EXCLUSIVE: The Whitney Museum to Honor Michael Bloomberg at Gala and Studio Party

The Whitney Museum of American Art will honor Michael Bloomberg during its annual Gala and Studio Party on April 9.
The centrist politician, who two weeks ago revealed he would not be running for president in 2020, is “a great friend to the Whitney,” according to the museum’s Alice Pratt Brown director Adam D. Weinberg. Bloomberg’s honor stems from his philanthropic work and support for artists and cultural organizations; under his administration spanning 11 years, the founder of Bloomberg LP backed 500 public art projects.
There’s more cause for celebration, though: the gala, which this year will be sponsored by Michael Kors and Audi, marks the four-year anniversary of the museum’s move downtown to the Meatpacking District. Plus folks will be able to celebrate — or perhaps more accurately, mourn — the closing of the oft-Instagrammed exhibit “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again.”
For Kors’ part, he said he’s looking forward to checking out the next thing the museum has to offer.
“I love the building and the fact that there’s always something new and provocative to see,” he said. “Having the Whitney in my backyard is a dream.”

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The Black Woman Who Turned Trap Music Into A Museum

When T.I.’s manager and business partner Douglas Peterson first contacted music video producer Antwanette McLaughlin to present her with an idea for a pop-up experience, she had no clue what he was talking about. His plan was to convert an abandoned shack on the west side of Atlanta into “Escape the Trap,” a combination maze, cryptic codes, brain teasers, and riddles that visitors would have to decode in a 30-minute time frame.

McLaughlin remembers that conference call being mass confusion: A bunch of men on a speakerphone trying to scream out different ideas all at once. She took on the project despite still not knowing what the outcome would be. “The conversation was nurtured because I didn’t get it,” McLaughlin told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“We ended up meeting. It took about a week or two for us to flush out the concept for me to understand it and see it. I couldn’t see it in my brain at first then finally as we kept talking, I could see it.”

trap music

Antwanette McLaughlin

Trap Music Museum

McLaughlin is the creative director and founder of her own boutique production company, The Spice Group, which curated the Trap Music Museum. She, along with a team of 30-50 people, re-purposed an old warehouse in The Bluff, a crime-ridden, low-income community on Atlanta’s west side, into three-dimensional, interactive installations that bring the eerie-sounding hip-hop subgenre and its grim subject matter popularized by T.I., Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Migos, Pusha T, and Rick Ross to life.

Opened in October 2018, the Trap Music Museum is now one of Atlanta’s high volume, cutting-edge tourist attractions. The Trap Music Museum’s interior starts with a mock corner store that transitions into a living room decorated with plastic-covered furniture adorned with  framed child portraits of some of the subgenre’s more popular acts. The main area includes a large foam snowman, a pink big-bodied Chevrolet Caprice Classic, banners etched with codes of the streets, mugshots, oil paintings of rappers, and mini-shrines dedicated to the rappers. The Trap Music Museum was fully assembled and designed in two months. There are plans to turn the destination into a traveling exhibition across the U.S.

[WATCH: THE TRAP MUSIC MUSEUM]


Motel 21

McLaughlin was also the chief creative strategist behind the Motel 21 activation to promote Grammy-nominated chart topper 21 Savage’s sophomore album I Am>I Was. She, and a crew of 50-75 people, (11 on her core team who are all women) took a week to turn a seedy motel in Decatur, Georgia, into a series of pop-up rooms that graphically depict and capture I Am>I Was track listing.

Bringing 21 Savage’s vision to life came from McLaughlin sitting in on many of the “Bank Account” rapper’s recording sessions. She paid close attention to his body language along with the vibe and the energy in the room. For McLaughlin, her creative process always starts by giving the artists her full undivided attention.

“I catch what I can catch like a reporter and make notes; then go back to their team and ask if they like it or not,” the Clark Atlanta University alumna said. “Every client is different. A lot of artists are reserved, and they don’t speak unless it’s time to be spoken to or they don’t say anything if everything is right. They will speak if they have a specific thing that they want to share. Some artists have something to say the whole way through. If they were all the same, it wouldn’t be fun.”

trap music

Motel 21, an interactive pop up in Decatur, Georgia.

Breathing Life Into A Vision

The Spice Group specializes in music video production, short-form visual content and commercial photography. For the last nine years, the detail-oriented businesswoman has been able to oversee video concepts for T.I., Meek Mill, Young Thug, Migos, Lil’ Uzi Vert, Dej Loaf, Big K.R.I.T., 2 Chainz, Future, and T-Pain. Despite her highly sought-after vision, McLaughlin was seeking to produce more ambitious projects. Her goal, she says, was to produce and curate festivals, concerts, and live events.

