When I get tired of creating images with words, I look to art or design to rest my eyes, free my brain and inspire me. Most times, the place I head to is The Studio Museum in Harlem, an oasis of calm and culture in the midst of street vendors, clothing stores and shops selling human hair and all kinds of ‘beauty’ supplies.
Since it first opened in 1968 in rented loft space on Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, The Studio Museum has been celebrating the work of artists of African descent. In 1979, it moved to its current location on 125th Street between Lenox (6th Avenue) and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd (7th Avenue).
The museum has more than 1,600 objects from artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett-Mora, Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks, Julie Mehretu, Chris Ofili, Jacob Lawrence, Betye Saar, Alison Saar and Henry Ossawa Tanner in its collection.
Its Artist-in-Residence program, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, has supported nearly 100 artists of African and Latino descent who have gone on to notable careers. In recognition of its place in the community, the museum offers education and public programs that extend the dialog between artists and scholars and the community through lectures, poetry readings, and gallery talks.
Thanks to a request from my blog buddy, Tosh Fomby, who blogs as Totsymae, I made my way there last Friday. I’d forgotten that Fridays at Studio is dubbed Uptown Fridays! I was in for a real treat. Uptown Fridays! is a lively event which draws museum goers in from 6-9 p.m. for an evening of fun, a chance to get free guided tours of current exhibitions, browse the gift shop, dance to the music of local DJs, meet and socialize.
By the time I got ready to leave, the clouds had become dark and heavy with moisture. Before I got outside the building, it begun to rain. Instead of running back inside or seeking shelter in one of the stores, I let the rain soothe me. It was a beautiful way to end the week.
The Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 W 125 Street, New York, NY. Hours: Thursdays and Fridays, 12 noon – 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays 12 noon – 6 p.m. (Target Free Sundays). Admission: $7 (Adults – suggested), $3 (Seniors and students with ID), Free for children under 12 years.
To get there, take the 2 or 3 to Lenox (or 6th) Ave and 125 Street, walk half a block west; the 4, 5, or 6 to Lexington and 125 Street, walk 4 1/2 blocks west or the A, B, C, D, to 125 and 8th Ave, walk a block and a half east.