Mixed Media: A trifecta of Civil Rights art shows

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By Caroline Roosevelt, Columnist, The Times

Black Survival Guide

Last week, I went on a field trip to the Delaware Art Museum for their beautiful trifecta show on Civil Rights. The shows, Black Survival Guide: Or How To Live Through A Police Riot, Danny Lyon: Memories of The Southern Civil Rights Movement, and The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman, are an important part of our 2018 dialogue as they touch on elements of history that may have been whitewashed and/or erased from collective white memory. I had heard rave reviews of the exhibition from several sources, and decided to check in out myself.

The first exhibition, Black Survival Guide: Or How To Live Through A Police Riot struck me immediately. The text from the eponymous book was thrown up against retro reflective screen prints of the 1968 police occupation of Wilmington. I will admit, as a white person, I had never heard about this incident, I had not learned about it in secondary school and I had not studied it beyond. The language in the book is startling with its sense of urgency. The matter-of-fact text describes the relationship police for the black population, and how to survive in your home, on lockdown, for extended periods of time. This exhibition is a must-see. It ends Sunday, September 30.

The other two exhibitions, Danny Lyon: Memories of The Southern Civil Rights Movement and, The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman, are in adjoining spaces and flow into each other seamlessly. Danny Lyon, photographer, captures everyday images that are disturbing now, but reflect the racial tension of the time, and whether intentional or not, draws comparisons to dialogues on systemic racism that are relevant today.

The drawings in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, provide a more intimate view of life during this time. Dinnerstein and Silverman are able to capture an impressive amount of detail and personality in just the swift marks of a pencil. As I explored the show on my own, I did take in the varied audience, and one older woman in particular, who looked on at one of the photographs on the wall and leaned over to her friend, “I vaguely remember when this happened,” which felt like a poignant moment, and a realization of the impact of these shows on those who were directly affected by the Civil Rights Movement, and those who, like perhaps members of earlier generations of my family, were onlookers who may not have understood the gravity of the unfolding dialogue and ripple effect into culture today. These two shows end September 9.

First Friday is upon us which means receptions and openings galore. My suggestion is stopping by Delaware Contemporary as they create a fun, full spread around the event. Enjoy the two featured shows:

Introduction to Fourth Dimensionalism, Timmy Graham

Everyday, studio artists Caroline Chen and Brad Vanneman

Delaware Contemporary will also have Outlandish Food Truck and KOI On The Go, as well as a cash bar and live music by Travel Songs. This is where I’ll be starting my First Friday festivities! Stay in Wilmington and check out two shows put on by Blue Streak Gallery. At the gallery, check out Dan Crowley’s show, Celestial Bouquet. Craig Habel’s paintings will be featured at Hotel DuPont. Stop by between 5 – 8pm to check these out.

Check out West Chester for reception at The Art Trust for their new exhibition, Mixed: A Focus On Mixed Media Artists 5-8:30pm. Stop by Kennett Square for a reception at Square Pear Gallery (formerly Mala Galleria) for their September show, Autumn Awaits during the First Friday Art Stroll from 6-9pm.

The Palette & Page in Elkton will be featuring painter Vidya Shyamsundar, and jewelry artist Lynn Strano Whitt. Shyamsundar creates bright, intricate compositions that highlight her Indian heritage. Strano Whitt creates detailed copper wire jewelry, which looks like beautiful mashup of southwest and art nouveau jewelry styles. Stop by between 5 – 8pm.

Next week, tune into Art Watch Radio on WCHE 1520 AM when  Lele Galer, painter and sculptor, interviews – Rebecca Moore of Sommerville Manning Gallery in Wilmington with artist Tim Barr regarding their upcoming exhibition of his work. Until next time!

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