Congratulations to Renee Baker's "The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble"

"Art is Business" This item was posted by a community contributor, stanwest1, Suburbs Daily Southtown Southtown Community

From the community:

Dear James Baldwin relatives Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein.

Dear James Baldwin relatives Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein.

Author James Baldwin was the subject of Renee Baker's brilliant neo-opera "The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble" at CSO this weekend.

Community Contributor Stan West
You asked me to send you copies of the program from Renee Baker's "The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble" that opened last night at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was powerfully poignant illustrating his poems and prose utilizing her video, music, and lyrics. I'm sending you the programs, as promised. I just felt I needed to send you so much more.

We all miss him so very much, especially family members like you as well as his longtime friends who affectionately called him "Jimmy." I only met him once, in '86, a year before he died. To me, he was "Mr. Baldwin." My writing teacher, Ishmael Reed who was giving him a well-deserved award for being North America's best essayist, invited me to "Come meet Jimmy." 

Pardon my French, but this is how it went down.
Je lui ai dit que comme un adolescent , je l'ai lu deux de ses livres de la bibliothèque de mes parents. Pendant ce temps, les Black Panthers , qui étaient un jeune groupe militant que je savais , renvoyé à lui comme " un révolutionnaire de café " qui n'a pas été assez en colère . Il m'a regardé dans les yeux et m'a dit: " Montrez-moi un nigga dont pas en colère et Je vais vous montrer un imbécile . " Je me suis assis en pensant que peut-être je venais d'être appelé un imbécile par Baldwin .
I told him that as a teen, I read a couple of his books from my parent's bookcase. During that time, Black Panthers, who were a young militant group I knew, referred to him as a "café revolutionary who was not angry enough." He looked me in the eye and told me, "Show me a nigga who's not angry and I'll show you a fool." I sat thinking that maybe I had just been called a fool by Baldwin.

I believe you both heard me share this story in French and English at the 2016 James Baldwin Conference at the University of Paris, Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein. I recalled Carole smiled when I mused, "Since I had been called a fool by lesser individuals, I took Mr. Baldwin's words as a compliment." As we all know, he died the very next year, angry I suspect.

Renee Baker's brilliant "neo-opera" (which is how she describes her oft-abstract musical mosaic) showcased how some Whites felt he was "too angry" and some Blacks felt he was "not angry enough" - themes that emerged in his own writing that powered the Academy Award-nominated 2016 Raoul Peck-directed documentary, "I Am Not Your Negro."

Maestra Baker invited me to open the night reading Baldwin's poem, "The Giver" that begins, "If the hope of giving/is to love the living/the giving gives madness/in the act of giving"… and ends quite angrily, "And he turns in his guilty bed to stare/at the starving multitudes standing there/and rises from bed to curse the heavens/he must understand that to whom much is given/much will be taken, and rightly so/I cannot tell how much I owe." I did my very best.

The standing-room-only opera with Chicago's cultural elite packed rather closely in Symphony Center's Buntrock Hall featured baritone singer Robert Sims who bellowed, "I am Black and I'm Gay and that's why you can't stand me" to a crowd stunned by the ferocity of the truthful lyrics. I sat next to music educator Barbara Wright Pryor. Pryor smiled as this extraordinary operatic movement addressed the values and aspirations of ordinary people in AAN's 3rd Annual Black History Month Celebration that was co-sponsored by Phumzile Pride Mazibuko, Chicago's South African Consulate General.

As the brilliant Maestra waved her arms and rocked her shoulders to the liberation anthems of singers Cornelius Johnson, Dee Alexander, Sheila Anne Dawson Jones (founder-director of CSO's African American Network that sponsored the night's event) & Taalib Din Ziyad (whose singer-son, Saalik Ahmad Ziyad, died a few days prior and was unable to perform). Baker put her head done as Ziyad sang in deference to his son's recent demise, she later said.

Freedom songs were the night's bread and butter. Speaking of freedom, in the post-concert Q&A where this reporter was recruited to moderate, a prominent South African intellectual raised a provocative question that perhaps the opera did not adequately answer whether or not Baldwin's prophetic call for freedom would be answered. I responded in Zulu that translates, "Freedom is what freedom does." I added that "Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein, who could not leave New York City to be present at tonight's historic event, send Renee Baker praise for trying to keep Jimmy's freedom dreams alive."

