Monday, July 11, 2011

ARTSCAPE and Racist Practices...A Letter of Concern

Below is a letter I drafted in 2005 to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts about "ARTSCAPE" an art festival located in Baltimore, MD. To date nothing has ever been done about these practices and no one seems to want to cover the story. This year there were roughly 8 out of 150 artists. I have elected to not apply the past two years, but know for fact that the same thing is still happening.


January 17, 2005

Bill Gilmore, Executive Director
Jennifer Mange
Artscape- Baltimore’s Festival of the Arts, Inc.
Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts
7 East Redwood Street, Suite 500
Baltimore, MD 21202

Dear Mr. Gilmore,

I have been a professional full time artist for 24 years and an active participant with Artscape since the days when you created a Marketplace in front of the Fox Building. I am proud native
of Baltimore, educated in Baltimore, and a graduate of The Maryland Institute College of Art.
I participate in approximately 25 shows a year all over the country. These shows include gallery shows, art trade shows, art festivals, art expos, and national conventions. They are all either juried, vendor based, or by invitation. I am also a dedicated African American artist advocate.
I have a personal relationship with most of the African American artists nationally and particularly in the Baltimore- Washington area. Many of them applying to Artscape by my recommendation. I can remember when only Maryland artists could participate in Artscape.

I can also remember that few African American artists were selected for the fine art and crafts area. The Marketplace was the only way most of us were able to participate in Artscape because most of us could not survive the jurying process for the crafts area. Ethnic themed art was often overlooked in the jurying process. Although segregated from the crafts area, The Marketplace grew by leaps and bounds until booth spaces began to continue up Mount Royal Avenue toward North Avenue. Many of the local artists, the majority of them African American, developed a following during this short period and Artscape benefited from their active participation. When the decision was made to combine the show or lets just say discontinue the Marketplace, It was the first time that many African Americans were included in the Crafts area. I was even selected to curate an exhibition in the Fox Building as well as lecturing on display options to exhibitors on behalf of Artscape. Progress is progress and we are all inspired to positive progressions in Artscape.

The past three years of participating in Artscape has been very unusual. I suddenly became deluged with questions from other African American artists about Artscape. I can give you a
list of 15 artists that I personally promoted the show to nationally for participation. Lately the questions most from these artists are about the selection process? I having participated and accepted in Artscape for the past 10 years, began to see weird occurrences with my African American artist colleagues over the past few years. It seems that we were either “Accepted”, placed on the “Alternate List” or “Rejected”. I recently urged the top contemporary African American Artist in the country to submit and application and to my shock and dismay Artscape “Rejected” Charles A. Bibbs. Many of the local Baltimore African American artists over the past two years have either been on the “Alternate List” or “Rejected”. I have artist accounts of being placed on the “Alternate List” and offered participation. I have artist accounts of being “Rejected” and being called in the morning of set-up. I have an artist account of a conversation with Jennifer Mange who was told that the festival had selected enough Ethnic or Afrocentric Art submissions for jurying. In my conversation with Jennifer Mange she flippantly mentioned that some of the “Accepted” artists either were lazy, or procrastinators, or opted out without notification, so she had to be sure all booth spaces were filled. Ms. Mange admitted that she would call the “local artists” to fill spaces. I have conversed with 12 local artists and asked them the results of their participation over the past three years and each one of them had either been selected as an “Alternate” or “Rejected” but none of them have been “Accepted” by jury more than once except me. I recently received my first “Alternate List” letter in 10 years with a call back, to which I declined participation. Many of the artist simply stopped submitting applications for Artscape.

These are clearly racist and discriminatory practices. It is not fair to the artists who go through the jurying process and are selected and pay for their booth spaces, are joined by artists that were rejected from the show and on two artist accounts didn’t have to pay for the space. It’s
not fair to pinpoint local artists that have been rejected, ask them for assistance in filling space, and then reject them the following year. It appears that the jurying process is utilized simply to screen the art. The majority of the artists I spoke with are accepted to some of the top festivals in the country, so quality of art is not an issue. How do you justify using local African American artists as last consideration “booth fill ins”? This procedure is an insult to all artists that have devoted their lives to their individual crafts.

The artists plan to continue to dialogue and further investigate this issue with any of the African American artists that have attempted to participate in Artscape the past few years. If filling booth space is the objective, the show should be vendor based. It’s a shame that Artscape has become politically or organizationally tainted with its proud history here in Baltimore City. African American artists are woven into the very fabric of the community and cultural events of this great city.

