If the purpose of an exhibition is to open your eyes and send your mind spinning in all sorts of unexpected directions, Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, currently on the eighth floor of the new, spacious Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort Street, should be slotted at the top of your must-do list.
CHICAGO — An event at the Chicago Cultural Center brought together two strands of African-American culture in Chicago: the wide-ranging exhibition of paintings by Archibald Motley, and an hour of readings by two African-American Chicago writers, Latoyah Wolfe and Eric May.
Against the backdrop of belated examples of race-related “progress,” it is illuminating to flip through the pages of American cultural history and discover that almost a century ago, a black, classically trained modern artist, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., was using paint on canvas to address such nuanced subjects as the dignity of mixed-race persons and the skin-tone-based sensitivities that prevailed among his own people.
Through subtle portraiture and roaring scenes of the Jazz Age, painter Archibald J. Motley Jr. chronicled the diversity and dynamism of the African-American community during the early decades of the 20th century.
CHICAGO — Is Chicago an artistic center on the same level as New York, London or LA? Is there an identifiable “Chicago school,” in the same way as the school of Paris or the post-war art movements in Manhattan? Does Chicago produce “famous” artists and artists worthy of greater fame?