Diaspora

Exhibit by Renowned Black Photographer David Johnson Opens at S.F. City Hall – Post News Group

“David Johnson: In the Zone (1945-1965),” is an exhibition that is being displayed through January 6, 2023, at San Francisco City Hall. It will feature 65 photographic works on loan from UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, which houses David Johnson’s vast archive of over 5,000 photographic prints and negatives, according to the SFAC news release.
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By Godfrey Lee
The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Galleries is presenting “David Johnson: In the Zone (1945-1965),” an exhibition that is being displayed through January 6, 2023, at San Francisco City Hall.
It will feature 65 photographic works on loan from UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, which houses David Johnson’s vast archive of over 5,000 photographic prints and negatives, according to the SFAC news release.
The exhibition will be on display on the Ground Floor and in the North Light Court, and will be free and open to the public, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., City Hall, located at 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Place, is closed on Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays.
“At this stage in my life, it is truly an honor to have this inaugural retrospective of my life’s work shown in the city’s most iconic building, SF City Hall. The SFAC Galleries’ recognition that my historic point of view remains relevant even in today’s cultural and political landscape deeply warms my heart and gives meaning to the sacrifice it took to achieve it,” said Johnson, who lives in Greenbrae with his wife, Jacqueline Annette Sue.
Johnson was born on Aug. 3, 1926, near Jacksonville, FL. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he moved to San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Arts (later renamed the San Francisco Art Institute) in its newly formed Photography Department led by renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Johnson was the first Black artist to graduate during what is now known as the program’s “Golden Decade” from 1945 to 1955.
Johnson, 95, is recognized as one of the most important photographers to document the joys and struggles of formative decades in San Francisco’s storied history, focusing his camera on day-to-day life, with special emphasis on the Black community in his Fillmore District neighborhood from 1945 into the 1960s, before redevelopment in the 1970s changed the demographic of the community forever.
He photographed passers-by as well as friends, gathering spots like churches and barbershops, children playing and teens hanging out, dance halls and jazz clubs, and the fight for civil rights.
“David Johnson is a pioneer, not only for his work behind the camera lens, but for his advocacy and leadership,” said Ralph Remington, SFAC’s director of Cultural Affairs. “Thanks to David, we have these beautiful images to look back on and learn from, showing us how far we’ve come, how much has changed and how much more we still have to fight for.”
Johnson opened a photography studio on Divisadero Street in 1949, and worked as a post office clerk, and as a reporter for the Sun Reporter. Johnson was also an organizer and civic leader who worked to unionize postal service workers, co-found UCSF’s Black Caucus, and photograph the March on Washington for the NAACP. He ran for San Francisco County Sheriff and later become a social worker for foster families.
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Basquiat often said that he “felt friendless and misunderstood.” After his parents separated, Gerard moved with his children to Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. When he was 7, Basquiat’s mother was diagnosed as mentally ill and was eventually institutionalized. This part of his life troubled him greatly.
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By Tamara Shiloh
It was the early summer of 1980. More than 100 artists converged on an abandoned four-story building at Seventh Avenue and 41st Street in New York City that had once served as a massage parlor. Among those in the group was Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). His work on exhibit was believed to have been his first painting on canvas.
Although the exhibition, dubbed “The Times Square Show,” drew critical attention, it boosted 18-year-old Basquiat’s career as a painter. His contribution, a mural painted on a patch of wall, was described by Art in America as “a knockout combination of de Kooning and subway paint scribbles.”
The path to that shuttered massage parlor and his rise to success during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement were not without difficulty.
Basquiat was born into a middle-class family in Brooklyn. His father, Gerard, a Haitian immigrant, was an accountant. His mother, Mathilde, was a homemaker. Despite her frequent hospital stays for depression, Mathilde spent countless hours in the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum with Jean-Michel, encouraging his interest in painting.
Gerard, physically abusive, wasn’t involved in his son’s career. Biographies and films have chronicled the strained relationship between the two, according to DNA Info.
Basquiat often said that he “felt friendless and misunderstood.” After his parents separated, Gerard moved with his children to Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. When he was 7, Basquiat’s mother was diagnosed as mentally ill and was eventually institutionalized. This part of his life troubled him greatly.
By age 17, Basquiat dropped out of high school. Gerard then threw him out of the house. He stayed with friends, slept in Washington Square Park, and lived-in run-down hotels.
It was then that he partnered with other graffiti artists and created the persona, SAMO, meaning “same old sh––.” For money, he panhandled and sold sweatshirts and postcards marked with his drawings. He got by on “cheap red wine and 15¢ bags of Cheetos.”
With no formal training, Basquiat created work that mixed graffiti and signs with the gestural and intuitive approach of Abstract Expressionist painting.
He expressed his personal angst in highly stylized self-portraits. In the early ’80s, race entered his work for the first time as a reflection of a “growing consciousness of his own position within the New York art world.”
His painting, “The Death of Michael Stewart” commemorates the killing of the young Black artist by New York City Transit Police. “Black people are never really portrayed realistically…. I mean, not even portrayed in modern art enough,” Basquiat had said.
Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988. Toward the end of his life, his works were selling around $25,000 to the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
Earlier though, both museums had rejected his work.
