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David Drake: A Potter Who Inscribed His Work With Poetry

It was August 16, 1857. David Drake (c. 1800– c. 1870s), an enslaved African American, had just completed a 19-inch greenware pot. On it he inscribed: “I wonder where is all my relations / Friendship to all and every nation.”

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A pot created by David Drake. Wikipedia photo.

It was August 16, 1857. David Drake (c. 1800– c. 1870s), an enslaved African American, had just completed a 19-inch greenware pot. On it he inscribed: “I wonder where is all my relations / Friendship to all and every nation.”
According to some collectors and scholars, this message demonstrates “Drake questioning his heritage and personal history … signifies [his] positivity despite facing the many brutalities of slavery, including the loss of personal identity.” Further, by etching what is clearly a personal expression, Drake defied a South Carolina law forbidding Blacks to read and write.
South Carolina’s Negro Act of 1740, prohibited educating enslaved Africans, punishable by a fine of 100 pounds and six months in prison. Most Southern states in the early 1800s restricted Black literacy.
Drake’s date of birth is unclear. It is said that it was during the first half of 1800. The first legal record of him (June 13, 1818) describes “a boy about 17 years old country born … mortgaged to Eldrid Simkins by Harvey Drake.”
The (Harvey) Drake family owned a plantation in Edgefield, S.C. The term “country born” refers to enslaved Blacks born in the United States rather than Africa. David Drake lived and worked in Edgefield’s pottery factories for almost all his life.
David Drake was first enslaved by Harvey Drake, who alongside Abner Landrum, owned a large pottery business. Known to be a religious man, Landrum was the publisher of a local newspaper, The Edgefield Hive. Scholars speculate that he taught Drake to read the Bible, even if doing so was a punishable offense.
After Harvey Drake’s death, David Drake was enslaved by Landrum. In 1846, Landrum passed away. Drake was then purchased and enslaved by Landrum’s son Franklin, who was abusive. While owned by Franklin, Drake never inscribed his works. But Drake’s life, his works, blossomed in 1849, when he was sold to Lewis Miles.
Miles owned the pottery factory, Stony Bluff. There Drake created his best works once again inscribed with poetry. The number of pieces produced increased from one every few years to seven in 1859. Having produced alkaline-glazed stoneware jugs between the 1820s and the 1870s, Drake is recognized as the first enslaved potter to inscribe his work. He became a free man when the Civil War closed (1865).
According to Drake scholar Jill Beute Koverman, Drake created “more than 40,000 pieces over his lifetime.”
When Drake was alive, his pots sold for around 50 cents. Today they fetch as much as $50,000 and have auctioned for as much as $369,000. A butter churn with the inscription “This is a noble churn / fill it up it will never turn,” sold for $130,000.
Various collections including his work can be viewed at museums including the Smithsonian collection of the National Museum of American History in Wash., D.C.
It is thought that Drake died in the 1870s because according to scholars, “he is not found in the 1880 census.”

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Last Weekend to View African American Artist Faith Ringgold Special Exhibit at San Francisco’s de Young Museum

The exhibit, titled ‘Faith Ringgold: American People’, is on display until Sunday, Nov. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco.

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Faith Ringgold in her studio. Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Sunflowers Quilting Bee’ 1991. Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Faith Ringgold in her studio. Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Sunflowers Quilting Bee’ 1991. Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

By Post Staff

San Francisco’s de Young Museum is now featuring an exhibit of the first retrospective of American artist Faith Ringgold on the West Coast. The exhibit, titled ‘Faith Ringgold: American People’, is on display until Sunday, Nov. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Ringgold, 92, specializes in using quilting in her work. Ticket prices, which include access to all galleries, are $25 for adults; $18 for seniors or visitors with disabilities; $14 for full-time students and no charge for children under 16. Go to Tickets.Moma.org for more information.

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Museum of the African Diaspora Presents It’s Annual Gala Afropolitan Ball 2022

MoAD is a contemporary art museum whose mission is to celebrate Black culture, ignite challenging conversations, and inspire learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. MoAD is one of only a few museums in the United States dedicated to the celebration and interpretation of art, artists, and cultures from the African Diaspora.

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Fantastic Negrito
Fantastic Negrito

By Clifford L. Williams

San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora’s (MoAD) Afropolitan Ball, billed as a high energy celebration of Bay Area Black talent, will be headlined this year by Bay Area triple Grammy Award-winning artist, Fantastic Negrito. It will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at 685 Mission Street in S.F.

