FUNKY TURNS 40

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By: Tonya Jackson

The Pensacola Museum of Art (PMA) recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of the 1970’s Saturday Morning cartoons that featured positive Black characters for the first time on television. Funky Turns 40 included 60 pieces of animation art from the Museum of Uncut Funk. The Museum of Uncut Funk describes itself as, “The foremost authority and archive of 1970’s Black culture and all things FUNKY! A living, breathing, FUNKEMPORIUM!” Their collection is one of the world’s most unique and extensive collections of original animation production cells and drawings from the 1970’s.

Morgan Mills, marketing and events manager at PMA, gave me a tour of their various collections and a heads up for upcoming exhibits. Other than the exhibit that brought me to the museum I was thrilled to see the collection of work from local artists who are members of PMA, more on that later. What I also learned from Mills was the original use of the building that now houses the PMA, the City Jail! According to Mills, “The design needed for the jail made it perfect for use as a museum.” The PMA has also been a recipient of Impact 100 grants to make improvements at the museum.

The exhibition opened here in late February, but the day before it left Pensacola I had an opportunity to attend the exhibition with Sara Smith-Redmond, of D&J’s Favorite Things and the upcoming Real Women Radio show “Stylish Behavior,” and one of her beautiful daughters, DeShazer Redmond.  Seeing an exhibit filled with the best parts of my childhood Saturday mornings was a nostalgic treat, but to see three-year-old DeShazer’s excitement and fascination of the exhibit was wonderful. She was instantly fascinated by the images and she knew exactly what to do when she saw the Jackson Five cutout.

While the exhibition was filled with positive images it also included cartoons that were the staple for too long, those oversized thick-lipped images of dim-witted black people. The images that don’t inspire pride, but rather promote an image of less than. Some may shy away from these images, but these images are necessary so we remember that while today parts of us and our culture that is embraced, or appropriated, by other cultures it wasn’t that long ago that we and our culture were mocked and shunned. Some could argue that the same happens today when those features are part of our natural beauty.

The 2016 annual members’ exhibition was juried by Dr. Kara Burns, assistant professor of art history at the University of South Alabama. 96 artists representing a wide and diverse variety of media are currently on exhibition.  Each year PMA members can submit up to three pieces for this juried art show. There is even a people’s choice award given at the conclusion of the exhibition. Details on PMA membership can be found on their website.

Upcoming exhibits at the PMA include “The Artist Revealed:  Artist Portraits and Self-Portraits” which will begin on April 22nd and conclude on July 16th and “Stephen Knapp: Lightpaintings” which will be housed from April 22nd through August 27th. The opening receptions for both exhibits will be Friday, April 22nd, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

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