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Racial tensions of 1992 revisited at CAAM

Gregg Reese | 3/16/2017, midnight

The California African American Museum (CAAM) continues its string of socially relevant offerings with a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riot/uprising, titled “No Justice, No Peace.” This multi-media exhibit utilizes archival materials including documents, newspapers and videos, curated by Tyree Boyd-Pates to revisit those turbulent times, along with the decades leading up to them. This compelling display is accompanied by four equally forceful presentations addressing the African American experience.

This public disturbance was the end result of years of hostility between the minority community, law enforcement, and authority in general. To drive their point home, the museum employs artifacts including a “zoot suit,” the flamboyantly wide lapelled jackets and pegged pants outfit favored by Hispanic youth of the 1940s, as they fought on the streets with White servicemen stationed in Los Angeles during the World War II era.

Myriad factors contributed to the springtime mayhem bestowed on the City of Angels. Photos documenting the erosion of housing restrictions impacting citizens of color in the 1950s, the battle for voting rights in the 1960s, the election of African American mayor Tom Bradley in the 1970s, the advent of the Reagan administration and the War on Drugs of the 1980s, and an actual black and white Chevrolet police cruiser from the 1990s help chronicle the path culminating in the ignition of hostilities at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues in the heart of South Central.

“No Justice, No Peace” continues through August 27, 2017.

The triumphs and travails of Africa’s descendants in the New World have always been accompanied by music. Exhibiting in tandem with “No Justice, No Peace” and ending on August 27 is “Trouble Every Day: LA 1965/1992,” which showcases the hip-hop, jazz, and rhythm and blues musical idioms that succored the masses during those turbulent times. Among the selections assembled by CAAM Deputy Director Naima J. Keith are the works of Sam Cooke, Ice Cube, Horace Tapscott, and the Watts Prophets.

Encompassing a wider span of time historically, “Paperworks: Selections from the Permanent Collection” centers upon the paper expressions of African Americans and other artists from 1800 to 2000. Curator Vida L. Brown has put together collages, drawings, and paintings by the likes of Romare Bearden, Sam Francis, and Marion Sampler, which offer a glimpse into the artistic process en route to the finished results.

“Paperworks” runs through June 11.

Baltimore native Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary artist whose collages, sculptures, and videos are shaped by the influence of popular culture. The redundant imagery of media icons Diahann Carroll, O.J. Simpson, and Oprah Winfrey figure prominently in his exhibition titled “Network,” which runs through June 11. Assembled by CAAM staffer Mar Hollingsworth, the pieces prompt questions about consumerism, race, sexual identity, and other facets of the human condition posed by this New York-based provocateur.

Locally based Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is a product of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Clearly inspired by the spontaneous ink wash painting of Asian cultures, the “portraits” gathered by Naima Keith in her presentation titled “The Evanesced” targets the hot button topic of missing Black women (estimated in excess of 60,000 individuals by current FBI statistics). Hinkle will pair her ink/water color explorations with a performance piece at CAAM on April 27. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, Hinkle has stated her work is informed by her academically related travels aboard as a women of color, her ethnicity a presumption of complicity in human trafficking, prostitution, and criminality in general, either as victim or perpetrator.

“The Evanesced” runs through June 25.

The California African American Museum is located at 600 State Drive in Exposition Park. Hours of admission are Tuesday through Saturday 10a.m. to 5p.m., Sunday 11a.m. to 5p.m., and is free of charge (parking is $12, $15 after 5p.m.)