AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s “Successions” solo at American University featured in Culture Type, Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah

7 Sep

From California to Chicago, Tennessee to Maine, 15 of Summer’s Best Museum Exhibitions Remain on View This Fall

by VICTORIA L. VALENTINE on Sep 6, 2021 • 6:58 am

A BROAD SELECTION of exhibitions opened at art museums throughout the United States over the summer months. A great number of these shows remain on view, some through September, others further into the fall and beyond. Major traveling exhibitions of Bob Thompson, Joseph Yoakum, and Alma Thomas are underway. The first solo museum exhibitions of Caroline Kent and Simphiwe Ndzube are debuting in Chicago and Denver, while the first survey exhibitions of Jamal Cyrus and Jacolby Satterwhite are on view in Houston and Pittsburgh. Jennifer Packer and Cauline Smith have shows in Los Angels and Houston. In Nashville, a major retrospective of legendary sculptor William Edmondson is being staged, the first such presentation in two decades:


ARNOLD JOSEPH KEMP, Possible Bibliography, 2015-20 (52 black and white archival inkjet prints Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag; unique closed edition. 6.83 x 10 inches each. | © Arnold Joseph Kemp. Fine Art Collection, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Photo courtesy artist and Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland

“Arnold Joseph Kemp: I would survive. I could survive. I should survive.” @ Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis | June 3–Nov. 12, 2021

A one gallery show, “I would survive. I could survive. I should survive,” consists of photography, two paintings, and a sculpture by Chicago artist Arnold Joseph Kemp. The presentation is anchored by “Possible Bibliography” (2015-20), a grid-style installation of 52 photographs. In each of the images, Kemp’s hands are holding a book from his personal library by Hilton Als, James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Okwui Enwezor, Glenn Ligon, Toni Morrison, Fred Moten, Adrian Piper, and Robert Farris Thompson, among many other authors. The work explores “how histories and canons impact and are impacted by the personal, the political, and the collective.”


Installation view of “Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning,” Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, Texas (June 5-Sept. 26, 2021). | Courtesy Blaffer Art Museum

“Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning” @ Blaffer Art Museum at University of Houston, Texas | June 5-Sept. 26, 2021

The first survey exhibition of Houston artist Jamal Cyrus spans 15 years, from 2005 to 2021. The recipient of the 2020 Driskell Prize, Cyrus considers how African American identity has evolved across time, borders, and Black political movements. More than 50 works are on view, spanning work on paper and denim, assemblage works, textiles, collage, installation, and performance. The exhibition is presented in partnership with “Levels & Layers: An Artist’s Reflections on Third Ward,” curated by Cyrus at the University Museum at Texas Southern University.


JOSEPH YOAKUM, “Rain Bow Bridge in in Bryce Canyon National Park near Henriville Utah,” stamped 1968. | Collection of the Roger Brown Study Collection

“Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw” @ Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois | June 12-Oct. 18, 2021

Born in Ash Grove, Mo., Joseph E. Yoakum (1891–1972), traveled internationally with several circuses and, during World War I, served in an all–African American noncombat unit in Europe. Living on Chicago’s South Side at age 71, he began drawing fascinating landscapes based in part on observations from his travels, but largely influenced by his imagination and spiritual vision. Over the next decade, he produced about 2,000 works. More than 100 of the pen, pencil, pastel, and watercolor on paper works are featured in “What I Saw.” The exhibition travels next to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and then on to the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.


Installation view of “Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe,” Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colo., June 13-Oct. 10, 2021. Shown, from left, “The Bloom of the Corpse Flower,” 2020 (acrylic paint on canvas and mixed media, 94 1/2 x 79 inches) and “Bhekizwe Riding through the Garden of Earthly Delights,” 2020 (polyurethane resin, found spade, welded steel, found clothing and cloth, wood, acrylic paint, silicone, spray paint, foam coat, and acrylic eyes). | Courtesy Denver Art Museum

“Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe” @ Denver Art Museum in Colorado | June 13-Oct. 10, 2021

The first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Simphiwe Ndzube features a new body of work—eight paintings, sculpture, and sculptural paintings. The exhibition “integrates themes related to power, conflict, and the search for freedom through a Pink Universe,” a fantasy world invented by the artist that draws on magical realism and post-apartheid history. South African-born Ndzube lives and works in Los Angeles.


