Thursday, December 30, 2010


Jacob Lawrence (b. City, NJ, 1917-2000), above Morning Street, 1979; below: Fish Market, 1969 . American Expressonist painter.

Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953, Portland, OR), Kitchen Table Series, ca 1990. Weems explores the political and social condition of America's African Americans. Here, the kitchen table is the center of the home and the point of confrontation and caring between mother and daughter.

Above:Sam Doyle (1906-1985) born near Frogmore on St Helena Island, SC.

Below: One of Doyle's paintings (with house paint), Welcome Table. Most of his paintings reflected the traditional life on St, Helena, a long-standing colony of freed slaves and their descendants.

Critics like to place his style somewhere between folk art and Outsider Art. Doyle received his initial art education at the Penn School (established 1689 near East Falls section of Philadelphia, PA) sponsored by northern Quakers who were committed to improving educational opportunities for southern African Americans.

Below: Faith Ringgold (b. New York 1930), Picnic on the Grass, Alone

Joseph Holston (b. Washington, DC, 1944) Tea at Noon (Cubism)

Jonathan Green (b. 1955, Gardens Corner,SC) Mullet Friday . Gullah ladies go fishing for supper. Green delights in portraying the traditional lives of the Gullah people i South Carolina, especially their foodways. Jonathan Green, Red Tomatoes, 1992. If you have not watched your mother can tomatoes, fresh from her garden, you have missed out. The aroma is sweet and memorable. Green's color palette is exotic but still home.

Tarleton Blackwell (b. 1956, Manning, SC) Hog and Boar Series. Blackwell' specialty is one of the South's favorite foods, pork. His paintings are abstractions of pig on the hoof.

Edwin A. Harleston (1882 - 1929), Honey Man, 1929

Archibald Motley (b. New Orleans, 181 -1981) Barbecue, 1981
In 1929, Motley won a John Simon Guggenheim award, the first black artist to receive such a fellowship, and spent the year painting and studying in Paris. During the year, he exhibited paintings with the Swedish-American Society in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Munich.

Motley, The Picnic, 1936

Above: Joseph Delaney, The Last Supper, ca. 1950

Benny Andrews (b. Madison,GA, 1930-2006) New York Cafe, 1966.
Andrews was a political activist and social critic of racial issues. His best known pieces include Janitor at Rest (1957) and the art of collage.

Below: Benny Andrews, Place Setting, 1961

Below: Renee Cox (b. NYC 1930), Yo Mama's Last Supper, 1996

Stuart Davis,The Yellow Cafe, 1930. Stuart grew up in a Philadelphia family that was devoted to the arts. He studied in Paris and then returned to the US to paint and to develop his version of Cubism.

Below: Stuart Davis: Egg Beater #4, the last in a series of egg beater images.


Jacob Lawrence,
Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Earl Wilson Richardson, John Biggers, Mark Blaney Dawoud Bey, Elizabeth Catlett, Curtis Arnett, Faith Ringgold, Frank Morrison, Howard Finster, Joseph Delaney, Robert Colescott ( b.Oakland, CA, 1925, BA 1949, MFA 1952), Tar Blackwell, Renee Cox Yo Mama's Last Supper, 1996, Emma Amos (b 1938) Dinner, The Highwaymen, Spike Lee, Van Peebles... and many others.

Emma Amos (b. 1938, Atlanta, GA) Dinner, 2005


Spike Lee (born Shelton, Atlanta, GA, 1957)
Film, "How To Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy it)", 2005.

Melvin Van Peebles
(born Chicago, Ill, 1932)

Film, "The Watermelon Man" (1969) and
Sweet Sweetback's Baaadasssss Song (1971) on the exploitation of black artists.

1996, "Don't Be a Menace to South Central When You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood"
Written by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Phil Beauman
Directed by Paris Barclay
A parody of the spate of contemporary black urban ghetto films distributed in the late eighties and early nineties. The Wayans brothers tackle the elements of these films that became distracting clich├ęs, such as the unhealthy, low-price food the characters eat. In one particularly extreme and repulsive scene , the "crack mother" has a food fight/sexual encounter with her lover on her kitchen floor. They slather themselves with the refrigerator's contents, including huge bricks of orange cheddar cheese, packaged meat products, condiments, and beer.

"Soul Food," 1997, written and directed by George Tillman, Jr.

"Don't Be a Menace to South Central When You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" (Island Pictures, Ivory Way Productions, 1996) Written by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Phil Beauman Directed by Paris Barclay

"Hush, Hoggies, Hush: Tom Johnson's Praying Pigs"
(Center for Southern Folklore, 1978/9)
Directed by Bill Ferris and Judy Peiser
This awe-striking tidy little documentary (it's only four minutes) introduces us to Tom Johnson, a Mississippi pig farmer who toiled for thirty-five years teaching his porkers to pray before dinner. A sociological study proving either the brilliance of Johnson and/or his pigs, or else man's ceaseless desire to control all things, the piece reminds us that even slop deserves a thank you, and just because you're a pig doesn't mean you have to act like one.

Also, singers Clara Smith and Caroline Johnson. Both recorded the classic "Aint Got Nobody to Grind my Coffee Now"), and Bessie Smith.

Above: Blues singer, Clara Smith (born in Spartanburg, SC, 1894-1935).She also presented "Whip It To A Jelly," and "Ain't Nuthin' Cookin' What You're Smellin'"

In 1925, blues singer Bessie Smith, with a different attitude, turned to her well-known jelly rolls as another metaphor.

Once I had a loving daddy

Just as good as he could be,
But I haven't got a daddy,
He's done gone away from
And since he left me behind,
Here's what's on my mind, I find:

Ain't got nobody to grind my coffee in the morning, Ain't got nobody to serve my breakfast in bed,
My daddy webt away.

Bessie Smith (1894- 1937)
Recorded by Clarence and Spencer Williams, 1923-24
 In a bakery shop today by
Bessie Smith, the “Empress of the Blues”

I heard Miss Mandy Jenkins say
She had the best cake, you see
And they were fresh as fresh could be
And as the people would pass by
You would hear Miss Mandy cry

Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine, like mine
No other one in town can bake a sweet jelly roll so fine, so fine
It's worth lots of dough, the boys tell me so
It's fresh every day, you'll hear 'em all say
Don't be no dunce, just try it once
You'll be right in line
Somebody told me I made the best jelly roll in town, I say in town
You must admit that I'm a jelly roll bakin' hound, bakin' hound
Good jelly roll, jelly roll is so hard to find
We always get the other kind
Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine.

John Biggers (Gastonia, NC, 1924 - 2001) Cleaning Pig, n.d.
Bigggers founded art department at Texas Southern University in 1949 and earned his PhD in art in 1954.

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