bonus points for being so hip that CL didn't even know about you.
@Nathan Clark -- It took several days of emails and phone conversations to at least get my name in the article, as well as have it spelled correctly. The original version (check out the print edition) didn't even mention my involvement.
@matt Terrell Your name was mentioned man. :) deep breath
@Matt Terrell - Get over it. No one cares.
Wow! I feel like a real Outsider artist in Atlanta. I can't even get written up in an article about the photo show I helped cofound!
The National Black Arts Festival employees are crooks!!! They try to control and manipulate artists, especially young artists who show with them. THEY ABUSE THEIR POWER!!! If you sale artwork with them, and they owe you money, they will STEAL it from you!! On top of THAT they will make a lame excuse NOT TO PAY YOU!!! They will also low ball your sale price WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION to help their buddies get practically FREE art!! ARTISTS SHOULD NEVER SHOW WITH THEM unless they don't mind having money stolen from them. They will smile in your face and give you the kiss of Judus. DON'T TRUST THEM!!! On top of it all it is a complete waste of time for artists with high quality artwork to show with them. They DO NOT have a clientele of buyers who can afford work over $1,000. The people who work there are GREEDY and BROKE. They are looking to get money anyway they can, even if that means to SCAM it from you right out of your pockets. THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY. Approach with caution!
holy shit, these are fugly.
and is that first pic really a t-shirt with part of a bandanna attached? jesus.
Personally, I think that a black arts festival connotates that black artist aren't capable of competing with hispanics, asians, whites, etc. In other words, these black artist produce product of such poor quality or limited interest that they cannot survive without being sheltered. I don't believe that is the case, black artist are like black athletes, black educators, etc. and are perfectly capable of competing, and the demise of everything labeled "black" is in the best interest of everyone!
i'll be looking for these items at rag o rama and goodwill, not gonna spend $200+ just so i can get beer spilled on it
To all, I'm speaking for a lot of young, Atlanta-based African American artists when I say this. The NBAF's presentation of itself to Atlanta, the country, and to the art world, at large, is dated and broken. NBAF coordinators and curators dont appear to be very inclusive of avant-garde african diasporal artists and ideas, at all. For the minute amount of contemporary artists that are included, dialogue about the work isn't established, in any form, and education about who that artist is, remains glaringly absent. Just last year, I witnessed works by talented contemporary artists Paul Benjamin, Nikita Gale, and Yanique Norman get treated as meer backdrop decorations at a packed NBAF event held at a car dealership. No docents. No info. No inquiries. No nothin'. Wow.
Also, fellow artists have expressed to me their frustrations about how the NBAF treats its participating artists. For years, artists who participated in NBAF's artist market, payed exorbitant prices, plus many others expenses, to travel here to present their work at Greenbriar Mall. This venue set the tone, past and present, for many an artist's disdain towards the NBAF. To my knowledge, for quite some time, it was very off putting for artists and collectors alike to engage in a venue as distracting and run down as Greenbriar mall. I've been told that directly affected sales and perceptions of their work.
I have a friend of mine, who's an art dealer in Northern Virginia, who flew down just to attend the artist market at the world congress center a few years ago. He told me how great it was to see the venue changed that year, but also how he was shocked to see so many commercial salesman in booths, directly adjacent to the artists, selling their wares! He stated that at one point, a gentleman asked him if he wanted to buy gutters for his home! What?!!
In regards to gala events and auctions, the NBAF asks artists to donate work, in which the organization recieves upwards of 50%-60% of the final sales commissions. In other instances, artists are asked to donate 100% of a sales commission of one work to the organization , and in return, have the opportunity to make 100% commission on the sale of another piece entered into the event. Seems cool right?
No. Many young artists are told that these auctions create interest in collectors to regularly follow their work, but in reality, these events are marketed as annual sale opportunities for collectors. These auctions have long been described as "feeding frenzies" for local art patrons who are unwilling to pay emerging artists, or their galleries, full price for prized work. These factors are the reasons why you NEVER see an artist's best work at these functions, just so you know.