Be inspired by Basquiat’s paintings, read “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Sarah Jane Boyers.
“We are thrilled to provide an array of online competitions for our community during our outdoor only 2022 Fair,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella Calicchio. “The Competitive Exhibits program is the heart and soul of the Fair and we’re excited to bring our talented community together again to participate.”
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Courtesy of Marin County
2022 Marin County Fair Poster depicting a variety of farm animals with the Marin County Civic Center and Marin Fairgrounds property in the background. San Rafael, California — With Marin County Fair’s June 30 opening day just around the corner, the Competitive Exhibits categories for the 2022 Fair are now available on the Fair’s website MarinFair.org.
The competitive exhibit program, which usually takes place indoors, will remain online for one more year and will include competitions such as fine art and photography, decorated cakes and cookies, wine and beer label design, clothing and textiles, cartoon art, exceptional art, poetry and creative writing, hobbies and crafts, and more. The Plein Air painting competition on the first day of the Fair will take place outdoors. The agriculture competitions will remain outdoors and will include poultry, rabbits, sheep dog trials, pocket pets, dog care and training, and small animal round robin showmanship, to name a few.
“We are thrilled to provide an array of online competitions for our community during our outdoor only 2022 Fair,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella Calicchio. “The Competitive Exhibits program is the heart and soul of the Fair and we’re excited to bring our talented community together again to participate.”
The full list of categories and entry guidelines is available online at MarinFair.org. Submissions will be accepted from May 6 to May 31 and winners will be announced online during Fair time.
The 2022 fair will also focus on outdoor entertainment including the headline concerts, performers roaming the grounds such as jugglers, unicyclists, and stilt walkers, and interactive art experiences for fans of all ages. Returning fair favorites will include traditional carnival rides, the Global Marketplace, the Barnyard, food and drinks, and fireworks every night over the Civic Center’s Lagoon Park.
Early bird tickets sold out within one day of release. Discounted Fair tickets are still available for adults and teens through June 29. The Fair is a one-price gate featuring 28 carnival rides, exciting exhibits, spectacular firework displays, first-rate concerts and exciting attractions are FREE with gate admission. Tickets are available online only at MarinFair.org.
Headline concerts will soon be announced, and reserved gold circle tickets will go on sale May 16. Reserved concert seating in a special section is $60 per person and includes Fair admission.
Special Admission Days:
Kids Day at the Fair – Thursday, June 30
Children 12 and under are FREE on Thursday, June 30.
Senior Day at the Fair – Thursday, June 30
Seniors 65+ are admitted FREE
Society’s Cage is an open air, accessible pavilion featuring 500 hanging steel bars that form a cavernous cube with a habitable void allowing visitors to experience the symbolic weight of institutional racism. This immersive experience offers the opportunity to consider the severity of racial biases within our institutional structures of justice and allows for moments of reflection and healing. 
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By Randolph Belle
A traveling exhibit that invokes the history of repression of Blacks in the United States arrived in Oakland for installation this week at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Support Oakland Artists, an Oakland based 501(C)3, partnered with Society’s Cage to bring the acclaimed social justice art installation as a feature in front of Oakland City Hall from May 9-30, 2022.
Society’s Cage is an open air, accessible pavilion featuring 500 hanging steel bars that form a cavernous cube with a habitable void allowing visitors to experience the symbolic weight of institutional racism.
This immersive experience offers the opportunity to consider the severity of racial biases within our institutional structures of justice and allows for moments of reflection and healing.
The designers, Dayton Schroeter, Julian Arrington, Monteil Crawley and Ivan O’Garro, created the installation to contextualize the contemporary phenomenon of police killings of Black Americans within the 400+ year continuum of racialized state violence in the United States.
It is a data-driven installation shaped in response to the question “What is the value of Black life in America?”
The Oakland installation will be the first on the West Coast as it travels nationally to sites of symbolic power related to justice, freedom & democracy. Originating in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall in response to the 2020 murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Society’s Cage has continued its journey as an interpretive lens highlighting the historic forces of racialized state violence in the United States.
Other sites have included War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore, Maryland, and the site of the Vernon AME Chapel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race massacre and destruction of the Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street.
Oakland is an ideal host site for the installation as the home of the Black Panther Party, which was founded to combat the legacy of police oppression, inequitable incarceration practices, and remnants of slavery in the form of state-sponsored terrorism against Black people.
In 2009, the killing of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old, unarmed Black transit rider by the BART police in Oakland set off local and regional organized protests that catalyzed a national movement.
Support Oakland Artists Executive Director Randolph Belle atop the installation called ‘Society’s Cage’ as it was being assembled. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
“We were inspired to create the installation as a response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” explains Dayton Schroeter, lead designer of Society’s Cage and design director at SmithGroup, which has offices in San Francisco. “The pavilion is a real and raw reflection of the conversations about racism happening now. It’s a physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.
“The name Society’s Cage refers to the societal constraints that limit the prosperity of the Black community,” says Julian Arrington, who led the design with Schroeter, and is an associate at SmithGroup. “The pavilion creates an experience to help visitors understand and acknowledge these impacts of racism and be moved to create change.”

