A new art exhibition curated by San Francisco artist Mark Harris pays homage to the prolific writer and activist James Baldwin, 60 years after Baldwin’s visit to San Francisco in the spring of 1963.
Titled Invincible Black Soul: The Art of Bearing Witness, and on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery through July 8, it was partially inspired by the 1964 KQED documentary Take this Hammer, which captured Baldwin’s Bay Area visit.
“He took it as his calling to bear witness to what was going on. And he’s inspired so many people, so many artists,” Harris says.
The show features Harris’ own work, which centers the practice of mixed-media collage, along with two of his longtime friends and fellow Bay Area artists: Raymond L. Haywood, an abstract expressionist, and Bryan Keith Thomas, who makes sculpture and paintings heavily inspired by symbols in Black history. Harris says the show overall is a bold statement following in Baldwin’s tradition.
“[We’re] letting people know Black artists are still here in the Bay Area, and we’re creating work about what’s going on, about what we’re seeing,” Harris says. “When [Baldwin] was here 60 years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible, right? They wouldn’t have given three Black artists the main gallery of the Arts Commission to say anything. And now I’m here, saying exactly what I want to say.”
‘Invincible Black Soul: The Art of Bearing Witness’ is on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery through July 8. More info here.