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At the intersection of art + culture...

The Cotton Bowl by Hank Willis Thomas, (2011), digital c-print, 34 x 50 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery.

When the football players refused to pick cotton...

Prolific art by Hank Willis Thomas punctuates major 2015 story by Janel St. John


MARCH 1, 2016. Brooklyn-based artist, Hank Willis Thomas, is hailed as one of the top artists currently working in America. His work tackles pop culture through the lenses of race, advertising, media and corporate branding. He made several appearances in the DMV (DC.MD.VA) in 2015, including a major exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk. But it is his “Cotton Bowl,” on view last year at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, that punctuates one of the biggest stories of 2015!

When Black students at the University of Missouri began protesting a long pattern of institutional and overt racism, it would spark an unprecedented avalanche of activism, catapulting Mizzou into a national spotlight. The student group, “Concerned Student 1950,” held their first protest during the Homecoming Parade, blocking MU President, Tim Wolfe's car. But their efforts to force the administration to deal with a hostile racial environment were not only unsuccessful, but spurred brand new threats. In response to these racist encounters, and apathy of administration in dealing with their concerns, one student - Jonathan Butler - started a hunger strike to demand the removal of Wolfe. As Butler gained media attention, the protests gained steam.

But nothing moved until the football players joined the movement!

About 30 black members of the Missouri Tigers football team declared that they would not play until Wolfe was gone. It was brazen, risky and wildly courageous. And it worked! Black and white team members and the head coach, joined in publicly backing the players. Wolfe quickly announced his resignation, taking full responsibility for his 'inaction.' The school chancellor followed, announcing his transition to another position.

With the total loss to Mizzou from just one game day boycott at upwards of  $1 million, "Cotton Bowl" illustrates this stark, historic and modern day connection between white institutions, black labor and capitalism. Eleven 'Concerned' students sounded the call; Butler made it serious; but it was the football players turned activists, who turned the tide at Mizzou. While exercising tremendous leadership, character and political power, the black athletes excercised their economic power to confront a centuries-old system, rooted deep in the southern plantation playbook. The MU protests of 2015 have sparked a national conversation and a legislative controversy, that is really just beginning in 2016. Honored for being 'social change agents,' The Concerned Student 1950 Collective recieved the 2016 NAACP Chairman’s Award at the 47th NAACP Image Awards. - END -


MORE ON STORY: Lawmakers strike back; MU Football and 'plantation politics'

The art of Hank Willis Thomas is in top museums across the country, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the High Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

He collaborated with artists Bayeté Ross Smith, Sinclair Lewis and Chris Johnson on the ground-breaking multimedia project, “Question Bridge: Black Males.” In 2015 the project received the ICP Infinity Award in 'New Media' and also became a book!

The Truth Is I See You, Thomas' latest solo exhibition, explores the nature of truth and understanding across cultures.



Million-dollar artists: Mark Bradford & Chris Ofili top 2015

Just months after his first major U.S. solo museum closed at New Museum, Chris Ofili’s mixed-media painting, "The Holy Virgin Mary,” sold for more than $4.5 million!!! The British-born artist came to prominence in the early 1990s with elaborate artworks, combining paint, glitter, collaged images and elephant dung. Inspired by the Bible, hip-hop music, Zimbabwean cave paintings and Blaxploitation films, he won the 1998 Turner Prize and was selected to represent Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.

See “Chris Ofili: Night and Day.”

Los Angeles native, Mark Bradford has had a groundbreaking career! One of the most celebrated artists of this century, he was recently chosen to represent the U.S. at the 57th Venice Bennale 2017. But in May 2015, ten bidders vied for his mixed-media work, “Smear,” which sold for $4.3 million!!!

Get to know Mark Bradford


SMEAR (96 x 72 in.)



Best Parties, Galas + a BET Image Award!


We had a chance to interview Brandon Frame about his work as founder of The Black Man Can.

In 2015, he was nominated for a BET Image Award!

In 2016 he picked up the BET 'NEXT IN CLASS' Award in EDUCATION! YAY!! Congrats Brandon! See our full story here.

The 100 Black Men of DC hosted the Congressional Black Caucus for the best 2015 'party with a purpose.' Held at the City Club of Washington, DC, you can see pictures and full story here.



Before Viola Davis picked up her SAG Award, the Oscar-winning actress stopped in the DMV to attend the Inaugural Entrepreneur's Gala, conceived & hosted by Larry White, CEO of VIP Concierge!



DMV's own Devin Allen captures national spotlight

With a click and a tweet, Devin Allen’s life would never be the same! He grew up in Baltimore, surrounded by the poverty, racism and violence that grappled the country after the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. After losing two close friends to gun violence, Allen turned from street life to photography. The 27-year old altered his life for his newfound love, spending all of his money on photography equipment and switching to a night job so he could spend his days shooting.

When the riots broke out following Gray’s death, Allen was determined to document the protests. He tweeted a photo and discovered hours later, it had gone viral. Time magazine called. Allen's photo would end up on their May 11, 2015 cover and catapult the amateur photographer into a national spotlight.

