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Art, Cultural Resistance & Transformation

Living Black

By Kheven LaGrone

When I curated an art exhibit in Manhattan a few years ago, several artists asked me where I was from. “I am just a little country boy from San Francisco,” I replied. I was born in San Francisco, which felt like a small southern country town. It was family-friendly. I was always somebody’s son, brother, nephew, great-nephew, cousin… Even if I wasn’t related, they knew someone connected to me.

A lot of young African American families and migrants from the South started out in San Francisco’s housing projects. My earliest memory is of living in the North Beach projects near Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and Little Italy. We rode the cable cars and played in beautiful hilly parks and on the beaches.

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Growing Up Black

By Jarrel Phillips

To the Children of the Next Generation
I grew up in a household with both parents and two younger brothers. All of us are of African American descent. When I wasn’t at my predominantly Black school, church, or after-school program, I was thriving in one of San Francisco’s once predominantly Black neighborhoods—the Fillmore or Bayview Hunter’s Point.

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How We Play: Play as a Form of Cultural Resistance

Prescott Circus Theater © Jarrel Phillips
Editor’s Note: How We Play is a photography exhibition curated by Jarrel Phillips (featured at the City College of San Francisco earlier this year), focusing on three art forms—Acrobatics (Circus), B-Boying (Break Dance), and Capoeira—that are a culmination of art, culture and resistance. These art forms are brought to life through play, a universal phenomenon as innate to life as breath. All three began as forms of resistance in response to oppressive environments. If play were given the cultural significance it deserves, civilization as we know it would allow us the much needed opportunity to review and reimagine our cultural values, traditions and processes in reference to what we do and how we do things.

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Creative Placemaking—A Cautionary Tale

Courtesy of Megan WilsonBy Megan Wilson

The term “creative placemaking”[1] is the latest spin on a decades-old strategy[2] of incorporating the arts into economic development models, the idea being that art can inspire shared economic prosperity while energizing the overall community. However, as I’ve learned from working closely on development and planning with many community-based organizations (CBOs) in the Bay Area over the past 18 years, if existing neighborhood stakeholders–i.e. longtime residents, CBOs, small businesses, social services, and public agencies that serve them–are not driving the process, community development (or revitalization, as it’s often characterized by city planners) can also be highly problematic. Outside interests (developers, real estate agents, corporations, policy makers, or new residents) without long-established roots in a neighborhood can end up destroying years of coalition-building, networks of trust, and community frameworks proven to be successful and integral to the health of a neighborhood and its residents.[3]

Sustaining Cultural and Creative Spaces

Joyce Gordon and Christine Joy Ferrer, Joyce Gordon Gallery © 2015 Jarrel Phillips

"So here I am! I get to be around all the kinds of people I like and enjoy, and who inspire me, motivate me, and make me happy. But I am also the poorest, the brokest, I’ve been in my whole life. In the beauty business, I made money because I was really good. This is a challenge, but I made the sacrifice and I’m probably the happiest that I’ve been in my life!” - Joyce Gordon

A Conversation with Joyce Gordon
Interview by Christine Joy Ferrer and Jarrel Phillips

You're listening to a conversation with Joyce Gordon on black identity, black-owned business, diversity, commitment to the arts, and owning a fine arts gallery in Oakland.

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