Wexner Center’s multidisciplinary art space.

With nearly 30 paintings, videos, and installations, the exhibition will look at Thomas's body of work, from 2005 to 2018. The artist is known for her grand-scale, multi-textured and rhinestone-encrusted paintings of domestic interiors and portraits. She has used her opulent and alluring paintings of contemporary women, to challenge perceptions, authenticity, power and beauty and explore the relationship between artist and subject. Each of the Wexner Center’s four galleries is dedicated to a significant woman in her life.

In addition to paintings, Thomas created site-specific murals and a brand new multichannel video work, set to music by three-time Grammy Award–winning drummer, composer and bandleader, Terri Lyne Carrington. The duo will perform LIVE in October.

On view through DEC 30, 2018.


Mickalene Thomas. Portrait of Racquel with Thick Skin. Rhinestones, acrylic, and oil on wood panel, 48 x 36 in. Collection of Marilyn and Larry Fields © Mickalene Thomas / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York., copyright Smithsonian




The Harlem Renaissance at 100

Horace Pippin, Self-Portrait, 1941. Oil on canvas board, 14 x 11 in. Albright Knox Art Gallery

Opens OCT 19, 2018 at the Columbus Museum of Art.

For many years, author Wil Haygood curated American cultural history, researching and writing biographies on influential black figures, Thurgood Marshall, Sammy Davis Jr., and Sugar Ray Robinson. He is best known for The Butler: A Witness to History, which was adapted into an award-winning film featuring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Next month, the author debuts as guest curator for the Columbus Museum of Art exhibition, I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100. The original show is an anchor in the citywide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance - the intellectual, social and artistic explosion of African American culture from 1918 to the 1950s.

Artists Romare Bearden, Allen Rohan Crite, Jacob Lawrence, Archibald Motley, Horace Pippin and Augusta Savage headline the show. There's also a selection of photographs by James Van Der Zee. The innovative paintings, prints, sculpture books, music, films and posters from the period, provide a fresh look at the visual culture of this groundbreaking moment in American history. It explores the creativity that transformed contemporary representations of the black experience in America.

When the Renaissance erupted in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, it spread across the cities of the greater Midwest, including Columbus. Haygood grew up on the Near East Side of Columbus in a jazz-filled landscape that was an exuberant legacy of the Harlem Renaissance.

In 1983, he was dispatched by the Boston Globe to write a three-part series on the Harlem Renaissance. This put him in direct contact with many of the artists. In his selections for I, Too, Sing America, and his writing in the accompanying catalog, he captures the range and breadth of a sweeping movement, which saw the blossoming of a myriad of talents by an astonishing array of black artists, writers and musicians.

On view through JAN 19, 2018.

See featured work, Jumping Jive by Norman Lewis.




Bentonville, AR





Amy Sherald, What's precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American), 2017, Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches. Private collection. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Now on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Amy Sherald has been having her 'best artist life ever' since the debut of her painting of former First Lady, Michelle Obama, for the National Portrait Gallery earlier this year. The image went viral, creating a huge market demand for her artistry and talent. She signed on with Hauser & Wirth and the Baltimore Museum of Art named her a trustee. She joins fellow artist, Adam Pendleton, who joined the BMA board last year.

While criss-crossing the country, giving talks, and living out loud on Instagram, she was chosen for the prestigious David C. Driskell Prize, then turned around and picked up a Baker Artist Award. Perseverance has paid off for the artist who's been quietly producing amazing portraiture, winning awards and exhibiting work for nearly 20-years.

Works from her 2018 solo exhibition, organized by the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, are now on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The Baltimore-based artist, exclusively paints portraits of African Americans - everyday people she meets during the course of her day: on the street, in the grocery store and on the bus. It's what she does with them, that creates the magic.

Sherald applies her signature style to each model, rendering them in grayscale, set against a lush monochrome background. She adds high contrast, colorful fashion and sometimes props, careful to create a narrative that is devoid of time and place. The result is arresting, life-sized, 'otherworldly' portraits that speak to commonly held notions of race, identity and representation. The artist has talked about her artmaking as an act to image the versions of ourselves that thrive when extricated from the dominant historical narrative.

"My paintings hold up a mirror to the present and reflect real experiences of blackness today and historically," she says, "in everyday life and within the historical art canon."

On view through DEC 31, 2018.

See Amy Sherald art.








Howardena Pindell interview

Jack Whitten Interviews

Harlem Renaissance Artists on view




Wil Haygood as curator


Mark Bradford Week DMV


Esperanza Spalding Selects





Design Awards

Mickalene Thomas at MOCA