Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sports + Barkley L. Hendricks at Studio Museum in Harlem

Okay, at first I was thinking, nothing literary today. The "apparatus with which I think" (Bierce) is tired. So: sports. And specifically: baseball.

Yesterday, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was named the MLB's 2008 National League Most Valuable Player. Pujols hit .357 with 37 home runs and 116 RBI, and had an on-base percentage of. He beat out the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies' (and native St. Louisan) strapping slugger, Ryan Howard, who hit 48 homes (first in the league) and drove in 146 runs (first), while hitting only .251.

Albert Pujols, aka El Hombre (or Prince Albert, Phat Albert, The Machine, and my personal tag for him, Big Papa, Photo: Emily Rasinski/P-D)

Pujols was easily a more consistently dangerous threat at the plate, with an on-base percentage of .462, and a .653 slugging average, both well ahead of Howard. He was second only to Atlanta's Chipper Jones (.364) in the batting title race.

This is Pujols's second MVP award, making him the first Latino and Dominican player to achieve this status; his first came in 2005. He has been in the top five every single year he's been in the league, save last year, and is the only player in MLB history to have 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in this first 8 seasons. It's not unlikely that if he had better protection in the lineup he could have hit even better. As it was, despite being out 12 games because of injuries, he still helped kept the Cardinals in contention for most of the season, until their late fade, when they finished in 4th place.

Other MLB awards: AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia (Boston); AL Cy Young, Cliff Lee (Cleveland); NL Cy Young, Tim Lincecum (San Francisco); AL Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay); NL Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto (Chicago); AL Manager of the Year, Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay); NL Manager of the Year, Lou Piniella (Chicago).


Bernie T.
pointed out this amazing story to me, and Reggie H. posted about it yesterday, so I'll send you to his blog to read more. Take it away, Reggie:

Since my partner and I got hooked on Rugby thanks to watching the Wallabies, the All-Blacks, and the Tri-Nations tournament on Fox Sports, I can't resist pointing to this video and article about The Hyde Leadership Public Charter School in Washington DC, from the New York Times.

When the team starts the post-game singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," I get all choked up....

Aim High, boys!
I seldom read Newsweek magazine, but I did flip through it today while waiting at the pharmacy, and saw Sarah Bell's article, "Urban Outfitters," which among other things asks why Kehinde Wiley, whose gorgeous new paintings are lighting up New York (in the exhibit "Down" at Deitch Projects and elsewhere) hadn't acknowledged his debt to Barkley L. Hendricks.

Who is Barkley L. Hendricks? Well, interesting that you ask, because today the New York Times offered a brief focus on Hendricks that's worth checking out. Hendricks is an important but little heralded painter whose work from the 1970s on has mapped out a new area in African-American and American vernacular, photorealist portraiture. To give one example of his work, I've posted of my all-time favorite of his works, "North Philly Nigga (William Corbett)," [1975. Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas, 72 ½ x 48 ½ inches. Collection of E. Blake Byrne, Los Angeles], which resoundingly evokes a world I and many others know and recall so well. Many of his most famous paintings, full-size in scope, depict urban black male subjects, sometimes in dandyish fashions, sometimes in street wear, but he also has painted numerous portraits of black women and group images, some inspired by prior works in the Euro-American art tradition, others drawn from his own photos and mass media imagery, as well as from his personal life. He also has exhibited some of his photography, which mines a similar vein.

Hendricks, it turns out, is having his first major retrospective exhibit this year; titled Barkley Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, it's now at the Studio Museum in Harlem (it runs from November 12, 2008-March 15, 2009). (You can hear the great art historian Richard Powell on Hendricks' work, from the exhibit's previous stop at the Nasher Museum of Arts at Duke University website.) A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Yale's art school (BFA, MFA), and a longtime professor at Connecticut College, he has been making his art almost concurrently with the rise of late 20th century vernacular forms such as hip hop, funk and r&b, and his work is the epitome of soul, wit, grit, rawness, queerness, and realness. Although work of this kind hardly seems revolutionary now, especially with the "return" of painting, especially representational and realist painting over the last few years, Hendricks is and should be acknowledged as an important pioneer. His DNA is all up in Wiley's and others' work. So give some props, bruh. And let's all get up to the Studio Museum (and Deitch) if we can!

Hendricks on YouTube (doesn't he sound a little like Chris S.?)

He received a United States Artist award as well this year (congrats to all the other winners, including folks I know, like Harryette Mullen, A. Van Jordan, Tayari Jones, and Forrest Gander, and many I've long admired, like Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Joy Harjo, William Greaves, Jawole Wille Jo Zollar, Ela Troyano, and lê thi diem thúy!)

(Also running simultaneously with this exhibit is AACM philosopher-musician George E. Lewis's Travelogue, a SMH StudioSound exhibit that he writes was "twenty years in the making.)


  1. Pujols as "Prince Albert"....snicker...

    Thanks for the Barkley L. Hendricks tip!

  2. Hey, John. So interesting. Thanks for posting this and making the connection, which I had not done. Met this cat in Chicago. Boy was he lovely, though I think really shy. He had a camera (and a serious one!) the entire time. Boy would I love to see the photos he took. I just know he got some good ones. We did talk to him a bit and he seemed, oh, I don't know, very much like Ed Roberson, which made me warm and really, really like him and really, really wish I'd had a chance, outside of all that fabulousness, to have a conversation about what he was seeing, among other things.

    It was good to see him thus honored. For sure.

    Okay, smooches to you, you brave beauty.


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  4. Excellent post. Wiley's work has always left me distanced never pulled me in. I always sat back like a voyeur unable to connect or feel anything from his works impressive scale/beauty. Hendricks, though, is the funk stirring the gut with the kind of shefunk melody only the 70's could produce. Wiley, while I like his work, is not lovable he's a performer. Subversiveness (which he has been labeled) cannot be attributed alone to the use of black subjects in place of white ones if the artistic devices being used serve no purpose other than validating the high brow qality of the work itself. He neither critiques or deconstructs the devices that he uses. The desexualized nature of the works in such a homo-eroticized context speaks to a kind of overly conscious sterility present throughout his work. With so many opportunities to really wear out his work from so many different locations artistically I'm put off that he selected to take a conservative commercial path to success. Hendrick's is a much see for any funk fan that use to wonder how the funksters sang so sublime.