Installation series from ONLI STUDIOS presented at the DuSable Museum in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ONLI STUDIOS produced this video during its 2011 Annual Black Age Convention.  This event is the longest running and original event of its type. It was first given in 1993.  Prof. Onli often asks how creative will folks be in their mature years.  Is their interest in Afrofuturism a fad? Is it a passing party? Or will it open a mind set to discover and create over the course of a life time?

He notes the undercurrent of agism that seems to be present along with the issues of not recognizing the presence over decades of this genre, beyond the few musicians that based on a mainstream record deal gets more credit than actually earned.  Is the bar as low as a few cosmic themed party songs followed by a drug induced ruined career with no real professional legacy to hire and invest?

Sort of asking......when the patty is over and the school loans are due....what then? That is when Afrofuture meets your future!

Prof. Onli recently retired from teaching and coaching at the Chicago Public Schools but still teaches at the Harold Washington  College in Chicago.

Prof. Onli with one of his Studio Drawing Classes.
Prof. Onli out in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Prof. Onli receiving a Life Time Achievement Award from ECBACC's Founder & Director, Bro. Yum Odom, at Temple University in 2006. 
2015: Prof. Onli leaving a POSSE Scholars celebration in Chicago.
 He was there as a guest of his intern Tamir.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BAG: Kenneth Hunter, Roy Lewis, Espi Frazier, and Turtel Onli. Photo by BAG member Jim Smoote. At the 1972 National Conference of Artists Convention banquet at Howard University. We were BAG: The Black Arts Guild. We shocked the elders and the more orthodox folk there. We were bad and bold! BAG expanded the reach and practice of the then so called Black Art Movement. Our self sustaining guild bonded to insure we would make the transition from gifted students to successful professional visual artists while bringing the power and potential of our artists' culture and innovations to the mainstream. We took that battle to the giant and won many victories. The ever-cool photographer Roy Lewis bombed in on the pix with us. Agism as being too young was a block, then the idea that taking the creative fight to the mainstream was selling out...etc...etc.... The watermelon was our logo. The brilliant designer Robert Esshu Paige supported us with studio space and a sense of cosmopolitanism, Onli is wearing a buba top made from Paige's Dakkabar Collection of textiles. We did win with work with the likes of Essence Magazine, Playboy, Johnson Publishing Company, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Denmark Records, Younger Gallery and our touring watermelon themed art exhibitions. Circa 1970 - 1978.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This is a personal journal reference art book that compares & contrasts the Chinese and Western Zodiac.  Multicultural and personal all at one.  The pages have open-area spaces and borders to accept your unique notes, entries, doodles and other visual expressions.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Celebrating 50 Years: Wall of Respect, The Chicago Picasso & All Power to the People since 1967!

Clearly collectors are a factor. Private, personal, institutional, and organizational ones. They often perform the function of "king" or "queen" maker by using their resources and connections to focus attention on the artists they tend to empower while marginalizing the ones they are indiferrent to. As customers of fine art collectors do a tremdous service. But real history is the factual story of what really happended. Not the story of what one wishes to promote or likes. That would be advertisement or branding. Which is cool....but not the whole story.

Art and "new" styles based out of Chicago are often overlooked in this shuffle. The '70s saw Jim Smoote, Dalton, Brown, Obie Creed, Kenneth Hunter Espi Frazier, and Turtel Onli form BAG. This union gave rise to the Afro-Deco style which Hunter innovated for clients like Essence Magazine and Muntu. Or the Rhtyhmistic movement which Brown and Onli often advocate. Smoote's masterful innovations in textiles and quilting are a must for many collectors yet undervalued for his creative design insights and technical power. Then there was the overwhelming power of the Chicago Mural Movment with Bill Walker, John Pitman-Weber, Calvin Jones, Eugene Eda, and Mitchell Caton.

Too often the conversation is subtractive in tone. As if these and a great many other things did not happen. Or the starting point is 1990 or 2000. It is sort of like how Black History was once taught that Negroes began in Americna slavery and omitted the obvious greatness of all that was African. A little more appreciation of the overall art history and production in Chicago during the '70s and '80s would reveal a great deal while raising questions about censorship, branding, and denial. 

Even the mighty and inspirational muralist Bill Walker still lives among us......but rarely is referred to by many collectors, teachers, or artists. Funny that "Chicago" thing of not addressing its greats. Talk about a stale joke. was a site that explored some of this. It is a work in progress and welcomes positive suggestions. This former online Rhythmistic Museum asks the question  for over ten years, in the construct of its "Omission Mission Decision" Just navigate the links. ME? I collect Black Age prints and posters. "The truth is out there.....if we just look!"

A portion of this collection is on display at the African American Cultural Center at UIC for the month of Oct. 2008 as part of "BLACK AGE XI". for details.