Sitting between Richmond and San Francisco is a shallow estuary and bay. The waters serve as a bridge of intelligent dialogue and expression. Last week didn’t disappoint with thought provoking discussion and artworks. California leads on the West and left coast.
First stop was Marking Space at the Richmond Art Center and it delivered. The exhibit featured artists Mari Andrews, Robert Brady, Genevieve Hastings, Jan Nunn, Gay Outlaw, Lucy Puls, and Tracey Snelling. Artists with impressive resumes and accolades undoubtedly ready for public consumption. The gallery was activated with a mature collection authentic in presentation and concept. A majority of women artists dominated the spotlight.
From the RAC website: “These artists present personal work investigating language, the body, and the very nature of image and recognition, space and orientation. Materiality is explored; materiality is challenged. The objects in space are spread out and then the physical is expanded through the integration of media. And throughout these artworks, a narrative emerges and re-emerges: self, home, loss, boundaries…”
Another remarkable local event was the Liberty Loving People: Black Abolitionists and the Struggle Over Slavery in California part of Presidio Dialogues in San Francisco. Susan D. Anderson presented historical documents interwoven with performances from Susheel Bibbs as abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant and actor Adimu Madyun as abolitionist Peter Lester. History was alive and honestly real.
From the program description: “Admitted into the United States as a free state, California’s legislature passed a Fugitive Slave Act in 1852, and was a site for the Underground Railroad, as well as contests in the courts over who was legally free.” The talk highlighted the remarkable life of Mary Ellen Pleasant known as “The Mother of Civil Rights in California” whose important part in slavery abolition shaped history.
Marking Space includes reclaiming expression, narratives, and history. The perversion of truth has eroded into an “alternative facts” world. The national attack on the arts and reshaping of history to normalize supremacy continues today. Truth is difficult to dismantle and destroy. Evidence can be found close to home. The truth is that strong women created our shared history and will continue to do so today…
Mary Ellen Pleasant: “I’d rather be a corpse than a coward.”