Updated: Feb 16, 2019
THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL REVIEW OF ART. ONE THAT JUDGES WORK THROUGH THE SCOPE OF TECHNIQUE OR ART HISTORY BLAHBLAH... I'M SIMPLY AN OBSERVER OF WHAT THE WORLD OFFERS TO SHOW ME, AND A DOCUMENTER OF THOSE MOMENTS.
COLOR IS A LANGUAGE:
America is a country that thrives on media(mass communication) and the advancement of it. Let's go back a sec. There was once a time where color did not widely exist in media — early 20th century. Then with the introduction of color in film and tv, as well as the arrival of new colors(people) represented, we stepped into a world that was no longer black or white. Now, let's look at this in two ways. The lack of technology was limiting us to viewing our media(photo, film, etc) in black & white... which was actually an honest representation of how we were viewing each other, now that I think about it... Then as the tech became more available we see the digital age come into it's color. While also, in America during this color transition, you start to see more black and brown people in media. More black and brown people personally redefining the B&B experience. Also, Queer(rainbow color) culture experienced its own highlight, which again radically changed the way people viewed themselves. So our discovery of this colorful world was not only one of technology, but also culture.
So where are we today? Today if you are growing up in this time, color is your language, it is what you are born into. It is the language you speak from birth, like English. It is not something that was discovered in your life and you spend your life examining it. WE SPEAK IN COLOR
This past weekend in Pittsburgh, PA we were gifted with 3 monumental art exhibitions:
"Familiar Boundaries, Infinite Possibilities" @ August Wilson Center
"Carnegie 57th International" @ Carnegie Museum of Art
"Devan Shimoyama 'Cry Baby'" @ Andy Warhol Museum
Each of these shows are beautiful, and I will spend the next few months digesting their conversations over and over. Let's talk about them and my antics at each.
Thursday I kicked off the weekend with the opening of "Familiar Boundaries, Infinite Possibilities" at the August Wilson Center. The show features work of many really talented artists mostly in their 30's. This is VERY BLACK work being presented, one that is rich with history, and I am thankful for what is being shown. Shikeith delivered a multidimensional conversation about the black experience through a video install, and an inverted sculpture. While artist Stephen Towns spoke of his relationship with his history being 2 generations away from slavery, and how that affects his day to day.
I have to mention, I was invited by Shikeith, artist in show and my bunker projects co-resident, not the institution(side-note: apparently they couldn't find my name that evening, and ofc being the superstar I am, I was told to walk in anyways). You opted to charge people for this private viewing, which is wrong but because of economy and the system... I'll say, Ok... and didn't choose to invite the movers of the city.
LOL AWC I love you and that you're here in PGH, and no shade Kilolo, but baby you all have to do better with the way you interact. You are the only "black" institution in the city and you are constantly segregating yourself from the community. Specifically those who are younger. What you will find, Kilolo and team, is that AWC will have no support from those who are young... Actually those who are really shaking the system.
You are seeing in black and white, live in the now.
WE ARE SPEAKING IN RAINBOWS....
Call or email me if you want to chat. I have answers, WE could be in the future.
Friday I was invited to the Carnegie 57th International press preview, dinner, and afterparty. I won't speak much on the work shown, I want you to see it in person. Though I will say seeing a corner filled with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye images gave me intense chills. With great work from Mimi Cherono, Kerry James Marshall, and Thaddeus Mosley; as someone who doesn't often have access to this level of black art work, the chills were constant. Ingrid, thank you for providing great work for our Pittsburgh eyes.
Oh and CMOA, I mentioned the food @ the dinner in my last post to speak about elevation. I would love for this city to push itself to be the glamour that it wants to be and admires me for. You are an art institute, and everything we produce is art, so the full production should be thought through and considered. Steak and Bass, however yummy it was, is generic... which doesn't sit well with the idea of international... It's all apart of the art. This is a little blip in the bigger picture I am painting. Let's be the best PGH we can be.
Saturday Devan Shimoyama's "Cry Baby" was everything I had hoped for. A testament to the color filled world I mentioned earlier. He has a fantastic way of blending in stories from cross cultures, while translating those textured life layers into actual layers on the canvas. His use of jewelry, glitter, and wide color all speak for the queer experience, but then he layers it with the experience of sitting in that barbershop chair or familiar black hair products. Showing how universal these languages are in our communities.
Many times in contemporary art, I feel people let their access(power and privilege) to academia shadow the messages in their work... funny because people always talk to me about this and then push this same work to the top... anyways... Devan who has his masters from Yale, makes art that is accessible.. easily understood, on the surface but is still deeeeeeeeply rich in cultural meaning... IN COLOR!!! And that can only be produced by someone who fully sees in color. There was also an amazing performance by Miss Toto. The exclamation point I needed for a GLITTER FILLED NIGHT! Oh, and everyone looked fantastic. Great looks!!
Thank you Jessica for putting this show together with Devan, Brava to you both. <3
These three shows will be open for months. Please take my advice and see ALL of these!
Oh and to the institutions. Many people love when Big BEE shows up for my glamour and coolness, but I'm only one of many. You all are missing so many crucial people that make up this art scene. Talk to me, let's all get involved.
I know all of the players in this game, reach out and I can provide names.
"THE BEST ART SHOW IN PITTSBURGH CURRENTLY"
Yesterday, I revisited Wavy Wednesday's "Protect Black Women" showing at LATE SPACE in the neighborhood Garfield in Pittsburgh, PA. Wavy uses color, reimagined barbies, and sharp witty conversations to describe her experience and the experience of those like her. It's covered in dense layers of culture, that are represented in one of her works "Protect Black Women"(Above) through the use of familiar objects. Teletubbies, LV Logo, fortune cookies, Barbie, and the multi layered baby all told in BOLD colors. These things bring me back to childhood and how we are sold lifestyles before choosing them ourselves. Which brings me to my final point.
Seeing this show again sparked another conversation that should be had. We have to stop telling people how and why they should be sharing their stories with us. We have commercialized the experience of sharing and connecting. Which has damaged our ideas of who has the right to express and who has the right to say how we express. As a person of color, a queer man, who lives in America... I am constantly being given suggestions as to how I should maneuver in the many landscapes I find myself. The damaging product of telling someone how to live their life will be a life that was not theirs. As well as, a very monotone idea of what is the human experience; which is undefinable. We have to stop telling our women, specifically black, to speak in a language that is heavily drenched in male(white) power.
Do not suggest how these women should or should not be moving, and accept what they offer.
Respectively sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up as these women teach us their language.
I was born in Pittsburgh, and this is now my third time living here. I care deeply about the future of the city, and say everything with my sincerest love. We are on the brink of what shifted people's perspective of NYC before it boomed, LA before it boomed(ART). There is an abundance of STRONG black(color) work in this city at the moment. Let's not make this a trend of the time. I challenge all of you: institutions, curators, artists, and spectators: LET US BE THE CITY THAT FULLY IMMERSES ITSELF IN COLOR.
Lastly, a HUGE thank you to the August Wilson Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Andy Warhol Museum for welcoming my world to interact with yours. I’m absolutely certain what you all presented this past weekend will forever change the way people in Pittsburgh view art.
SEE YOU OCTOBER 26TH, 2018 AT THE ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM.
BC WILL BE PERFORMING NEW MUSIC AND GIVING THE LOOK!!!!!!(CLICK HERE)
SEE YOU THEN XOXO BB