Curated by Danny Simmons and Shantrelle P. Lewis
526 W 26th St # 311
New York, NY 10001
Hours: Wed - Sat 12-6 pm
Exhibition Dates: NYC- January 12th– February 10th, 2017
Opening Reception- Thursday, January 12th 6-8PM
RUSH ARTS GALLERY | 526 WEST 26TH STREET, SUITE 311 | NEW YORK CITY, NY, 10001
NYC Artists Include: KIMBERLY BECOAT, LEONARDO BENZANT, MICHAELA PILAR BROWN, JEROME CHINA, THOM CORN, ALLISON JANAE HAMILTON, THEODORE HARRIS, AAQIL KA, NORVIS JUNIOR & TERENCE NANCE, DONALD ODITA, DEBORAH SINGLETARY, NOAH SMALLS, and NYUGEN SMITH
Exhibition Dates: Philly- January 21st– March 18th, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 21st 6-8PM
RUSH ARTS PHILLY | 4954 OLD YORK ROAD | PHILADELPHIA, PA 19141
Philly Artists Include: XENOBIA BAILEY, GREGORY COATES, NIKI HUNTER, VANESSA GERMAN, FABIOLA JEAN LOUIS, JOHNNY MATTEI, ANTHONY CARLOS MOLDEN, MARILYN NANCE, GABRIEL PACHECO, FAHAMU PECOU, ALEXIS PESKINE, KENYA (ROBINSON), KEVIN SAMPSON, and RENEE STOUT
My pistol may snap, my mojo is frail
But i rub my root, my luck will never fail
When i rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain’t nothin’ she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root
– Muddy Waters, My John Conqueror Root
There is much confusion and misinformation about African spiritual traditions, throughout the Diaspora. In recent years, there has been a reawakening and shift in the light that is being shined on African sacred traditions. From Lukumi, Santeria, Ifa, and Vodou, as more and more practitioners initiate and various cultural institutions offer educational programming that introduce audiences to these mystical traditions, a dark veil is being lifted off some of the world’s oldest ritualistic religions. However, there has always been much confusion and misinformation about the spiritual practices consistently acknowledged and maintained by the descendants of enslaved Africans geographically situated in the United States of America. Hoodoo, according to Dr. Katrina Hazard-Donald “is the folk spiritual controlling, and healing tradition originating among and practiced primarily, but not exclusively, by captive African Americans and their descendants primarily in the southern United States.” With its own musicology, dance forms, herbal medicine, and functional practicality, Hoodoo is indeed a liberatory technology that has long time been embraced and utilized by Black folk for healing, power and freedom. It has been practiced and maintained by healers, clients, truth seekers, spiritists, and those seeking to establish agency within their own realities. This two venue-exhibition seeks to explore the myriad of ways, artists of African descent are accessing old time technology in their practice, using their art to function, not for art’s sake, but for the expressed purpose of performing magic. “High John the Conqueror Ain’t Got Nothing On Me: American Hoodoo and Southern Black American-centric Spiritual Ways” is one-part superstition, two parts mojo with a dash of storytelling and lots of root workin’.
Written by Shantrelle P. Lewis
About the Guest Co-Curator
A native of New Orleans, Shantrelle P. Lewis (b. 1978) is a 2014 United Nations Programme for People of African Descent Fellow and 2012-13 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow. She is a U.S. based curator and researcher who travels internationally researching Diasporic aesthetics, spirituality and the survival and nuances of Transnational African Diasporan communities. Her traveling curatorial initiative The Dandy Lion Project, examines Global Black Dandyism through photography and film. Other exhibits and projects have been on view in institutions throughout the U.S. and Europe. She has written for Slate, NKA: Journal for Contemporary African Art and Art Papers. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC, The Art Newspaper, Art Net and Huffingtonpost. At present, Shantrelle is researching ties between the Dutch Caribbean and the African Diaspora at-large. Since 2011, she has traveled extensively throughout the Dutch Caribbean Diaspora. Currently, she is directing and producing, The Black Dutchman, a documentary about the Dutch blackface tradition Zwarte Piet and Black identity in the Netherlands. Forthcoming is her first book, Dandy Lion, to be published by Aperture in Spring 2017. Shantrelle is a Lukumi priest of Shango.
About the Co-Curator
Danny Simmons, Jr., is an American abstract painter from Queens, NY, who once coined his particular style of painting as “neo- African Abstract Expressionism.” His talent and passion for the arts reaches beyond the canvas; He is a published author, poet, painter and art philanthropist. He has become a leader in the art world with his philanthropic ventures, artistic talents and creative mind and drive.
Simmons is the eldest of three sons. Raised by parents who emphasized the importance of education as well as individualism, Danny embraced fine arts while watching his mother, also an artist and painter. He’d eventually take on her love for painting and his father’s love for the written word – becoming renowned in both avenues of expression.
The New York Times, in reviewing one of his art exhibitions, stated that Simmons “injects freshness” into his abstracts, and that they are “meticulously rendered and decoratively impressive.” Today, his works appear in prominent locales around the globe, including: Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum, Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank, Schomburg Center for Black Culture, The Smithsonian, United Nations, and, on an international scope has shown work in France, Amsterdam and Ghana. In 2015, he will serve as a scholarly consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC.
Simmons brings an equal passion to the written word,
thanks to his father, also an outstanding poet. The elder Simmons’ example during a time of racial strife and social upheaval impressed upon Danny the importance of maintaining integrity and serving as an advocate for truth and right.
These experiences prompted Danny to pen the critically acclaimed ‘Three Days as the Crow Flies’ and ‘I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home’. In his most recent release, titled ‘Deep in Your Best Reflection’, Simmons takes on an even more personal tone in a compilation of real-life texts and emails shared with a former girlfriend.
Danny Simmons also played an instrumental role in the nation’s newfound love for poetry, particularly in the conceiving of and co-producing the hit HBO show Def Poetry Jam, a weekly TV series that exhibits an eclectic blend of old-school poets (such as legendary expressionists Nikki Giovanni and Amiri Baraka) and new-school poets. Its success is quite evident: Def Poetry is now offered as an elective at the University of Wisconsin, and Simmons won a Tony Award for the Broadway version of the show.
Simmons is co-founder, along with his siblings, music mogul Russell, and hip hop legend Joseph Simmons aka “Rev Run”, and president of the Rush Arts Gallery. He is also founder and VP of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization “dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant arts exposure and access to the arts.” He is a former board member of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Conference of Artists. And his own works have been obtained by art lovers and renowned celebrities everywhere, including: music industry executive/producer Lyor Cohen, film director/producer Stan Lathan, musical producer Andre Harrell, actor Ron Perlman, renowned businessman Olivier Sarkozy, actress Annabella Sciorra, actor Will Smith, and many others.
Danny Simmons holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work from New York University, a Masters in public finance from Long Island University, and is the recipient of an honorary PhD from Long Island University. He continues to thrive at his ‘home gallery’ in Philadelphia, PA.
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