Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

The first Saturday in February, I was having coffee at La Bergamote with my friend Catherine, when two attractive older women sat next to us, one blonde, the other African-American. They dropped a couple of things on the floor, which we picked up, and the four of us chatted a bit. We assumed they were neighborhood regulars.

"No, we just got in from Columbus, Ohio," said the blonde woman, and indicating her friend, "She has a show at the ACE gallery."

As they returned to their conversation, the moment to introduce ourselves passed, but on the way home after grocery shopping, I stopped by the ACE gallery, figuring I might see the artist and her friend there.

Unfortunately my timing was off. It was a little before one and I was alone in the gallery except for staff who were setting up for the opening of a show called 2 Black Women. The artists were Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, whom I'd sat next to at La Bergamote, and Faith Ringgold.

I was already a fan of Ringgold's work and realized I'd seen Robinson's before as well--most recently in Richmond. She makes strong and vivid art in a variety of media--painting, sculpture, fabric--ranging from the whimsical to the wrenching.

Her subjects include themes and stories from Black history, her hometown (Columbus), homages to distinguished African-Americans (Ringgold among them), places she's lived, and portraits of folks she's met in her travels. I was hypnotized by the Bedouin woman from a series she calls People of the Book.

Though I was sorry to miss the opening, there's something to be said for solitude when immersing yourself in an artist's work--and the time I spent alone with Robinson's and Ringgold's has brightened my winter.

I'll go back again before it closes.

2 Black Women runs at the ACE Gallery, 529 W 20, through March 20. On March 6, from noon till two, a documentary about Ringgold, will be shown, introduced by the artist, and followed by a conversation with scholar and author Michele Wallace (Ringgold's daughter) .

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