Monday, April 25, 2011

Soup 2 Nuts

I have been selected as the next artist to present for the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Arts'  event titled Soup to Nuts. It is new patron membership event (postmodernist & above) and promises to be a lively event. The event will be hosted in my studio and I must say I am looking forward to sharing my highs and (mostly) lows in my pursuit of art. It should be a lively event!

A brief description of the event:

Soup to Nuts is an American English idiom conveying the meaning of "from beginning to end." The phrase comes from the description of a full course dinner in which courses progress from a soup to a dessert of nuts.

It is the "from beginning to end" part that makes Soup to Nuts dinner unique. These dinners are intimate casual affairs with artists serving as the main to course. Of course we don't eat the artist! Rather, we eat soup & devour the featured artist's creative process, as they describe inspiration, passions, grunt work, and ultimately, final result. Lively conversation ensues.  

I have been a member of HICA for the past three years and urge anyone that is interested in supporting an arts organization dedicated to presenting some of the finest contemporary art in the country, to join. You can now donate online. For more info: Click Here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One of the most amazing videos I've ever seen!

I don't normally post spurious internet videos that I find intriguing but in this case this video was too good to be true. Hear Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' played on a wooden staircase with no additional music - just the sound of nature, a ball, a long wooden xylophone and gravity. It is a blend of creativity and innovative thinking at it's finest. Well done!

This makes up for the shitty day I had yesterday and puts me in the mood to be creative again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I need a drink

What a fucking shitty day of painting. I've been working on a portrait for a week and got so frustrated with it I pulled it off the wall and ripped it to shreds. Fuck off, art.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Art - Out of Bondage

Alright, time to go on another creative streak again. This spring is starting to heat up for me with a few projects on the horizon as well as a list of paintings in my head that need to get out. The first one up is yet another sub-set of the Plantation Series titled the 'out of bondage' series. I was looking at some images online at the Library of Congress from the civil war and reconstruction era and was amazed at some of the pictures of slaves and freedmen. I downloaded a few out and composed them in a series of compositions that  is meant to show the strength and enduring legacy of a people that were historically marginalized for centuries but somehow endured their hardship and thrived through adversity. There will be no usual Quashie styled political antics associated with these paintings - the images speak for themselves. The first painting is that of Richard Toler, a Virginia slave freed by the emancipation proclamation. In the original image he was standing on a street corner but I moved him to a rural setting.

Out of Bondage 1 (Richard Toler)
52" x 69"
oil on canvas
(select to view larger)

Richard Toler was born near Lynchburg in Campbell County, Virginia. He was the son of George Washington Toler and Lucy Toler, and the slave of Henry Toler. As a youngster, Richard Toler tended to the cows and calves on his master’s 500-acre farm; later, he hoed in the fields. He learned blacksmithing as a slave, and after emancipation he earned his living as a smith for 36 years. After the Civil War he bought a fiddle, and became an accomplished musician, playing for white dances and at hoe downs. He recalls medical treatment under slavery, as well as details of diet and clothing. He also recalls the brutal whipping of young girls by his master’s sons.

“Ah never fit in de wah; no suh, ah couldn’t. Mah belly’s been broke! But ah sho’ did want to, and ah went up to be examined, but they didn’t receive me on account of mah broken stomach. But ah sho’ tried, ’cause ah wanted to be free. Ah didn’t like to be no slave. Dat wasn’t good times.”

“Ah never had no good times till ah was free”, the old man continued. “Ah was bo’n on Mastah Tolah’s (Henry Toler) plantation down in ole V’ginia, near Lynchburg in Campbell County. Mah pappy was a slave befo’ me, and mah mammy, too. His name was George Washington Tolah, and her’n was Lucy Tolah. We took ouah name from ouah ownah, and we lived in a cabin way back of the big house, me and mah pappy and mammy and two brothahs.

”They nevah mistreated me, neithah. They’s a whipping the slaves all the time, but ah run away all the time. And I jus’ tell them – if they whipped me, ah’d kill ‘em, and ah nevah did get a whippin’. If ah thought one was comin’ to me, Ah’d hide in the woods; then they’d send aftah me and they say, ‘Come, on back, – we won’t whip you’. But they killed some of the niggahs, whipped ‘em to death. Ah guess they killed three or fo’ on Tolah’s place while ah was there.

“Ah never went to school. Learned to read and write my name after ah was free in night school, but they nevah allowed us to have a book in ouah hand, and we couldn’t have no money neither. If we had money we had to tu’n it ovah to ouah ownah. Chu’ch was not allowed in ouah pa’t neithah. Ah go to the Meth’dist Chu’ch now, everybody ought to go. I think religion must be fine, 'cause God Almighty's at the head of it."

Toler took a small piece of ice from the lard can, popped it between his toothless gum, smacking enjoyment, swished at the swarming flies with a soiled rag handkerchief, and continued.

