San Diego: SDAAMFA Honors Four Creative San Diegans as Keepers of the Culture

San Diego is home to many aspiring and highly accomplished artists. The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art wants to make sure that the masterful works of those creatives are recognized and honored by the local community.

In an interview with the San Diego Union Tribune, Gaidi Finnie, executive director of the museum, had this to say, “(We) really wanted to do something for those people who have helped keep Black culture alive in San Diego. We really try to recognize some of the elders and we want to make sure that we highlight people who’ve been doing their work for a long time. Those two things really guide us in terms of who we choose each year.”

In its fourth year of hosting, “Keepers of the Culture” organizers select a new group of individuals to honor for their achievements. This years event was moderated by Co-Host PBS Midday Edition Jade Hindmon, was held on May 27, at The Quartyard in San Diego. SDAAMFA honored four esteemed artist including; Award-winning musician Nathan East, who accepted his honor via video. Alyce Smith-Cooper, African-American ancestral storyteller and actor. Visual artist and playwright Calvin Manson. And, painter and sculptor, Andrea Rushing.

Below are a few memorable quotes from the honorees:

Moderator Jade Hindmon and Alyce Cooper-Smith

“The culture and the history of the world  is our culture. It’s our history. I didn’t say it!  The oldest human remains were found in Africa, and they just keep finding more.  To negate our culture is to negate who we are as people. Cmon’! Erase all of the isms. We all share the same DNA and the DNA that’s been altered. That’s if you follow the scientists today. To forget who we are is to erase all history.  That’s not going to happen.”

Alyce Cooper-Smith

“My art is to preserve our culture and to make sure that we’re being seen.  Make sure that people know who we are. When you see my paintings, I want you to have a conversation.  You don’t have to buy it. I want you to stop for a moment and think.  When you come to my plays, I want you to walk out thinking about who we are as a people. I’m inspired by you, and telling our stories.”

Calvin Manson

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by some great musicians, Hollis Gentry, Carl Evans, Skipper Ragsdale, in this wonderful jazz band Fourplay, founded in San Diego.  We played in a concert at the Sports Arena with Barry White and he hired the entire band on the spot to go tour around the country with him.  So we played, Madison Square Garden and the Apollo Theater in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C, Cobalt Theater in Detroit and there I was 16 years old and I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life.  I went on to UCSD to study music,  got my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music, and when I look back and think about it, San Diego was such a wonderful place to grow up and I’m ever so grateful.”

Nathan East

Be sure and check out SDAAMFA for upcoming cultural events all thing place at The Quartyard at 1301 Market Street in San Diego.

Upcoming Events:

June 17, 2022 – Opening night for “The Buses Are Coming” exhibit. ( 6-9 pm)

July 1, 2022 – The San Diego Diplomacy Council annual meeting (5-7 pm)

July 21 & July 22, 2022 – Afrofuturism Lounge. Lawanna Richardson, founder to bring “Freedom Riders for the Future. ( 2-9 pm)

August 5, 2022 – Happy Hour (No-host bar) featuring San Diego’s favorite D.J.’s (Brian Matthews, Artistic, Kandu and Kool)

August 28, 2022 – Yolanda Franklin, Executive Artistic Director of Common Ground Theatre presents “A Poetic Tribute to Freedom Riders.”

September 1, 2022 – Smooth Jazz Artist Elliot Lawrence (5:-7:30 pm)

All events are free; donations are accepted.

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