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Artists Partner with State for “Your Actions Save Lives” Campaign

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation.

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Jessica Wimbley, a Sacramento-based African American artist, uses her digital art to empower Black people to have agency in their own lives. Photo courtesy of CBM.

More than 20 California artists partnered with the state for the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign. The effort was created to uplift and celebrate the resilience of communities and encourage safe practices that stop the spread of COVID-19 as Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to reopen the state on June 15.

The 14 original art projects included in the campaign range from murals, interactive exhibits, and live performances from artists based in communities highly impacted by the COVID-19, including Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and San Diego.

“The arts have an opportunity to be uplifting and healing to your emotions,” said Jessica Wimbley, an African American digital artist who collaborated with the state for an advertisement on an Oak Park billboard in Sacramento and a digital art display at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to work on this campaign. There’s been so much negativity and divisiveness that’s happening in the world that is heavy on the spirit,” said Wimbley.

“It’s been transformative to work on this project,” she added.

The state partnered with the Center at Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento for the project which relies on the power of art to communicate the importance of health awareness in addition to getting vaccinated.

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation.

“Art has incredible power, and we believe these works will spark important conversations, connections, and inspiration throughout the state,” he said.

Four female artists, including Wimbley, have used the project to tap into their respective cultures to create powerful visual artworks that empower and inform their diverse communities.

The interactive installation, ‘Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals,’ by Masako Miki located in Oakland’s Chinatown was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Sunroop Kaur, a classical artist, whose Spring mural is located in Stockton was inspired by her Punjabi-Sikh heritage. In San Diego, the mural ‘Stop the Spread’ by Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio honors her Mexican heritage.

In addition to the art campaign, Newsom recently announced a $116.5 million incentive program that will reward people in California for getting vaccinated. The state allotted $100 million in grocery gift cards worth $50 each for the next two million people who get vaccinated.

The remaining $16.5 million will be awarded as cash prizes to people who have been vaccinated across the state. More than 17 million people in California are fully vaccinated which is about 44% of the state’s population.

The incentive program aims to encourage everyone in California to get vaccinated with a goal to reopen the state by mid-June this year.

State officials say they are determined to fully reopen California schools and businesses in efforts to help the economy recover.

Black and Brown families continue to experience the brunt of the economic blow caused by COVID-19 despite the state’s efforts for community outreach to minimize hardship in their respective communities.

The artists featured in the state’s “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign hope to communicate messages of unity and solidarity through art influenced by their different cultures.

Four local artists celebrate their heritages and draw inspiration from their multicultural communities.

Masako Miki — Oakland

The interactive art installation ‘Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals’ by Miki was inspired by the idea of a treasure hunt throughout Chinatown in Oakland. The pandemic forced people to stay indoors, but the public art installation encourages people to explore different shops and restaurants while admiring the art.

The artwork was inspired by shapeshifting animals in Japanese mythology.

“I wanted to make this positive and uplifting because when things are dark and difficult, we need to have more positive images,” said Miki.

The current reality of the pandemic is, “so dark and difficult that we need to have imagery that gives us the ability to envision something positive,” she said.

In Japanese culture the tiger is a majestic animal that is fearless, she says. The cultural message in the artwork echoes notions of toughness.

“Resiliency is our strength,” and the benevolent animals featured in the art are meant to encourage people to, “respect each other and have empathy to get through this difficult time together,” said Miki.

Recent incidents of violence against Asians have fueled racial tension in America, in addition to the violence toward African Americans nationwide. Miki aspires to use her artwork to dispel stigmas related to COVID-19 about the Asian community.

“We have to have this dialogue so that I can introduce my culture in such a way that it becomes familiar and it’s not something that they’re afraid of because they don’t know about it,” said Miki.

Artistic performances and visual displays created by all the artists in the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign have been exhibited since April and will continue until June this year.

Sunroop Kaur — Stockton

Kaur, an artist of South Asian descent, aims to decolonize classical art by using people of color as the center of attention in her paintings.

The large population of Punjabi Sikh immigrants in Stockton is a major influence in Kaur’s artwork. Kaur is intentional about using people of color as the focal point in her ‘Spring’ mural located at JMP Restaurant Supply.

“This mural is a visual celebration of my community and its resilience to not only survive in a foreign land but to thrive,” said Kaur.