 
 
 
“It only took an instant for me to commit to this project,” said Randolph Belle, executive director of Support Oakland Artists. “In my over 30 years in Oakland as an artist and community developer, I’ve strived to utilize the arts to engage the public in thoughtful ways around important and timely topics. This project, this site, and these times are an unprecedented example of that.”
Visitors are encouraged to participate in a shared experience upon entering the pavilion. After holding their breath for as long as they can, evoking the common plea among victims of police killings, “I can’t breathe,” visitors then post a video reflection of their experience on social media using the hashtag #SocietysCage. This exercise is meant not only to build empathy but expand the installation’s impact online to allow anyone to participate in this shared exercise.
The pavilion was fabricated by Gronning Design + Manufacturing LLC in Washington, D.C., and Mejia Ironworks in Hyattsville, Maryland. A soundscape was commissioned from a pair of composers, Raney Antoine Jr. and Lovell “U-P” Cooper.
Comprised of four pieces, each eight minutes and 46 seconds in length in recognition of the time George Floyd suffered under the knee of police, they are themed to reflect each of the four institutional forces that sculpted the pavilion’s interior — mass incarceration, police terrorism, capital punishment and racist lynchings.
Early sponsors who have made the hosting of the Society’s Cage Oakland installation possible include the Akonadi Foundation, Tarbell Family Foundation, individual sponsors including principals from SmithGroup’s San Francisco office, corporate sponsorship including SmithGroup and many community partners including BIG Oakland.
Jeremy Crandall and Emax Exhibits were the Oakland Installation team.
A public unveiling is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 11 a.m., and a programmed event featuring local cultural artists is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, 2022, at 7 p.m. Participating individuals and organizations include original members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Cultural Zone, HipHopTV, and a host of local artists.
For more information, visit www.societyscage.com to find a link to the donation site. Additional donations will assist with programming and documentation related to the Oakland activation.
Randolph Belle is the executive director of Support Oakland Artists and RBA Creative studio in Oakland.

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Onesimus. It is a name we don’t hear when we look at the history of vaccinations, but in the United States we owe a debt of gratitude to an African Slave named, Onesimus. In this video, voiced by writer and political activist, Baratunde Thurston, learn how Onesimus shared a traditional African inoculation technique that saved countless live from Smallpox and become the foundation for vaccine as we know them today, including the COVID Vaccine.

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