OK, summer is (almost) officially on! That means that you’ll find a bevy of hot festivals, cool exhibits and exciting adventures of Afrocentric interest all over the globe to delight, entertain, educate and surprise. Here are just a few of the latest waiting for you to enjoy.
Through Oct. 20
- “Things That Cannot Be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive” (Los Angeles): Regarded as one of the foremost contemporary artists in Cuba and the Caribbean, Manuel Mendive “began his career in the early 1960s during a period when dominant Cuban abstract expressionism was waning, which paved new ground by moving beyond the reliance on mainstream Western art forms such as cubism and surrealism.” Now through Oct. 20, the California African American Museum will present the exhibition, “Things That Cannot Be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive.” The exhibition–highlighted by drawings, paintings, sculptures and performances from the early 1960s to the present, giving special focus to discrete themes common across his work, including religion, nationalism and memory–features the 50-year career of this prominent Afro-Cuban artist, and is the first of its kind in the U.S. to focus exclusively on the contemporary visual and material culture of the Afro-Cuban religion, Santeria.
Other events associated with the exhibition include:
- “Painting the Orishas,” a workshop on Afro-Cuban religion on June 15.
- During “Afro-Cuban Beats,” museum visitors are invited to participate with their own drums, listen to the lecture or simply watch the performance on July 27.
- “Black and Cuba,” a documentary following minority students who traveled from the Ivy League halls of Harvard University to Cuba, will be screened on Oct. 19
Through Nov. 10
- “American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s” (Washington, D.C.): Held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the exhibit–hailed as “an unprecedented artistic exploration of the intersections of race, gender and class made in direct response to social upheaval of the times”–encompasses some 45 works from artist Faith Ringgold’s landmark series “American People” (1963-67) and “Black Light” (1967-71), along with related murals and political posters. Together, they represent the first comprehensive survey of her politically charged paintings of the 1960s, which explore the emotional and often controversial issues at the forefront of the artist’s experience of racial inequality in our country at this historic and tumultuous time. 202-783-5000, www.nmwa.org/exhibitions/american-people-black-light
Through Dec. 29
- “Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward” (Birmingham, Ala.): The work of several of the world’s finest contemporary artists, including Theaster Gates, Hank Willis Thomas, Dawoud Bey, Jefferson Pinder and Shinique Smith, will be among the highlights of an unprecedented series of projects that uses contemporary art to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in “Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward.” Presented at the Birmingham Museum Art, the projects are in commemoration of the nearly 50 years that have passed since a bomb blast ripped through the walls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four innocent little girls as well as two boys in the resulting violence later that day.
- “Etched in Collective History” runs Aug. 18-Nov. 17.
- “Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project” runs Sept. 8-Dec. 2.
- “Question Bridge: Black Males” runs Oct. 6-Dec. 29. 205-254-2565, http://artsbma.org/artspeaks
- Taste of Times Square (New York City): Held in world-renowned Times Square on the Broadway Plazas between 42nd and 47th streets, the Taste of Times Square is one of New York City’s most popular annual outdoor food festivals. Each year, this event encompasses signature dishes from Times Square’s best restaurants, live entertainment, street performances and a great deal more. Admission is free and each “taste” ticket is only a buck, with most dishes ranging from $1 to $6. 212-768-1560, www.timessquarenyc.org/events/taste-of-times-square/index.aspx
- 21st annual Capital Jazz Fest (Columbia, Md.): Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, the annual Capital Jazz Fest presents some of the best live contemporary jazz and soul music in one place. Held on a picturesque, 40-acre natural wooded setting known as Symphony Woods at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. (between Washington and Baltimore), the festival draws tens of thousands of music lovers from throughout the country. This year’s lineup includes Babyface, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller, Eric Benet, Dave Koz, Ledisi, Vivian Green, the Whispers, Angie Stone, the Ohio Players and many other venerable artists. In addition to the outstanding vibe, festivalgoers can enjoy artist workshops, culinary stations, art and crafts booths and late night after-parties. 877-435-9849, www.capitaljazz.com/fest
- 36th annual Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival (Coconut Grove, Fla.): Created as “a celebration of culture expression embracing the legacy of a Bahamian-rooted community known as Coconut Grove,” this festival is one of the area’s signature events, encompassing Junkanoo dance, a parade, delicious Bahamian and American cuisine, a children’s area, golf tournament, gospel service and a great deal more, all with a strong Bahamian and African-American vibe. 305-448-9501
- Fifth annual ArtCrawl Harlem (Harlem, N.Y.): Held in conjunction with African-American Music Appreciation Month each June, ArtCrawl Harlem this year celebrates “Motown to Def Jam,” a multi-gallery visual art exhibition celebrating songs from the catalogs of Chess, Def Jam, Motown, Stax and Philadelphia International Records. Four Harlem art galleries, La Maison d’Art, LeRoy Neiman Art Center, the Sol Studio and Strivers Gardens Gallery, will feature specially-commissioned works by more than 40 sculptors, painters and new-media artists, as well as host free panel discussions with music experts and exhibiting artists exploring the connections between the visual arts and music, as well as the legacy of the respective labels. Part of the celebration includes a four-hour trolley bus tour on June 15 “led by guides who impart deep cultural and historical knowledge, along with passion, personality and charm, that connects people with fingers-on-the pulse experiences designed to entertain and educate.” 800-838-3006, www.ArtCrawlHarlem.com
- Rock and Soul Festival, (Cleveland, Ohio): A celebration of African-American music, the annual Rock and Soul Festival is a Cleveland music fan favorite. Set to coincide with African-American Music Appreciation Month, the festival is chock full of live entertainment from national and local artists that celebrate the soulful Black sound. 216-781-7625 http://rockhall.com/event/rock-and-soul-festival-2013/
Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website.