How cool is North Philly-born visual art icon Barkley L. Hendricks? When a high-profile art critic awkwardly praised his work as being “brilliantly endowed” in the ’70s, Hendricks responded by painting a self portrait wearing nothing but sneakers, socks and a newsboy cap.
The title of the portrait? “Brilliantly Endowed.”
“I’m a product of my time,” says Hendricks, who’s better known as a painter, but whose rare photographic work is currently on display at Art Sanctuary. “Sometimes that can be sad, because as part of our culture, we all need to hang our heads in shame, but there are parts of our culture we can celebrate in terms of our humanity, our creativity and our trying to overcome unfortunate situations.”
The exhibit, “Barkley L. Hendricks: Oh Snap!” is part of the gallery’s month-long Celebration of Black Writing, a fundraiser for the Art Sanctuary programs. “Everything that we do comes under family programming and arts education,” says Executive Director Valerie Gay. “When you donate to Art Sanctuary, it enables us to keep our programming and be able to serve some of the most under-resourced communities in Philadelphia. We serve those who need it the most.”
Arts Sanctuary produces myriad events, from author discussions to the Hip H’opera collaboration with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. It also gives inspiration to young city artists, Gay says.
“Mr. Hendricks speaks about a life-changing event during a class trip,” Gay says. “He went to an art museum as a child [in the 1950s] and said, ‘Wait, people do this for a living? One day, I’m going to have my work on that wall.’”
He was right. Hendricks, along with Jacqueline Woodson, author of “Miracle’s Boys”; R&B duo Kindred the Family Soul; arts advocate James Claiborne; Michael Bolton of Opera Philadelphia; and Juan and Kala Baxter of the “Those Baxters” gospel radio show will be given Lifetime Achievement Awards on May 29 at the Temple University Performing Arts Center.
“I’m about celebrating an era of fun and mirth and having a good time,” Hendricks says. “Digging one’s self.”
If you go:
‘Barkley L. Hendricks: Oh Snap!’
Through May 30
628 S. 16th St.
Free (donations accepted)
Literary and Arts Conference
May 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Temple University Ritter Hall
Cecil B. Moore Ave. at Montgomery Ave.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
May 29, 7 p.m.
Temple University Performing Arts Center
1837 N. Broad St.