I am thrilled to have my work showcased at 3rd Street Gallery in Philadelphia, through February 28, 2024. “Artists-2-Artists” is the gallery’s members and friends’ group show. Three of my photographs are on display, thanks to the invitation of member Clement DaVinci, who is a prolific, and quite distinguished watercolorist. The opening reception was well attended, and so much fun! I totally enjoyed the diversity of the work. “Artists-2-Artists” is a movable feast of sculpture, watercolor, lithography, multimedia, collage, photography, oil, acrylic, representational work, abstracts, and so much more. The plethora of mediums are thoughtfully and beautifully curated.
To be honest, I have to pinch myself every time I get a call to share my visual art, whether it’s a sale, a commission, or an invitation to exhibit. As a young woman coming of age, who knew there was an artist lurking inside of me? I remember when I was an eager freshman at Hampton University (then Hampton Institute) back in 1973. A chemistry major, of all things! Well, that certainly didn’t last long. By the end of my first semester of sophomore year, I had to own up to the realization that if I wanted a college degree, I needed to make some drastic changes. Studying this hard to barely pass just wasn’t getting it. My older brother Alonzo – who was a math major at Hampton – encouraged me to change my field of study.
The Mass Media Arts Department, in the university’s Communications Center, is where I landed. It turned out to be a perfect fit. My curiosity about the world, combined with my natural writing ability served me well. We delved into radio and television broadcasting, print journalism, advertising, marketing, and public relations. However, as epic as it was, everything wasn’t all warm and fuzzy at Hampton (an historically Black college – HBCU – in Virginia.) I suffered copious bouts of depression. Total emotional turmoil is how I would describe myself. Broken finances, broken relationships, and an overwhelming sense of insecurity topped my list of what I thought were intractable woes.
Sometimes I would seek refuge in the dark room in the photography studio on campus. I practiced developing black and white film from the footage I had captured with my Dad’s trusty Canon rangefinder camera he had allowed me to take to school. However more often than not, I would find myself sitting alone on the waterfront, crying, tears dripping onto the pages of my journal, as I emoted about my sad state. Little did I know at the time, those scribbles were actually poetry. Or, if the waterfront was crowded, I’d retreat to my dorm room and construct intricate collages on the walls just to pacify myself – anything, I thought – to take my mind away from my troubles. At the time, I was unaware that those collages I was forever making were actually works of art.
Fast forward to my late 30s during the mid 1990s. By that time, I had spent close to 20 years working as a journalist, first in radio and then for newspapers. I was still keeping journals, but by now, I fully realized those “scribbles” were indeed poems. I began to respect my work. I typed the poems and organized them in a loose-leaf notebook, which I carried around with me all the time. Jazz musicians became my muses while covering the vibrant jazz scene in Philadelphia, for newspapers including “The Philadelphia Tribune” and “The Philadelphia Inquirer.” I began to share my poetry with “the cats.” One thing led to another, and at some point “the cats” invited me on stage, and my career as a musical poet was born. Eventually I transitioned out of journalism (except to contribute stories as a freelancer), and fully embraced my newfound love and career as a spoken word poet. To date, I have performed on four continents – North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, about ten years ago – during my late 50s – I reconnected with my love of photography, which I had been passionate about in high school and college. At the age of 59, I mounted my first solo photography exhibit. I expanded from there – returned to constructing multimedia collages – and incorporated abstract expressionism. So that, my friends, is what brings me to this sweet spot where I am today – balancing my artistic pursuits as “an artist,” and “a poet,” (and also a budding pianist – but that’s another story for another day).
So as I “pinch myself,” I welcome you to step into my world of creating visual art. If you are in the Philadelphia area and happen to read this blogpost in real time, perhaps you will be able to attend 3rd Street Gallery’s “Artists-2-Artists” exhibit. If you go, here are the details:
“Artists-2-Artists” through February 28, 2024
3rd Street Gallery
610 South 3rd StreetPhiladelphia, PA. 19147
Gallery Hours Friday – 4 pm – 7:30 pm
Saturday – 1 pm – 5 pm
Sunday – 12 pm- 4 pm