Now, because music is primarily accessed and consumed via streaming platforms and social media, McLaughlin believes activations such as the Trap Music Museum and Motel 21 are great vehicles for popular acts to connect with younger audiences.

“Young people don’t connect unless they can see it or touch it,” she said. “They’re not going to go the long route of Googling, researching, and reading articles. They want to look at a picture, touch it, talk about it, or insert themselves into it. You touch millions of people that way per se rather than having something uploaded online.”

Peterson remembers McLaughlin’s temperament to execute the vision. “[Antwanette’s] a genius,” he said. “In our eyes, it was a lot of arguing, fussing, and fighting, but at the end of the day, it was for the culture. When it was all said and done, we all created something that we could all be proud of. It’s something everybody will enjoy. It’s dope.”

Trap Music Museum

The Trap Music Museum and Escape Room in Atlanta

McLaughlin cut her teeth in entertainment as a professional dancer and choreographer. The former dance talent spent time in Los Angeles, performing with Jagged Edge, Ying Yang Twins, Outkast, Nelly, Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez. She originally set her sights on Broadway, but says the theatre community wanted a token black girl who could sing, dance and act. Dance was McLaughlin’s passion, but she also noticed the lack of women of color in executive roles in theatre.

The creative made the conscious decision to quit dancing to become a music executive. Too often, she would overhear artists, managers, and label executives at rehearsals chatting about the artists’ performances, set designs, and tour schedules. McLaughlin felt the suits’ observations always missed the mark. “All of them were saying the wrong stuff,” she recalls.

“Every time I would hear them, I knew how to fix every problem. I knew my voice was bigger, and my voice couldn’t be heard just being a dancer all the time.” By the time McLaughlin pivoted deeper into the music business, she was living in Las Vegas, working with Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, and Mariah Carey. While at Interscope Records, she handled artist development for Keri Hilson, Mario, and Rich Boy. Following her stint as creative director and executive assistant to Grammy-winning singer/songwriter The-Dream, she started The Spice Group in 2010.

Managing a successful business always poses new challenges to McLaughlin. She emphasizes how good she is at articulating details to her staff, though, she says it gets on their nerves. She uses numerous pictures, collages, boards, and descriptions to illustrate her plans. If McLaughlin coaches someone, she considers herself “a good teacher.”

Trap Music

Antwanette McLaughlin inside the Trap Music Museum (Photo Credit: The Yes Life)

“I know exactly what I want,” the organized boss said. “When it’s not done right, I’m very adamant about showing you. I teach and explain very well. I do that as much as I can until we get busy. Because when it gets busy, there’s no time to talk.”

She continues, “When we’re not busy, I’m always feeding information. If I see anything wrong, I point out that’s not right. If you put it in your head to get it right the first time, then you’ll be fine.”

McLaughlin is proud to be a black, female business owner exposing audiences to art and museum culture. She’s aware that trap music’s graphic, vulgar subject matter may be a problem to some critics, but says trap music’s lyrical content may be what will encourage people to appreciate a new form of high-brow art.

“There are all kinds of stuff is in the world that I don’t necessarily agree with but it’s interesting,” McLaughlin said. “You learn something from it. We’re getting people to come see art. People come in here who have never been to an art show. That’s beauty. If you don’t bring anything to the community, then they won’t know that they can do something else outside of the community. That’s what we do: take a seed and make it blossom.”

The post The Black Woman Who Turned Trap Music Into A Museum appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Removes Michael Jackson Artifacts

Michael Jackson Live On Stage

Source: Dave Hogan / Getty

The legacy of Michael Jackson has been tarnished in the views of some after the airing of the Leaving Neverland documentary. Adding to the fallout, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis removed some artifacts of the later entertainer from their facility.

IndyStar.com reports:

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis removed three Michael Jackson items from exhibits this month, joining a handful of organizations that have reassessed connections to the late singer following HBO’s airing of documentary film “Leaving Neverland.”

The two-part film, which premiered March 3-4, focuses on Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two adult men who allege Jackson sexually abused them when they were children.

“When we put together exhibitions, we look at the objects and their association with high-profile people,” said Chris Carron, the museum’s director of collections. “Obviously, we want to put stories in front of our visitors (showing) people of high character.”

The estate of Michael Jackson has launched a lawsuit against HBO for putting out the documentary.

