Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Kin Killing Kin!" Official Gallery Reception

This has been an incredible Sunday.
I say that after walking an hour and twenty minutes to a gallery reception.
The October skies were cloudy, the temperature was pleasantly warm, and the sweetly singing birds couldn't sound any better....
Okay.
In all honesty, there were no actual birds, more like squirrels, but if those squirrels could sing they would probably sound just like those chirping imaginary birds in my head!
I just had a good, positive feeling about today, intuitively knowing that very soon I would be in the company of some wonderful people.
That I was!
Star of the hour, James Pate graciously socialized with the best of Dayton art celebs like Willis "Bing" Davis, Dwayne Daniels, Kevin Harris, Delora Bufurd Buchanon, Terry Hitt, other known local artists and admirers of all ages were in attendance!
Rob missed out on an unbelievable experience.
And I'm not talking fried chicken or sugar cookies here!
Alive, hopping, and jazz bopping, Ebonia Gallery was definitely the place to be.
As a good, influential sister, I will make it my business to get my brother's butt into the gallery before the traveling "Kin Killing Kin" leaves the city of Dayton for what may be forever.



James Pate.
What can I say about him that hasn't already been said?
His work is powerful, suspenseful, emotionally riveting.
Literally, the subject matter alone embodies use of every human sense.
Moving poetry, these realistic, fairly large charcoal drawings engage not just the viewer's eyes, but the actively processing mind.
One can almost taste the salty tears from visceral sadness.
Hear the fatal booms of gunshots, loud approaching police sirens that seem to never be on time, and the desperate howling of a mother's cry.
Touch the lifeless body that no longer has a heartbeat.
Smell the disgusting residue from bullet spray and that unmistaken scent of spilled blood filling the nostril passages.
It's depressing to turn on the news and see these stories.
They are an everyday breaking headline.
Family members and friends tearfully screaming, "why? Why did he have to die? He was a good man!"
In the aftermath of senseless blood shed, there is nothing a viewer can do.
Questioning reasons, thirsting for real justice, plotting for vengeance....
No course of action brings back a tragically fallen life.
There is no plausible excuse for black on black violence.
This is not about social, economic class struggle, the impoverished or the uneducated.
No.
"Kin Killing Kin" illustrates mindset and pattern.
In the hardcore streets, a twisted, grotesque occurence that happens over and over again.
Somehow planted in the minds of youth there is a sick notion that it's a part of life to kill one's brother in cold blood.
But when will the cycle end?
The healing begin?
More importantly, how can those two ever come to pass?
In comes art.
By thematically using KKK, a horrifying initial that symbolizes white supremacy, Pate addresses the ugly, dark side of urban life.
Nobody wants to talk about, much less visualize.
But he's putting it out there with a startlingly vicious twist.
When viewers see the African-American man dressed in white coned hats and cloaks, it has to make them shudder with shock, revulsion, and horror of at this unexpected betrayal!
Sophisticated sharp angled lines, well rendered, meticulously savvy value contrasts, and a daring narrative, Pate's uniquely stylized art is no glamorous picnic.
Showcasing not the beauty or glory in violence, but the pain, the suffering, the agony.
It's raw.
It's aggressive.
The eye cannot dare glance away.
These gruesome action packed compositions contain guns, drugs, and the angry, twisted scowl of man.
Poignant iconographic imagery of Mother Africa calls to the viewer.
One must cherish their ancestry, worship the roots of generations before them.
In America, they seem to make African-Americans want to forget Africa, but in Pate's world, she's always there. Up front, at times centered, or whispering in the background, "I am here!"
In the worse of times, she'll always be there as a reminder of origin.
Not just to the black victim, but to the black instigator and the black murderer, Mother Africa is always present.
If the drawings and painting are the highlights, the strategically placed yellow caution tape and floored bullet casings tie everything together in a neat, grisly bow.
We the viewers are standing at various crime scenes, helplessly watching black men aim guns, and witnessing the potential demise of a race filled with such enriched history.
Murdering off their own kind is not the fault of Southern white hooded.
The impending extinction of future promise is that of the black man.
Interesting tidbit- of the bullet casings, Pate said he found them on his daily bike travels around Dayton. Leftover fragments of ignored, forgotten evidence, of a dreadful history that detectives can't find, but yet the artist happens to find visible.
A few pictures of the work cannot replace the intense story in the gallery space.
It must be seen in person!
There are reasons groups from as far as Chicago are coming down to see it.
For this gut wrenching, utterly remarkable body of work speaks for itself.











James Pate with Willis "Bing" Davis, the well-renowned, amazingly gifted Dayton artist and Ebonia Gallery owner. Centered is Audrey Davis, Bing's wife.
Excitingly enough, every piece in "Kin Killing Kin" is owned by one of the famous collectors of African-American artworks- Arthur Primas. Having recently displayed just a teasing taste of what he owned earlier this year at the prestigious Dayton Art Institute, I can honestly conclude by stating that Pate's work is fitted perfectly amongst other greats of the past and of now.
What a huge honor to be bestowed!
Pate has also informed us all of an upcoming mural project right in the vicinity of the gallery and that anyone from students, to artists, to inexperienced onlookers are more than welcomed to pick up a paint brush to help him out.
I'm so beyond thrilled at getting an art posse together so that they too can relish in the gracious opportunity of working with such an extraordinary artist!
Come cold, snow, rain, or shine, if he's there then so are we!


A trio of very influential individuals in the community- the highly intelligently thoughtful, Mrs. Sharon Goins (former Government teacher now high school principal of Thurgood Marshall High), Mr. James Pate, and Mrs. Carol Rogers- one of the most awesome ladies on planet earth!
When Mrs. Goins told us the awful news, that my former high school has only one art class, but no music or theater, it just broke all of our hearts.
Colonel White High School for the Arts thrived and avidly campaigned the arts like nobody's business!
With its proudly courageous cougar mascot keeping an iron tight paw on bringing packed audiences to well received theatre productions, musical performances, and art gallery openings, a sense of unity and burgeoning hope brightened the urban surroundings of Wabash and Niagara!
Now with being called Thurgood Marshall and sounding like its been stripped of its glorious magic, the high school students are being robbed of a nurturing creative outlet.
We just have to band together.
They need us more than ever.
If we have to fight to keep art, I say let's put on the war painted body armor and charge!



Heehee! I squeaked for joy at this!
Lovely capture of my bestie and me by Double D or Dwayne Daniels, our softly spoken, very professional photographer!
We had such a blast today- catching up with the elite of Dayton art world while checking out Pate's captivating work.
Easily one of the best artist receptions I've ever been invited too!


Me with yours truly, a quickly risen Daytonian ( Alabama born and Cincinnati raised) artist/prophet and one of the friendliest, most humble, down-to-earth men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Even though he taught me what I thought was everything I needed to know about drawing in high school, out of the classroom and inside of this very gallery, he is still teaching.
Art is more than about what you see.
It's about what you know too.

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