On Friday, December 17, Fahamu Pecou returned to the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center to host the 15 Project — his talk show styled fest featuring local tastemakers in the arts and entertainment community. The purpose? To bring folks together who may not interact in their everyday lives and careers. The program’s name is a nod to Andy Warhol’s famous quote on 15 minutes of fame.
Musical Director, D.J. Kemit dropped the sounds and the event was co-hosted by Pecou’s fellow artist, Fabian “Occasional Superstar” Williams. Williams appeared in “Christmas attire:” a green beret, green velvet jacket, green bowtie, red shirt and plaid slacks. He warmed up the crowd while alternately sipping cognac and Prosecco prior to Pecou’s entrance.
The show is a welcome back to Pecou, fresh from a three-month stint as the first artist in residence in a dual program at Charlotte, NC’s Gantt Center for African American Art and Culture and the McColl Center for Performing Arts; a trip to Paris; and appearance at Art Basel Miami.
After a rousing introduction from Williams, Pecou, “the Jesus of contemporary art,” interviewed the guests for this installment including, Jason Orr, creator of the renowned FunkJazzKafé performance series, Michael Rooks curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum of Art and singer/songwriter, Dionne Farris, formerly of the group Arrested Development.
Orr, a former tax collector, started FunkJazzKafé, which featured surprise guest artists in Atlanta’s prominent soul scene. He also announced work on a documentary entitled, Diary of a Decade, which tells the story of how the capital of the South had become the new Motown. In March, he's releasing new music with his band Soul of the Earth.
Next, Rooks from the High Museum of Art approached. He came to Atlanta by way of Chicago and Honolulu, where he held curator positions. Many in attendance had never heard of him, but he was of great interest to Williams and Pecou.
“This is Michael Rooks and y’all are sittin’ here like looking what the hell,” said Pecou.
Pecou explained his perception of Rooks' significance: “He came into the city on a glowing stallion. Everyone was anticipating his arrival. He was coming to save the day for arts in Atlanta, with a lot of shit on his back.”
“That is a lot of shit,” Rooks replied.
He went on to talk about his experience here so far. “I found that Atlanta is a lot like Honolulu in that the people are lovely, wonderful generous and welcoming, which is wonderful when you’re coming to a new place on your own.”
The Prosecco-fueled Williams said, “Let me expose you to the seedy underside of the art scene in Atlanta.” It was a “bum rush” of humorous shameless promotion about his creation, the art battle.
Finally, an emotional Farris sat down next to Rooks and Orr. Pecou joked that “some people get choked up in my presence,” but Farris reveled the real reason for her tears: “My grandfather died tonight,” she said, her voice breaking. Rooks immediately reached to hug her; Pecou asked the crowd to take a moment of silence and said, “Let’s honor your grandfather.”
Farris talked about her late maternal grandfather, Bob Wall, a postal worker who “sounded like a white guy,” and was a “tough guy” who knew the value of saving money and giving generously. She also talked about meeting her idol, Anita Baker, at the 2010 Soul Train Awards, while D.J. Kemit played Baker’s “Angel” softly in the background. Farris, once regaining her composure said, “I’m ready to be on purpose. I’m ready to sing.” And sing she did, joining Pecou and Williams in a funny, lighthearted rendition of The Temptations’ “Silent Night.”
The cool Contemporary suddenly felt as warm as a family living room on Christmas Eve.
(Photos by Terra "TT" Coles)
lol looks like broch recently renewed his library card
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