Cumulatively, with all of the aforementioned factors added up, this is a probable reason why fewer emerging artists and local/national/international artists of note participate, which in turn, affects the amount and quality of critics, gallerists, and collectors who attend, critically write about and show financial support for the festival. I can't speak directly to advances in the music, dance, film, and stage components of the NBAF, but it appears to me that the art component of it is going backwards.
In closing, i believe some are thinking "Well, despite what you said, you aren't going to find a better place for african american art to be showcased." What you may be thinking is true, but just because its available, doesnt mean that its ACCEPTABLE. African american artists in Atlanta, and beyond, have too much artistic talent to offer to other organizations and cities, to accept what the NBAF is offering to them at this time.
I am not an artist, but I know a few. An artist does not care who views their product. The entire idea of art is freedom of expression. Why limit the expression to particular groups of race. Display your art to the world, with pride. And if the artist is not allowed to do so, then form a supportive group in protest. We've come a long way on the blood, sweat, and tears of those that came before us and those who remain in the game. But we have a long way to go. Lets don't tire ourselves out by isolating ourselves . Lets stay in the game, but keep up with the game at the same time.
Every culture has a legacy that they focus as part of their history, the art festival is no different what the problem seems to be is that the event itself is not self sufficient, and depends heavily on government funds by way of grants along with city budgets. Very little on the collectors and sponsors who should be the benefactors.
What is needed no longer exist the veterans of this event are no longer involved the new money generation really must ask themselves what are they doing to give back to their communities;
We now have billionaires, Why are we still depending on the services of grants and government?
25yrs. is enough time to have establish an endowment a healthy one and yet we are still begging.
This is not a world problem this is a Black America issue and only Black America can solve it Bill Cosby, Camille, Oprah, Tyler, and the rest of the deep pockets that stems from there allows us to see what we are not doing they the names above cannot do it alone!
Do black arts festivals have a future? YES! The Arts will always have a future. Especially now that there is the Internet. It's all in the marketing. Always has been. Always will be.
The city of Atlanta seems to devote an inordinate amount of salaried and pensioned staff time to the Atlanta Jazz Festival. What do we know about attendance figures and staff time devoted to the Festival over the past decade? Is the taxpayer-paid staff time worth the effort? I am thinking that the return on investment is about the same as the city's support of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, which has resulted in an underwhelming number of full-time/living-wage hires under Deborah Lum's "leadership."
It would be interesting to review the extent of city and county government funding for NBAF over the past five or so years, when it has seemed to struggle administratively. The current roster of senior city and county government arts staff and board chairs is old, tired, and out of date in their cultural tastes and enthusiasms. The policies and procedures for arts funding in Atlanta and Fulton County need to change to support emerging and mid-sized arts organizations. Larger, more corporatized non-profit entities, such as the organizations that are a part of the Woodruff Arts Center, need to be weaned from local and regional government support. Atlanta and Fulton County should have arts funding policies that support groups for a defined period of time, after which they need to prove their ability to make it without government funding before they can re-apply for government funding.
Black Arts Festivals are trying to survive in a region and time when U.S. Afro-American arts from the people themselves aren't as valued. In this era, the exploited black voice that is pop culture is what attracts the masses. This doesn't mean that U.S. Afro-American arts festivals should give up, because all things popular will pass as well.
I lived in Atlanta in the 1970's to the 1980's before moving to Los Angeles. I participated in the festival as a visual artist in 1990, 1992 and in 2000 when it was held at Clark College. This was early in my career as I was transitioning from being a commercial photographer to a visual artist and was a good way to become visible and meet the icons of Black at that time. But times have changed and yes even though I'm from the boomer age group my art has changed and how I view myself as an artist has changed.
I feel that Black Art Festivals need to change and reflect the reality of the today and how the current and next generation of artists of color see themselves and their place in the global art world and global art economy. We need Art Festivals that make all cultures excited to come and see the diverse creativity of artists of color and not feel that only Black people are welcomed or that the art is only for Black people. As an artist I want anyone and everyone to see my work and feel that they can hang it on their wall because there is something that speaks to their soul not to just a particular race.
Thanks for this, Cinque. Hope you'll turn your radar to this weekend's Atlanta Jazz Festival, which is in need of a similar critique.
This reminds me of an old joke.
How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.
Why post anything? Nothing will ever change in the Untied States.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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