Photo: Getty

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Vuitton tops off fashion season with a museum mash-up

Louis Vuitton brought Paris Fashion Week to a close with a novel catwalk, building a replica of the pipes and scaffolding exterior of the Pompidou modern art center within the heart of the Louvre. Vuitton, originally a luggage maker now famed for its handbags, is one in a stable of LVMH-owned brands that put on lavish shows in recent days. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).


Reuters Video: Entertainment

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Iraqi antique collector turns his house into a museum

There is more than a century of Iraqi history in Sheikh Yousif Akar’s house, a modest home in the holy city of Najaf which the retired teacher has crammed full of local antiques collected over 50 years.


Reuters: Arts

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Alife Collaborates With the Brooklyn Museum, Faith Ringgold

Last year, Alife relaunched with an unexpected Crocs collaboration.
Alife approached Crocs before the footwear brand reentered the fashion conversation via a tie-in with Balenciaga on an imaginative, platform pair that retails for $ 850. But since then, newer streetwear brands including Pleasures and Chinatown Market have released their own co-branded Crocs.
“That’s the last thing we wanted to happen,” said Treis Hill, an Alife cofounder, when asked about these collaborations. “One thing that Alife consistently tries to ensure, which might be to our detriment, is that we aren’t trying to follow what people do. No one was thinking about Crocs until we did it, so for us let’s move on to something else and focus on a new message.”
That new message is Black History Month, and Alife has partnered with the Brooklyn Museum and Faith Ringgold, a Harlem-born artist whose work was featured in the “Soul of a Nation” exhibit at the museum. Ringgold is known for her quilts, but also practices painting, sculpting and performance art.
“Alife is centered around art and our objective is to push art and perpetuate that through our apparel, but this is the first time we’ve done something during Black History Month,” said Hill. “This was an

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Facebook Prohibited an Art Museum From Promoting an Exhibit With Images of Nude Statues

(GENEVA) — A Geneva art museum says Facebook prohibited it from promoting an upcoming exhibit with images of two statues — a half-naked Venus and a nude, kneeling man.

The Museum of Art and History took to Twitter to say it had wanted to post pictures of the statues on Facebook to promote the “Caesar and the Rhone” exhibit that opens Friday, but the social media platform “prevented us from it, because of their nudity.”

The museum instead put the images on Twitter on Friday with the French word for “censored” over the statues’ presumably private parts, adding: “Maybe it’s time that this platform changes its policy for museums and cultural institutions?”

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The museum’s 3½ -month exhibit pulls together works from the Louvre Museum in Paris, an antiquities museum in Arles, France, and other institutions to convey Caesar’s invasion of the Rhone River region running through Geneva and southeast France to the Mediterranean.

The marble statue of “Venus of Arles” was made in the first century and depicts the goddess posed with one arm outstretched and a robe draped around her waist. The first-century B.C. bronze of a bearded captive shows him with his hands seemingly bound behind his back, symbolizing Rome’s triumph over Gallic tribes.

Museum of Art and History spokeswoman Sylvie Treglia-Detraz said a first attempt to post the images drew a Facebook response: “We don’t allow ads that depict nudity, even if it isn’t sexual in nature. This includes the use of nudity for artistic or educational purposes.”

The issue strikes at the differing attitudes about nudity in Europe, where topless and even nude beaches and parks aren’t unusual, and in the United States, where government officials have been known to cover up topless statues.


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Israeli museum to drop ‘McJesus’ sculpture after protests

An Israeli museum plans to withdraw a sculpture depicting the McDonald’s mascot as the crucified Jesus following protests which briefly united the country’s Christian minority, its populist culture minister and the pro-Palestinian artist.


Reuters: Arts

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Four men go on trial for theft of giant gold coin from Berlin museum

Four men went on trial on Thursday for stealing a gold coin the size of a manhole cover from one of Germany’s flagship museums in a daring night-time heist using a ladder and a wheelbarrow.


Reuters: Arts

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New York fetches a Dog Museum

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Olivier Theyskens to Stage Exhibition at Calais Lace Museum

