San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
On February 25, 1928 the New York Times ran a front page headline promoting an art exhibition opening by a young brother named Archibald J. Motley, Jr. Contextually, this was less than 10 years after the Red Summer of 1919 and marked only the 2nd time that any artist’s show of any nationality was deemed front page worthy.
Archibald Motley was an influential American painter known for his works, on what would come to be known as African-American life. His depictions of urban life within his community were in stark contrast to the more commonly used rural illustrations created by European Americans and his own ethnic contemporaries. Motley eschewed what was commonly popular for his own vision, his own experiences and his own mission to dispel stereotypes and raise the consciousness of all Americans. Validation by the art community was not as important as was his place as a leader in the national movement for Black cultural self-definition. Nonetheless the New York showing was a great success.
Then known as Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston on that same day in 1964. The upstart young challenger infuriated and inspired thousands with his poetic chiding of the champion Liston leading up to the fight. Having predicted an 8th round knock-out, the underdog, Ali was proved wrong when Liston refused to fight at the start of the 7th. Ali’s repeated response: “I’m the greatest!” “I shook up the world!!!” was summed up in his post-fight ring interview with “I’mma bad man!”
Exactly 25 years later “Iron” Mike Tyson defends his Undisputed World Heavyweight Title against England’s Frank Bruno in a 5th round TKO. A fight that had been postponed for about a year, Tyson entered the ring amidst the breakdown of his marriage and an alleged suicide attempt. Despite his growing personal issues Tyson executed an astounding bout, handling the powerfully chiseled Bruno with trademarked expert precision. Though seemingly hurt in the 1st, Mike laid into Bruno with a volley in the 5th causing referee Mills Lane to end the fight.
“One-Man Show of Art By Negro: A Redo” is a Spoken Word take on Motley’s spirit of cultural self-definition and the inspiration shared by two influential sports icons with contemporary offerings of who melanated people are, are becoming and have been within the same plane of time. This exhibition looks at opposition and the resulting resistance as a creative force from which great things come to be. We challenge accepted labels of our people poetically as Ali and Tyson did physically and Motley did visually and offer an alternative perspective of who we are to ourselves and the outside viewer.
Filmmaker, Jonathan Woods creates a lush, enrapturing visual landscape for Khari B. to speak to. This element helps to further fuse Khari’s spoken imagery into the audience’s mind while inspiring even more in-depth questions into this country’s attitude toward its’ so-called minorities and the world’s prejudices rooted in the fairly recent social construct of race. In a minimalist divergence from his usually large ensembles Khari B. is accompanied by violinist Renee Baker and percussionist Jovia Armstrong.
Doors open at 6:30. Show starts promptly at 7:30. Thank U N advance 4 attending.
The performance will be followed by a brief Q & A from the audience to the exhibitors.
This project is made possible, in part, by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and a number of private philanthropists. Many thanks to all of them.