After a two-year hiatus, this year’s fundraising gala returns with electrifying performances featuring the uptempo grooves of local supergroup Bayonics, who will be performing their unique blend of Latin music, reggae, and R&B. In addition to DJ sets from Oakland’s DJ Lady Ryan, who has played with artists such as George Clinton, Journey, Erykah Badu, and is resident DJ for the Golden State Warriors.

Guests will also enjoy a wide variety of tastes from the African Diaspora and a hosted bar sponsored by Hella Coastal Brewery and Uncle Ernest, as well as other surprises.

Negrito’s new album, White Jesus Black Problems, is an exhilarating ode to the power of family and the enduring residence of our shared humanity, according to MoAD’s spokesperson Nina Sazevich.

A Premier reception will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for members of the museum’s Curator Level and above. Featuring jazz, afro-funk, and soul rhythms by Ethio Jazz, and a chance to mingle with MoAD’s Executive Director Monetta White and fellow MoAD supporters and friends.

White noted that “this year’s ball is a celebration of all that MoAD has accomplished over the past 17 years and those who’ve helped MoAD succeed — its staff, board, members, donors, community supporters, and the artists who make MoAD tick … We are so excited to bring our community back together for what will surely be the best party in the Bay Area.”

The annual Afropolitan Ball benefits MoAD’s exhibitions, emerging artists, public programs featuring renowned artists and authors, and award-winning arts education programs serving over 6,000 youth.

Tickets for the general public to the main event are $325 each, which includes a one-year membership to the Museum. Current members can purchase tickets at a discount.

Recognizing COVID-19 protocol, MoAD is committed to maintaining the health and safety of all guests at the event. Proof of vaccination is required for all attendees.

MoAD is a contemporary art museum whose mission is to celebrate Black culture, ignite challenging conversations, and inspire learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. MoAD is one of only a few museums in the United States dedicated to the celebration and interpretation of art, artists, and cultures from the African Diaspora.

The Museum presents exhibitions highlighting contemporary art and artists of African descent and engages its audience through education and public programs that interpret and enhance the understanding of Black art. Founded in 2005, the Museum continues to be a unique, cultural arts staple in the San Francisco Bay Area community.

For more information about the Afropolitan Ball, visit www.moadsf.org/event/afropolitan-ball-2022. For information about MoAD, visit the museum’s website at moadsf.org or call 415.358.7200.

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Four Seasons Announces Artists for 2022-23 Season

Violinist Angango Yarbo-Davenport, violinist, launches Four Seasons Arts Season on Saturday, October 8, at 3:00, with a program entitled: “Around the World in 70 Minutes.” She will be joined by pianist Elena Cholakova. The program includes works by Florence Price, Juan Antonio Cuellar, Igor Frolov, Jennifer Higdon, and Robert Aldridge.

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The Kanari Saxophone Quartet returns to the Bay Area on Jan. 26, 2023, to deliver a performance that transforms the perception of the saxophone.
The Kanari Saxophone Quartet returns to the Bay Area on Jan. 26, 2023, to deliver a performance that transforms the perception of the saxophone.

By Mary Jo Hudgel

Four Seasons Arts announces its 2022-2023 annual series of music. Programming emphasizes classical music compositions with contemporary works incorporated. The series intentionally offers an inclusive roster of artists that reflects racial, ethnic, and musical diversity.

Violinist Angango Yarbo-Davenport

Violinist Angango Yarbo-Davenport

Violinist Angango Yarbo-Davenport, launches Four Seasons Arts Season on Saturday, October 8, at 3:00, with a program entitled: “Around the World in 70 Minutes.” She will be joined by pianist Elena Cholakova. The program includes works by Florence Price, Juan Antonio Cuellar, Igor Frolov, Jennifer Higdon, and Robert Aldridge.

The Kanari Saxophone Quartet returns to the Bay Area on Jan. 26, 2023, to deliver a performance that transforms the perception of the saxophone. The quartet aims to highlight the instrument’s remarkable versatility by presenting meticulously crafted repertoire from all periods of classical and contemporary music.

Both concerts will be held at: St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., in Berkeley.

Four Seasons has scheduled other chamber music events with the Viano String Quartet; the Park Brothers Guitar Duo; Piano Duo Beaux Arts; Thomas Mesa and Ilya Yakushev Piano/Cello Duo; and solo artists Jennifer Ellis, Harp, Amadi Azikiwe, Viola, and Thomas Buckner, a pioneer in performing and commissioning New Music.

A complete listing of Four Seasons Arts concerts can be viewed at www.fsarts.org. Concerts are presented in Berkeley at St. John’s Presbyterian Church and the Berkeley Piano Club.

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