After many Facebook updates about the 30 in America exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum I finally went there on my first full day of vacation and it was well worth the wait. I have seen some of the artists in the companion exhibit of Milwaukee contemporary artists. Taken together this trip broadened my knowledge of African American artists and the themes that they explore. I saw or heard a news story about Priceless, a heartbreaking work about a young man who was killed for a piece of jewelry he was wearing. I also saw works by Basquat, a New York City artist and a contemporary of Andy Warhol and Madonna.
I saw sexuality, the Black holocaust, laughter and unity. And I saw a family: three generations of an African-American family were touring. And our paths crossed several times. The father was explaining this to his children and mother/grandmother. I spoke with him about several pieces. We even ended up at the exhibit store together. He negotiated, thinking about what might look good in his office while I did the same. It was heartwarming and I hated seeing them leave. After we parted I stumbled upon the Milwaukee based exhibit and thought of going to find them. These are things you discover when you have a living wage and benefits.
I hope that my family, scattered across the United States, goes to see this exhibit when it travels near them. The longer you live, the more priceless things you can discover.
- 30 Encounters with 30 Americans: Conversations I – III (mam.org)
- 30 Americans on Display at Milwaukee Art Museum (themilwaukeedrum.com)