Dear Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein, I believe your famous relative smiled on the night's magnificent effort. It accessed Baldwin's tears and fears in music and rhyme. Humanist attacks against gentrification were heard in lyrics and language though Baker argued: "My work is apolitical." Working-class woes amid a White supremacy backdrop were poetically tender. Moral capitalism meets compassionate humanism that cynics simplistically label socialism were among the tense quandaries underneath the sublime sounds.

Consider this: lines expertly sung by soloists languishing a "wall" instead of a bridge to understanding, inspired the audience to hold hands with performers who belted out several verses of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "We Shall Overcome." What a finale!

Dear Dan Baldwin and Carole Weinstein. As you know, I just sent a U.K. literary agent as well as a U.K. publisher the rough draft of my "James Baldwin's Black Lives Blues" that I promised to soon share with you. If you think I got the public story right about his views on police brutality now called euphemistically police misconduct, and the private story about how several generations of Black straights and gays in my family including my Black-Mexican-Italian-transgender cousin, Rabbi Ramona Hernandez, maybe you'll add a cover comment. Distant relative Dr. Tara Betts, a blues poet, has offered her terse verse, too. We think the intersectionality of our local, national, international narrative fares better with U.K. packaging than here in AmeriKKKa, at least right now in this violent Trumpocalypse era of White fragility.

In sum, as I reflect on last night's musical tribute I believe that your famous relative would beam witnessing the blues, gospel, jazz, classical, zydeco gumbo tour de force called "The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble" to which I think if he were alive he'd take a knee. 

Maestra Renee Baker said there are two other musical movements yet to come. She hinted she'll invite all of us to the party.-Stan West

Strategy Sharing Social with The Funambulist Magazine Special guest Léopold Lambert

"Art is Business" This event is hosted by Ladipo Famodu 651-261-7410

Special guest Léopold Lambert will share a brief history of The Funambulist Magazine and his plans for the future of the publication. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the informal discussion by responding to the question “How are you fighting for spatial justice in Chicago and beyond?”

The Funambulist is “a print and online magazine dedicated the politics of space and bodies initiated in 2015. Every two months, it proposes to its readers' spatial perspectives on political anticolonial, antiracist, queer, feminist and/or anti-ableist struggles in various scales and geographies of the world”.

Come join fellow artists, architects, designers, planners, journalists, activists...etc. for a series of brief interviews concluding with a social hour. 

This private event is of limited capacity, so please RSVP to save your spot. Information on additional interviewees to be shared throughout the week. 

Bronzeville Artist Lofts
436 E. 47th Street
Second Floor, Room 205
Chicago IL, 60653

RSVP HOST: Ladipo Famodu


New Patron Saints, New Works by N. Masani Landfair

"Art is Business" curated by Renee Baker, AIR Phantom Gallery Chicago Network
@N. Masani Landfair

New Patron Saints, New Works by N. Masani Landfair

These new works are presented by Renee Baker, 2019 AIR Curatorial Practice 

Phantom Gallery Chicago

Installation Feb 1st - March 15th, viewing by appointment

The closing dinner and wine reception will be held on March 1, 2019,  6-9pm

N. Masani Landfair – Artist Statement and Bio.

I take materials considered undesirable and redefine their worth and meaning. I use traditional collage and assemblage to create abstract social commentary, dream landscapes and spaces I consciously and subconsciously deal with every day.

I grew up in the heavily industrial community of South Chicago which contrasted constantly with the teachings and ways of my Southern Grandparents that continued with much of our culture from their transition through the Great Migration. These influences shaped my views of beauty and worth in the simple to complex dilapidations and sacred understandings of nature and the environment.

N. Masani Landfair (b. 1970, US)


2014  Resident of the Bronzeville Artist Lofts Chicago, Il.

2013-2014 Artist in Residence, Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab, NFP, Chicago, Il.


2019   “GAP VII” Global Art Project, Group Exhibition, Dakar, Senegal

2018   “Transceivers” Prizm Art Fair, Miami, Florida.

2018  “8×8” Self Portrait Exhibition, 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, Il.

2018  “Visual Strategies Exhibition: Global Art Project, ClearWater Artist Studios Concord N.C.

