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.