Richmond Art Center
Richmond Art Center

Press: Richmond, Alameda art exhibits celebrate Black History Month, East Bay Times

‘Art of the African Diaspora,’ ‘Demystifying the Journey’ feature Bay Area artists’ works

By MARTA YAMAMOTO | CorrespondentPUBLISHED: February 6, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. | UPDATED: February 7, 2021 at 7:14 a.m.

In honor of Black History Month, the Richmond Art Center is hosting its “Art of the African Diaspora” exhibit along with a satellite exhibit at Alameda’s Rhythmix Cultural Works. The exhibits offer opportunities to view art inspired and produced by Bay Area artists of African descent as it reflects the spirit and creativity of African people and, through artists’ talks and virtual open studios, opportunities to hear their stories and appreciate their creativity.

“Sweet Mother” by Abi Mustapha is one of the many works by African-American Bay Area artists being displayed by the Richmond Art Center and Alameda’s Rhythmix Cultural Works in their respective “Art of the African Diaspora” and “Demystifying the Journey” exhibits. (photo courtesy of Richmond Art Center) 

This annual event goes back 25 years, founded in 1996 under the name “The Art of Living Black” by the late sculptor Jan Hart-Schuyers and late painter Rae Louise Hayward. It was the only annual exhibit in the Bay Area to exclusively feature regional artists of African descent; in 2019 it was renamed “Art of the African Diaspora” (AOTAD).

The longest show in California dedicated to African-American artists, it’s running this year from Feb. 11 to May 16 with the main exhibition at the Richmond Art Center, along with satellite exhibits, including “Demystifying the Journey” at Alameda’s Rhythmix. AOTAD was created to provide opportunities to the Bay Area’s African-American artists ages 16 and older, to highlight their work, give them a chance to exhibit and to have a professional art experience.

“To participate in this nonjuried community show, artists must meet three qualifications — are you of the African diaspora, do you live in the Bay Area and do you have a body of work?” said Stephen Bruce, who chairs the AOTAD steering committee. “One of the key elements of the show is we have anywhere from beginning artists to emerging artists to well-known artists, so artists get to interact with a professional they would never expect to exhibit with, so mentoring is a big part of the show. There’s a chance to meet artists who have been exhibiting a while and learn some insight.”

“The 2nd Line” photograph by Val Kai is one of the many works by African-American Bay Area artists being displayed by the Richmond Art Center and Alameda’s Rhythmix Cultural Works in their respective “Art of the African Diaspora” and “Demystifying the Journey” exhibits. (photo courtesy of Richmond Art Center) 

Normally this year’s 110 participating artists would display at the Richmond Art Center and offer open studio tours. Due to the pandemic, though, the gallery is closed and this year’s show is virtual. Participating artists are included in the online exhibition with individual webpages highlighting their work. Some will offer virtual artist talks and open studio tours, and all are encouraged to display as much of their creativity as they can. The show, open to all media, is meant to raise awareness about Black art.

“It’s not about the image that you see but the spirit and creativity of African people,” Bruce said. “There’s a preconception of what Black art is, and that preconception might limit its marketability. Even though it shouldn’t, it might.”

In Alameda, the “Demystifying the Journey” satellite exhibit at Rhythmix Cultural Works highlights the work of nine Bay Area African-American winners of AOTAD show awards: 2018 winners Tōmye, Stephanie Thames and Karin Turner; 2019 winners Abi Mustapha, Zoë Boston and KaLiMa AmiLak; and 2020 award winners Fan Warren, Tiffany Conway and Val Kai. This exhibit is online now through April 30.

“Each artist submitted four to six pieces of work. Some have also submitted a process video or a video of them speaking about their work,” said Jennifer Radakovich, the assistant director at Rhythmix. “On the Rhythmix website, viewers can access the online gallery, watch the Zoom reception, hear the artists talk about their work and view the videos they’ve made.”

“One of the great values in this show is how we celebrate our history and one of the most poignant ways to do that is to highlight and celebrate the award winners,” added Bruce. “Some of them are emerging artists, and they use this award as a confidence builder for their careers.”

The exhibit advances the theme “Creating Our Future” from Rhythmix and AOTAD’s 2020-21 public art installation at Alameda’s Chochenyo Park, curated by Bruce in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The installation is up now and will remain so through the end of April.

“God’s Children Will Rise” by Zoe Boston-Brown is one of the many works by African-American Bay Area artists being displayed by the Richmond Art Center and Alameda’s Rhythmix Cultural Works in their respective “Art of the African Diaspora” and “Demystifying the Journey” exhibits. (photo courtesy of Richmond Art Center) 

“Three of the same artists who created work for that installation are in our current exhibit — Abi Mustapha, Tiffany Conway and Zoë Boston,” Radakovich said. “Part of the reason we’re hosting the current exhibit is that we had such a great experience working with Stephen and the artists and we wanted to do something else.”

AOTAD sends out the message that Black artists are in the community and their creativity is not limited to any preconceived concept of what constitutes Black art, that the art is available for purchase and that purchasing art is an excellent way to support these artists. Part of the Rhythmix mission is to bring people together to learn about each other and the world through art.

