“Black Panther & Fairy Paintings”
Featured at: Harlem Arts Salon-NYC
Sept. 8-Oct. 20, 2007
By Sandra Vista
An artist’s blend: a pinch of wit, a scoop of oral brilliance, and the essence of visual assemblies…
Salon gatherings are legendary in Paris and New York. While I was in New York for the launching of White Hot Magazine (September 6-8) I journeyed to Harlem to experience a true artists’ salon. Rodney Terich Leonard, the founder and curator of Harlem Arts Salon, has tapped into the holy grail of salon life by providing an environment that is designed to support visual artists and poets. He blends a familial setting with copious amounts of food, drink, and chemistry. His salesmanship is somewhere between a Girl Scout selling peanut butter savannahs and a car salesman selling a fully loaded 2008 Escalade.
Tony Gray, a New York based artist, showcased two paintings portraying stylized images of Black Panthers and one of Male Mermaids. I am familiar with Tony’s Black Fairies Series that he previously exhibited in Los Angeles in 2002. At the time, I remember him saying that one of the reasons for the Black Fairies Series was that there were no images of fairies in African-American folklore. This particular series consisted primarily of female imagery.
The current work at Harlem Arts Salon consists of male imagery. The two Black Panther paintings represent paired images of lyrically painted Black Panthers that dominate the format of the artists’ board they occupy. The images are reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s early illustrations for department stores and the Mod appeal of the l960’s television show The Avengers. There is an austerity to these two paintings because there is minimal indication of space. The integrity of the material, where the figures exist, remains untouched thereby literally focusing the attention on the figures.
As Tony states about the images: “There is always the suggestion of the child or adolescent in the drawing or choice of subject to draw attention to the early attraction of these images.”
Additionally, Tony is exhibiting a painting of two male mermaids. This painting is an extension of the Black Fairies Series in which he is portraying the mermaids as black figures. In the mermaid painting Tony applies more paint and mixed-media collage to the background and the figures are of varied scale. The underwater fantasy of the figures partners Tony’s voice of the child/adolescent with the continually evolving visual artist.
Also on display, are the paintings of Ronald Ottaviano (Dillon Gallery) and the poetry of Linda Susan Jackson, What Yellow Sounds Like-Tia Chucha Press 2007, Tracy K. Smith, Duende-Graywolf Press 2007, and A.J. Muhammad.
Harlem Arts Salon- Rodney Terich Leonard, Founder & Curator
By appt. only
17 W. 125th St. #4L, Harlem, New York 10027
646-420-0272 / firstname.lastname@example.org
“When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums.” Andy Warhol
Sandra Vista (email@example.com and/or www.sandravista.net)
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Sandra Vista is A freelance journalist in Los Angeles.