Harriet Tubman commission rankles, new Theaster Gates monument at Drexel, Big Summer Book Sale and more

It's a time of high anxiety and we now have a new topic of worry -- the City's commissioning of a southern, white, male sculptor, for a permanent Harriet Tubman sculpture to be sited at City Hall. Meanwhile, across town, quietly, a somber monument to rethinking monuments, by Theaster Gates, appears at Drexel. And we hope you go to the book sale and party at the Icebox Project Space, brought to you by Ulises, FORTUNE and other book makers. Also, two top picks for reading and watching -- Matthew Rose's magazine, "Trouble," debuts its summer issue; and Art 21 presents a charming, 9-minute video of the late Margaret Kilgallen at work, making art featuring her woman heroes.


The Harriet Tubman Statue Controversy

Dear All, we are aware of the trouble surrounding the Harriet Tubman statue commissioned recently by the Percent for Art Commission, which bypassed the public open call process and selected the white male sculptor from North Carolina, Wesley Wofford. Wofford’s traveling Harriet Tubman statue was recently installed at Philadelphia City Hall, while on its 12-city tour. The statue caused an outpouring of love here for the public commissioning of a permanent work in Philadelphia celebrating the beloved abolitionist heroine. In a story yesterday in Hyperallergic, the Philadelphia Public Art Program Director Marguerite Anglin is quoted as saying — at a June 15 virtual public meeting — that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, upon seeing the response to the traveling Harriet Tubman statue, immediately backed funding for Wofford to create a site-specific sculpture depicting Tubman. To which, many participants at the meeting pushed back. Perhaps crystalizing the issue surrounding the commission was public artist Maisha Sullivan-Ongoza’s comment, “Nana Harriet risked life and limb to be free so that no one White person would benefit off her person. And now we have someone white benefiting off of her.” Artblog will write more about this in the coming weeks.

“Monument in Waiting” (2020) by Theaster Gates – new public art on Drexel campus, from collaborators Philadelphia Contemporary, Forman Arts Initiative, and Drexel University

Detail shot of a public artwork made out of stone with various tone objects sitting on a stone platform in a gray field. In the front, a cylindrical object resembling a large mortar; in the back a rectangular stone structure with the words inscribed: "Until real heroes bloom, this dusty plinth will wait."
Theaster Gates, “Monument in Waiting” (detail), 2020. Credit: Timothy Schenck. Courtesy GRAY, Chicago/New York.

Philadelphia Contemporary, Forman Arts Initiative, and Drexel University are pleased to present Monument in Waiting (2020) by Theaster Gates. Courtesy of the artist and GRAY gallery, the sculpture—which was created during the turbulent summer of 2020 and first exhibited at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York—will be installed on Drexel University’s campus. Courtesy of the artist and GRAY gallery, the sculpture—which was created during the turbulent summer of 2020 and first exhibited at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York—is now installed on Drexel University’s campus at Korman Quad, on 33rd Street, between Chestnut and Market Streets.

Comprised of reclaimed stone plinths and granite tiles, Monument in Waiting evokes a dismantled public forum. The work responds to ongoing socio-political dialogue and public scrutiny of historical figures and monuments, particularly those that reinforce systems of oppression. This tribute, like much of Gates’ work, asks viewers to reckon with and reconsider the materials and narratives which these spaces uphold and celebrate over others.

“My monument work, from Black Chapel—my pavilion commissioned for Serpentine Galleries—to this non-monument in Philadelphia and the Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, has me grappling with the best indicators of temporal markers. Monuments spatially and symbolically mark time and help us conjure meaning. Honoring the truths of a people or a moment is necessary soul work for the nation. I’m glad to be part of that,” Gates remarks. More information here.



Nine minutes long and a breath of fresh air
Art 21 video of Margaret Kilgallen talking about her women heroes depicted in her works.

Summer of trouble (magazine) now available – free download or purchase hard copy at Blurb
Matthew Rose, Artblog friend and former Paris correspondent drops Volume 2 Number 1 of his multi-media, words and images magazine. This issue is the “Sex, God and Art” issue.
Download Trouble as free PDF. Purchase softcover copy.
Check out Matthew’s Instagram.


Big Summer Book Sale – and Party!
Saturday, July 16 from 12PM to 6PM
Icebox Project Spaces, Crane Arts Building
1400 N American St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122

From Ricky Yanas of Ulises Books:

Ulises, in collaboration with Icebox Project Space and FORTUNE presents the Big Summer Book Sale! Come for the sale and stay for the snacks, drinks, and good afternoon vibes featuring DJ Rana Ransom.

It should be a really fun event. We are trying to get rid of a bunch of dead stock with some massive sales and have a party too! We are planning to have the grill going with free food, specialty drinks designed by Fortune, DJ Rana Ransom, an amazing bunch of print based vendors, and a raffle every hour. Works available from:

● All Caps Studio
● Amze Emmons
● Iffy Books
● Kamihira
● Justine Kelley
● Lot 49 Books
● Many Folds Press
● Partners and Son
● Pet Riso
● Risolve Studio
● Second State Press
● The Soapbox
● Solita Zine
● Ulises

More information here

Yellow digital poster that says "July 16, 'BIG SUMER BOOK SALE', 12-6PM" in black text, with stylized line designs surrounding the text.
Poster, Ulises’ BIG SUMMER BOOK SALE. Courtesy Ricky Yanas.