Feb 28, 2021

Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Grand Master Tony Watts


Tony Duane Watts was born and raised in White Plains NY. Raised in a single parent household he w/ the guidance of an uncle who was a black belt he began studying martial arts at at a young age. One of the early forms was Karate and then he moved on to Kung Fu. Because he grew up without his father he has said his Sifu's (teachers) in martial arts were like his fathers. Grand Master Watts, Sifu, Moy Wu (honorable son) has been studying martial arts for over 50 years and teaching for over 40 of those years. He has degrees in Karate, JuJitsu, Aikido, Gung Fu, Sanucs Ryu, Wing Chun, boxing and he served in the US military. With many of these arts he has high ranking degrees, and he has the 10th level (Qi-Gong) in Gung Fu. Beyond teaching martial arts (all over the world in White Plains) Master Watts has been an active member of his local community mentoring young people away from senseless violence and drugs. He is a father to 9 children, and 7 grand children. 

I found a video of Master Watts while researching another martial artist years ago and could feel that he takes his art form seriously and is very disciplined and principled. More over, you can tell he has respect for his teachers, honor, and he carries on traditions that were developed over 400 years ago. He is not just a student, but a disciple. 

Sources: Black Taoist, Total Wing Chun, West COPNY

Did you see the painting of martial artist Steve Muhammad?
The last painting before this one in 2021 is Denise Oliver-Velez

Original photo ref: Nay Marie

Feb 24, 2021

Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Denise Oliver-Velez

There is a ton of research out there about there about her so I'll keep this brief. Denise is a Black woman who was one of the most prominent members of the Young Lords Party and the Black Panther Party in NY. Her activism did not start there though. She grew up in a radical family and has been immersed in political work her whole life. This includes her time as a student at Hunter College, Howard University, and Old Westbury. It involves work in civil rights, the HIV/Aids epidemic, teaching, and her time in the Party. She also fought to cut the macho bullshit and sexism that women experience within movements by advocating for the Lords to have equality in rank and in writing for the Palante newspaper. She very humbly stated that she and her comrades  came up with their ideology and plans from seeking out information from hella different sources, synthesizing what was relevant, and then making it work as they grew. I invite you to look up her interviews, follow her on twitter. Yes, she's still alive (72 yrs young) and still working; teaching the next generation in colleges. In addition to her work with Iris Morales to build equality for women, I was struck by her talking about confronting racism not only against Puerto Ricans but self-hatred and racism within Boricuas. It was also inspiring to hear about the solidarity between different groups and coming together for common cases.  

 This piece is to honor Ms Denise Oliver-Velez and the work she has done for the people. One of the things I dug the most when researching is her refreshing willingness to say to younger activists "look at our mistakes" as much as you do the victories. I dig that she's not about celebrity activism, inserting an almighty political ideology on the people, or overly academic or political language either. Salute Ms Oliver-Velez! I'd seen her in pictures many times but didn't know delve into her background until I heard Ericka Huggins mention her on Hard Knock Radio!!!

I'd like to note that some of the victories she helped win for the people was greater access to medical care and study during the AIDS/HIV epidemic which hit Black and Brown communities particularly hard. Sound familiar? Some thing else is making sure women were at least half of the writers in the Palante newspaper, and a patients bill of rights that widely used now in hospitals in the US. 

Sources: Black Women Radicals, Tell a Friend w/ Bryan Knight

Did you catch the piece about Claudia Jones?

The previous post was about The Transgender District

Feb 23, 2021

Children's Portrait 62 - Emme


Heres a portrait of a little girl named Emme that I did recently. Check out some process below.

Did you catch the last children's portrait of #61? See it HERE

If you would like to commission a portrait of a child or children please reach out and cop one from my store. Thanks so much for supporting one of a kind, unique, handmade art and for supporting an artist vs a corporation. 

Children's Portrait 61 - P

Here is the 61st portrait. The mama asked me to keep her name private but check her out. 

Did you catch the last children's portrait of Brice? See it HERE

If you would like to commission a portrait of a child or children please reach out and cop one from my store. Thanks so much for supporting one of a kind, unique, handmade art and for supporting an artist vs a corporation.

Video-Stories In Place


Stories in Place: Harriett's Bookshop from Raishad Momar on Vimeo.

Stories in Place: STUDIO-SOLE® from Amandla Baraka on Vimeo.

Yo, these are some really well shot videos about Black owned businesses in the US, UK, Kenya, and more. Nice inspiration for the whole year.

Feb 22, 2021

Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Transgender Cultural Center


I'm listening to Alicia Garza's podcast "Lady Don't Take No" when she mentioned the Compton Cultural District. Then I found about these three ladies. Janetta Johnson (54)- who is the executive director of an organization called TGIJP or the "Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project". Honey Mahogany (35)-An artist, activist, social worker, and candidate for office in SF. And Aria Sa'id (29)-Former program director at St James Infirmary, current founder of Kween Culture, and the executive director of the Transgender Cultural District. 

