By Portia A. Scott (www.atlantadailyworld.com)
Expect the unexpected at the 2011 National Black Arts Festival, July 7 – 17 throughout our city. Get ready for unexpected encounters with culture, people and art of the African Diaspora, as this year’s festival goes beyond expectations with extraordinary experiences for all who encounter it, according to President and CEO Neal A. Barclay. He was joined recently by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Fulton County Commissioner Chair John Eaves to encourage support for the arts and encourage attendance.
Beginning July 7 with the opening of Trenton Doyle Hancock’s exhibit at the SCAD Gallery at the Woodruff Arts Center, this year’s festival features an exciting and unique offering of events and performances, symposiums and workshops for the entire family to enjoy. At the 2011 Legends Celebration, the soulful sounds of The O’Jays will celebrate over 50 years of creating amazing music on July 15, 8 p.m., at the Woodruff Arts Center at Symphony Hall. Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, this promises to be an “oldies, but goodies” production that will entertain the entire family.
Founder and Artistic Director of the African Dance Ensemble Church Davis, will curate DanceAfrica that brings infectious energy to the festival on July 16, 8 p.m. and July 17, 3 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts at GA State University. DanceAfrica features South African contemporary dancer and choreographer Vincent Mantose, with boot dancing from the Lesoles Dance Project; works inspired by Mali, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, Guinea and others interpreted by Atlanta’s own Giwayen Mata and Griot Ba Cissoko. This segment is sponsored by Mach’s and Chevron.
The 100th Anniversary of the birth of influential American artist Romare Bearden, honoring 5 master artists can also be seen at the Woodruff Arts Center, Symphony Hall on July 14, 8 p.m. Known as “Interpretations: Black Visual Art – Past, Present and Future,” this event is sponsored by Bank of America. Also, the brunch and gallery tour with Radcliff Bailey is scheduled for 1 p.m. on July 17. Guests can have a rare conversation about Bailey’s current work and what he’s thinking of next during brunch at Table 1280, prior to touring his exhibition “Memory As Medicine” at the High Museum of Art.
The International Marketplace returns to Centennial Park with over 100 vendors, artists and artisans from around the world. The marketplace offers everything from beautifully woven fabrics and clothing to skillfully hand crafter jewelry, wood-carved sculptures and supple leather goods. Also the Children’s Education Village and the Healthy Cooking Pavillion , sponsored by Publix, returns, as well as the NBAF Main Stage that will have audiences dancing under the sun and proving in the moonlight.
NBAF’s education and public programs is proud to present its signature programs and workshops during the 2011 festival, including the Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair, the Life and Times of Robert Smalls, the Summer Institute, July 12 – July 16th, and NBAF in the Community, where local talent is showcased at free events that are open to children, families, seniors and the general public. The “Race and Performance” series kicks off with a conversation between Halima Taha, Karen C. Lowe and Michael Harris about African American Art in the 21st Century.
To purchase tickets and for a complete schedule of the upcoming festival that is guaranteed to be full of “unexpected encounters” for all ages, visit http://www.nbaf.org. As Barclay put it become a member and purchase your tickets now for the best prices and seats.