Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Antena @ Bridge Art Fair Miami Beach
December 4-7, 2008
BRIDGE MIAMI BEACH
Following its enormous critical and commercial successes in 2006 and 2007, Bridge is pleased to announce our third installment in Miami Beach. Held at both the Catalina and Maxine Hotels, Bridge Miami leads the South Beach satellite art market, located a mere two blocks from Art Basel. Visitors can browse nearly 80 rooms of the freshest and most innovative works in international emerging and contemporary art.
Arguably the largest convergence of contemporary art and design takes place during Art Basel Miami in this annual, star-studded, citywide celebration of new art internationalism. Consistently a muscular destination market, Miami shows absolutely no signs of stopping, and continues to astound as far and beyond the top-performing art-fair circuit in the United States.
The Catalina and Maxine Hotels
1732 Collins Avenue
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Practical Revolutions: WORK
by Sabina Ott
Artists Burtonwood & Holmes, Miguel Cortez, Joan Giroux, Myra Greene, Anni Holm, Friedhard Kiekeben, localStyle (Marlena Novak and Jay Alan Yim), and Tracy Taylor don’t privilege one practice over others that they engage in, instead, they approach all their activities as an interlocking set of art practices. These artists work across a range of platforms including sound and installation, object and video making, curation and criticism. They explore social activism and identity formation, embodying a connectivist approach toward art that is non hierarchical and fluid. Over time, the art object in and of itself becomes one of a range of practices. In this new paradigm, the network, not only the making is privileged. At the heart of such relational art is a devotion to expanding what artists do and what artists can do in the social realm, a practical revolution to be sure. Displacing the solo artist, the collective, as well as the collaborative team is one of the ways these artists seek replace traditional means of exchange between maker and viewer. Many of these artists also take the role of curator and producer, further extending the reach of their production.
Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Chicago artist Miguel Cortez also embraces a fluid relationship between various roles as artist (the situationist kind), curator, and founding member of the art collective Polvo. Polvo began in 1996 and opened an exhibition space (2003-2007) in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. Cortez has just started antena, a new project space dedicated to new media and installation projects on a local and global scale. Cortez’s art in all of its manifestations radically revises the role of the artist from solo practitioner to viral warrior. Some form of networking produces most of Cortez’s work –literally. His works are interactive- often made by
participants downloading stickers from the web and placing them in the urban landscape, thus de-centering the process of artistic production. “Recycle Your Ideas” is an ongoing project, in which the artist places decals at various locations, then photographs the site, draws or paints it and then generates an animation to be viewed online. Each incarnation influences the next one, and each piece is simultaneously independent and connected. His recent exhibitions include the Krannert Museum, Champaign, IL; the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago; VU Space in Melbourne, Australia. and at Mighty Fine Arts Gallery in Dallas.
See my "Recycle Your Ideas" project here: http://recycle-ideas.blogspot.com/
Purchase PROMT from the Chicago Artist's Coalition web site: http://www.caconline.org/default.asp?page=Prompt_Main
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
You can see a full set of photographs from the show here: http://www-us.flickr.com/photos/burtoholmes/sets/72157605329748211/
Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Orleans Street Gallery celebrates 5 years of exhibiting contemporary Chicago art with an anniversary exhibition highlighting breakout artists, many of whom, have since exhibited nationally and internationally. Reception attendees will have the opportunity to meet many of the artists and learn about their work first-hand. Featuring live painting by Violet Jaffe (Arlington Heights), and Elizabeth Parker (Rolling Meadows), a happening by Chicago based performance artist Chris Roberts – and an opportunity to trade a T-Shirt for an original “I am Trying to Figure out Where I Fit In” T-Shirt by Nathan Keay.
Prominent artists include: Miguel Cortez, Mary Ellen Croteau, Kazuki Eguchi, Erik Fabian, Nathan Keay, Makeba Kedem-DuBose, Industry of the Ordinary, Anne Lass, Aimee Lee, Jason Reblando, Chris Roberts, Brandon Sorg, Brian Sorg and many more. Art Wall: Paintings by Rachel Weaver Rivera
The Five Years on the Run Anniversary Reception will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2008 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. The exhibit will conclude September 13, 2008. Orleans Street Gallery is located in the Bourbon Street section of Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 East Main Street, St. Charles, IL 60174. Gallery hours are Thurs. 12–7 pm, Fri. & Sat. 12–8 pm, Sun. 11–4 pm. For more information contact Gallery Director Anni Holm at art @OrleansStreetGallery.com or 630.524.5048. Free and open to the public.