Larry Poncho Brown
Tommy Roberts
Charles A. Bibbs
Deborah A. Shedrick
Jerry Prettyman
Larry O. Brown
James Murphy, Jr.
Linda Gray
Karen Y. Buster
Leroy R. Jones, Jr.
Leonard Evans III
Samuel Christian Holmes
Jacqueline Philyaw
Kweise Mfume
Elijah Cummings
Martin O’Malley

Wednesday, May 18, 2011



May 28 & 29, 2011, from 12 p.m. -5 p.m. at
The Art Of Poncho, The Raleigh Building, 1100 Wicomico Street, Studio 316, Baltimore, MD 21230

Meet and greet Larry Poncho Brown for a preview of his latest creations. One our biggest sales of the year! This special event will feature discounted reproductions, originals, and gift items just in time for spring cleaning! For more information email

Monday, February 21, 2011

Materialization: Past As Present

It is with great pleasure that we present Materialization: Past As Present, in honor of Black History month. The pieces selected for this show employ color and pattern in a way that deals with the subject of history in a unique and strikingly stylistic manner. From the rhythmic and vibrant canvases of Larry Poncho-Brown, to the quilt-like work of Cassandra Jennings-Hall, the artists selected for this show speak to historical themes through contemporary color palettes and media.
Dane Tilghman adds intrigue to historical narrative by reimagining the visual facade of yesteryear. There is a quiet uneasiness when viewing Tilghman’s works, however it is not until one’s gaze settles upon the back of a Model T Ford or the row of Victorian hats amidst atypical hues of lime-green, orange, and lavender that a distinct sense of anachronism is brought to the fore. Whereas history generally might be imagined as black-and-white movies and sepia-tinted photos, Tilghman’s tropical shades remind us that yesterday was once today, carrying with it all the intrigue and excitement of our own present.
David Wilson’s fragmented collages also create a sense of anachronism by creating a distinct tension between medium and subject matter. The juxtaposition of digital collage and images of Americana quilts and clothes hangers fuses past and present together in a way that is both provocative and mystifying. The result is an overwhelming awareness of the ways in which history interrupts the here and now, posing the question: Is anything ever really left in the past?

On the spectrum of works, between Wilson and Tilghman, Indira Bailey elegantly blends past and present through distinct references to South Africa in her renderings of fabric, textile, and color. Basketball sneakers paired with vibrant red headscarves speak to the ways in which the past informs present and future culture. The odd pairings in Bailey’s vignettes suggest that culture is never really new or begotten of nothing but rather the logical outgrowth of the past infused with the values of today.
History is often thought of as static when actually nothing could be further from the truth. The pieces selected for Materialization: Past As Present reinforce the idea that one needs a past to move towards the future, and that, in this way, the past is always in a sort of forward motion. The artists of Materialization: Past As Present build on the momentum of their respective cultural histories and draw from one tangible element of history everyone has equal access to–the visual landscape. Through color, medium, representation, and form, Materialization: Past As Present does not thrust the past upon viewers but rather illuminates all the ways in which it is already present.

Materialization: Past As Present
will be on display through March 4, 2011. This fifth annual Black History Month exhibition is jointly produced by the GE Art Program and Picture That, LLC. If you have any questions about any of the work in the exhibition, please contact Glenn Macura of the GE Art Program at 203-373-2868, or You can also view more work like the pieces selected for this show at

Rhythm of the Artistic Soul

Black history month commemorates the achievements of people of African descent across the Diaspora. UBS's vision of diversity reaches across the breadth of the globe, celebrates different backgrounds and cultures, lauding achievements, excellence and progress. In honor of Black History Month 2011, the UBS LEAD Network proudly presents "Rhythm of the Artistic Soul", which runs the entire month of February with an opening reception on February 2, from 5 to 7pm at the UBS Stamford Headquarters.
"Rhythm of the Artistic Soul" features works by 15 visual artists who are influenced by African Diaspora Music: Elise Black (CT), Larry Poncho Brown (MD), Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper (MA), Stacey-Robin Johnson (NY), Kwame Henry Jones (NY), Kojo Kamau (OH), Voodo Fe' Leon Mathelier (NY), Ibou Ndoye (NJ), Chris Osborne (CT), Jean Pointdujour (CT), Edward Sherman (NY), Sherry Shine (NJ), Suhas Tavkar (NY), Anyta Thomas (PA), and Dane Tilghman (PA). These multicultural artists wonderfully exemplify the power of diversity as they represent ethnic backgrounds including—African-American, European, Haitian, Senegalese, Jamaican, and Eastern Indian.
Artworks selected for "Rhythm of the Artistic Soul" offer a colorful and rhythmic visual of the evolution of African American music, as we know it today. Exhibition curator, Valerie A. Cooper of Picture That, LLC describes the curatorial goal: "The body of work assembled illustrates the historical evolution of African Diaspora Music from Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean and Europe—ultimately arriving in North America. While the Africans were forced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, they brought with them the rhythm, soul, beat, and flow of their culture, expressed through music. Our exhibiting artists have chosen a multitude of mediums, which highlight the ways this music has profoundly shaped the lives and souls of the American people at large." Music genres featured include: African Drumming and Mbalax; Caribbean and Afro-Cuban; Reggae and Ska; Gospel, Be-Bop, Blues & Rock; Traditional and Progressive Jazz; R&B, Soul and Funk; and Hip-Hop. Read How the Music Genres Relate to the Art

