City Lights Gallery hosts “Absorption and Reflection” featuring artist and guest curator Larry Morse presenting a 3-person exhibit with 2 friends, old and new, Adger Cowans and Iyaba Ibo Mandingo. The 3 share many commonalities including a passion for art and literature and an innate creative mysticism. As an extension of the series, he calls “Black Men Reading/BMR”, Larry created 3 new portrait paintings specifically for this show of himself and fellow artists Adger and Iyaba reading. Adger presents photography and painting, Iyaba makes paintings, collage, sculpture, poetry, short stories, etc.
Larry titled the exhibit Absorption and Reflection. He explains, “We are “that which we absorb or that which we reflect. To use, as an example, a red apple: we see the apple as red because it is reflecting red back to us. However, the apple is, in reality, absorbing the yellow and the blue, which we know makes green. Is the apple truly red or is the apple really green? Is the apple that which it absorbs or is the apple that which it reflects?” To visualize this concept, the 3 artists will present art from 2 differing bodies of work. For example, Larry will exhibit works from his “Black Men Reading” series and abstracts from “Fond Memories”.
Along with art, books written by or about the artists will be incorporated into the exhibit. The smaller room in the gallery space will also function as a reading room. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the art books and poetry while at the gallery. Bring a friend, to discuss what you read and view in the art books, including the latest book of the photography about Adger Cowans called “Adger”.
More info to follow, citylightsgallery.org
An artists’ reception at City Lights is scheduled for Sunday 2/20/22 from 3:30-5:30pm, followed by a night of poetry and spoken word at the Bijou Theatre, hosted by artist/poet Iyaba Ibo Mandingo. A feature of the night is his autobiographical solo-performance, “uFramed”.
”unFramed” is a moving journey through a series of memories and events in the life of a Black male artist/poet, who emigrated at 9 yrs old from Antigua to Connecticut. Through storytelling and paint he literally paints a picture of his life while on stage. The arc of his memories and experiences connect to recent history and the current zeitgeist of social reckoning. To learn more about the Bijou theatre go to https://www.bijoutheatrect.net/
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo and guest poets Olusnaya Bey and Shareef Ali present original poems and short stories. Painter Larry Morse will recite excerpts from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes. Other guest poets to be announced. The Bijou Theatre is located at 275 Fairfield Ave, downtown Bridgeport, 2 blocks from City Lights gallery. Adjacent to the gallery, the City Lights Vintage shop will also be open during the art reception hours.
Admission is free to both events, contributions gratefully appreciated. Face masks are required.
About the exhibiting artists.
There is a type of sacred bond between artists who share a resonant commonality of spirituality, life experiences, point of view and the drive to create. Artists learn from each other, challenge and respect each other and sense their common compulsion to make art as their way to process life experiences.
There is a 30 yr age difference between the 3 exhibiting artists. It is reflected in their art with a sense of passing forward the tradition of the artist’s life and vocation. All 3 have distinctive styles, techniques, and life stories. A commonality is their connection to books and reading which will be a focus of the exhibit. Adger Cowans and Iyaba Ibo Mandingo have created published books.
As the lead artist and curator of this exhibit, Larry Morse presents works from his series, “Black Men Reading” debuting 2 new paintings created for this exhibit of fellow exhibiting artist, Adger Cowans and Iyaba Ibo Mandingo reading. Larry paints from life, even his abstracted works are based on still life constructions of ‘abstract’ sculptural pieces that he builds, paints and organizes for his inspiration. Larry Morse is a taxi-driving Renaissance man, a prolific painter, who often recites Shakespeare or Dylan Thomas while driving his cab. Youtube… https://youtu.be/d7_4G3f84Nk
Larry Morse describes the exhibit and intent for the series “Black Men Reading”.
“Living life in the present and maintaining consciousness allows me the best state of being to absorb all that which is most valuable, materially and spiritually, from this world I traverse. I afford myself abundant existential stimuli and inspiration, as a reward. However, there is another approach I take to absorb the wealth of latent sources of inspiration from our world. I am an avid reader. Reading affords me the abundance of thought and ideas and discoveries, of infinite nature, made by those, past and present, which allows me to continue where they left off. Reading, then, is an extraordinary tool which affords me boundless growth. Absorption!
My series of paintings, “Black Men Reading”, is meant to convey this idea to African-American men, especially. As a result of economic, social and historic realities; reading-as a way of life-has hardly been, sufficiently, emphasized as much in the black culture as it is in others. The job of teaching reading has been left to educators. The development of adequate reading skills requires the early home base be a major part of the process. Blacks too often, are not afforded that advantage, as a result of well-known outside pressures. Unfortunately, media and one’s peers play a major role in shaping the lifestyle of black children and young black men. These two factors place little emphasis on reading.
When we recall; at one time in American history, it was against the law to teach a black man to read – let alone for black men to be caught reading – that the punishment is often death for either, we are reminded of the profundity of the subject. We are reminded of why it is so vitally important that black men establish a custom of reading as an example for those who follow.”
Adger Cowans recently released his latest book, “Adger” published by 21st Editions, adding to 3 other published anthologies of his photography. His legacy in the contemporary art world spans decades. He is the first Black still photographer for the movie industry, he worked with Gordon Parks for Life magazine and is a founding member of the Kamoinge Workshop photographers’ collective. Established in the 1960’s, the mission of the Kamoinge group is, “HONOR, document, preserve, and represent the history and culture of the African Diaspora with integrity and respect for humanity through the lens of Black Photographers.”
As a Hollywood portrait photographer Adger’s larger-than-life clientele list, included Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, and Mick Jagger. Renowned in the world of photography and fine art, Anger’s works have been shown by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, International Museum of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Harvard Fine Art Museum, Detroit Art Institute, James E. Lewis Museum and numerous other art institutions. Adger now resides in Bridgeport and has a solo exhibit at Fairfield University, featuring the photography in his most recent book.
IYABA IBO MANDINGO’ “Comn in From da Cold”
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is a painter, sculptor, collage artist, poet, storyteller who has produced several books of poems and stories and 1-person autobiographical performance pieces. He has received multiple art grants and was an artist in residence at the New York Theatre Workshop
Iyaba is a native of Antigua, West Indies. He teaches, exhibits and performs in the tri-state area, throughout the United States and internationally, including the Caribbean and Africa. U.S. venues include the African American Museum of Philadelphia and the Harlem Arts Festival.
Iyaba has authored three chapbooks of poetry, “41 Times”, “Amerikkan Exile” and “40 days & 40 nites of write” and coproduced a CD “Self Portrait”. His first novel, “Sins of My Fathers”, was released in 2014. His first collection of poetry “You Tongue Heavy Lakka 56” was released in 2018. His first children’s book “Navel String (Belly Button)” was released in 2020.
“I am a multi-disciplined artist from the Griot tradition,” writes Iyaba Ibo Mandingo. “My objective is to use the material, be it paint, ink, ‘garbage’ or found objects, words and theater, to tell the story of us.”