Opening Saturday June 7, from 6-10pm
Orleans Street Gallery
Located off Bourbon Street at Pheasant Run Resort
4051 East Main Street
St. Charles, IL 60174
Monday, May 26, 2008
number 54, march 2008
Chupacabras: The Myth in the Era of the Internet
Myths and legends have always been a vehicle by which civilizations have gained understanding of themselves and of other things. Studying them implies a stirring up of its deeper cultural mechanisms. In the era of the Internet, that resonating chamber in which rumors spread at light-speed, urban legends can be offered to everyone for examination, like an animal going under the scalpel of sociologists, anthropologists, and above all artists.
The exhibition, “Chupacabras (Artists Reinterpret the Myth)”, presented at the National Museum of Mexican Art offers a reinterpretation of this legend by a group of young artists that during the 1990’s spread throughout Latin America, and which apparently originated in . The entity, ubiquitous and monstrous, the Chupacabra has been seen stealing chickens, and attacking livestock like goats and cattle; resulting in peasants everywhere losing a good night’s sleep.
It was to be expected that the majority of these artists would opt to apply a political metaphor. Like the Judas figures that are burned during Holy Week, dressed up as Uncle Sam or some corrupt government official, they provide a catharsis for people. Here the Chupacabra takes on the form of George Bush (in the oil painting by Antonio Pazaran), the former president of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gortari (in the collage by Salvador Jiménez), multinational companies (in the painting of Patricia Acosta), and of NAFTA (Ricardo González), etc. Diverse leeches of society, represented in diverse degrees of fortune from the obvious to the proactive.
Two works are really outstanding, they are “My Chupacabras Escaped”, a digital image on fabric and decal by Miguel Cortez and “Chupacabra Gothic” by Judithe Hernández. The first one is a fresh and imaginative play on urban imagery and the physical limits of the space of the work. Slippery like the myth, out of its setting, Cortez’s Chupacabras is a decal glued to the wall that mocks the rectangular margin of the work, leaving an empty silhouette where its image should be.
The second is an allusion to “American Gothic”, a painting by Grant Wood that has attained the level of icon. His portrait of the quintessential spirit of Midwestern America has been parodied in a thousand ways. Hernández’s work, a very fine pastel (on paper), features the figure of a goat and a man dressed as a politician or Wall Street executive with his head covered by an American-like flag. The figures are united by a blood transfusion that drains the blood of the poor quadruped, while filling in the red stripes of the flag. In the background, bordered by a prodigious blue, is the immensity of the fields where immigrant workers labor (giving their life’s blood). It is in this work that the political background is most solid and of the greatest breadth: the humor, reflection, and formal resolution are united in a truly sucessful manner.
Also interesting is “San Chupa”, a mixed-media work by Juan Compean. It alludes to the tradition of religious stained-glass windows and its line quality recalls the engravings of Leopoldo Mendez.
As it has happened in other exhibitions at this museum, one would like to see the same care given to the Spanish texts that are given to the English texts. However, this group exhibition is definitely worth making the effort to see and to choose the work you like the best.
Friday, May 23, 2008
It's a project that started 2 years ago and it pokes fun at the art making process; how artists come up with an idea for let's say a painting, that idea then manifests into a finished piece. The artist then repeats the same idea/ the same painting style over and over until the art no longer has the substance that it had at the begining. It now becomes a decorative pattern/product.
Is it just you, or others?
This is an individual project, but on the blog/site people can to request stickers to then post in their city, document them and then they can send me a digital image.
What was the inspiration?
I wanted to create a series or artworks that would not be limited to just one media. I think of it more like a tree branch. It started out with stickers. Once I placed several at various sites I documented them. I then traced the photos on the computer and the finished drawings became computer prints(these where shown at the Krannert Museum). After this I created a Flash animation piece for online viewing, plus others.... and so forth. Each piece influences the next one and they are independent but are still connected. So the series keeps growing.
What examples of idea-recycling come to mind when you describe your project?
You can probably compare it to the idea of re-use and recycling of actual materials like paper, plastic, glass, etc but on a conceptual level.
I mean, all art's recycled in some way, so how to differentiate between art that would fit with your project, and art in
Yeah most art concepts nowadays are recycled from the past or taken from individual experiences. The end result may be innovative such as in cases where artists use new technology. Some have started to utilize new media to create fresh new work, such as creating art for cell phones, online projects, computer programs, mp3s, video for ipods, 3D environments for Second Life, etc...
How do you choose the locations for your stickers?
It's random. Wherever I go and if I have one I place one.
What was shown at Krannert -- the pictures of the stickers as placed?
I showed 2 computer drawings taken from previous documentations. Originally the museum wanted to show and distribute the stickers, but it turned out, some university people complained and felt the university students would paste stickers all over the campus, so instead the museum made business cards.
