Charleston Gibbes Museum’s very first hip-hop show inspired by the art of Romare Bearden | Charleston scene

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The Gibbes Museum is putting on its very first hip-hop show to line up with the closing of an art exhibit that has been on display since October.

The works of Romare Bearden – an extremely fair-skinned African-American artist who could easily have lived his life as a white man but refused to do so – focuses on black lives and struggles for equality and the respect.

Bearden, who died in 1988, received the National Medal of Arts just a year before his death.

Some 55 of his avant-garde paintings, works on paper and collages are on display at the museum as part of the Romare Bearden: Abstraction exhibition, which will be withdrawn on January 9.

Two days earlier, hip-hop artists from Charleston would perform in response to his works.






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Z93Jamz DJ and radio personality Kris Kaylin hosted the first Gibbes hip-hop show. Provided


The show was hosted by 93Jamz radio DJ and personality Kris Kaylin, “The Weekend Diva,” after Gibbes’ education and programming curator Chase Quinn pitched the idea.

“When I saw the exhibit, it reminded me of organized chaos,” Kaylin said. “Honestly, that’s what hip-hop can feel like sometimes. It always tells a living story, and I knew I needed storytellers who would tell the story of the artist but from their perspective and from their perspective. this period. I also wanted artists who would attract a new audience to the Gibbes Museum. “

For the show, Kaylin – who interviewed Megan Thee Stallion, Kanye West and 50 Cent, among other famous musicians – selected the hip-hop artist and the US Water Alliance’s first One Water Artist in Residence, Benny Starr, as well as record label founder and hip-hop, R&B and soul artist Mike Brown and spoken word poet Alayssa Thomas.






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Benny Starr is one of the hip-hop artists performing at Gibbes. Joseph Johnson / Supplied


Starr released “A Water Album” on June 10, 2019. The record explored the links between climate change and gentrification, as well as feminism, marginalization and the black heritage of the South.

Starr has since used this project and his artist in residence to promote water equity. During the pandemic, he said he was focusing on his health and his family, “allowing the next musical step to find me.”

When Kaylin contacted him about the Gibbes show, he knew he wanted to participate.

“I’m an artist who likes to push the boundaries, and I know Kris has great instincts and a great conscience, which makes her a great curator,” said Starr. “So the conversation was pretty fluid. “

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Starr said his music for the show, created in response to Bearden’s work, will be a bit more abstract than previous performances.

“I have a deep respect for his life and his artistic talent, and it reminds me of my own experiences in South Carolina, where I have spent my entire life,” he said. “I hope (this show and exhibit) reminds us of the power of the creative mind – and what we could do with that power.”






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Alayssa Thomas will perform at the Gibbes show. Provided


Thomas, who started writing at the age of 8, often fuses his rhythmic poetic flow with an assortment of instruments. This time, she will perform a cappella.

“Serious topics like Black Lives Matter… I like a cappella because music can also be a distraction,” Thomas said. “It was the first time that I had focused on abstract art and broken it down to my understanding.”

Regarding the first hip-hop show at the art museum, Starr notes that advancements in the South often don’t come quickly enough – in this case, he’s referring to the fact that hip-hop hasn’t been presented in the museum. up to this point.

“I’m not so enamored with too many ‘firsts’ anymore,” Starr said. “It seems to remind me of how many spaces and places we haven’t had access to over the decades.”

Kaylin calls this a historic moment, a chance for future generations not to face so many “firsts”.

“Hip-hop music is popular in Charleston, but when it comes to playing artists, venues are always cautious,” she said. “The Gibbes Museum bridges that gap, and I’m happy to be a part of it. I hope this will be the first in a long series.”

Artist Steve Locke to discuss public monuments at a talk at the Gibbes Museum

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To reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.


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