Regina Anderson Andrews: Harlem Renaissance Librarian

reginaIn 2011 I wrote about a friend who was working on the first book length biography of Regina Anderson Andrews. I am pleased to announce Regina Anderson Andrews: Harlem Renaissance Librarian by Dr. Ethelene Whitmire has just been published by University of Illinois Press.

Ms. Andrews was a trailblazer, an activist, playwright and librarian.  She started at the famous 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL).  She eventually worked at other branches and became the first African American branch manager in NYPL history.

To celebrate its publication, I’m giving away one free copy.  If interested, just leave a comment by Tuesday, May 27, 2014. I will announce the recipient on Wednesday, May 28th.  Cheers!

Posted in Books, Librarians, Libraries, Women, Writers | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Kara Walker

Kara Walker. You either love her work. Hate her work. Or, love to hate her work.  Known for her large-scale silhouettes, that quite literally fill a room, Ms. Walker was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1997 when she was 28 years old. The silhouettes have been variously described as stunning, charming, exquisite, magnetic, graphic, violent, racially charged. To me, they are provocative, “exploring controversial themes of race, gender, sexuality, and violence” that some may find uncomfortable.

Ms. Walker is in the news of late because of her just completed, first-time, public art project at the soon to be demolished Domino sugar factor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Presented by Creative Time, “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant” is hard to describe! (And, yes that is the complete title!) It is a towering figure sculpted in sugar. Roberta Smith describes it in the New York Times as a   “…woman-sphinx with undeniably black features and wearing only an Aunt Jemima kerchief and earrings, it is beautiful, brazen and disturbing, and above all a densely layered statement that both indicts and pays tribute.” The sculpture will be on view through July 6, 2014.

Tonight, Ms. Walker will be in conversation with Jad Abumrad, the host and creator of Radiolab, at the New York Public Library. Their conversation “will explore the history and meaning of sugar…and the route of the triangle trade, from Africa to America, from ancient monuments to modern appetites, from behemoth, crumbling temples of industry to the laborers and slaves often unseen in those histories. It’s a history of sugar, sex, sweetness, power, and the secret mystery at the center of the exhibition.”   You can livestream the conversation at 7:00 p.m.

More about “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby:”

More about Kara Walker:
A Wikipedia entry includes a list of selected and solo exhibitions, recommended readings and links to more information. Also check out the Art of Kara Walker at the Walker Art Center and on PBS’ Art21.

Posted in Art | Tagged | 2 Comments

10 Black Directors to Watch in 2014

 ICYMI, check out Paste Magazine’s 10 Black Directors to Watch in 2014. Number 1 on the list is Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station fame. Definitely a must see film.  Don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I won’t reveal any other names, but trust…you will want to know these individuals and see their feature or documentary films.  While you’re at Paste, check out 10 Women Directors to Watch in 2014, which includes Ava DuVernay and Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Posted in Film | 2 Comments

Carrie Mae Weems LIVE: Past Tense/Future Perfect – April 25-27, 2014

weems_series-690This weekend at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, photographer, Carrie Mae Weems “hosts an all-star cast for a weekend of programs focusing on contemporary cultural production in the areas of dance, film, literature, music, theater, and visual art. This multidisciplinary performance-salon features musicians, artists, activists, writers, and other renowned guests throughout a three-day celebration of spirit and ideas.”   These events are in conjunction with Weems’ exhibit, Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, on view at the Guggenheim through May 14, 2014.  For those outside of New York City, some of the events scheduled for Friday and Saturday will be livestreamed.

Carrie Mae Weems is a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.  Also on view in New York City is, Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series, at Studio Museum in Harlem through June 29, 2014.

Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series
Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series
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Mr. Smith Could Use your Help

Dear Friends,

The nephew of a friend of mine is a new high school English teacher in the DC area and he’s building a small library in his classroom.  If you are looking for a way to make a difference in young person’s life, consider donating a few books for Mr. Smith’s library. He has a wish list at Amazon.com. Please take a look and consider donating today.  Cheers!

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A Jazz Star in the Making

This past June, and also in 2010, my niece participated in the University of North Texas Vocal Jazz Workshop.  The girl’s got talent and my sister and I are her biggest fans.  Last year she sang “Nature Boy” and this year she sang “My Funny Valentine.”  Paris Rutherford, UNT Division of Jazz Studies Professor Emeritus, accompanied her on piano.  Take a moment and listen to both “Nature Boy” and “My Funny Valentine.”  Enjoy!

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Chicago Blues Camp for Kids

Chicago’s PBS station profiles Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp, a summer camp for aspiring blues musicians.  Sounds like the kids had a lot fun!

Posted in Music | 1 Comment