- Courtesy the artist and Gallery4Culture
- COLOR AND SPEECH Ronald Hall’s painting Exchanging Moments in Time at Gallery4Culture.
Coon songs were racist American entertainments around the turn of the 20th century, songs performed in blackface but created by and performed for white people. Each one was a violent cultural lobotomy; to revisit them is to wander the corridors of a derelict asylum with its twisted, glowering equipment.
When a mixed-race group of American artists and writers planned to revisit coon songs in front of an audience in a performance during the course of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Seattle next month, the Frye Art Museum agreed to host the fraught event. But when one of the artists, a white woman, posted an announcement on her Facebook page using the title Coon Songs, Kitsch, and Conceptual Writing, and a real historical ad—with an illustration of a ventriloquist and blackface dummy—the museum canceled the March 1 event.