My art collection: Beauty beyond the pane by Adrian Blake

Adding pieces to an art collection provides a thrill like no other. It’s like finding that perfect pair of shoes– you just know you have to take them home. I recently found my latest buy on Facebook! Artist Adrian Blake posted his latest creation in a closed art group with caption:

“Just completed! Still wet.
Oil on canvas”

My latest acquisition!! (claps hands and smiles like a kid)

It was love at first sight.

I was struck by how Blake achieved such dimension and texture in the painting– a beautifully interpreted black woman’s body submerged in water. You can see the movement as the subject appears to dive, feet first in to the water as the artist captures the moment her torso is fully submerged.

I imagine the freedom of swimming naked in a local lake, carefree and radiant.

I also imagine diving for a different type of freedom– that of resisting captivity on a ship by jumping into the sea as one’s final act of defiance.

Blake later entitled the piece “Beauty Beyond the Pane” stating:
Beauty beyond the pane has two meanings. The word pane is meant to be used as a pun, where the canvas surface acts as a pane of glass, and the viewer is looking beyond that the to the beauty behind it which is the figure. The figure itself is beautiful, but each person has their own pain, but their pain is overshadowed by the outward beauty we see as we lay eyes upon each other.
Artist Adrian Blake in action

Talented artist Adrian Blake in action

As I enjoy this original piece for years to come, I’m sure it’s meaning to me with morph and evolve. You can share in that joy with me by supporting the artist’s work here.

Starting is the hardest part, so start with The List

Delving into a new interest area is overwhelming mostly due to one question– where on Earth do I start?!

To overcome this challenge, one of my favorite and most eccentric English professors in college gave me a life changing piece of advice that I still employ today. I’ve been leaning on this advice for years, it’s my secret formula for figuring out where to start studying any topic.

That advice? Don’t overwhelm yourself with all there is to know about a topic. Instead, take basic elements of that topic and create a “List of things I own”.

Here’s how it works: Instead of jumping from subject to subject, pick one subject to study per category. Immerse yourself in all things related to the people/things on that list exclusively–attend talks, lecture and performances by/about them, read or listen to  all of their works, and pay attention to what’s said about them. Once you’ve become an expert, he suggested, move on to a new person, movement, etc.

Since my focus was mostly on literary arts, my list from college is geared toward that realm. Here’s my “List of things I own” from college and the memorable things I’ve done to try and conquer it:

Novelist: John Steinbeck
In his novel East of Eden, Steinbeck composed the most beautifully descriptive passages I have ever read. The story haunts me still and I look forward to reading it again.
Dramatist: August Wilson
I saw a production of Wilson’s “King Hedley II” this year. I found the production boring overall and the acting over exaggerated (think almost 3 hours of dramatic yelling… eek.) but hey, I made it gave it a shot.
King Hedley II, Arena Stage 2015

King Hedley II, Arena Stage 2015  (Photo: C. Stanley Photography)

Poet: Wallace Stevens
Often acclaimed as the greatest American poet of the 20th century, I’ve only read one one of Stevens works. This is it:
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Essayist: Camille Paglia
Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn is still my favorite book of poetry explications. I especially loved her interpretation on Jean Toomer’s “Georgia Dusk”.
breal blow
Literary Critic: Harold Bloom
I have a couple unread Bloom’s books on my shelf including:
Painter: Salvador Dali
The depth of color Dali achieves in his works is remarkable. And I enjoy the “what does it mean?!” feeling his work leaves me with.
Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali 1937

Swans Reflecting Elephants Salvador Dali 1937

Art Movement: Surrealism
My interest here spawn from my interest in Dali. Still much work to do in exploring here.
Literary movement: Transcendentalism
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” sparked my interest in Transcendentalism. I wrote an essay in college exploring the short story including the homo-eroticism between the title character and his male… companion.
Literary Journal: Callaloo
I haven’t done mush with my curiosity around Callaoo. I remember being excited to hear about it’s history as an African American literary review and planning to subscribe to the publication. It’s never too late!
Musician: Kanye West
There are few pop artist who I follow as much as I do Kanye. He is one of my biggest inspirations. I love his story of growing up a middle class kids in Chicago, studying art a fashion to school only to discover a passion and gift for producing music. I love to hear him talk about how he went from obscurity to studio time with his idols and many musical titans wanting a “Ye West beat”. I love how he’s continued to pursue his passion for creating music and clothing to advance humanity.
Quote displayed during set changes- Yezzus Tour 2014

Yeezus Tour, Washington DC 2014

Though I usually find myself forgetting this wisdom and instead floundering and wading through every subject I can get my eyes on, I always bring myself back to this important principle. Save yourself from some stress and try it out.

So, what’s on your list? Add topics that interest you and share in the comments!
Literary Critic: 
Art Movement: 
Literary movement: 

CurationDC: The art of party

I’m a huge fan of daytime activities.  Anytime I can take in a show, exhibit or party and be home by 9PM, I’m thrilled. So when my good friend invited me to join her at CurationDC, a day party turned art show complete with live music and drink specials, I was happy to join her.

CurationDC, hosted by Washington-based event planners Marshall “Britt” Wright and Jarrett Walker, seeks connect young party goers and art fans with visual artists and musicians. In the room I found 20-somethings hoping for a good Saturday “turn up” with artistic flair as Johnny Graham and The Groove, a collaboration of talent from Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC, serenaded the crowd with musical selections from Michael Jackson to Drake and Fetty Wop.


Lovely young professionals decked out in their finest summer sundresses and top-siders mingled around the sun-soaked room with ceiling to floor windows overlooking downtown Washington talking politics, pop culture and, of course, art.


Three visual artists were featured at this edition of CurationDC including Delaware-based painter, Alim Smith who paints as YesterdayNite. By painting portraits of pop icons like Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee and The Fuguees to name a few, and remixing their images with bold colors, brush strokes and angles, Smith creates a nostalgic appeal that resonates perfectly with the “80s babies”. Since I typically shy away from adding portraits, stylized or otherwise, into my personal art collection I bought a book containing prints of Smith’s work instead.


CurationDC has the potential to invigorate the art scene in DC by cultivating a space for the budding art enthusiasts to collide with emerging talent, even if only in brief encounters. Best of luck to Wright and Walker on continued success with this event.

In our brief conversation, YesterdayNite gave me a sneak peek of his upcoming project. This young artist is one to watch, follow him on Instagram @yesterdaynite.