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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: April 29, 2019

Indigo Arts Alliance marks opening with film series about black storytelling

Written by: Bob Keyes

A still from the short film “Pumzi” by award-winning Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu.
Mark Wessels, courtesy of Indigo Arts Alliance

Indigo Arts Alliance, a new community arts space dedicated to supporting artists of color, opens in East Bayside this weekend and celebrates its arrival on the scene by presenting the Black, Brown + Indigo film series at Space. The film series, on Saturday and Sunday, includes 22 films that tell stories of black lives across 13 countries, including many countries represents by Portland’s immigrant populations.

Among the films are three features and 19 shorts, documentary and narrative films.

Black, Brown + Indigo is the kickoff event for Indigo’s new community space at 60 Cove St., which will operate as a hybrid studio and neighborhood center designed to amplify the creative voices and artistic vision of Portland’s growing community of diverse artists, and particularly Maine-based artists of African descent. Indigo’s focus is providing a workplace for creativity and not as a presenter of arts events. Marcia Minter, co-founder of the alliance, said Indigo decided to launch with a film series highlighting the countries of origin of Portland immigrant communities because it’s a good way to bring a lot of people together at once.

“It’s such an easy way for people to come together and just sit in a room and meet each other and take in all these beautiful stories about a variety of cultures, where we can literally see ourselves and literally see the threads that tie us together,” she said. “It’s a way to lay the groundwork for cultural understanding.”

The screenings will be followed by discussions with filmmakers and experts, including Myron Beasley, an associate professor of American studies at Bates College, and Asata Radcliffe, a professor at Maine College of Art.

Screenings are scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday; noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11:30 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Films are grouped together by themes and geography, including Folklore, Myth & Fantasy; Into the Future; Afro Voices from Latin America; How Our Souls Dance; and Faraway Home.

Directed by Michael Fequiere, “Kojo,” is a 12-minute profile about child prodigy jazz drummer Kojo Odu Roney.
Image courtesy of Indigo Arts Alliance

“Film is a great representation of culture,” said Karen McMullen, a film programmer and educator from Brooklyn, New York, and a longtime friend of Minter. “You can get a window into the world of many different types of people, and it’s entertaining as well as educational.”

McMullen curated the films with Toccarra Thomas and Kelsey Halliday Johnson of Space. A community of advisers also offered input. “We were trying to make sure that we were giving a taste of as many different stories as we could. We have African-American stories, Caribbean stories, stories from South America, Central America, as well as many different African countries, many of whom have populations in Maine,” McMullen said.

Thirteen countries on five continents are represented in the series: United States, Nigeria, Ghana, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Haiti, Ethiopia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Sudan.

Minter and her husband, artist Daniel Minter, began Indigo Arts Alliance to create a platform for professional and emerging artists of color. In June, Indigo will launch its residency program with Eneida Sanches, a printmaker, metal worker and installation artist from Brazil. Indigo will host a public event at its Cove Street space on June 8.

Black, Brown + Indigo

WHERE: Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland
WHEN: Screenings at 4 p.m. Friday; noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS & INFO: Screening at 4 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday are free; others are $8; space538.org

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