FOR THE LOVE OF LACE: Belgian fashion designer Olivier Theyskens is the latest fashion name to hold an exhibition at the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais, in the North of France.
Following designers Hubert de Givenchy, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Iris van Herpen, Theyskens’ exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the cultural institution, which was created in 2009 to celebrate the region’s heritage of lace manufacturing.
Named “In Praesentia,” it will run from June 15, 2019 to Jan. 13, 2020.
The Belgian designer was given complete “carte blanche” for the exhibition, for which he delved into the museum’s historical textile collections and picked out unique pieces to build a dialogue with his own creations.
Curated by fashion historian Lydia Kamitsis, “In Praesentia” is voluntarily non-chronological, focusing instead on shared details, colors and textures between Theyskens’ silhouettes and the museum’s archives.
After studying at Brussels-based fashion school La Cambre, Theyskens launched his label in 1997. He went on to join Rochas in 2002, before becoming creative director at Nina Ricci from 2006 to 2009 and at Theory from 2010 to 2015. In 2016, he returned to Paris fashion week with his namesake brand.
It’s the designer’s second exhibition: the first, a retrospective of his 20-year career,

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Easter Island mayor concedes Moai statue might be better left in British Museum

The mayor of the Chile’s Easter Island territory conceded on Monday that the British Museum might be a better home for a massive native Polynesian statue taken by British seamen 150 years ago.


Reuters: Arts

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Belgium’s Africa Museum reopens to confront its colonial demons

Belgium’s Africa Museum will reopen to the public on Sunday after five years of renovations designed to modernize the museum from an exhibition of pro-colonial propaganda to one that is critical of Belgium’s imperialist past.


Reuters: Arts

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Award-Winning Film ‘Charcoal’ Heads to National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution

Francesca Andre combined her experiences with colorism and passion for storytelling into Charcoal, an award-winning film which puts the spotlight on healing from prejudice, discrimination, and preferential treatment based on the skin tone, facial features, and hair textures among people of the same race. Now, her short film is making its way to the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution as part of Skin Deep exhibit: Colorism across the African diaspora.



Black Enterprise caught up with Andre to learn more about her inspiration behind the film and hopes for changing the conversation about beauty in the black community.

BE: What inspired you to produce a film about internal colorism? Can you describe your personal experiences with this topic?

I wanted to tell a story about healing, about women redefining their own beauty and taking back their power despite the pervasive effects of colorism. I wrote Charcoal as I recalled these painful experiences and events with colorism growing up in Haiti. I was made aware of my skin tone and hair texture at a very young age. I noticed that people with lighter skin were praised and considered beautiful compared to others with darker skin. My grandmother joked that I got my “bad hair” from my father’s side of the family because her side of the family had very long and curly hair. While these conversations were common and seemed normal at the time, they slowly begin to erode one’s self-esteem and self-worth. I realized that I had internalized these toxic beliefs in my teenage years throughout my adulthood, so I had to unlearn all these toxic misconceptions about beauty, hair, and its relation to one’s worth. I am happy to say that I now have a very healthy relationship with my skin and hair.

Francesca Andre

Francesca Andre

BE: In your experiences, what are the impacts of internalized colorism, particularly when it comes to getting ahead in your career or managing healthy relationships?

As a woman photographer working to become a cinematographer, racism and sexism are more of a detriment to my career than colorism. I also think my experiences with internal colorism provide an opportunity for me as a storyteller to reverse the effects by changing the light skin vs. dark skin narrative. Representation in film is important and is a powerful tool to bring attention to these issues.

BE: Charcoal spotlights the fact that beliefs about skin color are passed down in families. In prior interviews, you’ve said “Despite the #melaninpoppin and #blackgirlmagic hashtag movements meant to uplift all shades of blackness, there’s still work to be done. When it comes to colorism, what do you think we as a community need more of or less of?

We need to talk more about it. It’s dirty, it’s taboo and it’s destructive. Just because it’s not always right in your face doesn’t mean it’s not happening. These movements are great at bringing issues to light, but there are also many communities that are not aware of these conversations. Today there are very popular Internet figures in my community who are selling bleaching creams. As long as “light skin” continues to be the standard of beauty, women will continue to bleach their skin as a way to adapt and survive. However, if we celebrate every hue and hair texture, not just the 3C curly hair, we might be able to change minds and change the way that people perceive themselves and their beauty. America can take the lead in this plight.

BE: What are the top two messages you want people to take away from the film?

Healing takes time. These beliefs didn’t happen overnight and it will take time for you to unlearn the lies that you were taught and have internalized about the color of your skin, your hair texture, your voice, your existence as a woman of color. Self-love is a hell of a weapon! Use it, practice it, apply it, and pass it on to your friends, colleagues, and children. Break the cycle!

The post Award-Winning Film ‘Charcoal’ Heads to National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Syria’s national museum reopens doors in war-scarred Damascus

Syria’s National Museum of Damascus opened its rich trove of antiquities to visitors again on Sunday, seven years after war forced them to close and months after the government recaptured all rebel areas near the capital.


Reuters: Arts

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