Friday, September 08, 2006

Kehinde Wiley Busts at CerealArt + Michael K. Williams on Playing "Gay" + Schwarzenegger on "Hot"-Blooded Latinos

CerealArt, a Philadelphia gallery, writes to say that it will be issuing the first two in a series of three busts by artist Kehinde Wiley (1977-), who is probably best known for his striking portraits of young Black men, usually evoking vernacular and hiphop culture, which are painted in a style that fuses appropriations of the religious iconic tradition and Renaissance to 19th century portraiture. The busts, pictured below, move the imagery from two to three dimensions.

They write unironically (I think) of the busts,

The first bust is a Bernini influenced, Baroque style composition positioning a young man dressed in contemporary urban street attire styled as a 17th century monarch. The heroic pose is vigorously alive and imperious. The cloak, or hoodie in this case, is swept up, as if by a gust of wind, and the figure turns with resolute composure in the direction of the wind, as if calmly facing a challenge.

The 2nd Neoclassical bust is reminiscent of a philosopher in Rafael’s legendary "School of Athens". The strong, athletic young man dressed in street attire holds a book, scepter and a cognac bottle substituted for a wine jug. His soul searching contemplative eyes are have the feeling of Cezanne's "Still Life with Skull" or Rogier van der Weyden "Portrait of a Man Holding a Book." The composition is familiar but the influences are beyond easy recognition. The philosopher appears as a hero in pursuit of revealing the universal truth in the 21st Century.

Both pieces are for sale in limited editions of 250. Thoughts? Comments?

Other artists in the CerealArt stall include the late Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Kenny Scharf, Laurie Simmons, Maurizio Cattelan, and Ryan McGuinness. CerealArt also is offering limited edition, quite affordable manga-influenced glassware by Yoshitomo Nara, and a deliciously kitsch resin jewel box by Kristen Hassenfeld. For more information and images, you can visit the CerealArt website, or drop in their gallery, at CEREALART, 149 N.3rd Street, Philadelphia PA 19106 T 215.627.5060 F 215.627.5061

Michael K. Williams on Playing Gay
Bernie sent along a link to a recent AfterElton interview with actor Michael K. Williams, who plays the sgl gangster Omar Little on HBO's critically critically lauded drama The Wire. Williams, a former dancer and choreographer, offers some fresh thoughts on his experience playing a character you seldom see on television or in other media. The interview mentions that he's been slammed by some people in the African-American community, while also receiving dap from young Black gay men who're pleased to see a depiction that breaks out of the usual stereotypes. Williams comments, like his acting, emphasize the fact of Omar's complexity, his humanity, and his refreshing self-acceptance, which I would say represents a particular representation of urban, working-class Black America that I've seen and lived but almost never really seen onscreen, especially in such a rich, authentic and positive light, until Omar. (Rod 2.0 covers this interview as well, and includes prior links to interviews with actor Keith Hamilton Cobb, the formerly dreadlocked former star of Andromeda and former B2K singer Raz-B, both of whom took their acting turns on Noah's Arc in equitable stride.) Thinking about Williams's stellar performances on The Wire and reading this and other interviews make me want to see Matt Mahurin's 1995 indie film MugShot, which Williams starred in, playing a wannabe photographer and gang member named Rumor who kidnaps a white photographer. There are only a few comments on IMDb about it, but two are enthusiastic.

The Black Field Hand's (Most Recent) Racial Gaffe
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who just vetoed legislation that would prohibit negative portrayals of lgbt people in California textbooks, appears to have (again) joined the GOP hoof-in-mouth club with recorded comments from earlier this year that traffic in the sorts of ignorant essentialism so many people cannot let go of. Specifically, the LA Times obtained a tape containing comments about how "mixed blood" makes Cubans and Puerto Ricans "hot." The object of his racialist riffing was Bonnie Garcia, the lone Republican Latina in the California state legislature. Schwarzenegger, who is laying the groundwork for his reelection run next year, said that it didn't matter whether she was Cuban or Puerto Rican, because ""I mean, they are all very hot....They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it." He has a record on this subject: he is on tape rhapsodizing about "mulatas'" bodies and sexiness while at Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval, and allegedly uttered racial epithets about Black bodybuilders he was competing against. Of course he apologized for his racist remarks, and Garcia, in obliging hanky-headed fashion, stated that the grossly stereotypical and misinformed comments weren't a big deal because, she said, "Very often I tell him, 'Look, I am a hot-blooded Latina.' I label myself a hot-blooded Latina that is very passionate about the issues, and this is kind of an inside joke that I have with the governor."

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