A Sense of History

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington on the history minstrelsy and its impact today

When Childish Gambino's video for the song "This is America" was released earlier this year, there was no small amount of dissection of its messaging, and everyone kept coming back to the same thing: Racism and anti-black rhetoric and actions are alive and well in America. And though there is so much to discuss and unpack on the topic, an upcoming interactive talk and reading with local writer, poet and thinker Darryl Lorenzo Wellington takes aim at one specific chapter of America's history of racism: minstrelsy, an element cleverly portrayed in Gambino's video.

A tragically hurtful and evil form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, minstrelsy sought, through the perpetuation of dangerous black stereotypes, blackface, misinformation and iconography, to discredit black Americans and otherwise portray them as idiots. It was meant, believe it or not, to be funny.

"Minstrelsy by its very nature involves appropriation," Wellington tells SFR. "They'll often bring up this recent incident with Megyn Kelly, the journalist who claimed blackface was OK when she was younger—I think such claims are disingenuous; you may not know the exact history, but images have meaning, like a swastika has meaning. It's obvious these images are very volatile, but we can work through that."

Wellington says he'll provide history and context from the history of minstrelsy, and that he'll also read from his poems and essays among some of the works currently on display in the CCA Tank Garage, including paper negatives addressing black culture and racism by David Scheinbaum.

"In its own time, minstrelsy was a popular entertainment, and we live with the after-effects of it," Wellington says. "People have this imagery of the past, that it must have only belonged to the KKK or the hardcore racists, but nothing could be less true. My goal is always the same goal: to have people better understand my perspective." (Alex De Vore)

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington: Race, Stereotypes and Minstrelsy
6 pm Saturday Dec. 1. $5-$10.
CCA Tank Garage,
1050 Old Pecos Trail,
982-1338

Fantastic Beasts

Courtesy Museum of Interactive Art

We know we just told you all about the Museum of Interactive Art at Shidoni in Tesuque—but this is important! Turns out founder/head art guy Aaron Harrington is keeping the ideas flowing with his Build-a-Beast workshops. From now through Sunday Dec. 23, visitors can make use of countless bits and pieces of forgotten toys to craft their own one-of-a-kind creations—and then, for a mere $2-$5, take them home to keep or gift or whatever. To sweeten the deal, Harrington is offering discounted admission to the museum for those who bring a bag of busted-up toys to be used in the workshops. See? Important. (ADV)

Build-a-Beast Workshop: 
9 am-5pm Tuesdays-Saturdays through Dec. 23
$5 admission; $2-$5 to keep creature.
Museum of Interactive Art at Shidoni,
1508 Bishops Lodge Road,
Tesuque, 988-8001.

Two scenes twirled into one

Tom Chambers

Magical realism is one of the most difficult literary devices to get right (thanks for setting that bar so high, Garbiel García Márquez)—and accordingly, photography that employs the idea can all too easily slip into the realm of crappy mash-up jobs trying to inject fantasy into everyday life. Photographer Tom Chambers is here to show us how it's done, creating unreal partial narratives in his epic photographs. Getting goats to read books or ravens to perch calmly on brides' heads is most easily done via Photoshop, so, with great care taken to make sure each piece of his digital photo montages has the same lighting, he takes a month or more to piece them together onscreen. The results are haunting and often confusing—but in a good way. He also signs copies of his new monoprint at the reception. (Charlotte Jusinski)

Tom Chambers: Hearts and Bones:
5 pm Friday Nov. 30. Free. Through Jan. 5.
photo-eye Gallery,
541 S Guadalupe St.,
988-5152.

Trash to Treasure

Courtesy Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival

"Trashy" isn't typically how you want your outfit described, but at the Trash Fashion Show and Costume Contest it's sort of a given—past years have featured dazzling dresses made of old CDs, tires and Altoids tins. The show is only the start of one of the country's largest and oldest recycled art market, where more than 100 artists display and sell work made from at least 75 percent recycled materials. Eco-conscious gift-givers can find everything from scrap metal sculptures to vintage tin can earrings. The fashion show starts at 7 pm Friday, and tickets for that are an additional $10-$15—but the art show's free on Saturday and Sunday. (Sarah Eddy)

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival: 
5 pm Friday Nov. 30. $5. 9 am-5 pm Saturday Dec. 1;
10 am-4 pm Sunday Dec. 2. Free.
Santa Fe Community Convention Center,
201 W Marcy St.,
933-6590.