In an arena where they’re often in the shadows, Black artists are creating spaces to recognize and celebrate their talent.
For the 28th year, the Richmond Art Center will present the “Art of the African Diaspora” exhibition, later this month. AOTD gives local artists of African descent a way to share their work with the community and each other.
The showcase, which will run from Jan. 24 to March 16, will feature 160 Bay Area artists working in a variety of mediums.
“You have artists who are at different stages of their career and success. This allows younger and mid-career artists to show their art,” said Stephen Bruce, a Richmond artist who chairs the steering committee.
The idea of this Black art mecca was first nurtured by the late Jan Hart-Schuyers, a revered Bay Area artist, art educator, and community organizer, according to the AOTAD website. Lauded for her many sculptures, Schuyers established a partnership with Los Angeles-born painter Rae Louise Hayward, and the two would go on to produce the first AOTAD showcase in 1997 under the name “Art of Living Black,” which featured 35 artists. Though they didn’t live to see the event’s growth, their vision was fulfilled.
But when the showcase ends each year, many of the participating artists return to a harsh reality. Since the first museums opened in America, Black people have had their likeness on display but seldom have had the chance to be recognized for their own works: a pattern noted by scholar Bridget R. Cooks in her book “Black Artists and Activism: Harlem on My Mind.”
In 2022, Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns, who created the Burns Halperin Report to analyze representation in the art market, surveyed 31 American museums and found that African American artists were underrepresented. Work by Black female artists comprised 0.5% of acquisitions of all the museums surveyed. And of the top 20 artists, only one — Julie Mehretu from Ethiopia — was of African descent.
AOTAD seeks to give more Black artists a platform to showcase their creative skills.
“This is like our Harlem Renaissance,” artist Kelvin Curry said, referring to the Black cultural revival in the 1920s.
This season’s showcase offers variety. Illustrator Virginia Jourdan, who’s been participating since the first showcase, is displaying acrylics. She’s produced works ranging from portraits to urban landscapes, and says her work is focused on “uplifting African American images.” Jourdan said she’s grateful for a space that allows her to celebrate her craft.
“Art is very relaxing for me and something that’s innate,” Jourdan said.
Curry’s work also is featured. A multimedia artist, Curry describes his work as “figurative, abstract, and symbolic.” He incorporates African-inspired shapes and color schemes into his work.
With the showcase, Curry said, “I hope to gain new collectors and more exposure.”
Bruce, who’s participated in AOTD since the beginning like Jourdan and Curry, said that the showcase benefits Bay Area residents as much as it does the artists, giving people a chance to experience art they otherwise might not have seen. After months of planning, he is excited for opening day.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to see an array of artists in their community,” Bruce said.
A MESSAGE FROM RAC’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & BOARD PRESIDENT
We ❤️❤️❤️ sharing art classes, exhibitions and community events with you!
But do you also know about Richmond Art Center’s other programs, such as mentorship art classes for teens, bilingual artist residencies in schools, free art tours, and low-or-no cost summer art camps? These more behind-the-scenes programs are designed to be community-responsive and accessible to folks with limited opportunities to make and engage with art.
We need your help to continue this work. For the second year in a row, Richmond Art Center’s total donations are lower by over $100,000; money that could cover over 300 class scholarships, or provide 20 free afterschool classes at Richmond public schools. While we are always cautiously optimistic our programs won’t be impacted, we are watching our pennies and running with a reduced staff team. But we cannot do this forever.
Please help us keep art for everyone! Can you donate to our Annual Fund to keep these programs rolling forward in 2024?CLICK HERE to learn about some of our achievements this year, and CLICK HERE to see the thank you gifts we have for donors to our end-of-year appeal.
Your contribution – any amount – will support education programs and community outreach continuing next year. CLICK HERE to make your donation online. Or if you prefer, mail a check to Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804.
Please support Richmond Art Center this giving season.
Saturday, March 2, 11am (reception), 12pm (panel discussion)
Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA
On Saturday, March 2, a special event to share stories and reflections from the Refinery Healing Walks will be held. A reception will begin at 11am, followed by a panel discussion at 12pm. This event is free and all are welcome.
Richard Mayhew (born April 3, 1924) is an Afro-Native American landscape painter, illustrator, and arts educator. His abstract, brightly colored landscapes are informed by his experiences as an African American/Native American and his interest in Jazz and the performing arts. Mayhew was a member of Spiral, a black painters’ group in the 1960s in New York that included Romare Bearden, Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff as members. From 1963 to 1977, Mayhew taught at many schools, including the Pratt Institute, the Art Students League, Smith College, Hunter College, San Jose State University, and Sonoma State University. From 1977 to 1991, Mayhew was a professor in the visual arts at the Pennsylvania State University. After retiring from Pennsylvania State University, Mayhew returned to Santa Cruz, California.
Foad Satterfield began his professional career as an artist began in 1973. Since 2018, Satterfield has held the title Professor Emeritus, Dominican University of California after teaching there for 38 years. He is a founding member of the 45th Street Co-Operative (1974-Present). Satterfield has shown his work widely as a solo artist and as a participant in group exhibitions including: Things Known (solo exhibition), Saint Mary’s Museum of Art, Moraga, in 2019; Space Before Us, Unrestrained (solo exhibition), Malin Gallery, New York City; and Elemental Variations, Malin Gallery, Aspen, in 2023-2024. Currently, Satterfield has a solo exhibition at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica from January 19 through February 11, 2024. To close the exhibition Satterfield will give an Artist Talk at 3pm on February 11. Foad is currently represented by Studio Gallery Burlingame, CA and Maybaum Gallery San Francisco, CA.
Flo Wiley is a 50 year veteran arts administrator in the Bay Area, New York City, and Lagos Nigeria. She is the former Chair of the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission, and President of Spirit & Image Entertainment whose Actors Workshop with Flo Wiley starts February 4 at CoBiz.
About: I am a native of the East Bay and learned much of my skills at Richmond Art Center. I gravitate towards bright colors in my work that are energetic and have a feeling of vibrancy. I approach my ceramic work as something I am wanting to use in my own life that is both practical and comfortable to use.
About: Wiggle & Woof is a globally-inspired pet brand that collaborates with artisans to develop contemporary products for dogs and their humans. By supporting our shop you help provide economic support to female artisans as well as local animal shelters.