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Carver’s Jo Long Passes

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Some people leave such an indelible mark that their loss is a palpable absence for all who knew them. Jo Long Williams was one of them. In the days since her passing on Tuesday October 12, 2021 at the age of 71, so many individuals across so many different communities have paid tribute to her. While it is hard to find words to adequately honor someone whose life and legacy continues to have such far reaching impact, some that have been used most frequently this past week to describe her are visionary, legendary, beacon, generous, fierce advocate, force of nature, uncompromising, brilliant, activist, humble and so many more. 

The impact Jo Long Williams had in shaping the cultural landscape of our City and beyond cannot be overstated. Many have spoken of her visionary and transformative role as an arts administrator and advocate, of her supporting the early work and careers of so many artists, of bringing up a generation of cultural leaders and laying the framework for so many other cultural arts institutions to come into existence and thrive. Almost all have spoken of her fierce love of and commitment to community, representation, inclusion and equity. In the world of the arts, Jo Long is indeed legendary. However, this is just one aspect of her identity. She was also beloved by her family, circle of friends and faith community. Her life, legacy and loss are felt deeply by so many. 

Jo became the first executive director of the Carver Community Cultural Center in 1976…a position she remained in until 2000. Under her leadership throughout those two decades, the Carver Community Cultural Center became globally recognized as a leading cultural institution trademarked by Jo’s visionary multicultural programming and uncompromising commitment to equitable access for all. These hallmarks continue to be the guideposts by which the Carver carries on the work today.

Prior to coming to the Carver, Jo began her career at Southern Methodist University (where she had received her MFA in Music History) as founding director of the Community Center for the Arts Association from 1972 to 1976. Her legacy of service continued after her tenure at the Carver as well when she went on to serve as an administrator at the San Antonio College Christian Student Center.

She was preceded in death by parents, Samuel Aaron and Marie Thompson Long, grandmother Willie B. Williams and grandfather Clark Thompson. She is survived by husband Woodrow Williams and stepson Ryan, siblings Sammye Shelvin (Charles), June and Michael Long, niece Adrienne Scales (Brandon) and nephew Samuel Shelvin (Amber).

A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held in the theatre named in her honor at the Carver Community Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry St., San Antonio, Texas 78202 on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.



In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Carver Community Cultural Center or Church of Christ Student Center. 

Memorial Service:     

Carver Community Cultural Center – Jo Long Theatre

226 N. Hackberry

San Antonio, Texas 78202

Saturday, October 30, 202111 AM

Art

Introducing Labor Plaza – A Public Art Tribute to the Labor Movement in San Antonio

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DOWNTOWN PLAZA FEATURES SCULPTURES, POETRY AND VISUAL ARTS THAT WILL EDUCATE AND INSPIRE VISITORS.

SAN ANTONIO (September 2, 2022) – The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture invites the community to visit the newly completed Labor Plaza, which highlights the contributions of the labor movement and labor leaders in San Antonio and the United States. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg will be on-site for the official ribbon cutting ceremony which will be held on Monday, September 5, 2022 at 11:45 a.m.

Located in the River Walk Public Art Garden on Market Street across from the Henry B. González Convention Center, Labor Plaza is located in a space that was originally home to a sculpture of labor leader Samuel Gompers, created in 1982 by Betty Jean Alden. Due to irreparable structural damage caused by time and weather elements, the sculpture had to be decommissioned and deinstalled. The Department of Arts & Culture collaborated with American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) on a contemporary way to replace the sculpture and continue to recognize labor, civil rights and social justice in San Antonio in the space.

“Labor Plaza is a tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of labor leaders throughout the history of San Antonio,” said Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Krystal Jones. “We hope that the community will find this space to be engaging, inspiring and educational as we commemorate the labor movement from the past to the present.”

Visitors to Labor Plaza will find etchings and visual artworks embedded throughout the plaza including a poem titled So that Our Crossing May Never be Obstructed and five artworks by Octavio Quintanilla, San Antonio Poet Laureate 2018 – 2020; an excerpt from labor anthem Solidarity Forever written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915; and biography etchings recognizing eight notable San Antonio labor figures. Influential leaders, who are honored at the space, include Emma Tenayuca, Hank Brown, Rebecca Flores, Joan Suarez, Robert Thompson, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Mario Marcel Salas, Samuel Gompers and Shelley Potter.

In addition, a sculptural series titled I Remember Everything by Washington-based artist Ries Niemi is installed within the plaza. The Department of Arts & Culture worked with San Antonio landscape architect firm Terra Design Group to craft the layout of the space to inspire learning and reflection on labor in San Antonio.

Linda Chavez-Thompson was the first Hispanic woman to serve as an Executive Board member of the National AFL-CIO in 1993 and then elected to a newly created position of Executive Vice-President of the National AFL-CIO in 1995. She served in office thru 2007, when she retired and came back home to San Antonio.  “We are grateful to the City of San Antonio for recognizing the hard-fought efforts and accomplishments of the local labor movement through this beautiful Labor Plaza,” said Chavez-Thompson. “Personally, it is an honor to be included alongside such influential labor leaders, who have all had a tremendous impact on the labor movement so that working people today have better wages and working condition and workers’ rights.” 

Labor Plaza is part of the River Walk Public Art Garden, which functions as an outdoor public art exhibition featuring works from San Antonio and international artists. Some artworks by San Antonio artists also featured here include  “Bloom” by Leticia Huerta, “Green Spaces at Market Street” by Cade Bradshaw and Ashley Mireles, “Spheres of Reflection” by Kaldric Dow and “Najo Jām” by Carlos Cortés and Doroteo Garza.

