The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble will perform at Woodmere as part of an Afrocentric jazz and fashion show on Aug. 29. by William Valerio At Woodmere, we think of our exhibitions as a platform for telling …
by William Valerio
At Woodmere, we think of our exhibitions as a platform for telling stories and exploring the ideas of artists past and present. We display paintings on our gallery walls and sculpture throughout our grounds, but we also offer lectures and workshops, classes for schoolchildren, musical performances, book readings, and more. All of this represents a vision that the family of the arts—visual art, theater, music, dance, poetry, literature, and more—fits together and resonates with the needs and ideas of our times.
I’m excited to tell you that on Saturday, August 29, Woodmere will expand our Africa in the Arts of Philadelphia exhibitionwith an Afrocentric Jazz and Fashion Show. The exhibition is about a shared exploration of African art that began in the late 1960s among three artists: Twins Seven-Seven, who came to Philadelphia from Nigeria, and Barbara Bullock and Charles Searles, two African American artists of our city. For these artists, the vibrant colors, complex patterning, and unique abstract qualities of African art represent a joyous, positive heritage and an anchoring in a broader history that has the power to replace deeply ingrained, destructive stereotypes as defining factors in Black American identity.
The main organizer of the Afrocentric Jazz and Fashion Show is Warren Oree, leader of the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, co-founder of the Lifeline Music Coalition, and a longtime collaborator with Woodmere on various initiatives, including our Friday Night Jazz series. The event will take place outdoors on the museum’s grounds, with social distancing measures in place. The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble will perform “undefeated jazz” and Afrocentric music. Fashion models will interact with our outdoor sculpture, showcasing clothing, accessories, and jewelry by African-inspired designers of our region. Bring your wallets because much of it will be available for purchase!
To learn more about the event and how it shares ideas with the exhibition that inspired it, check out the latest episode of our Diving Board podcast at woodmereartmuseum.org/podcasts. It features conversations with Oree and Julia Turner Lowe, a fashion designer and Woodmere docent. Each describes their life experiences and how they found their creative voice through the arts.
In accordance with social distancing protocols, capacity is limited, so please purchase your tickets in advance at tinyurl.com/afrocentricjazz. You can choose to see the exhibition from noon to 1:00 p.m. and enjoy the jazz and fashion show from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Or, you can arrive at 3:30 p.m. for the jazz and fashion show, and then see the exhibition afterward. We’re also happy to give you a voucher to visit the exhibition at another time, but please remember, this wonderful show closes on September 7.
William Valerio is the director of the Woodmere Art Museum.