“Ah nevah could unnerstand about ghos’es. Nevah did see one. Lots of folks tell about seein’ ghos’es, but ah nevah feared ‘em. Ah was nevah raised up undah such supastitious believin’s.

“We was nevah allowed no pa’ties, and when they had goin’ ons at the big house, we had to clear out. Ah had to wo’k hard all the time every day in the week. Had to min’ the cows and calves, and when ah got older ah had to hoe in the field. Mastah Tolah had about 500 acres, so they tell me, and he had a lot of cows and ho’ses and oxens, and he was a big fa’mer. Ah’ve done about evahthing in mah life, blacksmith and stone mason, ca’penter, evahthing but brick-layin’. Ah was a blacksmith heah fo’ 36 yea’s. Learned it down at Tolah’s.

“Ah stayed on the plantation during the wah, and jes’ did what they tol’ me. Ah was 21 then. And ah walked 50 mile to vote for Gen’l Grant at Vaughn’s precinct. Ah voted fo’ him in two sessions, he run twice. And ah was 21 the fust time, cause they come and got me, and say, ‘Come on now. You can vote now, you is 21.’ And theah now – mah age is right theah. ‘Bout as close as you can git it. “Ah was close to the battle front, and I seen all dem famous men. Seen Gen’l Lee, and Grant, and Abe Lincoln. Seen John Brown, and seen the seven men that was hung with him, but we wasn’t allowed to talk to any of ‘em, jes’ looked on in the street. Jes’ spoke, and say ‘How d’ do.

“But ah did talk to Lincoln, and ah tol’ him ah wanted to be free, and he was a fine man, ’cause he made us all free. And ah got a ole history, it’s the Sanford American History, and was published in 1784. But ah don’t know where it is now, ah misplaced it. It is printed in the book, something ah said, now written by hand. And it says, ‘Ah am a ole slave which has suvved fo’ 21 yeahs, and ah would be quite pleased if you could help us to be free. We thank you very much. Ah trust that some day ah can do you the same privilege that you are doing for me. Ah have been a slave for many years.

“Aftah the wah, ah came to Cincinnati, and was married three times. Mah fust wife was Mannie. Then there was Mollie. They both died, and then ah was married Cora heah, and ah had six child’en, one girl and fo’ boys. They’s two living yet; James is 70 and he is not married. And Bob’s about thutty or fo’ty. Ah done lost all mah rememb’ance, too ole now. But Mollie died when he was bo’n, and he is crazy. He is out of Longview (Home for Mentally infirm) now fo’ a while, and he jes’ wanders around, and wo’ks a little. He ha’mless, he wouldn’t hurt nobody. He ain’t married neithah.<

“After the wah, ah bought a fiddle, and ah was a good fiddlah. Used to be a fiddlah fo’ the white girls to dance. Jes’ picked it up. It was a natural gif’. Ah could still play if ah had a fiddle. Ah used to play at our hoe downs, too. Played all those ole time songs – Soldier’s Joy, Jimmy Long Josey, Arkansas Traveler, and Black Eye Susie. Ah remembah the wo’ds to that one.”

Smiling inwardly with pleasure as he again lived the past, the old Negro swayed and recited:

Black Eye Susie, you look so fine,
Black Eye Susie, ah think youah mine.
A wondahful time we’re having now,
Oh, Black Eye Susie, ah believe that youah mine.

And away down we stomp aroun’ the bush,

We’d think that we’d get back to wheah we could push
Black Eye Susie, ah think youah fine,
Black Eye Susie, Ah know youah mine.

Then, he resumed his conversational tone:

“Befo’ the wah we never had no good times. They took good care of us, though. As pa’taculah with slave as with the stock – that was their money, you know. And if we claimed bein’ sick, they’d give us a dose of castah oil and tu’pentine. That was the principal medicine cullud folks had to take, and sometimes salts. But nevah no whiskey – that was not allowed. And if we was real sick, they had the Doctah fo’ us.

“We had very bad eatin’. Bread, meat, water. And they fed it to us in a trough, jes’ like the hogs. And ah went in may [sic] shirt till I was 16, nevah had no clothes. And the flo’ in ouah cabin was dirt, and at night we’d jes’ take a blanket and lay down on the flo’. The dog was supe’ior to us; they would take him in the house.

“Some of the people I belonged to was in the Klu Klux Klan. Tolah had fo’ girls and fo’ boys. Some of those boys belonged. And I used to see them turn out. They went ’round whippin’ niggahs. They get young girls and strip ‘em sta’k naked, and put ‘em across barrels, and whip ‘em till the blood run out of ‘em, and then they would put salt in the raw pahts. And ah seen it, and it was as bloody aroun’ em as if they’d stuck hogs.

“I sho’ is glad I ain’t no slave no moah. Ah thank God that ah lived to pas the yeahs until the day of 1937. Ah’m happy and satisfied now, and ah hopes ah see a million yeahs to come.”

Source: The American Slave, Vol. 16: 97-101.