A&O Acquisitions for 2021: Amir, Cook, Díaz
ALPHA OMEGA ARTS
By Ernest Disney-Britton
We purchased one painting the year my mother died. The previous year, we acquired 12 works. The purchased work, “The Key” by Raul Arturo Diaz was acquired a month after mom’s funeral. I needed something to reduce the pain. It didn’t help. There were two other acquisitions that were not purchased in 2021. We are grateful to our dear friend Rishard Allen for the gift print of "The Last Supper" by Atlanta artist Jalen Amir. Another was a 2020 commission completed in 2021, "Tru: The Bond Stands for All Things" by UK artist Michael Cook. Mom, Verneida Britton, died on Palm Sunday, March 28, surrounded by family.
I was still trying to get her to smile by joking that I needed a nap just seconds before she died. Her body is not in a tomb. She always told me, "When I die, I won't be in that body. Let it go. The body is just a temporary vessel. I will live in you." Collected over a lifetime of travels, mom's spirit-filled art collection is now in my hands. She was cremated and is becoming part of the greenscape at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Today, I hear her voice most clearly through her collection of Black art gathered over decades. This includes Kehinde Wiley's full-sized beach towel printed with his "The Virgin Martyr St. Cecilia" (2008) that we gifted to her in 2019 for her birthday.
|2019 photo of Verneida Britton wrapped with her July birthday gift (1 of 12 monthly gifts), Kehinde Wiley's full-sized beach towel printed with his "The Virgin Martyr St. Cecilia".
I met Kehinde Wiley in NYC twice. First, at the Studio Museum in 2008, where he lectured, and second, at a gay bar in Greenwich Village in 2009, where he entertained a small group of suited-up Asian collectors. Although there was nothing significant about either meeting for him, I will never forget either. He was shorter than I expected (I am 6'3"), but he filled up both spaces with just his warm personality. Those were the only two moments, over 13-months, including Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, 2009 when my father died, when NYC didn't feel like my tomb. I don't have any reason to believe that Kehinde Wiley is a Christian. Maybe he is, maybe not, but in his paintings, I see myself as gay, Black, and Christian, and those are the artists that I most want to support.
So, if you know of artists exploring religious ideas who are also gay, Black, and Christian, tell them to follow us in 2022 as our journey continues. Happy New Year!