Alvin Baltrop, Piers (open window), c. 1975-1986, gelatin silver print, 7.5 x 9.5 in., Courtesy The Alvin Baltrop Trust and Galerie Buchholz

On Alvin Baltrop, Raynes Birkbeck, Reverend Joyce McDonald, and Frederick Weston


Multimedia Event

Saturday, January 18, 2020, 4:00 pm

In conjunction with Souls Grown Diaspora

apexart and Visual AIDS invite you to an evening of short videos, readings, and conversation considering the work of Alvin Baltrop, Raynes Birkbeck, Reverend Joyce McDonald, and Frederick Weston, with Antonio Sergio Bessa.

Souls Grown Diaspora, curated by Sam Gordon for apexart, brings together the work of ten visionary African-American artists, tracing a line of events from the Great Migration through the Harlem Renaissance, to the contemporary art world of 2020.

Where does the AIDS crisis fall within Souls Grown Diaspora? How does living with HIV as an artist inform the work that is produced? This program focuses on four artists from the exhibition whose lives and artwork have been deeply affected by AIDS.

Raynes Birkbeck, Reverend Joyce McDonald, and Frederick Weston will each screen short videos and speak about their work, and curator Antonio Sergio Bessa will reflect on the photographs of Alvin Baltrop.

This event is presented in collaboration with Visual AIDS, an organization committed to raising AIDS awareness through art and creating dialogue around HIV issues today.

Sergio Bessa is a writer and scholar of concrete poetry with several books and essays published in the US and abroad. Until last year he was the chief curator at The Bronx Museum where he organized critically acclaimed exhibitions on Martin Wong, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Alvin Baltrop.

Raynes Birkbeck lives and works in Manhattan, NY. He is a self-taught artist who paints, sculpts, draws, and writes poetry. He chronicles personal and fictitious accounts with subject matter ranging from environmental issues, war, politics, and sex. Individual drawings stand alone, but when seen together, strong narratives appear, woven throughout his body of work and organized by a personalized system consisting of four concurrent dimensions. He has exhibited work at SITUATIONS, the Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, and Safe Gallery. Willow Glen Films is producing a documentary on Raynes set to be released in 2019 in conjunction with his exhibition at Nino Mier Gallery, LA.

Joyce McDonald is a multidisciplinary artist, focused in sculpture and painting. Her creativity captures in stark relief the range of emotions she has experienced throughout her spirited life. Her artwork was featured on the front page of the New York Times Weekend Arts Section in July 2016 for Holland Cotter's feature article "Art From the Age of AIDS." She has exhibited in group shows at the Museum of the City of New York, La Mama Galleria, the Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, Puffin Foundation Gallery, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Robeson Art Gallery, and Judson Memorial Church, among others. She has been a steadfast supporter and participant in Visual AIDS' LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN and Day With(out) Art programs. Joyce is a weaver of words: not just as a poet or rapper—she is both—but also as a speaker for her church's AIDS ministry and assistant director of its children's choir. She also practices the art of motherhood in her relationship with her two daughters, two sons-in-law and eight grandchildren.

Frederick Weston was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1946, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he participated in the club scene before moving to New York City in the mid-1970s. He is a self-taught interdisciplinary artist who works in varied media: collage, drawing, sculpture, photography, performance, and creative writing. Weston has exhibited his work widely, including group exhibitions in New York at the Leslie-Lohman Museum, Gordon Robichaux, 55 Walker, La MaMa Galleria, and the Bureau of General Services, as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. He has spoken on numerous panels and readings organized by Visual AIDS, as well as at Artists Space, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the College Art Association of America. In 2017, an oral history with Weston by Theodore Kerr was published by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art for Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project. His work has been lauded by Holland Cotter in The New York Times on two occasions and by Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine’s Vulture.