I used to work at the San Francisco Public Library and though I love everything about books, I had reached a point where I felt unfulfilled. I had read many books about starting a business and I was burning with desire to start my own–to be able to create a life by creating a business that spoke to my yearnings for independence. So eventually, I did quit my “good job” with the city and started on my way to entrepreneurship.
I started by selling books and body oils at the Berkeley Flea Market. It was not much of a jump into entrepreneurship, but eventually we did rent a small space in a small strip mall, The Foothill Square in Oakland. The little shop was about the size of a small living room, but it was perfect for us. I had found my bliss!
There in that little space, I sold all kinds of knick knacks and goodies, mainly books, and I met all kinds of people–from cool folks who made the shop their little hang out, but never bought anything, to folks who would buy huge supplies of body oils, always testing what was the newest scent, to the crackhead woman who stole a bike lock right from under my nose (I was high on bliss and didn’t notice when she stuck it under her coat) all the way up to the mother of the artist, Monica Stewart, who operated The Snappy Cat Restaurant in that mall.
Who is Monica Stewart you ask? She’s an Oakland artist who paints some of the most beautiful and expressive artwork of black women (and some brothers too)–thinking, dancing, praying, just being! It’s very likely that you’ve seen her work somewhere before, as she has been featured in a number venues and TV shows. http://www.monicastewart.com/index.vm
Well we were blessed to get three large prints from her mother way back then. The Conversation, Grandma’s Love and Women Who Look Ahead. I was so happy about it, but I wasn’t confident about hanging up such work. I didn’t think our little ghetto apartment could support such work. I put the prints away, looking for the time that I would properly get them matted and framed at least, so as to do the work justice. Guess what? Like an arse, I never did get those pictures framed. And they were eventually misplaced somewhere as we were always moving from place to place. 😥 When I think about it now….well, it’s better that I don’t think about it.
I recently featured her artwork here at my blog without even knowing it. The piece is called Unity, and I featured it in my blog post called, Black Women Can You Forgive? The piece was perfect for what I was trying to convey. All of Monica Stewart’s work is magnificent and I’m glad that I can go online to her own website and purchase prints. What I love is that her work is so affordable! If you are willing to spend from $20 – $60, you can own prints of her beautiful artwork! I remember watching The Cosby Show and seeing all of the artwork on display. I always felt kind of sad looking at it, knowing from the start that I couldn’t afford it. Thank God for those affordable works of art!
What’s so wonderful about beautiful artwork is that it speaks to your soul! Every time you look at the beauty of your favorite piece, it actually renews your spirit! Artwork IS spiritual and has the power to move your human spirit–and it doesn’t have to be a Rembrandt or Picasso my people. I remember buying a mass produced print of an African woman in silhouette from the Senegalese guy in the mall, and that piece spoke volumes to me every day as it hung in my living room over the years–it probably cost me $5 dollars or 3 for $10!
When it comes to art, we black folks have got our hands in it. It’s deep, deep in our spirits because it’s the one thing in our hearts that couldn’t be repressed–not poverty wherever we may live, nor middle passage of the Survivors, nothing was able to kill our artistry. I believe that we black folks must take black art to an even higher spiritual place! All black people no matter where we are in the world, should have black art in their homes, based on whatever our financial means. Or if you are the splurging type, why not do so on black art? It’s the one way to speak peace and love to yourself and your family without actually saying a word! It’s a way to silently and powerfully mirror your beauty back to you. An expressive piece of black art will speak to you on a subconscious level, without your awareness, and bless you! What’s more, it’s a blessing to the economics of talented black artists when you decide that black artwork is important to yours and your family’s lives and regularly support them! Why not do so, TODAY! 🙂
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