Artist Journeys: Broward County's First Sistrunk-A-Fair Showcases Local Black Art
Fort Lauderdale Art & Design Week is meant to showcase the city as its own art-worthy cultural destination. Artists' works will be on display across the city throughout this week, ending on Jan. 27.
A big part of the show — now in its third year — touts "the art fair on the water," designed for people to boat to empty multimillion-dollar properties filled with works of art on the Intracoastal.
But this year, Fort Lauderdale Art & Design Week also offers the first ever Sistrunk-A-Fair, in hopes of highlighting the black voices in the northwest part of the city.
South Florida black artists will be exhibiting their original works of art in three separate gallery spaces: The African American Research library, Old Dillard Museum, and the Midtown Commerce Center.
WLRN spoke with two of the artists participating in the Sistrunk-A-Fair about their art, the specific pieces they'll be showcasing, and why they chose to highlight some local Broward County history in their creative process.
JEAN DENIS LOUIS:
B.A.S.E Exhibit at the Old Dillard Museum.
I also go by J.D. Raw Talent. I'm 29, born in Miami - raised in Fort Lauderdale Florida. I am a part owner of a tattoo shop in Fort Lauderdale, named Empire Ink.
I have this piece that I'm going to put into the art fair. It’s a fairly good-sized piece. It’s acrylic on canvas - I didn't do any mixed media this time around - of Esther Rolle.
From what I remembered her, from being a kid, she was the mother from Good Times. And it was just so difficult at first to find a really nice picture of where I wanted her to shine... You want to almost pay homage to such a great lady.
She's from Pompano [Beach]. She did a lot of dope things from what I researched. It's almost like you kind of know her. She's like the only Florida Evans that I trust. In this piece I was able to put in a spew of colors in her hair, I added a couple of stars to show that she was bigger than what we saw her on the TV shows. She's almost universal.
It took me a month, or so, to do this piece. I thought it was just such a clear reference. She was smiling. It's not a candid picture. You could tell she actually took the time to have a photographer take a picture for this.
I painted it at my tattoo shop. I have a little space in the back. I had an apron on because I liked to paint messy. My style is, kind of, nice and loose. I like to just paint crazy.
For what the piece was - from somewhere from back in the day - you want to kind of show that emotion. So I put on some Motown music.
I knew I was onto something when I finally noticed that I just didn't want to keep covering the same piece over and over and over again. I just felt right.
I didn't feel like I had to force it out of me because it wasn't so difficult to make sure that okay, this is Esther Rolle on this canvas.
I wanted it to be portrayed as like, ‘oh that's Florida Evans!’ Everybody smiles when she comes around. Like that's the mother of the House - and everybody loves to see their mom come around.
WILBERT SIMPSON JR.
'We Love Art Too' Exhibit at the African American Research Library
I'm pretty known as Will Simpson, but I sign my art as my full name, Wilbert Simpson Jr. I’m 36 years-old and I live in Oakland Park. I work for the City of Pompano [Beach] and I work for the City of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. I do photography, I paint, and I'm a musician. I'm the person from the neighborhood that you just say hi to, I'm not that artist has the earring in his nose and colorful hair and all that stuff - I'm just like a regular person.
The piece I'm looking at right now is called ‘Beauty.’ It's 30 in. by 30 in., and it's acrylic paint on a canvas. It's a portrait of a woman’s face. The image itself is no particular person - so no, this piece is not based off a historical figure with Broward - but most of my pieces are not.
I feel like the culture is not actually based off of a particular person - it’s based off of who you are as a person.
And I just put some figures together, that’s why the eyes are closed, I don't want to give it a specific image.
A lot of people have their thoughts on who they think it is, but I like that. I like them to think, or want to figure it out.
She's tilted to the side, and she has on big earrings. Her hair is wavy - it's pretty much filling up half of the canvas. She had a nice full lips. I'm a real fan of full lips. She has a smirk on her face letting you know that, she knows that she's beautiful. I based it of the natural hair. I love natural hair and how it flows.
I actually did it live in Miami, I want to say three years ago.
This Sistrunk-A-Fair, it’s me bringing our black culture to light. To bring the culture into me, and make me see it as a light, and for me to come back and be a part of something like this…It's major for me to be a part of it.
A thing I go by, ‘leave room for mistakes.’ I tend to create a lot of mistakes, but a lot of beauty come out of mistakes as well. I wanted to bring it in because I knew it was going to be a lot of black folks here and I want them to see the beauty in natural hair, the beauty in just being who you are and being able to bring the inside, out.
If you go:
The week of Sistrunk-A-Fair events runs from Jan. 19 through Jan. 27. It is being organized by several cultural initiatives, including Art n Soul and Art Fort Lauderdale. Events:
- C.R.E.A.T.E Art Exhibit: Cultural Renaissance Establishes A Tactical Revolution
Midtown Commerce Center, Fort Lauderdale. Opening: Jan. 18 6 - 8 p.m.
Also open 6 - 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Runs through Jan. 26.
- 'We Love Art Too' Art Exhibit:
African American Research Library, Fort lauderdale. Check for viewing times.
- B.A.S.E. Art Exhibit: Broward's Artistry And Soul Experience
Old Dillard Museum, Fort Lauderdale. Open from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Runs through Jan. 25.
- Art Warz
Midtown Commerce Center, Fort Lauderdale. Jan. 26 from 6 - 10 p.m.