“We’re so happy to be able to feature and highlight artists of the African diaspora and connect people across communities,” Radakovich said. “Another part of our mission is to support local artists and emerging artists, and we’re so happy that Stephen’s been able to work with us so we can reach different sections of the artists’ population that we haven’t reached before and help bring them to the public.”

Twenty-five years ago two artists recognized the need to showcase the work of Black artists; this year the main and satellite exhibits again give Bay Area residents an opportunity to broaden their conceptions and admire the artists’ work and creativity.

Marta Yamamoto is a freelance writer, longtime Bay Area resident and outdoor enthusiast. Contact her at martayam@nullgmail.com.

Top image: “Legacy-Y” by Fan Warren is one of the many works by African-American Bay Area artists being displayed by the Richmond Art Center and Alameda’s Rhythmix Cultural Works in their respective “Art of the African Diaspora” and “Demystifying the Journey” exhibits. In honor of Black History Month, the Richmond and Alameda locations are hosting the exhibits to offer Bay Area residents opportunities to view the work of Black artists, broaden their conceptions and admire the artists’ work and creativity.

Richmond Standard: What’s up with the fish?

Did you know that the big fish artwork displayed prominently on the Richmond Art Center is named “Guillermo — The Golden Trout?”

The 50-foot-long, 800-pound work by artist Andree Singer Thompson may be named Guillermo, a typical male name, but this fish is actually a she. And she is “pregnant with hope.”

It’s just one of many fun factoids provided in a new video by the Richmond Art Center that takes viewers on a virtual tour of public art at the Richmond Civic Center.

Watch and enjoy! And make certain to visit the Richmond Art Center’s website for updates here.

Story by Mike Aldax

SFBT’s Richmond Supplement features Local Arts Leaders

Did you see the San Francisco Business Times’ Richmond Supplement – “Richmond Leaders, Innovators & Change Makers”?

This magazine includes an article on Richmond arts leaders Amanda Eicher (Executive Director of NIAD), Stephen Bruce (artist and local organizer), and RAC’s very own Executive Director José Rivera!! See pages 22 and 23.

Click here to view the supplement Richmond Leaders, Innovators & Change Makers

Recent Press: Richmond Art Center’s new executive director has unique resume

The Richmond Art Center’s new executive director, José R. Rivera, might be the non-profit organization’s most improbable appointment of its 84-year history. The arts education and exhibition center is prominently located at Richmond’s Civic Center Plaza and has four galleries, over 600 members, hundreds of art classes, an operating budget of over $1.5 million and serves thousands of underserved youth and adults in workshops and community outreach presentations. Visibility is RAC’s middle name, it could be assumed.

Read the article as a PDF Link or Online

Recent Press: Art of the Heal, East Bay Express

“Art of the Heal”, East Bay Express, By Janis Hashe, June 17, 2020

When it’s safe to do so, the venerable Richmond Art Center will reopen under new leadership. José R. Rivera, the new executive director, is well aware he’s assuming control as the RAC faces multiple challenges.

Read the full article article: PDF Link or Online

“Richmond Art Center appoints Jose R. Rivera as new executive director”, Richmond Standard, By Mike Aldax, June 15, 2020

The Richmond Art Center has appointed Jose R. Rivera as its new executive director.

Patricia Guthrie, board of directors president for the Richmond Art Center, described Rivera as having “a wealth of management experience and a deep commitment to the arts and community which we feel will help move the Richmond Art Center forward at a time of great societal change.”

Read the full article article: Online

Art of the African Diaspora on KCRT Richmond

Art of the African Diaspora, Artistic Achievement Awardees for 2020, KaliMa Amilak, Abi Mustapha, Zoë Boston and Steering Committee Chair, Stephen Bruce were interviewed by KCRT of Richmond. The Art of the African Diaspora exhibition is now on view at the Richmond Art Center until March 13, 2020.

Join us for the Artistic Achievement Awardees’ Talk, Saturday, January 25 12:30 – 2:00 PM and the Opening Reception immediately after from 2:00 – 5:00 PM. Both events are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Art of the African Diaspora: richmondartcenter.org

Right Here, Right Now, Richmond – East Bay Express Review

Lou Fancher writes about Right Here, Right Now, Richmond in “Five Richmond Risk-Takers,” in the East Bay Express, January 2020.

“The Richmond Art Center’s Right Here, Right Now, Richmond is evidence of the city’s cultural breadth and of the art center’s role as a sake haven in the art workspace-starved Bay Area.”

Five Richmond Risk Takers PDF

Right Here, Right Now, Richmond is on view until March 6, 2020.

Image: East Bay Express, January 1-7, 2020, Page 10

Richmond Art Center Receives CAC 2019-2020 Grants

The California Arts Council voted to award the Richmond Art Center an Arts Education Artists in Schools program grant for 2019-2020!

We are pleased to announce the Richmond Art Center was recently awarded three program grants from the California Arts Council totaling $47,000. This fall, we will provide free field trips to 1500 Richmond elementary students, guided tours of current exhibitions and art-creation workshops at the Richmond Art Center.

In addition, we will expand our in-school and after-school art programs in Richmond schools this upcoming school year. The awards are an indication of the quality of Richmond Art Center community programs and value of arts as an essential component in youth education.

Congratulations to the Arts in the Community team for their dedicated work! 

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