* July 23rd, 2010 7:27 am
The 2010 National Black Arts Festival was a success. Atlanta visitors and natives had a large selection of events to attend either coinciding or directly part of the NBAF. This year provided even more opportunities for hip-hop and art to intersect. Here are a few highlights:
On July 17, Big Boi’s Art of Life, Canvas for Kidz, was low on celebrities in attendance, but big on fun. Local artists shined. Fabian Williams brought out a talented team under his Aesthetic Kinetic brand with Charlton “CP” Palmer, who took on double duty in painting and photography, and Brandon Sadler who created a unique piece on site alongside his André 3000 portrait done over Japanese newsprint. Sadler debuted his “Red Dawn” collection at the Wm Turner gallery on July 15.
Fahamu Pecou, of Fahamu Pecou Art Inc., auctioned off a piece entitled “One Nation” from his “Hard to Death” series.
Go here for full coverage of the Art of Life, Canvas for Kidz event.
Later that evening, the NBAF Latin Soul After Party at 595 North, boasted a fairly small but spirited crowd who came to hear the lovely Julie Dexter on vocals and Salah Ananse on the ones and twos.
Sunday afternoon, July 18, Fahamu Pecou was back on the scene to host Yo! Karaoke at Centennial Olympic park. Unfortunately, after a few tunes from his dedicated squad of “Karaoke Disciples,” the show was rained out. But it wasn’t a total wash; the show went on at Pal’s Lounge on 254 Auburn Avenue on Tuesday. Check back for more on Yo! Karaoke in the days to come. And get ready for Art, Beats + Lyrics on July 30 at the Compound on 1008 Brady Ave. Atlanta, GA at 7 p.m. and One Music Fest on July 31 at the King Plow Arts Center on 887 W. Marietta St. Atlanta, GA beginning at 2 p.m. More details coming soon.
For more on National Black Arts Festival events for the remainder of the year, go to NBAF.org.
There were a few genuine surprises on the season finale of Bravo's reality series "Work of Art." Host China Chow did not dress like a parade float, executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker put in an appearance and the heavy favorite Miles lost in the final reckoning.
To conclude the series' first season, the remaining three contestants had to each create their own gallery show using themes of their own choosing. Peregrine -- the funky art chick who was raised on a commune -- decided to go with a county-fair motif and went heavy on colorful clay sculptures, ponies and a cotton candy machine.
Abdi -- the affable art teacher from Pennsylvania -- created a series of unconventional self-portraits that included two large-scale sculptures, paintings and drawings. Meanwhile, bed-headed Miles, who had dominated the competition throughout the season, took inspiration from a chance photographic encounter at a local White Castle to create abstract digital portraits.
The judges, including photographer David LaChapelle, found a lot to like in each show. The attendees for the opening included the eliminated contestants from earlier in the season as well as an enthusiastic Parker, who seemed to be channeling Carrie Bradshaw on a shopping spree.
In the end, Abdi was crowned the surprise winner for the season, bringing Miles' victory streak to an abrupt conclusion. The judges eliminated Miles first, saying that his project felt too much like a work in progress. Peregrine's show was faulted for its excess and unruly aesthetic.
Now that the season is over, it's high time that the show itself receives an evaluation. Here is an assortment of random notes and thoughts about the series, in no particular order of importance.
Workofart2 Simon de Pury, auction house executive and mentor: Your accent was the best part of the show.
Peregine, contestant: Your Donnie Darko hat was the second best part of the show.
China Chow, host: Are those your clothes, or does Bravo have a humongous costume budget?
Erik, contestant: Your temper tantrums were sorely missed. We hope you took solace in Miles' defeat.
Jaclyn, contestant: Your winning photographic collage from the Audi episode was impressive. But perhaps you should have acknowledged its debt to artist John Baldessari?
Miles, contestant: A lot of viewers think you are a jerk. Are you? Also, buy a comb.
Abdi, contestant: So you won, congratulations. But can you explain your winning gallery show, because we still don't know what to make of it.