What is the ultimate project goal?
It will keep on growing until I become sick ot it.
Part of the "Recycle Your Ideas" project is being shown at The Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, IL until July 27th in a show called Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/o Artists (www.kam.uiuc.edu). You can see the blog at: http://recycle-ideas.blogspot.com
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
3M to showcase a micro-projector for handheld devices at CES
by Nilay Patel, posted Jan 4th 2008 at 2:45PM
ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--3M is now providing consumer electronics manufacturers with a revolutionary advancement in the emerging field of miniature projection technology. 3M scientists developed a breakthrough ultra-compact, LED-illuminated projection engine designed for integration into virtually any personal electronic device. Roughly the size of a wireless earpiece and less than half an inch thick, the 3M mobile projection engine delivers brilliant VGA resolution images and is available today.
With the expansion of digital media now accessible by mobile devices, consumers need the convenience of larger displays. “3M mobile projection engines achieve the size, efficiency, image quality and affordability needed for consumer adoption of this promising new product category,” said Mike Kelly, executive vice president, 3M Display and Graphics Business. “This development continues 3M’s long history as a global leader in advanced projection display technology. What is really exciting is that this technology is available now.”
When deployed in a host platform, such as a mobile phone, 3M’s technology can project a 40-inch or larger image with no-speckle and a high-fill factor that ensures superior image quality. Each engine uses an advanced liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) electronic imager in conjunction with proprietary 3M optics technology.
3M is partnering with leading consumer electronics companies that plan to launch products in early 2008. 3M Mobile Projection Technology will be shown in the Advanced Display Technologies Zone, booths 25727 and 25627, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, January 7-10, 2008.
For more information on 3M, visit 3M.com.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg's mediums knew few bounds.
One of his most famous works or "combines" was "Bed," created when he woke up in the mood to paint but had no money for a canvas. His solution was to take the quilt off his bed and use paint, toothpaste and fingernail polish for his creation. He was also a sculptor and a choreographer.
Rauschenberg died Monday of heart failure at 82, it was announced Tuesday by Jennifer Joy, his representative at PaceWildenstein gallery in New York. His use of odd and everyday articles earned him regard as a pioneer in pop art, first gaining fame in the 1950s.
"The most famous thing he said was that he worked in the gap between art and life," said John Elderfield, chief curator of painting and sculpture at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "I think what he meant by this is life was his materials as much as art was his materials."
Rauschenberg didn't mine popular culture wholesale as Andy Warhol (Campbell's Soup cans) and Roy Lichtenstein (comic books) did, but his combines — incongruous combinations of three-dimensional objects and paint — shared pop's blurring of art and objects from modern life.
He also responded to his pop colleagues and began incorporating up-to-the-minute photographed images in his works in the 1960s, including, memorably, pictures of John F. Kennedy. He even won a 1984 Grammy Award for best album package for the Talking Heads album "Speaking in Tongues."
"I'm curious," he said in 1997 in one of the few interviews he granted in later years. "It's very rewarding. I'm still discovering things every day."
Nan Rosenthal, who curated "Robert Rauschenberg: Combines," a joint exhibition by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, called Rauschenberg a "tremendously imaginative artist."
Rosenthal said she believed Rauschenberg would be best remembered for his series of all-white, all-black and all-red paintings, as well as the combines. The Met owns about 25 Rauschenberg paintings and about 75 drawings and prints.
"A lot of the time he was tremendously ebullient, a kind of irrepressible person," who was also "quite a wonderful host and cook," she said.
Rauschenberg's more than 50 years in art produced such a varied and prolific collection that it consumed both uptown and downtown locations during a 1998 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes, in his book "American Visions," called Rauschenberg "a protean genius who showed America that all of life could be open to art. ... Rauschenberg didn't give a fig for consistency, or curating his reputation; his taste was always facile, omnivorous, and hit-or-miss, yet he had a bigness of soul and a richness of temperament that recalled Walt Whitman."
Rauschenberg split his time between New York and Captiva Island in Florida, where he kept a house stocked with his and his friends' art.
"I like things that are almost souvenirs of a creation, as opposed to being an artwork," he said in a 1997 Harper's Bazaar interview, "because the process is more interesting than completing the stuff."
He studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1947. He later took his studies to Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under master Josef Albers (who supposedly hated his work), and alongside contemporary artists such as choreographer Merce Cunningham and musician John Cage. He also studied at the Art Students League in New York City.
