More than 300 at­tend Fri­day night re­cep­tion with artists

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Gase [email protected]­al­don­ @tga­sevth on Twit­ter

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives be­gin to end the day we be­come silent about what mat­ters.”

Thank­fully for the Vallejo com­mu­nity, many artists seemed to have heard that say­ing and acted on it as their work ap­peared to speak vol­umes to hun­dreds of on­look­ers.

More than 300 peo­ple came out to visit a gallery hon­or­ing black artists was held at the Cal Mar­itime An­chor Cen­ter on Ge­or­gia Street on Fri­day night as well as Satur­day. Artists and ma­te­rial by Lib­erty Pier­son, Ju­lia Vann, Ver­lan­nia Manch­ester, Izzy Drum­goole, Yo­hance Wash­ing­ton, Mandica Am­ber, Loba Yates, Bethany Matthis-Mont­gomery and Iconic Vinyl Art were show­cased.

Edgar-Ar­turo Ca­ma­cho and Abel Ro­driguez, the own­ers of El Co­ma­l­ito Col­lec­tive, helped put to­gether the event along with part­ners Cal Mar­itime and Vallejo Art Walk, whom Ca­ma­cho gave spe­cial thanks to.

“The goal of this is rep­re­sen­ta­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” Ca­ma­cho said strongly on Fri­day night. “I con­tacted all these artists, but I didn’t want to

present a theme to them. A lot of times with Black His­tory Month artists are ex­pected to present some kind of theme and I didn’t want to do that for them. I wanted the artists to ex­press them­selves in a way they would choose.”

Ca­ma­cho said the event and the ex­hibit is a very good ed­u­ca­tional one for Black His­tory Month.

“His­tor­i­cally, Vallejo hasn’t cen­tered around artists of color,” Ca­ma­cho said. “I think rep­re­sen­ta­tion is get­ting bet­ter, be­cause folks in the com­mu­nity are step­ping up. Even my­self, I felt I had to go out and make some calls and let peo­ple know about this event.”

Ca­ma­cho said that on Satur­day things died down a lit­tle bit as far as turnout, but vis­i­tors were still grav­i­tat­ing to­ward one piece of art in gen­eral — one by Vann in which a surfer is pad­dling out to sea. Vann, who is half Por­tuguese and half black and is a surfer her­self, spoke about her two paint­ings on Fri­day night.

“Grow­ing up I would hear a lot about the stereo­type of how black peo­ple couldn’t swim,” Vann said. “And over time I re­al­ized that peo­ple of color weren’t rep­re­sented well with art con­cern­ing swim­ming and surf­ing. So I wanted to give that area com­men­tary and bring it to life in my work. I know that strong women hap­pen to surf. So when I made these I thought about my roots on both sides of op­pres­sion and be­ing op­pressed.”

Vann said that one of her paint­ings of a swim­mer breath­ing un­der­wa­ter paid homage to her an­ces­tors, who were slaves. “The paint­ing is say­ing, ‘I am breath­ing and I am ex­ist­ing at the same time,’” the artist said.

Vann said the paint­ing of the woman pad­dling out to sea is about “fac­ing fears. Some­times you need to duck down and still do it. Ap­proach the beast and take it by storm.”

Other paint­ings in­cluded Mal­colm X as an X-Men, rap­per and ac­tor Ice Cube, and sketches by Pier­son that she made while a stu­dent at Pratt In­sti­tute in Brook­lyn.

In the two pieces by Pier­son, she de­scribed how the draw­ings of the hu­man body were very ther­a­peu­tic to her when she made them nearly seven years ago.

“I was do­ing fin­ger draw­ings while study­ing anatomy,” Pier­son said. “Usu­ally my art is wood burn­ing, but this piece was ex­tremely ther­a­peu­tic to me be­cause it deals with anorexia and I was go­ing through that at the time. But I wanted to show the body in way the me­dia hasn’t been trained to ex­plain it. Fat has a rea­son. Mus­cles shaped a cer­tain way have a rea­son to them. Once you ac­cept that we can ac­cept our own bod­ies.”

Pier­son said she wanted to fo­cus on the con­trast in the bones and the skele­ton in her work. She said a few peo­ple came up to her Fri­day night and thanked her for her work.”

“It feels good to be vul­ner­a­ble some­times,” Pier­son said. “Even if you don’t feel com­fort­able with some­thing it can help some­one else.”

Al­though the gallery fea­tures mul­ti­ple rooms with mul­ti­ple pieces of art, Ca­ma­cho said the part of the ex­hibit he’s proud­est of was the de­ci­sion to have one big room with just one piece of art lo­cated in the cen­ter. The piece was by Kreative Right­eous Gifts and in­cluded a Isi­cholo Head Piece and African ear­rings.

“I’m proud of that bold de­ci­sion for the sin­gle piece in the room be­cause it al­lows you to be in a space with a black fig­ure and make you re­flect on your feel­ings to­ward it,” Ca­ma­cho said.

“Usu­ally my art is wood burn­ing, but this piece was ex­tremely ther­a­peu­tic to me be­cause it deals with anorexia and I was go­ing through that at the time.”

— Lib­erty Pier­son, artist


Artists fea­tured at the Cal Mar­itime An­chor Cen­ter Black His­tory Month ex­hibit pose on Fri­day night.


Lib­erty Pier­son poses with her two pieces of art shown at the Black His­tory Month ex­hibit at the Cal Mar­itime An­chor Cen­ter on Ge­or­gia Street in Vallejo.

Ju­lia Vann poses with one of her pieces of art at the Cal Mar­itime An­chor Cen­ter for the Black His­tory Month ex­hibit.

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