by Sandra McCollum
When I first began collecting art, I did not think of myself as a collector. I was simply trying to memorialize a moment in time that pleasured me greatly. Initially, I bought art at galleries in the places I traveled in the African Diaspora. I was attracted to color and the rituals of people and their relationship to nature and to each other. My taste is quite literal. Even though I taught Humanities for 18 years, my taste did not evolve until I met the Collectors in Diasporal Rhythms. I have an intuitive connection to the other members in the Collectors group in my appreciation of their art. We are like-minded and value each other’s collections as symbols of ourselves.
As you traverse your environment in your daily activities, have you ever encountered something so lovely you want to capture that moment and possess it forever? If this phenomenon is true of you, you have the spirit of a collector.
To understand the mysterious attraction between Collectors and the Artists’ creation and the desire of the Collector to own this piece of art, is to understand yourself. As the viewer, we begin to discover everything has a connection through memory or mind, desire or love, or, in the lavishness of nature. Our boundaries cease to exist through this recognition.
Diasporal Rhythms’ wonderful exhibit at The Du Sable Museum allows each viewer an opportunity to enter the intimate inner-world of the Collectors and the creator Artists
As I sat in Du Sable Museum listening to each artist describe his or her motivating passion, I thought, we each were created, for the uniqueness of ourselves. Once we attach ourselves to others, the inimitable quality of one can multiply its capacity through reproduction or creation. Each artist at the Diasporal Rhythms Artist’s Talk spoke of an emotion deep within their being that urged them to express that emotion. The expression ultimately became their creation. One begins to realize the artist has a loyalty to his craft. The viewer may sense it as an effortless creation, but it is thoughtful, emotional and requires wholehearted concentration.
“The Love Affair Continues” exhibit is a curated medley of quality art of the Diasporal Rhythms members. Every selection belongs first to the creator artist and then to the collector as a continuum of admiration. As a viewer, I could envision myself owning every creation in the exhibit. I could meditate on the literal and implied theme of each art piece and find a space in my spirit that relates.
Some pieces in the Collection moved me greatly. Collector Freddye Smith’s SCARIFICATION, by Nora Musu is created from African Sandstone. It is magnificent. I can hear a griot whispering to me in my ears of my ancestors crossing oceans and rivers and valleys. I love it. Collectors Sonia Spencer and Cheri Mohammed-Harris have three lovely works of art that touched me as creations depicting the depth of the complexity of the beautiful Black woman. Each is awesome, namely FUEGO DE HABANA, by Melodye Rosales- Benson, UNTITLED, by Bayo Iribhogbe, and BAHAMA MAMA, by Yemonja Smalls.
I am one with the bold colors and big buxom dare deviled women they embody. Collectors Talmadge Mason, Stephen, and Regina Carter made me stop and take a second look at artist David Anthony Geary. I am glad.
Collector D.E Simmons’ art, Wisdom and Understanding by artist Arthur Wright made me very pensive. I cannot omit my favorite Collector Dan T. Parker’s submission of BRAVE LILY by Martha Wade, who tells an endless story in my mind.
Collectors Patric McCoy and Eleanor Hambric introduced me to the work of a very fine artist, Russell Harris, FRESH BEETS and AESTHETIC EXPRESSION.
One of the biggest regrets one can experience in life is to hear the call of the Muse of Beauty, and not respond. Whether you are an artist or a lover of Beauty, answer the call. Challenge yourself to meet your Muse. Visit “The Love Affair Continues.”
The Love Affair Continues-Artist Talk Summaries
CANDACE HUNTER- Artist Candace Hunter eloquently described the unstated but ubiquitous theme of “The Love Affair Continues.” The artists’ inner life is filled with emotions that trigger visual interpretations to universal and current happenings. In Candace’s work, owned by Talmadge Mason, “No Sanctuary # 2, the Charleston church massacre elicited a visceral, primal threat evidenced in her interpretation of it. “Where are we safe?” she asked herself. Certainly, if not in a spiritual structure where our space should be sacred, then where in this country are we safe? The depiction of this emotional reaction of horror and fear, is a painting on weathered wooden slats which could represent a house, on a background of the American Flag. Stars and Stripes in red, white and blue, weathered and worn. Could it be emblematic of our Nation, or of its weary citizens whose shelter, a place of solace and spiritual renewal is blackened and deteriorating. The steeples of crosses are obscured and shadowed.
Gail Spann is the owner of a second piece in the show by Hunter. It is entitled “Missy.” Gail’s early life is expressed in a collage of images. It is an overlay of all her early influence of love. THE bio in pictures makes the viewer smile at the little girl dressed in pink and lace and bows. Vivid Pink Peonies make a profound statement as the only prominent colored image in the depiction of Gail’s story told as a Pentimento of happy times.