Rauschenberg's first paintings in the early 1950s comprised a series of all-white and all-black surfaces underlaid with wrinkled newspaper. In later works he began making art from what others would consider junk — old soda bottles, traffic barricades, and stuffed birds and calling them "combine" paintings.
One of Rauschenberg's first and most famous combines was titled "Monogram," a 1959 work consisting of a stuffed angora goat, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball, and paint.
"Initially, these were thought to be ugly and unpleasant, but as happens ... in time they are perceived as being beautiful," Elderfield said. "It's more than that these things were beautiful" but that he was using them to tell stories.
"Not in the way we are used to having stories told in narration, but more like the contents of a person's purse, you could tell the personality from the objects collected," he said.
By the mid-1950s, Rauschenberg was also designing sets and costumes for dance companies and window displays for Tiffany and Bonwit Teller.
He met Jasper Johns in 1954. He and the younger artist, both destined to become world famous, became lovers and influenced each other's work. According to the book "Lives of the Great 20th Century Artists," Rauschenberg told biographer Calvin Tomkins that "Jasper and I literally traded ideas. He would say, `I've got a terrific idea for you,' and then I'd have to find one for him."
Born Milton Rauschenberg in 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas, and raised a Christian fundamentalist, Rauschenberg wanted to be a minister but gave it up because his church banned dancing.
"I was considered slow," he once said "While my classmates were reading their textbooks, I drew in the margins."
He was drafted into the U.S. Navy during World War II and knew little about art until a chance visit to an art museum where he saw his first painting at age 18. He drew portraits of his fellow sailors for them to send home.
When his time in the service was up, Rauschenberg used the GI Bill to pay his tuition at art school. He changed his name to Robert because it sounded more artistic.
In recent years he founded the organization Change Inc., which helps struggling artists pay medical bills.
"I don't ever want to go," he told Harper's Bazaar in 1997 when asked of his own death. "I don't have a sense of great reality about the next world; my feet are too ugly to wear those golden slippers. But I'm working on my fear of it. And my fear is that something interesting will happen, and I'll miss it."
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Chicago ARTEahora adds Latin side dish to art fair
By Lauren Viera | Tribune reporter
April 25, 2008
There's nothing like Chicago in the springtime: Tulips blooming on Michigan Avenue, boats casting off into the lake and, in late-April, more art events that you can shake a paintbrush at.
This year, add one more to the mix: Chicago ARTEahora. Scheduled to coincide with Artropolis—the multifaceted celebration of art-related festivals and events that descends on the city each April—ARTEahora (which means "art now") is billing itself as "The First Chicago Latin American Art Fair," which Latin art gallery owners say is an accurate claim. And a telling one.
The unofficial center of Chicago's Latin arts community is the Near South Side neighborhood of Pilsen, its semigentrified east side lined with galleries and its more rustic west side crammed with studios. But the Pilsen community has not been involved with Artropolis or its premier fair, Art Chicago.
It can't afford to, says Miguel Cortez, an artist, gallerist and longtime member of Pilsen's art community.
"[Artropolis] is a very commercial venue with huge fees that many artists living in Pilsen cannot afford," he says.
Artropolis, which begins Friday, draws an international audience of thousands to a half-dozen fairs, including the massive and mainstream Art Chicago, the indie-centric NEXT fair and the Outsider Art-oriented Intuit Show. Most featured artists in the past have been American and European, with a sprinkling of East Asian and Latino artists.
ARTEahora and its producers hope to broaden the horizons on their own terms.
"Because Latin American art has historically in Chicago had a very little voice, it is good for the general public and collectors to see more," says ARTEahora founder and co-curator Aldo Castillo, who has run his eponymous gallery in the River North neighborhood since 1993. Castillo's gallery was rejected from partaking in Art Chicago no less than nine times. That was back when Art Chicago was run by Thomas Blackman Associates, which sold to the Merchandise Mart in a last-minute financial crisis three days before the 2006 fair.
"I always respected [Blackman's] decision, but that rejection inspired me to create my own art fair," says Castillo. "[The Merchandise Mart] is very aware of that incident so they are trying to be friendly with me, and they advertised [ARTEahora] in their program despite the fact that it can be seen as competitive."
Merchandise Mart confirmed that Artropolis is including ARTEahora in its listings. A spokesperson said an all-encompassing approach is being taken to this weekend's events: Artropolis' objective is to celebrate the arts in Chicago, instead of advertising solely what's officially included in the fair.
Castillo and co-curator Thomas Monahan, who consults on Latin American artists for Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses, wanted a fair that focused on artists, not galleries. The pair handpicked work from contemporary Latin American artists ranging from Jose Luis Cuevas, who has a namesake museum in Mexico City, to Baltazar Castillo, a mixed-media artist who works out of a studio in Wicker Park.
