Giants Among US

In 2010 or 2011 I was at the Hyde Park Art Center participating in open critique.  I brought in 3 or 4 pieces to be discussed.  A few people that lead the critique were notable voices like Dawoud Bey and Paul Klein.  Anytime you show your work publicly it stands to reason that some not so nice things can be said…. At some point in your professional career you have to take some bullets; albeit verbal, they can hurt just the same.

In the crowd that night was Joyce Owens.  I had recently met her at the annual Delta show and became an instant fan of her work.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Joyce became a mentor figure.  Also in the audience that night was a very young Max Sansing.  It would be the very first time we meet.  Little did I know that we would end up going numerous exhibits together.

Mr. Klein started along a path of dialogue that questioned the use of bright colors in figurative work and these colors being use more particularly by African American artist.  Before I could answer his question I heard a voice over my shoulder.  It was Joyce.  They debated like ancient philosophers, and the sharpness of her tongue and brilliant mind claimed her the victor.  I saw a nodding approval from Max and a soft wink from Joyce.   I understood at that moment that I had allies in the art world:  more specifically, the Chicago art market had a community of Black artist that truly cared about each other and the potential growth as individuals and with our craft.

This was a random night on the south side of Chicago – and I’m sure it meant nothing to anyone there.  BUT 50 years from now will someone say, “hey, remember the night in Hyde Park where these Giants stood and talked about art?”  My goals in life are humongous -  I’ve witnessed the growth of my sister Joyce.  The sky is the limit for my brother Max.  And Dawoud is already an ICON.   Many decades from now, I want someone to REMEMBER THAT NIGHT and the GREATNESS that came from it.