July 30, 2011

A Harlem Stop @ the Studio Museum

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/VySyn Photography

After indulging her sweet tooth with a few cupcakes at Tonnie’s Minis on Lenox Ave, SR’s Chante headed to the Studio Museum on 125TH Street to indulge her cultural side.

She stepped into the vestibule and into another world. The Studio Museum is as posh as any other gallery that comes to mind especially coming from its humble beginnings at their original location in a Fifth Avenue loft since 1968. Before opening the grand double doors to the gallery area, there was “Harlem Postcards” exhibition that showcased snapshots of the historic neighborhood and served as an appetizer of what was to come in the museum’s gallery.

The current exhibitions through October 2011 are “Spiral: Perspectives on African-American Art Collective”, “Evidence of Accumulation: Artists in Residence 2010-2011”, Lyle Ashton Harris’ “Self/Portrait”, “As it is As it could be: Expanding the Walls 2011”, “StudioSound” by Kamau Amu Patton and, of course the “Harlem Postcards”.

Each exhibition renders you speechless and will make you two-step backward to see it once more as you grapple with the not-so-obvious meaning. For instance, in the Evidence of Accumulation exhibition, Simone Leigh’s large cowrie shells sculpture symbolizing more than just the ornamental essence of these shells but their economic value as it was the original intent of these shells in African and Asian societies.

"Freedom Now" - Reginald Gammon
The two exhibits that were amazing above all to SR’s Chante were the “Spiral…” and the “Expanding Walls”. The first exhibit that you encounter once you cross the double doors threshold is “Spiral…” It has such an impact with the few pieces showcased – it is something to see! The Spiral exhibit presents works by members of the historic Spiral group, which was a New York–based collective of African-American artists that came together in the 1960s to discuss their relationship to the civil rights movement and the shifting landscape of American art, culture and politics. The group included artists Charles Alston, Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Calvin Douglass, Perry Ferguson, Reginald Gammon, Felrath Hines, Alvin Hollingsworth, Norman Lewis, Earl Miller, William Majors, Richard Mayhew, Merton D. Simpson, Hale Woodruff and James Yeargans. This exhibition brings together iconic figurative and abstract paintings, many of which are in the Museum’s permanent collection, by ten of the original fifteen members. This exhibit is not just aesthetically pleasing but it is visual history before your very eyes.

The second favorite exhibit at the Studio Museum was the “Expanding Walls”, which is an annual exhibition featuring the work of high school participants in the Expanding the Walls: Making Connections to Photography, History and Community program. The work by student photographers are also being displayed along with work by quintessential Harlem photographer James VanDerZee, whose work they have studied. The approach that James VanDerZee took with his work that was featured and how the students used it as a source of inspiration but captured their subjects in their own unique way was inspirational! SR’s Chante was completely invigorated by this exhibit as a budding photographer herself.

The Studio Museum is a must-see! Be sure to stop by for the current exhibitions as well as for their special events and the Target Free Sundays throughout the year!

Coming up this Friday, August 5th, Studio Museums' Uptown Fridays after-work special event for an opportunity to explore the museum for free via a guided tour, dance to music provided by Libation (feat. Ian Friday, Afro Mosaic Soul and Manchildblack), sip on luscious cocktails, mix and mingle with other Harlemites.