The mural draws from the idea of, “decentering whiteness within my work by using people of color is my main fitters,” she said.

“The appropriation of Western classical art canons as a way to decolonize my own body and my culture,” she said.

The artwork includes two people socially distancing and wearing masks depicted through the Italian Baroque portraiture, a 17th-century art style associated with grandeur, movement, and drama.

The body language from the figures symbolizes, “the universal longing and yearning we feel for one another, but also acknowledging the fact that to keep our loved ones safe,” said Kaur.

The mural also includes pastel-colored floral patterns in reference to Spring which represents the reemergence of life following the pandemic. The mural includes royal blue arches as well as pink and malachite with historical pastel pigments that are part of Persian culture.

 Jessica Wimbley — Sacramento

Wimbley, a renowned African American artist, uses her digital art to empower Black people to have agency in their own lives.

The Oak Park Billboard, which is part of a state-sponsored advertising campaign, features Wimbley’s husband as the model. The representation of dark-skinned Black men is important when there have been many incidents of people dying in the media.

The billboard reinforces, “This notion of a Black man living,” said Wimbley.

“It’s really important to bring humanization to the representation of Black people in media. And focus on producing an agency, and empowerment,” she said.

Wimbley’s Masking Series was inspired by the tradition of masquerade which is celebrated in many cultures across Africa. The art series features a still photo of a face with a mask modeled by her husband and a multimedia image with a mask reflecting different visuals.

“The storytelling communicates the important occurrences within the community, I was reflecting on wearing a mask within the masquerade culture and the transformative nature of both putting on a mask and wearing one,” said Wimbley.

Wimbley also wanted to humanize Black and Brown people who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The added stress of police brutality resulting in the death of African Americans nationwide also inspired Wimbley to show that Black people have agency in their own lives.

Through her art, Wimbley said that she wants Black people, “to be in a place of empowerment, versus, a space of trauma.”

“We are a part of an interconnected story and part of each other’s stories. We have agency in how we move forward, and we can write, claim, and develop what that next phase looks like,” said Wimbley.

The symbolism of the images presented on the Oak Park billboard and the digital display at Arden Fair Mall highlight different codes that have inspired social justice movements throughout the nation. On the billboard, the model is wearing a mask with coded patterns promoting vaccinations and several rings, one with Harriet Tubman.

Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio

In her ‘Stop the Spread’ mural located at Bread & Salt Gallery in Chicano Park,

Mexican-American visual artist Ortiz-Rubio used the image of a Latina woman to raise awareness on COVID-19 safety precautions in her community.

According to national data, Latinos make up about 30 % of San Diego’s population. They were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because a disproportionate number are essential workers or undocumented people.

“This is truly a message for anyone in the world because a pandemic has affected us all. But it hasn’t affected us equally,” said Ortiz-Rubio.

“In the United States, minorities have been affected because of their race and economic status,” she said.

Muralism was a social movement which helped foster systematic change in Mexico. Ortiz-Rubio said that the Black Lives Movement also inspired her to challenge racism and inequality through her artwork.

“It speaks to everyone, and the fact that it is a Latin American woman speaking to anyone, is also important because usually generalized images are of a White person,” she said.

Being a woman is an integral part of Ortiz-Rubio’s experience creating the mural. She recalled young girls and their mothers witnessing her paint the mural from their backyards which reaffirmed her desire to use a Latina as the centerpiece of her mural.

“It’s very empowering to be celebrated,” said Ortiz-Rubio.

“This will be a message that will take that stigma away,” she said.

The visual artist said that she wants Latin Americans to be represented and celebrated in her art especially when they are the target audience.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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Art

Marin Fair Competitive Exhibits Open for Entry

“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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Marin County Fair “So Happy Together!” returns June 30-July 4

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

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Activism

Installation Invoking Black Struggle for Justice in Opens May 14 at Oakland City Hall

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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Support Oakland Artists Executive Director Randolph Belle atop the installation called ‘Society’s Cage’ as it was being assembled. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
View of ‘Society’s Cage,’ an immersive exhibit at Oakland City Hall. Photo courtesy of the organizers.

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.

