The Black History Month juried art exhibition at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural and Educational Center has more of a spirited side this year. The theme, “A Tribute to Maya Angelou,” encouraged artists to express themselves in any way they wanted to.
“We didn’t want to put constraints on them,” said Richlin Ryan, who curated the show with her husband, Weldon. With Angelou’s death last year, Ryan felt that a tribute to her would lend itself to a more freeing show, allowing artists to use her writing or ethnicity or any other aspect as sources of inspiration.
The show drew 19 artists of varying mediums from Flagler and Volusia counties. One of those artists is Doreen Hardie, who entered three pieces in the show, all based on Angelou’s poetry. One piece, based on the poem, “The Rock Cries Out To Us Today,” gives a simple interpretation of a landscape.
“The first line of the poem says, ‘A rock, a river a tree,’ and then she goes on to say what they mean to her and what they symbolize,” Hardee said while looking at the piece before it took its spot on the wall. “I just wanted to emphasize that.”
But not all works in the show are literal interpretations. Strategically incorporated between the painted and drawn portraits are the mixed media pieces of Laurence “Blinky” Walden, the abstract works of Jean Banas and photorealistic oil paintings by Kathleen Lusby.
Walden’s work stands out because of his use of recyclable materials. Many of his pieces feature silverware, which has been bent and molded to create 3-D figures.
Banas’ pieces create a contrast in form from the rest of the show.
“I love all four of her pieces,” Ryan said. “They really make a statement in the show because a lot of African Americans, they are figurative and they don’t do too many abstract.”
Ryan said the addition of Banas’ creations is great for the audience to see her interpretation of the theme in an abstract from.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see the kids come through here and say, ‘What do I see in this?’” Ryan added.
At the extreme opposite end, Kathleen Lusby’s photorealistic figurative oil paintings depict a scene.
Weldon Ryan described her piece, “Jezebel,” as evoking a memory, a time or place with any individual.
“It relates with youth hanging out on the corner,” he said. “What I like about Kathleen is the detail she uses — the bricks, the glazing — you can feel yourself being there.”
Although funding for the show was a struggle this year, it pulled together and opened Jan. 30.
“The cohesiveness of the show is of spirit, as opposed to the look of the show being a certain style,” Weldon Ryan said. “It’s the spirit of Maya Angelou, and I think that’s really cool. She was about many things in many areas of humanity.”
Laurence “Blinky” Walden
IF YOU GO
What: “A Tribute to Maya Angelou”
When: The show runs through April 10
Where: Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural and Educational Center, 1000 Vine St., Daytona Beach