JENNIFER PACKER, “Idle Hands,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 90 x 84 inches / 228.6 x 213.36 cm). | The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee. 2021. Image courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, Corvi-Mora, London

“Jennifer Packer: Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep” @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in Calif. | July 1, 2021-Feb. 21, 2022

Jennifer Packer makes poetic portraits and floral still lifes. Her first exhibition on the West Coast, “Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep” features new and recent drawings and paintings by the New York-based artist.

The exhibition follows “Jennifer Packer: The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing” at Serpentine Galleries in London, Packer’s first solo show outside the United States. This fall, the traveling exhibition opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.


Installation view of “Alma Thomas: Everything is Beautiful,” Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. (July 9-Oct. 3, 2021). | Courtesy Chrysler Museum of Art

“Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful” @ Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. | July 9 – Oct. 3, 2021

The first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1972), Alma Thomas is associated with her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C., and celebrated for her large-scale, vibrantly colored abstract paintings made in the latter years of her life. “Everything is Beautiful” looks at her career through a wider lens, exploring the full spectrum of her creativity—her paintings, as well as her love of fashion, gardening, teaching, performing arts, and more. Accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog, the traveling exhibition also focuses on her roots in Columbus, Ga., where she was born.


Installation view of “Toward Common Cause,” Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (July 15-Dec. 19, 2021). Shown, Rick Lowe’s “Black Wall Street Journey.” | Courtesy Smart Museum of Art

“Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40” @ Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago | July 15–Dec. 19, 2021

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the McArthur Foundation Fellows Program, “Toward Common Cause” presents new and re-contextualized works by 29 visual artists and former fellows, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Mark Bradford, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Whitfield Lovell, Rick Lowe, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis, and Fred Wilson. Presented at multiple venues throughout Chicago, the Smart Museum is the main site with related programming including “Carrie Mae Weems: A Land of Broken Dreams” at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center and “Toward Common Cause at the Stony Island Arts Bank.”


CAULEEN SMITH, “Camera, Pen, or Gun?,” 2017 (recto/verso: satin, poly-satin, silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, rayon- polyester ribbon, acrylic fabric paint, satin cord, poly-silk tassel, and sequins, 73 x 47 inches). | The Mohn Family Trust

“Cauleen Smith: We Already Have What We Need” @ Contemporary Art Museum Houston in Texas | July 15-Oct. 3, 2021

Over the course of her career, Los Angeles-based artist Cauleen Smith “has harnessed acts of imagination and the power of revolutionary thinking to envision a better world.” Her latest exhibition features film, video, sculpture, textiles, installation, and drawing. The show’s title (“We Already Have What We Need”) is adapted from the video installation at the center of the presentation, which reminds us to take care of each other and the planet in order to sustain our existence. The theme carries throughout the works in the exhibition, emphasizing “acts of caring as antidotes to the injustices and inequities that shape our past and present.”

The exhibition coincides with “Give It or Leave It,” the traveling exhibition currently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and “Cauleen Smith: Stars in My Pocket and the Rent is Due” at Charles White Elementary School. The site of the original campus of Otis Art Institute is now a satellite venue of LACMA.


BOB THOMPSON, “Stairway to the Stars,” circa 1962 (oil and photostat on Masonite, 40 × 60 inches / 101.6 × 152.4 cm). | Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

“Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine” @ Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine | July 20, 2021–Jan. 9, 2022

“This House Is Mine” is only the second museum retrospective of Bob Thompson (1937–1966) and the first dedicated to the artist in more than 20 years. Born in Louisville, Ky., his transatlantic career was highly productive during the short period he was active, from 1958-1966. Featuring paintings and works on paper drawn from more than 50 public and private collections, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.


From left, LAURA WHEELER WARING, “Woman Wearing Orange Scarf,” 1940 (oil on canvas, 17 x 12 inches); and MAY HOWARD JACKSON, “Portrait Bust of an African,” 1899 (bronze, 21 x 12.75 inches). | Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum

“The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection” @ Tacoma Art Museum in Washington | July 31-Nov. 28, 2021

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection has toured the world. Currently on view in Tacoma, Wash., the collection explores the African American experience through paintings, sculpture, photographs, rare books, letters, and manuscripts. The works date from 1595 to present. Unrivaled by other private collections, the holdings were assembled by Shirley and Bernard Kinsey over five decades.


