Category Archives: African American Artist

Kara Walker & Her Sugar Sphinx

KARA Walker wall sign

I was delighted to be asked by Women = Books to write this blog entry on the brilliant artist, Kara Walker.

Barbara Chase-Riboud

Went with  my dear friend Ellen to Barbara Chase-Riboud’s show and book signing at  the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York City. A lovely show of some of her bronze and silk work, along with a selection of drawings — including two “drawings” done in silk.

Her dark pieces are most familiar to those who have followed her work over the years, so the glowing “Mao’s Organ” (below) was particularly striking.

The book signing was for her collected poetry 1974-2011, with the beautiful title Every Time a Knot is Untied, A God is Released.

Mao's Organ Chase-Roboud

Thug Kitchen Cookbook Thumbs Down!

Thugs Gotta Eat, But This Is Ridiculous


Image source: theplanetdaniel

The recipes are mundane, but the white authors’ racist stereotypes and insults are hair-raising. Think about it for a moment: How is this funny or a good idea? With spicy language, as with spice when cooking, it’s good to know when enough is enough.

Call me persnickety, but I’m put off by the word “shit” repeated throughout a recipe or other discussion of something I’m planning to eat. Which raises a larger point, these are some tin-eared white folks when in comes to black English (and certainly not all are). They have a remarkably limited vocabulary and zero gift for improvisation. Profane does not equal black. It doesn’t even equal Thug. Sharing food should be a bonding, empathetic, joyful experience. This book is  is mocking and exploitative.

Tug-O’-War For Cleopatra Statue

My late father, a history professor at DePaul University, would never have spoken the first words of this article. And a few other particulars of the story are less than accurate, but I am delighted to be able to archive the piece here.

This discovery, which sparked a bit of contention,  led ultimately to a happy conclusion with the Death of Cleopatra restored and displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Definitely worth a visit.




By Ron Grossman, 20 June 1988

Don`t be fooled by your textbooks’ silence, Marilyn Richardson`s father used to tell her. Black folks have a history, too. We just have to go out and find it.

Last month Richardson made her dad proud. In a storeroom of the Forest Park Mall, she found a long-lost work of Edmonia Lewis, the first black American to win international renown as an artist. It was, however, a bittersweet discovery.

“The Death of Cleopatra,” a life-sized sculpture commissioned for the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, was surrounded by last year`s Christmas decorations and paint cans.

Richardson said Frank Orland, head of the local history society, who had led her to the sculpture, told her that the statue needed “renovating” so it could be put on public view. The Egyptian queen’s white marble face and arms were to be redone in flesh tones, her robe in royal purple, she said Orland told her.

Orland, who also was seeking further information on the work, had taken charge of it two years ago, the latest in a string of caretakers dating to the turn of the century, including a racetrack owner, the Navy, the post office and a Cicero firefighter. None of them, though, knew the sculpture`s full story.

Orland refused to comment on his plans or to allow a photograph of the sculpture to be taken. In a phone interview, he said only, “The Queen is not ready to receive visitors.” He added that he would tell his side of the story in a forthcoming pamphlet, “Cleopatra the Great: Statue of Forest Park.”

“I was excited and heartsick both,” said Richardson, a humanities professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Staring me straight in the face was an important piece of black history which had been missing for 100 years. Only it was …