2018  “Imagining Post Capitalism” ProArts Oakland. Oakland, Ca.

2018  “the past is more infinite than the future” Under the Bridge Art Space Miami, Florida.

2017 “Chicago 9” Prizm Art Fair, Miami, Florida.

2017  “Post 11/9. The New Now” Group Show. Connect Gallery. Chicago, Il.

2017  “Sketch Book” Group Exhibition, 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, Il.

2017  “Layered” Group Exhibition Tracing How Art is Made. 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, Il.

2016  “100 year anniversary of DADA” Global Art Project, San Francisco International Arts Festival. Ca.          2015  “GAP III” GLOBAL ART PROJECT: ( workshops and exhibitions) Group show Lecce, Italy

2015  “Aesthetics of Wellness” Woman Made Gallery Chicago, Il.

2015  “Art from Excess” Miller Beach Arts & Creative District Miller Beach, In,

2015  “Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Juried Exhibition Chicago, Il.

2014  “Herradura Tequila Barrel Art Collection” Group show Finalist Chicago, Il.

2014  “Curator’s Choice: 10th Annual National Self Portrait Exhibition”, Zhou B Art Center Chicago, Il.

2014   Bronzeville Artist Lofts Incubator Group Show, Chicago, Il.

2014   Samantha Hill’s “Sweat Tea Party” Featured Artist, Part of “RISK”. Chicago, Il.

2013  “Boundless Shores” South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago, Il.

2013  “End of Plastic” Solo Show  Shacks and Shanties, Chicago, Il.

2013  “copy.right? The art of appropriation” 33 Contemporary Gallery Chicago, Il.

2012-2014 “Knee Jerk” Global Art Project Collage postcard exchange, San Francisco, CA.           
2012  “100 canvases for things that matter” Silver Room Chicago, Il.

2012  “face mask” 8th National Self-Portrait Exhibition Zhou B Art Center Chicago, Il.

2012  “Chicago 12 at the Garfield Park Conservatory” Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago, Il.                                   
2012  “Chicago 12” 12 artists mobilizing the Earth, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, Il.               

2011  “Surfacing” Solo Show South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, Il.

2005   “Women of the African Diaspora” Group Exhibition. Woman Made Gallery Chicago,Il.

2001    Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition Chicago,IL.

2000    Amtrak Union Station, Solo Exhibition for Gwendolyn Brooks Reading. Chicago, Il.


15 Youth Art Classes at Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab

2012  After School Sustainable Art Programs.

2006  Walk Wireless Growing the Youth of Englewood Art Classes.

2005  Apostolic Church of God Young Sisters for Christ Girl Scouts Art Classes

1998  ARCHI-TREASURES, Art Supervisor Chicago,Il.                 



Gomez, Sergio “LAYERED” An Interactive Exhibition Tracing How Art Is Made. Jan 11, 2017 pg. 2


Gomez, Sergio: FACEMASK. 8th Annual Self Portrait Exhibition Exploring the Other Behind Our Social Media Face  Jul 11, 2012 pg. 55

Gomez, Sergio: Chicago’s Twelve 12 Artists Mobilizing the Earth May 3, 2012 pgs. 42-49

Hillegas, Laura Brooke: Art Centered, “Certified Organic and/or Artificially Flavored – Chicago’s Twelve: 12 Artists Mobilizing The Earth”, Published by Zhou B Art Center, pgs. 6-11, June 15, 2012.


Stevens, Mike Hyde Park Herald “Black artist featured in new MSI exhibit, January 21, 2004


Reed-Scott, Beverly Chicago Defender “Going North”,  Jan. 25, 2001


Works held in private collections in Canada, the United States, and Europe

Curatorial projects

2018   “AL(L)TER CURRENTS” Group Exhibition. Alena Museum, Oakland, CA.

2018   Al(l)ter  “Art as Momentum, Incubating generative resolutions to the present.”

Ongoing. Canton, Georgia and San Francisco, California

2013  “No Away To Throw To” Shacks and Shanties at Sacred Keepers, Chicago, Il.

2013  Shacks & Shanties co-curator with Faheem Majeed at Sacred Keepers, Chicago, Il.


2004, 1st place winner Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition. Chicago, Il.

Gallery Guichard Presents fingerprints

"Art is Business, Visit the heart of the Bronzeville Art District,