Devin Allen by Sheila Pree Brightt.....
The May 2015 Time cover featuring Allen's photo

In July 2015, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum opened "Devin Allen: Awakenings, In a New Light." His first solo show is on view through March 2016.

...See full story and more of Allen's work.from........ his feature on Flickr's blog.

We made our East Coast debut in 2015!

Following our soft launch, we've started an Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for a full 2016 launch! Check it out!

Race + Religion + Politics + coming in 2016!

RVA: Richmond’s iconic Fifth Baptist Church turned 150 years old in 2015! Eight hundred attendees (left) came out to the celebration banquet at VUU's Claude G. Perkins Living and Learning Center. It was a reunion and a time of reflection and introspection for Dr. Earl M. Brown, who became pastor 37-years ago, and his son, Dr. Ricardo L. Brown, who now pastors alongside his father.  The historic church began as a small gathering of people in 1865 - in a section of the city where Negroes were not permitted to assemble - under the leadership of a slave. Now, a thousand members strong, the vibrant church has city and nationwide impact. The full story is coming in the next issue!

Rev. Tyrone Nelson, pastor of Richmond’s Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, has been elected chair of the Varina District on Henrico County's Board of Supervisors. He became the district’s representative in 2012 and vice chairman in 2015. Nelson was also recently appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors.
Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, (right) pastor of Baltimore's Empowerment Temple, recieved the NAACP Chairman’s Award at the 47th NAACP Image Awards. Highlighting social change agents, other honorees included: Concerned Student 1950 Collective at the University of Missouri; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III and Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley.


April Woodard of Norfolk, is now on BET’s new series, “Criminals at Work!” From inside jobs to corporate espionage, the show explores crimes committed in the workplace.

An assistant professor of journalism at Hampton University, she spent 12 years as a senior correspondent on “Inside Edition.” Woodard is also an author of children’s books, and an aunt to Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson.

BRAVO's new reality TV franchise is right in our own backyard! Potomac, Maryland, is just a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C. The ‘wealthiest region’ in the Northeast is now the setting for “The "Real Housewives of Potomac," featuring former Miss D.C. Pageant winner, Ashley Darby, socialite Charrisse Jackson Jordan; model Katie Rost, and philanthropist Gizelle Bryant.

Bryant, a graduate of Hampton University, was married for 7 years to Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant. A single mother to their three children, Bryant's former husband is making show appearances. And for this reason, we will keep watching!


Maryland native, Charles E. Bethea, is now chief curator of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture! He brings a quarter century of experience to the East Coast's largest African American museum. Bethea will oversee all details on the presentation of exhibits and special projects. Formally the executive director of the


Black History Museum of VA, Bethea was also COO and curator at Chicago's DuSable Museum. He received his master's degree in museum studies from Hampton University where he also served as the museuem's director of education.


Donnie Simpson is back on the D.C. radio airwaves and back on TV! The media veteran retired in 2010, culminating a 41-year media career.

Donnie Simpson back on TV after 17-year hiatus!

Now he's back in the saddle as afternoon host of "The Donnie Simpson Show" on MAJIC 102.3 FM and host of TV ONE’s new “Donnie After Dark.” The TV show features celebrity guests, a studio audience, and an all-female band, in an intimate lounge setting.

As host of BET’s Video Soul, he became a much-loved and popular Black American household name, reaching 40-million homes. Through TV One, Simpson will reach nearly 60-million viewers.

Million-dollar Filmmaker: Tidewater native Nate Parker scores big!

Seven is the Biblical number of perfection & completion, and that’s exactly how many years it took Nate Parker to bring "The Birth of a Nation" to the screen. Parker wrote, produced, directed and starred the story of slave rebellion leader, Nat Turner.
When the first-time filmmaker premiered it in January at the Sundance Film Festival, it was met with prolonged standing ovations, winning both the U.S. drama grand jury prize and audience award.


Netflix and independent media mogul, Byron Allen offered $20 million each. But Parker and his producing team went with a $17.5 million bid from Fox Searchlight - the largest purchase ever at this festival!

Hollywood's newest history-maker, has fulfilled his quest to tell the story of Turner - the Virginia slave who taught himself to read, became a preacher and lead the notorious 1831 rebellion. YAY!!!

Parker talks about "Birth."

Actor, director, producer and writer, Nate Parker, was born in Norfolk! He graduated from Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake and was an All-American wrestler at Great Bridge and the University of Oklahoma where he got his degree in computer programming.

On-screen Parker has been in several movies, including, Beyond the Lights, Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees and The Great Debaters.


2016 MUSEUM OPENINGS we're excited about...
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of VA
Nat'l Museum of African American History and Culture
2016 'Must See' EXHIBITIONS...

"Eye of the Storm" Akili Ron Anderson, ©Akili Ron Anderson


"Kehinde Wiley: New Republic" comes to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

June 11th!


Akili Ron Anderson: A Fifty Year Retrospective of Black Art and Life comes to the Hampton University ..Museum.

July 9th!


Kehinde Wiley: Shantavia Beale II, 2012. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in. © Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Jason Wyche


"The Migration Series" by Jacob Lawrence is coming to DC's Phillips Collection October 8th!



The Ironers, Jacob Lawrence, 1948

SEE OUR FULL LIST of exhibitions!