CESAR CONDE- describes himself as a social justice artist, involved in the philosophy of political activism at a young age. His hooded painting of Obama in tones of blue and black is entitled “When Hope left the White House,” and is owned by D.E. Simmons. It is an allegory of the emotional state of the black and brown people of this country who are Black and sometimes feel very blue. The familiar hooded figure is distant from us now as his eyes are closed. Conde is expressing his own dilemma as an immigrant who felt included and proud in the Obama administration. Like a pendulum of hope and despair one recognizes that the youth of our familiar world are being systematically slaughtered.
GERALD GRIFFIN- the epitome of the artists gifted in the written word, painting, sculpture, and provocative thought. “The Matriarch” is displayed by collectors Marvin and Patricia Wells, and is a part of a series exploring the ambiguous perception of race and identity. “Our story,” he says, “is everyone’s story.” “The Matriarch,” is representational of African people who adhere to a matriarchal society. Modern society has reduced man’s identity to Black and white. There is more to the theory of what it means to be human than separation into two components of skin color. “The Matriarch” is in the forefront of the somber gray world. A cityscape hovers in the background. Shimmers of light Highlight the city scape. The namesake is wizened and wrinkled. Her piercing medium brown eyes view us in a knowing expression.
MARTHA WADE- is the artist who gifted the world with “Brave Lily,” owned by collector Daniel Parker. Lily’s artist describes the them for the work as childhood dreams and conquered fears. But as Lily joins the stories in the viewers mind, she could be Eve, whose neck is encircled by a gigantic snake. The snake is quite beautiful and geometrically balanced. Her blue tones contrast with the grays of Lily’s apparel. If Lily was an adult she could mask as a seductress. Instead we all love her innocent and beautiful face, her puckered lips and quizzical eyes. Perhaps we see the artist’s vulnerability as she has allowed us to enter her private world of spirit animal guides.
TONY SMITH-has been deeply enmeshed in art as a graphic designer, a lover of music and photography and as an owner of a gallery. Now, his passion has led him from being an artist into collecting which allows him to share his love. Patric McCoy, a founder and Diasporal Rhythms Collector, shared Tony’s photographic work with us. A poignant piece capturing a young man from Tanzania on a bridge, separated by a wall, is symbolic of black people world-wide, divided by bridges and walls. He is clad in a t-shirt of the stars and stripes of the American flag.
PAUL BRANTON- is an artist and collector trained to recreate what the eyes see. His early works in oil on canvas were images captured on camera and painted as a literal picture of the camera’s record. Now he is a completely transformed artist who has moved in concept from the literal to the figurative and from oils into acrylic. Here again we find the artist completely relating to his subject on an emotional level. Instead of recording what he sees, he is touched spiritually by what he feels and transcribes that feeling into vision in abstract. Paul also expresses his passion for the arts as a musician and a collector.
PEARLIE TAYLOR-finds herself still in the process of self-discovery. “How did I get here?” she asks herself. A daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, she never heard the word “Art,” but, ironically, she and each of her siblings were artistic. With Pearlie, art was her life. “An Awakening,” Pearlie’s abstract painting owned by D.E. Simmons, is symbolic of Pearlie’s journey from delving into art for the first 40 years of her life, into the self-recognition that she is an artist. She went to Art School at age 40. As she matured, and experienced life, her art matured. Prophetically, she states that life placed people and ideas into her path as she needed them. Now she paints what she feels and not what she sees. Her “AWAKENING” has been to unencumber herself, to simplify her life.
CHRISTINE LA RUE-works in clay which has had a transformative effect on her. Working in clay was a means of releasing tension. “Serene Moky Warrior” is Christine’s clay mask owned by D.E. Simmons. It is an expressive work embossed with uniformed symbols. It has a timeless quality which gives the appearance of belonging to any ancient culture at any time since the beginning of time. Christine has an affinity for creating faces. She has Dutch Surinam and Cuban ancestors. This factor led her into Latin studies. She now works in porcelain and combines pre-Columbian, Asian, African influences in her masks.
RUSSELL HARRIS-hails from the Baltimore area. Mr. Harris is a teacher and erudite scholar of the visual arts. He is a lover of classical artists like Caravaggio, and Vermeer. He researches and emulates the techniques of such masters as Henry Ossawa Tanner and Rembrandt in their use of white lead in their artworks. Such a lover of art and the details of expression, he would take a magnifying glass to museums to examine the intricacy of selected pieces of art. He enjoys painting for himself. He loves teaching because the interaction inspires him. His work, on display is a plate of delectable beets entitled “Fresh Beets,” which is a photo realism study in accuracy and beauty, owned by collector, Eleanor Hambric.
DAVID ANTHONY GEARY-always drawn to femininity. This ever-present theme permeates all his work and he expands boundaries to strive for new heights. He continuously seeks to explore “WHO WE ARE AN HOW WE RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER.” He has added Photography to his repertoire. Even though he works on multiple projects at once, he finds that each is connected. Collector Talmadge Mason has loaned Mr. Geary’s “READY FOR THE ROAD.”
Visit “The Love Affair Continues.” Open until February 28, 2019 at the DuSable Museum of African American History.