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When you are not rich, you buy either clothes that wear out or art that lasts forever. (Neal Patterson)

 

 

©Collectors of Che Baraka - Visual Artist

 

Our primary interest as an organization is with supporting the artists that are alive and actively producing quality visual art creations within our communities ... those artists right around us ... those artists that we can know personally and those artists that can inform us, through their works, on how our culture changes and how it stays the same. Artists, that are experiencing what you experience, and are giving back through their talents myriad images of how those experiences can be interpreted. We plan to support artists by promoting within the African American communities the act of collecting art for cultural reasons - art appreciates in value, if it is treasured and respected, so the increase in economic value does not need promotion, it is inherent.

Our organization has no intentions of dictating any particular styles, subjects or formats for collecting. Visual artists, like all other artists, always have to catch an audience’s attention through their mastery of craft, their creativity and the clarity of their visual messages. We are cognizant that some of our artists have been formally trained at the best schools and others are self taught, and all are compelled by internal forces to produce images. We need images just as we need songs.

so thour communities the number of visual artists is on the same order as our musicians, poets, singers, actors, dancers! Yet, most of them have not received during the early phases of their careers a modicum of public recognition from their communities and only a few will be recognized at all, during their active careers, by the larger society. This is in spite of the facts that many have decades-long histories of continuously producing works of high quality and that their works have been quietly acquired (some would say at undervalued prices) over those years by collectors from within and outside of the community.

 Our organization of collectors was formed to be one identifyvisual artists that we findactivitiesartistic merit and of cultural significanceexpectations are that the artists that get early recognition and support from their communities will international mastery artists have doneof the first voices in the community to , promote, honor and validate those , through our collecting , are producing works of exceptional . Our better navigate the path to national and recognition of their true artistic ... just as, for example, our musical . The people that that has come out of our community. Don

sparted that night with a greater appreciation of the importance of collecting the works of local artists but without any collective agenda.

In February 2003 the Art Institute of Chicago(AIC) presented, A Century of Collecting AfricanAmerican Art, a show of its permanent collection of AfricanAmerican art. I attended a mid-day panel discussion at the AIC to hear what the artists that were in the collection had to say. My simple mind thought they would be proud to be in the company of Tanner, Motley, Barthe, Catlett, etc. However, I was shocked and perplexed by the acid statements and the biting criticism of the AIC that some of the artists made from the panel. I left confused
.

Later that day, I attended an art exhibition at the South Shore Cultural Center that was featuring some of the artists in my collection. As soon as I arrived an artist introduced me to Nathaniel McLin, an art critic and radio art show host at Kennedy-King College. Mr. McLin had also been at the AIC panel discussion. I asked what was happening on that panel. He said that art institutions and museums like AIC do not pay much attention to what artists have to say, so no damage was done. He said that their primary focus is on what collectors have to say and definitely on what collectors do ... like lend, donate and bequeath artwork. He said that a museum is just an association of collectors. The lightbulb went on in my head! Form an association of art collectors and the world will listen.

With that insight, I brought together again Carol Briggs, Joan Crisler and Dan Parker and by May 2003 we had formed Diasporal Rhythms. We quickly organized a three day event called the “Collectors’ Invitational” that was held at the beginning of the October 2003 Chicago’s Artist Month. For that event we ‘invited’ five artists, selected by us in a super secret ballot from those artists in our collections. We asked them to participate in an exhibition at the South Side Community Art Center showing their latest works. And we asked for their cooperation in the production of a catalog for that show. On the first day we sponsored an honoring ceremony and opening reception, free to the public, for the artists - Marva Pitchford Jolly, clay artist; Makeba Kedem DuBose, painter; Adedayo (Dayo) Laoye, painter; Dale Washington, painter;
and Julian Williams, painter. On the second day we hosted a roundtable discussion that brought together a large and very diverse group of African American artists and collectors. There was a very stimulating discussion on the development of productive relationships between artists and collectors in Chicago’s African American communities. On the third day the members of Diasporal Rhythms opened our homes and the Dixon Elementary School for a tour ... showing the works, collected over the years, of the honored artists. It was quite a success. The catalog for that show is presently in the final draft before printing.

 

 

 

 

 

The former governor of New York State, Mario M. Cuomo, speaking of the African-American visual artist, Che Baraka, his work as a painter and cultural contributions in the visual arts to the people and communities of New York stated:

"Che Baraka, to my thinking, belongs to that extraordinary order of human beings, namely those that believe one person can change the world. Moreover, the evidence for this is provided in his accomplishments of the past twenty-five years.

He (Che Baraka) has taken that immeasurable element of civilization's activities, the visual arts, and welded them as a viable instrument for social change and human empowerment. Che Baraka (l) and Mario M. Cuomo (r) foreground. The opening reception of the first exhibition of African American artists, held at the Governor's Offices of 1 World Trade Center, New York. Curated by Che Baraka.

As a profoundly gifted and accomplished visual artist and as an immensely innovative arts administrator, he has affected, in the most positive sense, the lives of countless individuals. And for the residents of our marginalized and disenfranchised neighborhoods, through the community arts organizations for which he provided outstanding stewardship; he made the 'assumed impossible'---obviously possible."

--- Mario M. Cuomo, Chairman, New York State Awards in the Visual Arts, Plaza Hotel, New York, December 12, 1995

 

 

 

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