Grammy-nominated funk, soul, hip-hop group Tank and The Bangas will headline a musical performance at the upcoming Perez Art Museum Miami’s (PAMM) Art + Soul party, an event to support and celebrate the museum’s Fund for African American Art, on Feb. 15 at 9 p.m.
The Fund for African American Art was established in order to increase the number of works by contemporary Black artists at the museum. They’ve acquired 17 works through the fund thus far.
Guests of Art + Soul will also have the opportunity to view “Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art,” an exhibition showcasing a selection of those artworks acquired through the Fund for African American Art, including that from Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Terry Adkins, Kevin Beasley, and Tschabalala Self, among others.
The discourse around the works by Black artists the last few years has had a focus on finding avenues to increasing the work of underrepresented artists in museums, galleries, and auction houses.
That awareness was the result of groundwork laid over the past 40-plus years by Black artists, curators, teachers, and collectors who continually raised the drumbeat to the art establishment about the value of Black art. One of those collectors was Pamela Joyner.
The event, which will also feature champagne, cocktails, and canapes will also honor Joyner, a Dartmouth and Harvard educated former business owner (private equity marketing firm Avid Partners) and formidable figure in the art world, who has been dubbed an “activist collector.” Along with her husband Alfred Giuffrida, she has acquired 400 works of art by abstract Black artists created from 1940 to the present.
Joyner’s insight to focus on Black abstract art was trenchant. The presence, and recognition of Blacks in the art world has been a fraught proposition in general. With regard to abstract art it has been even more so. Black abstract artists encountered resistance even in the realm of Black Art, which almost exclusively demanded work that was more overtly political or social critique.
In a statement announcing the event, Franklin Sirmans, the director of Perez Art Museum Miami stated, “Pamela Joyner has been not only an outspoken advocate in the field for art, artists, and curators, but a dear friend whose knowledge and connoisseurship has served to advance the discourse on modern and contemporary art over the last decade. It is an honor to have her with us at this pivotal juncture in the history of the Fund for African American Art here at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.”
In March of last year, Joyner made a guest appearance on influential art gallery owner Sean Kelly’s podcast Collect Wisely, where she revealed that her journey as an art collector began when she was attending Harvard Business School. At the time, noted curator Lowery Stokes Sims (the first Black curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) gently insisted, “It was important to promote African-American culture by collecting art.”
In addition to promoting African-American culture Joyner explained, she collects art to make a point about the intersection of race and the valuation of cultural product. “The whole point of the collection,” she said, “is to underscore that race is a poor and arbitrary lens through which to view art. The reason we have a focus that looks on the surface like it focuses on ethnic background is because these artists have arbitrarily been excluded from real consideration from true integration into the canon. The point is they shouldn’t have been based on the criteria of race.”
Joyner, who also confessed to never having gone a two-week period without visiting a museum, provided a guiding principle for prospective art collectors: “Identify a need and address it.”
Along the same vein, in an email to The Miami Times Sirmans recommends that art collecting hopefuls, “Look, look and then look some more. Familiarize your eye and your mind with art.” He also recommends hitting the books! Some texts to check out, he said, are Halima Taha’s “Collecting African American Art.” Darby English’s “How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness,” or John Updike’s “Just Looking.”
In addition to the art itself being shown in museums, galleries, and auctions, a robust body of scholarship around the work is vital. In 2016 “Four Generations: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art” cataloging her art collection, was released. Edited by Courtney J. Martin and published by Gregory R. Miller, the tome was the impetus for a traveling exhibition of her and her husband’s collection, which is coming to PAMM in the Spring.
From April 24th through July 26th, the Perez Art Museum Miami will present the Joyner/Giuffrida 400-piece art collection in an exhibition called “Solidarity and Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection.” The exhibition will include works by Sam Gilliam and Charles Gaines, both of whom were underrecognized in the general art world but are now being acknowledged not only for the quality of their work but also for teaching and mentoring many of the current generation of Black artists who are shaking up the art world. Gaines taught and mentored artists coming out of the Los Angeles area and Gilliam, those coming out of the Washington, D.C. area.
Tickets to Art + Soul, visit, https://pamm.org/calendar/2019/06/art-soul-celebration.