Installation view of “Chicago Works: Caroline Kent,” MCA Chicago (Aug 3, 2021–Apr 3, 2022). | Photo by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

“Chicago Works: Caroline Kent” @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago | Aug. 3, 2021-April 3, 2022

The first solo museum exhibition of Chicago artist Caroline Kent is a site-specific installation titled “Victoria/Veronica: Making Room.” Staged in an immersive domestic environment, the presentation features large-scale abstract paintings, sculptures, sound, and architectural interventions.


WILLIAM EDMONDSON (American, 1874-1951), “Bess and Joe,” circa 1930-40 (limestone, 17 ¼ × 20 ¼ × 10 ½ inches). | Gift of Salvatore Formosa Sr., Mrs. Pete Formosa Sr., and Mrs. Rose Formosa Bromley and Museum Purchase through the Stallworth Bequest

“The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework” @ Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, Tenn. | Aug. 12-Oct. 31, 2021

The first major museum exhibition of Tennessee-born William Edmondson (c. 1874-1951) in 20 years draws from public and private collections and features 20 works from Cheekwood, the largest repository of the artist’s work. After retiring from a series of manual labor jobs, Edmondson received a divine calling and began carving chunks of salvaged limestone and street curbs into modernist sculptures, gravestones, and garden ornaments. In 1937, he became the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A new fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition.


JACOLBY SATTERWHITE, “We Are In Hell When We Hurt Each Other,” 2020 (HD digital video). | © Jacolby Satterwhite, Courtesy the artist

“Jacolby Satterwhite: Spirits Roaming on the Earth” @ Miller Institute for Contemporary Art at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. | Aug. 14-Dec. 5, 2021

The first major solo exhibition of Jacolby Satterwhite, “Spirits Roaming on the Earth” surveys 10 years of his conceptual practice, spanning video, sculpture, installations, dance tracks, and performance. A new monograph titled “How lovly is me being as I am” accompanies the exhibition.


DAVID HARTT, “The Histories (after Duncanson),” 2020 (tapestry: polyester, cotton, wool, polyester cotton, acrylic, cashmere, 113 1/16 × 174 inches / 287.2 × 442 cm). | Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Kerry James Marshall and Cheryl Lynn Bruce, 2021.13

“Hammer Projects: David Hartt” @ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Aug. 21, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022

David Hartt’s single gallery show is a multimedia installation “examining the relationships between culture, geography, and colonial histories in the Americas in the 19th century.” The installation employs sound and textiles, including a tapestry based on “Blue Hole on the Little Miami River” (1851), the painting by Robert S. Duncanson (1821–1872). A Canadian artist, Hartt lives and works in Philadelphia.


AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, “The eternal altar for the women forsaken and souls relinquished. Yet the choice must always remain hers. El altar eterno de las mujeres abandonadas y las almas renunciadas. Sin embargo, la elección siempre debe ser de ella.,” 2020 (mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 24 inches). | © Amber Robles-Gordon, Courtesy the artist

“Successions: Traversing US Colonialism: Amber Robles-Gordon” @ American University Museum, Washington, D.C. | Aug. 28-Dec. 12, 2021

“Successions” presents abstract paintings, collages, and quilts produced by Washington-D.C.-based artist Amber Robles-Gordon in 2020 and 2021. Using the tools of abstraction, Robles-Gordon questions “who has access to resources, citizenship, and the right to sovereignty,” in the District of Columbia, where voting representation in Congress remain elusive, and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,. Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, the exhibition is accompanied by a new publication. CT

BOOKSHELF
“The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework” documents the retrospective hosted by Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. The new fully illustrated catalogs, “Bob Thompson: This House is Mine” and “Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful” accompany major traveling exhibitions. “Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw” documents the exhibition of the same name, another traveling show. “Oracles Of The Pink Universe: Simphiwe Ndzube” accompanies the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. “Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied with Seeing” and “Jacolby Satterwhite: How lovly is me being as I am” are forthcoming in November. “Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning” is forthcoming in January. “David Hartt: The Histories” is forthcoming in February. Earlier publications include “David Hartt: For Everyone a Garden” and “Stray Light,” a time capsule that assembles Hartt’s photographs of the Johnson Publishing Building in Chicago, shortly before it was sold. Also consider, The Kinsey Collection.

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