Rhythm of the Artistic SoulAn Eclectic Visual Art Collection of African Diaspora Music
February 1 through February, 28, 2011
UBS Cultural Fine Art Gallery
UBS Stamford Office, 677 Washington Boulevard, Stamford, CT
For Information Contact 203-977-8203

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Raleigh Art Expo 2010

The Harlem Fine Arts Show

Join us for the 2011 Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS 2011), a continuation of the tradition of the National Black Fine Arts Show, which art aficionados have enjoyed at New York’s Puck Building for 14 years.
Past notable guests have included: Gayle King, Congressman and Mrs. Charles B. Rangel, Spike Lee, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, New York City and State Government Officials, Susan L. Taylor, Oprah Winfrey and many others.
HFAS 2011, sponsored by Amtrak and Grey Goose, is one of the largest and most prestigious collections of works featuring
African-American emerging and established artists from around the world. More than 100 artists and internationally renown galleries will be featured including Poncho Brown, Leroy Campbell, Robert Carter, Najee, Woodrow Nash, Michele Wood and E&S Gallery.
Susan L. Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence Magazine and DeMarco Morgan of WNBC-TV New York will serve as the hosts for the Opening Gala Reception on Friday, February 25.
Friday, February 25
9am - 3pm:  Art History & Ancestry Day sponsored by Diversity Prep Magazine
6pm -11pm: Opening Gala Reception to benefit Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention
Saturday, February 26 
10am -10pm: Fine Arts Exhibition, Assembly and South Halls
11am, 1pm & 3pm: Lecture Series - Collecting Art, Appraising Art, and Aging & the Arts
5pm-8pm: Cocktail Reception to benefit Brotherhood/Sister Sol
Sunday, February 27
10am-12pm: Ecumenical Service
12pm-2pm: Continental Breakfast
12pm-8pm:  Fine Arts Exhibition

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's All About Marketing!!

Selling art and promoting art is all about how well it's marketed. Have you ever wondered about the effectiveness of your personal/business email lists and social networks with regard to your art???? Test it all in the THE FRITO LAY BLACK HISTORY MONTH ART COMPETION at I usually hate art contests, but this one looked appealing because is a perfect opportunity to test your e-marketing skills. So upload a piece and see how many of your folks you can get onboard!

Online Art Contest Celebrates Black History, Raises Money for Good Cause

By Donte Gibson
In honor of Black History Month, Frito-Lay’s brands Lay’s and Doritos have kicked off their Black History Month Art Contest. The company is looking for artists from across the country to submit their Black History Month-themed artwork to their website The site will house an online gallery where visitors can vote on their favorite pieces. The five pieces with the most votes will receive $1000. Frito-Lay will also select a grand prize winner who will receive up to $5000 and a gallery showing of their artwork in their hometown.
While this contest sounds pretty sweet, it gets even sweeter. The contest is in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). For every vote cast for the artwork  on the site, Frito-Lay has pledged to contribute one dollar to the UNCF. If visitors enter the code from the front of their Doritos, Lay’s Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips or Lay’s Potato Chips bag, the company will contribute an additional dollar donation to the fund. The company will donate up to $35,000 to the UNCF, with a pledged minimum contribution of $25,000. Each visitor is limited to one vote a day, but are given the option of sharing their favorite piece of artwork on their favorite social networking channels to drum up additional support for their favorite entry.
In addition to going directly toward the UNCF, the contest’s proceeds will go toward the Frito Lay Arts Scholarship. The scholarship will present two awards, both worth $5000, to college students majoring in Fine Arts, Graphic Arts, Art, Theatre Arts/Drama or Visual Arts at a four-year university. The scholarships will be open to students of all years and can be applied for during the run of the contest, the cut-off date being March 1, 2011.
There are currently 26 pieces of artwork in the online gallery. For those interested in submitting for the contest, visit the contest site between January 17th and February 28th. Once your work is uploaded, voters will have from February 1st to February 28th to cast their vote. Frito-Lay will select the contest’s grand prize winner based on votes, artistic talent, creativity and cohesion with the Black History Month theme. So artists, start submitting now because time, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste.