African Diaspora Arts | Boston Area

Newcomers to the city, we keep coming across gems like Galería Cubana that connect the Bay State to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and, indirectly, to Brazil. Fueled by news of Cuban drummer and bandleader Pedrito Martínez’s upcoming March performance at a Somerville venue, our writers will focus on Latin American and Caribbean fine and performing arts for the next few months.

At Galería Cubana, you can find Luís Eliades Rodríguez ink drawing (left), Changó (2010):

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Another artist featured in this fascinating gallery in South Boston, Orestes GaulhiacOshun Montada en un Pavo Real (2015), outlines the repeating figure of the peacock that our writers will attempt to explore over time as well:


Rooted in Yoruba religion that crossed the Atlantic during the African slave trades, these pieces speak of cultural tenacity and the thriving Yoruba traditions that have transformed Cuban and Puerto Rican art forms.

Though not necessarily Yoruba Puerto Rican, the Afro-Boricua Vejigantes mask tradition is found just down the road from Galería Cubana.

Annoyed by Uber waits and in search of a high-end driver as you explore the Afro-Latin American arts scene (and culinary traditions) of Boston: contact DPV Transportation, locally owned, and mention this SiroccoBlue post.

You can cross the river and find the Cooper Gallery in Cambridge. An incredible new three-part exhibition, The Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes, will be open to the public until May 8th, 2016 at 102 Mount Auburn Street | Cambridge, MA 02138


Courtesy of the Cooper Gallery website, the exhibition is described as follows:

“Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes,” a stunning new three-part exhibition at The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art held in collaboration with the Harvard Art Museums explores the interaction between jazz music and the visual arts. With more than 70 pieces ranging from early jazz age objects to mid- century jazz ephemera to contemporary works by established African American artists, the exhibition explores the beginnings of jazz and traces how it was embraced internationally as an art form, a social movement and musical iconography for Black expression.

“Art of Jazz” consists of three exhibits at two venues. “Form,” a collection of work drawn from the Harvard Art Museum’s permanent collection, is presented in the Teaching Galleries at the Harvard Art Museums. “Performance” is a collection of books, album covers, photos and other ephemera in the Cooper Gallery’s lobby and front galleries. Scholars Suzanne Blier and David Bindman curated both of these installations. “Performance” at the Cooper includes modernist painter Beauford Delaney; photographers Hugh Bell and Carl Van Vechten; along with a sound installation accompanying the series of artist created album cover installations.

The installation, “Notes,” curated by Vera Grant, director of the Cooper Gallery, responds to the first two exhibits with works that focus on how the late 20th Century and 21st Century contemporary artists view and intersect with jazz. It will be featured in the Cooper Gallery’s inner exhibit space consisting of five galleries. It features works by a variety of painters, sculptors, musicians, industrial designers and more including award-winning jazz artist Jason Moran (who contributes a music-based installation in tribute to jazz legends and featuring his own interpretations), conceptual painter Lina Viktor, installation artist Whitfield Lovell, contemporary artist Cullen Washington, photographer Ming Smith, and an installation by Chris Myers.

We will cover more on Boston’s South End in future posts, including a lengthy review on Vejigantes, Toro, and Barcelona.




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