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AFRO-AMERICANA : A Few Local Events Add to Celebration of Black History Month

February 04, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

A somewhat muted recognition of Black History Month is under way in Orange County, highlighted by several exhibits featuring traditional and contemporary art from Africa.

First up is "The African Art Show," opening Monday at Chapman University's Guggenheim Gallery in Orange, which will feature the work of two contemporary artists--painter Joseph Bertiers of Kenya and Kana Kwei, a carpenter from Ghana.

Bertiers, 28, is a commercial sign painter by profession whose work caught the eye of Ernie Wolfe, owner of the Turkana Primitive Gallery in Santa Monica. Along with his business signs, Bertiers also paints signs with a less commercial intent.

"His message paintings have both great imagery and great verbiage. They're fun, they're great fun," Wolfe said during a recent telephone interview. "They're commentaries in many cases about social conditions, political conditions."

Kwei creates "fantasy coffins"; thus, most of his work is now underground, except for a selection of coffins commissioned by Wolfe. Kwei's clients might have chosen a Mercedes-shaped coffin if they never got to own one in life, or they might have ordered something to represent their profession: a fish for a fisherman, for example. The coffins to be displayed at Chapman are car-shaped, Wolfe said.

Wolfe will speak about the artists March 4 at 7 p.m. in Chapman's Moulton Center, Room 167.

"An African Legacy" at the Orange Coast College Art Gallery in Costa Mesa will showcase pieces of traditional African art and artifacts from private collections in the county. The exhibit will run Feb. 18 through March 23; OCC instructor and art historian Gene Isaacson will offer a lecture on African art Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

The recently revamped Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana on Feb. 27 will open an exhibit of works from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection of African Art, a large private collection that was assembled for a planned but never completed Africa hall at Florida's Epcot Center.

The Fullerton Museum Center's offering for Black History Month is "Haiti: Symbols de Mystere," opening Feb. 20 and running through March 28. It is a combination of two separate traveling exhibits focusing on the island nation: "Haitian Voodoo Flags" and "Haitian Religious Folk Art."

Cal State Fullerton has a heavy calendar of lectures, performances, discussion groups and other activities, through Feb. 25. Highlights include a "Black Artists Exhibit" Feb. 8 to 12 in the East Gallery of the Visual Arts Center; "Color Me Black," a one-man show by Randy Saint Martin Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the University Center Theater; and "1001 Black Inventions," a play performed by the Pin Points ensemble Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Titan Pavilion.

Rancho Santiago College likewise has booked numerous performances, lectures and other events. "Creative Images," an exhibit of works on paper by African-American artists, is being shown in the college's Nealley Library through Feb. 17. Other events (held in the college amphitheater): a gospel music performance by Marla Reid, today at 12:30 p.m.; the Black History Choir, Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m.; a performance and lecture illustrating the history of the blues, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m.

Huntington Beach-based KOCE-TV (Channel 50) celebrates Black History Month with a variety of programming and a series of 10 60-second informational spots titled "The Fight for Civil Rights" starring Morgan Freeman.

The scheduled programming includes "Great Performances" Feb. 22 at 9 p.m., featuring the Tony-winning jazz and blues revue "Black and Blue"; and "Black to School," Feb. 22 at 11 p.m., a documentary on a program teaching "Afrocentrism" to black schoolchildren as a way of boosting their self-esteem.

Here are the details:

* "The African Art Show," Feb. 8 to March 10 at Chapman University's Guggenheim Gallery, 333 N. Glassell St., Orange. Weekdays, noon to 5 p.m. Admission: free. Information: (714) 997-6729.

* "An African Legacy," Feb. 18 to March 23 at the Orange Coast College Art Gallery, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (and 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays and the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month). Gene Isaacson will speak about African art Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Fine Arts Lecture Hall 119. Admission: free to gallery and lecture. Information: (714) 432-5039.

* Works from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection of African Art, opening Feb. 27 and running indefinitely at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Thursdays until 9 p.m.). Admission: $1.50 to $4.50 (children under 5 free). Information: (714) 567-3600.

* "Haiti: Symbols de Mystere," Feb. 20 to March 28 at the Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave. Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Admission is $1 to $2 (free to members and children under 12; free to all visitors Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.). Information: (714) 738-6545.

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