Jerry Saltz, judge: We think you have the potential to become the show's equivalent of Simon Cowell. Be meaner, ruder and more arrogant next time.
Bravo, the cable network: Is it true that you won't let Jaclyn speak to the press? What's that about? Got something to hide?
Producers: Why were so many of the challenges so lame?
Ryan, contestant: You are more authentically hip than Miles will ever be.
Viewers out there: Would any of you actually buy the works of art created on the show? Or is reality TV too déclassé for the serious collector?
Miles, contestant: We admit that we said some not-so-nice things about you this season. For what it's worth, we think you have talent and that you are definitely going places. But really, buy a comb.
Producers: Guest judge -- Lady Gaga. Think it over.
Bravo: Why not shoot Season 2 -- if there will be a Season 2 -- in Los Angeles? We've got Jeffrey Deitch, in case Simon de Pury is too busy to return.
-- David Ng
Photo (top): Miles, Abdi and Peregrine. Credit: Bravo
Photo (bottom): Simon de Pury and Sarah Jessica Parker. Credit: Bravo
Throughout his still brief career, Atlanta-based Fahamu Pecou has experimented with playing the role of an artist whose fame approaches that of a hip-hop star. Earlier performance works in which he arrived at openings in a limousine with bodyguards, and paintings featuring the covers of art magazines bearing his likeness, toyed with how he thought, or hoped, others perceived him. But Pecou’s work took a more serious turn when he traveled to South Africa in 2008 and saw how the global phenomenon of hip-hop has influenced the way African American men are viewed abroad.
The five large-scale paintings (all 2009 and approximately 82 by 63 inches) in his recent show, “Whirl Trade,” explore the assimilation of hip-hop culture as it moves across continents. In these new works, Pecou steps away from art magazines to feature himself on the covers of diverse titles like Planet and Hotrod, splashed with colorful, graffiti-like text. Poses and palette are borrowed from Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, whose portraits of Bamako locals are internationally recognized as documents of African pop culture. In “Whirl Trade,” Pecou’s normally vibrant canvases have become primarily black and white. The paintings combine traditional motifs (patterned African textiles) with contemporary style items (flashy sunglasses, baggy jeans, stereo equipment).
Pecou grew up in South Carolina and moved to Atlanta to study painting at the Atlanta College of Art; he graduated in 1997. A child of Southern hip-hop culture himself, he has an uncanny ability to capture the very attitudes that fuel his frustration with the one-dimensional way that black men are perceived. (A husband and father, Pecou delves deeper into his own difficult upbringing on his blog, passageofright.wordpress.com, where he discusses, among other things, what he thinks it means to be a responsible black man.) The upward tilt of Pecou’s chin on the cover of Hi Fructose magazine indicates an air of superiority. He stands behind a woman seated sidesaddle on a bicycle; she strikes an equally confident pose in a patterned dress and headscarf. At the top of the canvas Pecou has scribbled “American Dream’n” upside down, and, across the bottom edge, “African Dream,” backwards; in the middle of the painting is the observation “All around the whirl the same song.” The dueling top and bottom phrases highlight misconceptions on both sides of the Atlantic: those held by Africans buying into in an idealized black America as projected by a few stars, and by African Americans who might romanticize a return to the land of their ancestors.
In Role Model Citizen, Pecou sits in the center of a Hotrod magazine cover. A small microphone dangles limply between his splayed legs. At any moment, he will come to life, broadcasting his message to anyone who will listen. The phrase “Some bodies watchin me” (written in tiny, easy-to-miss white paint) simultaneously references the song about being stalked and the biblical reminder that God is always on the lookout. Pecou’s challenge is clear: think carefully about the role model or type of citizen you choose to present.
Photo: Fahamu Pecou: American Dream’n, 2009, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 82 by 63 inches; at Get This!
OPENING: Fri. March 19th, 2010 6-9pm
DATES: March 19th - April 19th, 2010
See artist's website here.