Here is the final installment in my series of posts about opening weekend of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida where my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was showing.
If you are just joining us, here are the two previous related posts:
Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I
Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II
Before I share more about the show’s opening weekend, here is a little about my time in St. Petersburg, Florida.
WANDERING AROUND ST. PETERSBURG
I’ve been to several cities in Florida in the past, but I do not remember ever visiting St. Petersburg, so let’s call it my first visit to St. Petersburg, FL. The James Museum is located in downtown St. Petersburg and although my partner John and I had a rental car, we primarily explored the downtown area where our hotel was also located.
One day between opening weekend events, we walked down to the pier area and ran into some very friendly pelicans hoping for us to feed them (which we didn’t – we listened to the posted sign!)
One of the pelicans was following me around and after a while appeared annoyed that I hadn’t fed her/him yet!
There was all sorts of interesting birds wandering around downtown St. Petersburg, here are some curious birds we ran into at a public park:
They were sort of flamingo like but I am not sure if they are in the same family. If you know what they are, let me know!
And of course I had to take some Black & White photos while wandering downtown St. Petersburg, here is my favorite of the photos I took (the rest were “nothing to write home about” so I will spare you a B&W photo essay of downtown St. Petersburg):
John and I had lunch one day and a fun restaurant, Oak and Stone, that featured a self-sampling craft beer area where you got a wrist band that you scanned and selected whatever sampler craft beers you wanted (though they did have a limit of how many samples you could buy during one visit!). Each tap had information about the craft brew selection.
We had a lot of fun sampling beers!
John and I discovered that St. Petersburg has an unusually large number of museums for its size of city – 31! We joked that since there is a lot of wealth in St. Petersburg, “everyone and their brother” wanted to have their own museum!
And now we’ll return to the show’s opening weekend.
BLACK PIONEERS SHOW OPENING WEEKEND CONTINUED
On Sunday September 11, 2022 the museum held a brunch for the artists and the show’s sponsors. After the brunch there was a panel presentation with the show’s curator Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi and 6 of the artists discussing the topic “In Search of Freedom: The Black Presence in the West”.
Each artist discussed their piece in depth and responded to Dr. Mazloomi’s discussion questions about the topic. It was an amazing panel presentation by amazing women. The women in the panel are educators, college professors, a civil rights attorney, historians, and professional artists. Dr. Mazloomi is a retired aerospace engineer and she was not the only PhD level educated artist in the room.
Some of the members of the WCQN have art quilts permanently installed at the Smithsonian Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
I cannot begin to put in to words how it felt to interact with this entire group of talented and brilliant women that are part of WCQN during the Black Pioneers show’s opening weekend. Here is the group photo I shared in the previous post about the show opening:
How lucky I felt to stand among this group of women! I had so many engaging conversations with the other artists during the show’s opening weekend and there are rumors that in the future we might have WCQN artist retreats and I cannot wait to be in their presence again!
If you’d like to read about how I first got involved with the WCQN, this post tells the story – Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me (re-post). Thank you Universe for letting me run across that magazine that led me to reaching out to Dr. Mazloomi while browsing at Barnes & Nobles in 2016!
I will close this series of posts with this recent interview of Dr. Mazloomi, a National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (highest award given in the U.S. to an artist), that played on a loop on one of the museum’s walls during the exhibit. I think it is worth a listen.
We as African Americans have participated in the making of this country since we stepped off the boat. African Americans have been explorers, they’ve been business people, they were cowboys, they’ve been part of the fabric of every facet of this country and people will see that the quilts…Quilts have jumped off the bed onto the wall and they are now seen as works of art…these are not the quilts that your grandmother made, they are truly seen as works of art…with the use of cloth we tell the stories not only of our cultures but the making of America…Carolyn Mazloomi