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Joe Minter and his 'African Village in America' Art Environment

Monday, March 20, 2006

Joe Minter's African Village in America Art Environment, Birmingham AL

Av and I visited Joe Minter, Sr. a couple of weeks ago....I would have posted this sooner, but I wanted to finish his book, 'To You Through Me: The Beginning of a Link of a Journey of 400 Years' first.

We spent a little over an hour in Joe's yard, and about an hour more talking with him and getting a tour of other pieces he is working on currently.

Okay. Joe is a straight-up genius visionary artist.

Joe Minter is a very different, very motivated person. His message isn't 100% about "salvation" like so many other visionary artists, but rather it's more about the American experience of Africans who came to this country. This is part of how he explains his art's mission in his book:

G-d gave me the vision of art, to link that 400-year-journey to the Africans in America, link that truth to the children who are turning away from us, and I decided to name what I create 'The African Village in America.'

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A few years ago, Av and I met Lonnie Holley and bought one of his pieces of art. I don't remember if Av asked him what it was all about or if Lonnie offered, but he turned the piece around in his hands and explained what every single thing represented. Each angle was different, and it showed a different aspect of the story he was telling.

Joe is this same way. It's very sincere, and it's very understandable, and it's many-layered. Sometimes it's very obvious and sometimes not so much. Either way, what Joe does is pure genius.

I've got a few pics of his yard/art environment here and over a hundred more pics at my Flickr set here. He and his wife invited us to come back whenever, especially when the plants start blooming, to see everything again. We will.

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