Beverly McIver “Oh Happy Day” 2001 Oil on Canvas 60 x 55 3/4 in.
I first became aware of Beverly McIver in the November 2006 episode of Art News. The images of her paintings stopped me on my tracks. She depicted herself, a black woman, in black-face. She played off the “Mammy” stereotype. She painting herself dancing with a white man, but scratched her face out. She painted portraits of her mentally handicapped sister, whom she is the primary caregiver for.
I have ambivalent feelings about contemporary art. I walked into a museum in Paris once where a whole room was filled with a table that had potatoes dumped on it, with wires going in and out of the potatoes. At that moment, I sort of broke up with contemporary art. So much of it feels derivative and irrelevant to me. So much of it is absurd and almost obscene in how removed from any real sense of aesthetics it is. Her art escapes that. To me it has both contextual and technical beauty and worth. It is brave and actually manages to shock and unsettle without resorting to ridiculous extremes in terms of medium. So when the card announcing her October show at the C. Grimaldis Gallery came, I told Marc, “You have no choice. You are interviewing this woman!” and he intelligently agreed with me.
I’ve prepared a page with some of her work on it. Click here. I hope you like her stuff as much as I do.