Aug 5, 2023
Harlem Art Park East 120th Street & Sylvan Place, New York, NY 10035
The Studio Museum in Harlem presents the culminating event in celebration of the Smokehouse Associates publication.
Join us in Harlem Art Park, the site of one of the Smokehouse Associates' first painted walls, for a multimedia program featuring sonia louise davis, David L. Johnson, and Shamel Pitts. Through participatory activities and insightful conversation, visitors will be guided through reflections on Smokehouse’s collaborative work and will explore their own connections to—and interpretations of—the collective’s ethos to “let the message be the change.”
sonia louise davis will lead a “tuning” breath exercise before reading an original text in homage to “Wellspring, Opus 341” from Harlem-born singer Jeanne Lee’s 1979 album Oasis, a duet with multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel. The track references local landmarks (all since shuttered) from the perspective of a flâneur “strollin’ down Seventh Avenue.” David L. Johnson will reflect on communal access and stewardship of public space through a performative lecture and project that engages with the structure of Harlem Art Park's public hours. Shamel Pitts will lead visitors in a Gaga/people class, a movement class charged with rich, descriptive imagery that stimulates imagination, activates the body and physical sensations, and encourages awareness of one’s thoughts and surroundings.
This program is free and open to all.
Harlem Art Park is accessible by wheelchair and other forms of mobility assistance.
About the Smokehouse Associates
From 1968 to 1970, the Smokehouse Associates transformed Harlem with vibrant, community-oriented, abstract murals and sculptures. Established by William T. Williams with Melvin Edwards, Guy Ciarcia, and Billy Rose, Smokehouse grew to encompass a range of creative practitioners united around the revolutionary potential of public art. Though under-recognized today, Smokehouse was ambitious in its scale, community engagement, and interaction with the built environment. Published by the Studio Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, Smokehouse Associates provides the first critical examination of the group’s work, expanding the narrative of public art and social practice in the United States to include the contributions of artists of African descent.
Artists on Artists is an ongoing series that invites contemporary artists to respond to artwork and sites of creativity through the lens of their practices and experiences.
sonia louise davis (b. 1988, New York, NY) earned her BA with honors in African American Studies from Wesleyan University and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Study Program. Her solo exhibition
sonia louise davis (b. 1988, New York, NY) earned her BA with honors in African American Studies from Wesleyan University and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Study Program. Her solo exhibition, resonant frequencies, blossoming tones, at HESSE FLATOW, was listed as a “must see” by Artforum in 2022. She has presented her work at the Whitney Museum, New York; ACRE, Chicago; Sadie Halie Projects, Minneapolis; Ortega y Gasset Projects, New York; and Artists Space, New York; among other venues. Residencies and fellowships include the Laundromat Project’s Create Change Fellowship, Civitella Ranieri, New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Culture Push Fellowship for Utopian Practice, and STONELEAF RETREAT. Her newest book, slow and soft and righteous, improvising at the end of the world (and how we make a new one) was published in 2021 by Co—Conspirator Press, via the Feminist Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles. sonia lives and works in Harlem.
David L. Johnson (b. 1993, New York, NY) is an artist who lives and works in New York City. Johnson uses video, photography, found and stolen objects, and public installation to document and intervene
David L. Johnson (b. 1993, New York, NY) is an artist who lives and works in New York City. Johnson uses video, photography, found and stolen objects, and public installation to document and intervene in the spatial politics of cities. Focusing on loitering and property law, his recent work has been interested in the complex relationship urban development engenders between the built environment and different forms of social life. Johnson received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 2015 and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. He is an alum of the Whitney Independent Study Program and a part-time lecturer at the New School. Recent exhibitions include: La Morsure des Termites (The Termites' Bites), Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Life Between Buildings, MoMA PS1, New York; Everything is Common, Artists Space, New York; Revocable Consents, Theta, New York.
Shamel Pitts is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, and teacher. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School
Shamel Pitts is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, and teacher. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at the Ailey School. Shamel received his BFA in dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Shamel danced with Batsheva Dance Company for seven years, under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin and is a certified teacher of Gaga movement language. Shamel is the artistic director/founder of TRIBE, a New York–based multidisciplinary arts collective. He is the recipient of a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award winner in Choreography and a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography.
sonia louise davis
Center for the Art of Performance, UCLA
Jeanne Lee and Gunter Hampel
Studio Museum Film Series
The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Learning and Engagement programs are supported by the Thompson Foundation Education Fund; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; Con Edison; Harlem Community Development Corporation; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation; and Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts. Additional support provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. The Smokehouse Associates publication was made possible thanks to funding from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and Terra Foundation for American Art.