Each of these women have worked in some capacity as advocates for the Trans community. They came together to help found the Transgender Cultural District which is now the worlds first cultural district in a city that honors transgender people. Its 6 city blocks of the Tenderloin neighborhood located in San Francisco California. And it is one of the places trans people come to when they first enter the city.

The story is, a developer wanted to build a new condo, the community pushed back because it was not lifting up the people who live there currently and it did not preserve the local history such as the Compton Cafeteria riot of 1966 which is one of the first documented times the queer community fought back against police harassment (Stonewall 1969). A coalition of activists fought to preserve the history and got Jane Kim (Dist 6 supervisor) to make it happen at the city level. This cultural district has plans to help Trans folks with tenant rights, jobs, space for arts & culture, historical preservation, and cultural competency. 

Sources: TransgenderDistrictSF.com, Forbes, Out Magazine, NPR

Did you catch the ptg of Miss Major?
The last one before this was Wilhelmina Godfrey

Feb 18, 2021

Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Wilhelmina Godfrey


Wilhelmina Godfrey was born in 1914 in Philadelphia and moved to Buffalo NY. A life long artist she was always making art. She attended Albright Art School , the art institute of Buffalo, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Wilhelmina was a sculptor, weaver, printmaker, and a painter. I chose the images behind her in this portrait because of her more abstract painting style. Shout out to Florida A&M who posted about her. Besides being an artist she also advocated for the arts by teaching, organizing a weaving program, and co-founding the Langston Hughes Center with Jim Pappas, Clarence Scott, and Allie Anderson (a space for youth arts). In her lifetime she exhibited her art, sold paintings, and was awarded a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts. She passed away in 94, but I hope to find more information about her and that people become aware of her work.

Sources: FAMU 79' Impact Afro American Women Artists, Buffalo News, Uncrowned Community Builders

Did you see the painting of Lois Mailou Jones?
The last one before her this year is Leola King

Panel discussion-Tandem

Excited to take part in this discussion with these fine folks as part of Tandem Early Learning. If you'd like to watch, listen, ask questions, and or participate please register here.


Reading This Sunday-Afro Latinx Festival


This coming Sunday I'll be speaking with Gabriela from the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach about kids books. This is a story time for the little ones so please invite them and families to attend, listen, and ask questions. More information on how to register  HERE

Feb 17, 2021

Hablot Brown / SZA


Hablot Brown-GO


Inspiring Artist - Alberto Mielgo (NSFW)


Can't remember when I came across Mielgo's work. Maybe through Tron, not sure. He's worked on so many films. But I love his oil paintings, the nudes, the digital backgrounds, the character designs. All of it. If you're in a public place you might not want to look at these right now. Wait until you're home :) Enjoy and check out his site here.

If you enjoyed these paintings, I have shared artwork from a bunch of other artists whose work really inspires me! The last artist I shared that really inspired me is photographer Jamel Shabazz

Feb 16, 2021

Black Is Beautiful 2021- Leola King


Born in 1919 on a Seminole reservation in Oklahoma, Leola grew up in LA immersed in the entertainment business working in theater, film, and partying. In 1946 (around WW2) she moved up to the Bay Area to help her father run a bbq business in Oakland. She started her own bbq business in San Francisco the same year and was hugely successful with Black folks and the many nationalities in SF. However in 1949 the US government created a federal policy called the Urban renewal housing act. Through this they seized Leola's business; "Oklahoma King" at 1601 Geary street (Japantown today). She regrouped and started a new biz which she named "The Blue Mirror" in 1953 at 935 Fillmore (Blocks from today's African American Arts & Culture Complex). The venue became one of the destination's for the historic Fillmore district home to a huge portion of SF's Black population and a historic home for music and culture. The Mirror had red carpet, elegant furniture, murals, and a stage where many of the best in Jazz and Blues performed and came to hang out. The venue could hold 300 and was said to be packed every night. Leola also had a beautiful mansion 711 Scott st across from Alamo Sq Park and "The Painted Ladies". Again the redevelopment agency in SF came for her spot and many others in the neighborhood. But again she built herself back up with "The Birdcage" at 1505 Fillmore in 1964. Leola would host people like Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, The Mills Bros, Dexter Gordon, even Willie Mays and Joe Louis. She was a biz savvy woman who was called the Queen of Fillmore. 

Leola fought tooth and nail with the city of SF who robbed her of several properties, her home, and so much life until she died. The agency would take her property in a pattern that robbed Black entrepreneurs and home owners in the Fillmore district (later dubbed Western Edition). This pattern is noticeable across cities where Black migrated to from the southern US. Somehow in the city of sin which she said was run by gangsters she managed to build monuments that cared for and welcome all people, especially Black folks. 

Sources: SF Public library, KQED Rebel Girls, Harlem of the West (book), SF Bayview 

Did you catch the story about Arlan Hamilton?
The last one before this was Cathy Hughes

Feb 15, 2021

Children's portrait 60 - Brice


Here's a portrait I did last year of a child named Brice!!! Check out some of the process below. If you'd like to commission a portrait of a child, please do so HERE

And if you missed the last portrait, check it out here.