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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Activism

MoAD, Artsy’s 2022 Art Auction Celebrates Many Voices, One Diaspora

“MoAD is so grateful to the incredible community of artists, galleries, and individuals who have enthusiastically lent their support to this year’s auction,” says Monetta White, executive director of MoAD. “Their generous response is a testament to the impact and importance of MoAD’s vital work to enhance the public’s understanding of Black art and to serve as a foundational platform for artists of African descent in the Bay Area and throughout the world.”

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Photo Caption: Jerrell Gibbs, Untitled #1, 2022, Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
Jerrell Gibbs, Untitled #1, 2022, Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), in partnership with global online art marketplace Artsy, presents its 2022 online benefit auction, “Many Voices, One Diaspora,” with works by more than 50 leading local, national, and international artists, many of whom have been featured in MoAD’s critically-acclaimed exhibitions.

The auction will run online from April 28 to May 12, 2022.

The expansive collection of both new and previously displayed works represents a vast range of voices from the African diaspora and includes signature pieces by such luminaries as Amoako Boafo, Jerrell Gibbs, Otis Quaicoe, Erica Deeman, Basil Kincaid, Lavar Munroe, Angel Otero, Ferrari Sheppard, and more.

Collectors will be able to browse works in a variety of media including photographs, paintings, prints, mixed media, and glass, ceramic, and fiber pieces.

In addition to works donated by individual artists, more than 16 galleries are supporting this important fundraiser including Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, and others.

“MoAD is so grateful to the incredible community of artists, galleries, and individuals who have enthusiastically lent their support to this year’s auction,” says Monetta White, executive director of MoAD. “Their generous response is a testament to the impact and importance of MoAD’s vital work to enhance the public’s understanding of Black art and to serve as a foundational platform for artists of African descent in the Bay Area and throughout the world.”

The auction provides critical funding for MoAD’s operations and programs, and essential support for the participating artists. Additionally, proceeds from the auction will benefit local and national art and social justice organizations.

Through MoAD’s partnership with Artsy, the online art marketplace is enabling MoAD to enhance the voices of these dynamic artists and their works to Artsy’s 2-million+ global art collectors and enthusiasts.

“At Artsy, we’re constantly working towards a more diverse and inclusive industry, and it’s our responsibility to use our platform to further advocate for artists who deserve our attention and are leading the way in art.

“We’re excited to be partnering with The Museum of the African Diaspora on this benefit auction and support their mission, as well as bring a global lens to these participating artists,” said Dustyn Kim, chief revenue officer at Artsy.

“I am happy to support MoAD,” says participating artist Jerrell Gibbs. “The institution aligns with my vision, celebrating Black culture, and I am pleased to have my work alongside many renowned artists in the diaspora.”

To date, participating artists include: Annan Affotey, Alanna Airitam, Alex Anderson, Simone Bailey, Ebitenyefa Baralaye, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Gavin Benjamin, Leonardo Benzant, Lili Bernard, Amoako Boafo, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Shenequa Brooks, Nyame Brown, Adrian Burrell, Elan Cadiz, Sydney Cain, Albert Chong, Dewey Crumpler, Kenturah Davis, Erica Deeman, Cheryl Derricotte, Barbara Earl Thomas, Conrad Egyir, Rodney Ewing, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Jerrell Gibbs, Adler Guerrier, Angela Hennessy, David Huffman, Wadsworth Jarrell, Basil Kincaid, Dionne Lee, Kija Lucas, Demond Melancon, Ian Micheal, Lavar Munroe, Carmen Neely, Ed Ntiri, Ramekon O’Arwisters, Angel Otero, Woody De Othello, Dr. Fahamu Pecou, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Enrico Riley, Muzae Sesay, Ferrari Sheppard, Nyugen E. Smith, Chanell Stone, Autumn Wallace, Nate Watson, Ricky Weaver, Bri Williams, and Andrew Wilson.

For more information, visit https://www.moadsf.org/projects/moad-art-auction-2022.

About MoAD

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is a contemporary art museum whose mission is to celebrate Black cultures, ignite challenging conversations, and inspire learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. For more information about MoAD, visit The Museum’s website at 
moadsf.org.

About Artsy

Artsy is the largest global online marketplace for discovering, buying, and selling fine art by leading artists. Artsy connects 4,000+ galleries, auction houses, art fairs, and institutions from 100+ countries with more than 2 million global art collectors and art lovers across 190+ countries.

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