For more information about Labor Plaza, the River Walk Public Art Garden and the Department of Arts & Culture’s Public Art Program, visit SanAntonio.gov/arts or follow the Department of Arts & Culture on social media at @GetCreativeSA.

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Harmon and Harriet Kelley: A Treasure to San Antonio and the Nation

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Unknown to some, Harmon and Harriet Kelley are real treasures to San Antonio’s Black community. Their collection of African American art has provided a rich tapestry of culture that would have been severely compromised had they not envisioned what saving Black art would mean for the world, the nation, and San Antonio. Philanthropy is described as “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.” The philanthropy of Harmon and Harriet Kelley has been their desire to purchase valued Black art and share it to promote the rich culture of African Americans with others, either by donations to museums, exhibitions, or collections for the world to see. I am particularly proud that the Kelley family resides in San Antonio and the Black community should honor their presence.

Harmon and Harriet Kelley have paintings, lithographs, watercolors, and other artful objects from such famous artists as Aaron Douglas (The father of the Harlem Renaissance), Henry O. Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Ron Adams, Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Charles White, John Biggers, Eldzier Cortor, Margaret Burroughs, Allen Freelon, Raymond Seth, Paul Keene, Horace Pippin, Dox Thrash, and Samuel J. Brown, Thornton Dial, Allyson Saar, Whitfield Lovell, Sam Middleton, Dean Mitchell, Ike Morgan. and many others. In 1995, Harriet Kelley’s collection became the first private collection of African American art ever exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The Kelley family is indeed one of our treasures for making the hidden history of Black culture available to the world.


According to The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art Exhibition, in a book published by the San Antonio Museum of Art (1994), “African American art is reaching a wider audience . . . . Inspired by the exhibit Hidden Heritage: Afro-American Art, 1800-1950, Harmon and Harriet Kelley began collecting African American art in 1987 and amassed . . . a broad range of . . . artists.”

See August 19th Edition – Black Life Texas

In a cover story in San Antonio Women, the cover picture featured Harriet Kelley with an article titled, Nurturing Art and Family: A life dedicated to creating one of the country’s premier African American art collections, by Dawn Robinette, which explains, “The collection includes examples from all art media . . . . It has been featured at the San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay Art Museum and in traveling exhibitions . . . . San Antonio artists are also included, giving them exposure far beyond the Alamo City.” In 1995, the exhibition of the Kelley collections made the New York Times Art section of the paper and noted that in quoting David Driskell, a professor of art history at the University of Maryland, “The collection is one of the finest that has been assembled, tracing the history of African-American art.”

What an accomplishment for the pride of San Antonio in the field of art. For many years, our history has been ignored by a society that sought to explain its history by excluding people of color. It has always been a white supremacist view of the history of this country. By exposing the artwork of African American artists the myth of white supremacy is being dismantled.

The Kelley family educated themselves about art by studying art books, attending art lectures, and setting up a rich library of artwork books and contacts with professional collectors and art consultants. To get more training, Mrs. Kelley became a docent at the San Antonio Museum of Art. They did not forget other local talents such as that of Anthony Edwards, who provided works of himself in the exhibit shows. Edwards provided me with much of the insight into the importance of Harmon and Harriet Kelley to the history of San Antonio and the history of Black art.
We must honor those that have given so much of their lives to preserving the history of Black America. This is also being done at a local art gallery called “Eye of the Beholder Art Gallery and Studio” located at 1917 N. New Braunfels Ave. Maria A. Williams, the owner opened her doors in September of last year and has helped to spread the words and inspirations of the Kelley family in their passion to honor and extoll local Black artists.

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Breonna’s Garden Launches Intimate VR Experience at SXSW

Notable Art Curator Lady Pheønix Collaborates with the Family of Breonna Taylor to Bring Virtual Safe Spaces to SXSW, in a new VR Experience

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Notable Art Curator Lady Pheønix Collaborates with the Family of Breonna Taylor to Bring Virtual Safe Spaces to SXSW, in a new VR Experience

Last year, in solidarity with Breonna Taylor’s family, artist and curator Lady Pheønix developed Breonna’s Garden, a revolutionary framework for veneration through augmented reality (AR). Now, less than a full year later, the project is providing virtual safe spaces to larger audiences through fully immersive VR. The development of the project began after Lady Pheønix learned that Ju’Niyah Palmer, (Breonna’s younger sister) was receiving death threats while publicly grieving her sister’s murder on Instagram. After speaking with Ju’Niyah, it was apparent that she not only needed a safe space to process her grief; but so did entire online communities that supported Breonna.

The Garden has evolved from a healing tool for Ju’Niyah and her family into a healing tool for the nation. It’s a sanctuary where Breonna’s name can be said without negation. Following successes at Tribeca Film Festival, the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Augmented World Expo where Breonna’s Garden won Best Societal Impact Award.

SXSW is an opportunity to introduce Breonna’s Garden to international audiences at the intersection of art, tech, social justice, education, entertainment, film, gaming, and more. This special place is a room inside the family’s home filled with mementos and portraits of Breonna, all of which honor her life.

Lady Pheønix notes that the intention of Breonna’s Garden is to keep the legacy of Breonna Taylor in Bloom. She remarked, “I trust that audiences will connect with the greater truth, that Breonna deserves justice. I hope this experience softens hearts and that audiences are receptive to the massive amount of love present in such a way that they stand in solidarity heart to heart with Breonna’s family and the rest of the globe.”

Breonna’s Garden was created in partnership with a number of creatives who lovingly volunteered their time like legendary Australian artist Sutu who led the project as its art and technical director. Breonna’s Garden invites those who would like to experience the original AR version ahead of SXSW to download the app here. View the SXSW schedule here https://schedule.sxsw.com/2022/films/2054475. Now is the perfect time to say her name, louder.

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