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The National Black Arts Festival, eight ways 

Hitting the highlights of the sprawling annual event

The most unstructured way to enjoy the creative abundance of the National Black Arts Festival would be to browse the 100 vendors at the International Marketplace at Centennial Park July 14-17, while listening to a diverse lineup of jazz/funk musicians. But there's too much good stuff at this year's fest to leave your experience totally up to chance, such as Jason Orr's FunkJazz Kafé doc Diary of a Decade, the High Museum's Radcliffe Bailey retrospective and these eight other NBAF highlights.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

July 7-Aug. 28

Texas-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock presents We Done All We Could And None of It's Good, which uses paint, drawing and collage to explore the author's original mythological world based on personal and cultural influences. Hancock's splashy colors and exaggerated, at times comical-looking characters evoke underground comic books and outsider art. Hancock and guest curator David Norr open the event with a dialogue at 5:30 p.m. July 7.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Through July 23

Atlanta-based painter Fahamu Pecou curates Home, an exhibit that reflects how contemporary politics, education and culture are redefining home life in Georgia. Home presents the work of emerging local artists Kombo Chapfika, Terra Coles, Stephen Hayes and Cosmo Whyte. Artist talk and gallery tour July 9, 1 p.m.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Wed., July 13, 10 a.m.

Turner Classic Movies partners with NBAF for a film series featuring this classic musical from 1943. In Stormy Weather, famed dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson plays a fictionalized version of his own efforts to launch a dance career following World War I. One of the few all African-American musicals of its era, Stormy Weather features performances from such greats as Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Casablanca's Dooley Wilson, squeezing 20 musical numbers into a 77-minute running time.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Thurs., July 14, 5 p.m.

The Pan African Film Festival's annual lineup of narrative features and documentaries from across the African Diaspora includes a sneak preview of Viva Riva!, which won the Directors' Award for best feature narrative at PAFF 2011. In the war-torn, petrol-starved Democratic Republic of Congo, charismatic thief Riva (Patsha Bay Mukana) steals a huge cache of fuel and becomes a target for mobsters, the military, foreign power brokers and a seductive nightclub singer (Manie Malone). Critics have compared Viva Riva! to the gritty Brazilian crime thriller City of God.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Fri., July 15, 8 p.m.

Take a nostalgic ride on the Love Train when '70s chart-topping R&B trio the O'Jays perform at Atlanta Symphony Hall. The O'Jays had their first hit single nearly 50 years ago with 1963's "Lonely Drifter" and recorded other classic tunes such as "Back Stabbers," "I Love Music" and "Use ta Be My Girl." The O'Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, and last year sang "Love Train" at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

July 16-30

Marietta's Avisca Fine Art Gallery presents the work of two acclaimed Atlanta-based artists. Abstract artist Freddie Styles frequently takes inspiration from gardening and organic vegetation and uses unconventional material such as fax paper to comment on man's relationship to nature. Award-winning mixed-media artist Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier uses everything from painting and primary-source documents like diaries and letters to provide fresh perspectives on historical figures.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Sat.-Sun., July 16-17

The annual dance celebration held in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., brings the choreography from the African Diaspora to the ATL. Curator Chuck Davis, founder of the African-American Dance Ensemble, gathers performances including South African boot dancing from Lesole's Dance Project; the Giwayen Mata group, which specializes in dances from Mali, the Ivory Coast and Guinea; and the music of griot Diali Keba Cissokho.

click to enlarge COURTESY NBAF

Sat., July 16

The 2010 Creative Loafing readers pick for Best Club Event, Tambor Party hosted by DJ Stan Zeff lays down a night of deep afro-house beats. Tambor Party features special guest Culoe De Song, an 18-year-old South African DJ/producer and swiftly rising figure in the international underground dance music scene. Part of Origins: The DJ Diaspora series.

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