Margaret Rose Vendryes is an artist, historian and curator whose subjects, in her imaginative and gender focused exhibit, The Africa Diva Project, are all strong, black, female solo artists. She explores the role of gender in African and contemporary society through these music legends. The images of the women are taken from their vinyl album covers and surrounded by song lyrics but their faces are covered with exquisite African masks, traditionally worn only by men.
Tina Turner, Grace Jones, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Nancy Wilson, and first diva Donna Summer are among some of the extraordinary singers this artist has captured on paper and canvas, and they immediately strike you as beautiful and powerful. In the music business, getting to the top as a female solo artist is a tough road but Margaret actually sees them as being very vulnerable.
“By wearing these masks, I’m giving them protection and creating a persona that gives them a sense of power and respect,” says Margaret, “in a sense connecting them back to their cultural legacy, the performance of Africa.”
This is her first commercial gallery show and the paintings can be seen through July14th at Child’s Gallery on Newbury Street. Child’s curator Richard Baiano is such a fan he owns the Nancy Wilson, draped in a stunning yellow, floor length gown. Margaret began the series in 2005 and the oil and cold wax paintings, priced from $8,000-$15,000, have taken up to 5 mos to complete.
Top photo by Darren Stahlman
It’s a brand new year. And if one of your resolutions is to be a truly well rounded culture vulture, you’re in luck. We looked ahead to the first quarter of 2015, assembling a flock of diverse art outings that range from glossy, big-budget Broadway tours to edgier fringe theater, photographic exhibitions from pioneering artists to curious installations from under-the-radar names. This year, spread your wings — and open your mind — to encompass a greater swath of all that Boston’s impressive arts scene has to offer.
Born within the 60s counter-culture movement, this Vermont-based theater troupe is known for its avant-garde use of progressive politicking puppetry: think oversized effigies of animals, Wall Street fat cats, and Uncle Sam used alongside song and dance to create curious — okay, often strange — spectacles that comment on everything from international wars to nuclear power. Bread & Puppet Theater’s run at the Cyclorama will feature two live shows: “Captain Boycott” and “The Nothing is Not Ready Circus,” both of which tackle themes of populist uprising. No matter where you fall on the left-right spectrum, you have to love such wonderfully wacky yet interminably heartfelt art.
WHEN: January 24 — February 1
Not all jukebox musicals are created equal. And “Motown” has met with mixed reviews since its Broadway premiere in 2013, with some critics irked by its overstuffed songbook of 60+ recognizable hits — many reduced to only partial versions. But the story of Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based Motown record label, famous for churning out era-defining records by black artists like Diana Ross, The Four Tops, and the Jackson 5, feels especially relevant in 2015, when the popular music industry is finally beginning to have important conversations about cultural appropriation. (It’s been a bad year for Iggy Azalea.) Don’t want to think that hard? Kick back and enjoy the tunes. There’s a lot.
WHERE: Boston Opera House
WHEN: January 27 — February 15
Born in 1912 in the small Midwest city of Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks had a childhood of hardships: from the death of his mother, who left behind 15 struggling children, to the pervasive racial discrimination that accompanied life for an African-American man. But in 1948, he became the first African-American photographer to be hired full-time by “LIFE” magazine, and soon after returned home to capture a visual essay that reconnects the shutterbug artist to his hometown — full of pleasant memories, and many painful ones too.
WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts
WHEN: January 17 — September 13
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