Programs will be on tap too. Monahan will present a lecture on Chilean 20th Century artist Roberto Matta, whose work he has represented; Alexander Slato, associate director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, Calif., will discuss collecting Latin American art; and art critic Michael Weinstein will lead a lecture on modern Cuban photography.
"This is my city, where I have lived for 21 years," Castillo says. "I came to Chicago and studied at the Art Institute, and by living here I knew what the city was missing, and I feel like this is my contribution to my home."
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
NFO XPO DIRECTORY
April 19 & 20, 2008
3111 N. Western (link)
Hours: 1pm to 3am on Saturday
1pm to 2am on Sunday
$8 ($10 for 2-day pass)
Polvo @ NFO XPO
Miguel Cortez Edra Soto Jaime Mendoza
Miguel Cortez will be showing an ongoing project of mixed media artworks dealing with the concept of "recycling" that began in 2006. I am taking this idea and creating multi-media works, such as digital photos, computer drawings, Flash animation, business cards, and bumper stickers. In April part of this project will be shown at the Krannert Museum in Champaign IL in a show titled "Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/Latino Artists". For more info on this series go to: http://recycle-ideas.blogspot.com/
Edra Soto will exhibit her "Greatest Companions(series)
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Gisela Insuaste, Judy Fox(curator) and Edra Soto
Installation by Gisela Insuaste
prints by Miguel Cortez and photo installation by Edra Soto
"Recycle your ideas #4 and 5", computer drawings by Miguel Cortez
photo wall installation by Edra Soto
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/o Artists
curated by Judy Fox
April 4 through July 27, 2008
Opening April 4, 2008 @ 4pm - 11pm
This exhibition highlights and explores the ways that eight, largely Chicago and mid-west based Latina/o artists have developed the theme of landscape through mixed and new narrative media installations, as well as through more traditional means of drawing, painting and sculpture. The exhibition examines their responses, through a variety of pictorial forms, to the natural and built environment. The works included will address the memories or imaginings of a tropical forest, the suburbs, or the density of urbanscapes, as well as the artists' own self-identities, or understandings of Latina/o presences in the United States. This collection will present a broad range, "from the rich, expressionistic painterly work of Paul Sierra to the conceptual performance-based work of Miguel Cortez."
For more info Contact Luis Caballero (217) 333-2778, firstname.lastname@example.org
Krannert Art Museum
500 E. Peabody Dr.
this what i showed
Monday, March 24, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.
The Somerset-born author came to fame in 1968 when short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.
His visions of space travel and computing sparked the imagination of readers and scientists alike.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse paid tribute, hailing the writer as a "great visionary".
Since 1995, the author had been largely confined to a wheelchair by post-polio syndrome.
He died at 0130 local time (2000 GMT) of respiratory complications and heart failure, according to his aide, Rohan De Silva.
"Sir Arthur has left written instructions that his funeral be strictly secular," his secretary, Nalaka Gunawardene, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
She said the author had requested "absolutely no religious rites of any kind".
A farmer's son, Sir Arthur was educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton before joining the civil service.
He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and foresaw the concept of communication satellites.
Sir Arthur's detailed descriptions of space shuttles, super-computers and rapid communications systems inspired millions of readers.
When asked why he never patented his idea for communication satellites, he said: "I did not get a patent because I never thought it will happen in my lifetime."
In the 1940s, he maintained man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea dismissed at the time.
He was the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books, and his writings are credited by many observers with giving science fiction a human and practical face. He collaborated on the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick.
British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore had known Sir Arthur since they met as teenagers at the British Interplanetary Society.
Sir Patrick paid tribute to his friend, remembering him as "a very sincere person" with "a strong sense of humour".
Tributes have also come from George Whitesides, the executive director of the National Space Society, where Sir Arthur served on the board of governors, and fellow science fiction writer Terry Pratchett. HAVE YOUR SAY His writing inspired many people to wonder what might be possible Pratik, California
The author married in 1953, and was divorced in 1964. He had no children.
He moved to the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka in 1956 after embarking on a study of the Great Barrier Reef.
There, he pursued his interest in scuba diving, even setting up a diving school at Hikkaduwa, near the capital, Colombo.
"Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered," he recalled recently.
"I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these, I would like to be remembered as a writer."
A statement from Sir Arthur's office said he had recently reviewed the final manuscript of his latest novel.
The Last Theorem, co-written with Frederik Pohl, will be published later this year, it said.
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: 'A More Perfect Union'Philadelphia, PA | March 18, 2008
As Prepared for Delivery
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naÃ¯ve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.