Black History Fun Fact Friday – Capturing the Good in Harlem

 

Yes indeed, twins make history again. Meet Marvin and Morgan Smith, painters who focused on capturing the positive side of Harlem during the decline of the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of The Great Depression.

“During the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, Harlem spread itself before the cameras of Morgan and Marvin Smith like a great tablecloth, and eagerly they went about devouring what it had to offer.”

– Gordon Parks Sr.

We often discuss the writers of the movement and the musicians while the artists are often left out. Names like Kwame Brathwaite, Aaron Douglass, Lois Jones, and Morgan and Marvin Smith, are not as well known.

Morgan (right) and Marvin (left) Smith were born on February 16, 1910 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The boys found a talent for art but wouldn’t pursue it much until the sharecropping family moved to Lexington in the late 1920s. Here Morgan and Marvin attended Dunbar High School, the only Black High School in Lexington at the time, and developed further their artistic abilities. They worked with oil paintings and sculptors until eventually, cameras.

In 1933, Morgan and Marvin graduated High School and pursued their art full time. However, Kentucky at the time provided little to no support for the young men and as I imagine, they could not grow in the way that they wished. They moved to Cincinnati with hope of a better future but not finding opportunities there, decided to move on to New York.

Marvin and Morgan

When they arrived to Harlem the twins did manual labor for the WPA or Works Progress Administration and took art lessons from Augusta Savage (another sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance) at her studio. Through Savage the twins became connected with the 306 Group, a collective of African American artists who worked and socialized together in Harlem, New York in the 1930s. The name of the group came from the address of a studio space, 306 W. 141st Street, used by two of the artists, Charles Alston and Henry Bannarn.

Marvin and Morgan became acquainted with prominent figures through Savage but it wasn’t until 1937 when the twins really came into the public’s eye when Morgan won an award for his photo of a boy playing.

Awwue!

After 1937, the twins decided to focus their attention on the  community of Harlem overall. Their interest was in capturing the good instead of the bad. With the stock market crash of 1929 and The Great Depression smacked down in the middle, there was plenty to complain about, I am sure, and much of the glitter and glam of the Harlem Renaissance had begun to fade. People weren’t as interested in Black culture and art during these tough times which brings Marvin and Morgan into focus.

They look more alike as old men than they did when they were younger…or is it just me??

Over the next 40 years with their paint brushes and cameras, the brothers would record what remained, refusing to document anything negative. What’s cute is that the brother’s married identical twin sisters on the same day and three years later both divorced on the same day. They would die exactly ten years apart, Morgan smith at 83 and Marvin at 93. I am happy to see that they both lived full lives.

The 306 Group

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The artists of the 306 W. 141st Street WPA Art Center. Back row, left to right: Add Bates; unidentified; James Yeargans; Vertis Hayes; Charles Alston; Sollace Glenn; unidentified; Elba Lightfoot; Selma Day; Ronald Joseph; Georgette Seabrooke; ——— Reid. Front row, left to right: Gwendolyn Knight; unidentified; Francisco Lord; unidentified; unidentified.
© Morgan and Marvin Smith. Reproduction from the Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundation, http://iraas.columbia.edu/wpa/introartists.html
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Calling All Indie Artists!

Another great opportunity to network from Lisa.

Lisa W. Tetting

Calling All Indie Artists!

I have decided to start a new feature on my blog called ‘Indie Shine’. This will begin in February 2017!

The purpose is to shine a spotlight on individual indie artists. It doesn’t matter what your chosen field is as long as you are indie and an artist.

I have received responses so get yours in today. Space is limited, as this is only a monthly feature.

Go to http://rebirthoflisa.wordpress.com & complete contact me form. I will respond with detailed information and a questionnaire. Once I receive the completed questionnaire, I will let you know when your feature will post.

#indieartist #bloggers

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Book Cover Designs – 5 Resources for Self-Publishers

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Custom Book Cover for Pearls Before Swine by Andre Hawkings, Kenosis Design Innovations

One of the most exciting things for me as a Self-Publisher is the Book Cover reveal, especially if it’s a really neat one. Personally, I like to get an early start on purchasing book covers. It helps me to get that part of the process out of the way, keeps me excited as I polish off the book, secures the cover so that no one else can get it (if its premade), and helps me to schedule the Book Reveal to build momentum. Nonetheless, custom book covers are expensive. To secure a really great cover will run you at least $300+ dollars if you want it done right. There is an alternative however that can save you money and keep your cover looking fresh.

Pre-Made Book Cover Designs

Pre-Made Book Cover Design from Self-Pub for Pearls Before Swine Vol. #2
Pre-Made Book Cover Design from Self-Pub for Pearls Before Swine Vol. #2

As the Self-Publishing Industry blossoms, the web is flooded with resources. Everything from marketing and promotion to editing services and even book cover designs. If you have deep pockets, you’d really be able to take advantage of even paying for marketing and promotion if that’s not your cup of tea, so why not book cover design? After all, we are writers, not designers.

But with the amount of information now available, I realize there is no reason for an unattractive cover. For this reason, I am in the process of re-vamping all of my book covers to look more appealing. So of late, I have been looking to purchase a few book cover designs and found some great resources for Pre-Made designs. I am re-editing my novel and I would like to add a better book cover for the next edition. I am also shopping for a cover for my early poetry books and the third installment of the Stella series.

The great thing about Pre-Made Book Covers is that once you buy them they are no longer available anywhere else, so there’s no reason to be selfish about where you got your covers since no one else will have the exact same one. Pre-Made also does not have to mean amateur looking (though some of them are). But there are lots of striking professional looking covers to match your story at great prices. Just make sure your pre-made cover doesn’t look like a four-year-old did it because those ones exist too.

#1: Fiverr

Number 1 on my list is Fiverr. For those who are not familiar by now, Fiverr is an online service where individuals with various skills hire themselves out at very inexpensive rates. You can purchase editing or Book Cover designs for as low as $5! Now, I warn that you get what you pay for, so it is not wise to purchase a $5 cover (just saying). I would also not recommend them unless you really have to but will list it here first because I know some of our finances will work with this option. Be sure to have additional work done (such as 3D stock images added) by purchasing the sellers additional services. Even still, you can spend under $50 and come out with a great book cover design (and be sure to purchase a back and spine).

#2: Self-Pub Book Covers

Next on my list is Self-Pub Book Covers. I love them! I have so far purchased two of their covers already. To sign up is free and I love their variety. You can pretty much find something that fits your book (especially if you spend hours strolling through every single pic. I know, I’m a bit thorough. OK obsessed, whatever). My only thing with them is that you have to purchase a back and spine at a cost separate from the cover. Even still, you’d come out spending far less than you would a custom cover. (If you can afford a custom cover please do so. It is the best thing. This list is for those of us on budgets).

#3: The Cover Collection

My next favorite is The Cover Collection. I have not worked with them but they have great covers on their site at reasonable prices (I think the prices are in British Pounds so you’ll have to convert that if you’re in the U.S.).

#4: Paper and Sage

Another awesome site is Paper and Sage. Find neat pre-made e-book and print book cover designs at low prices. I’m currently seriously looking at their site. Their variety is good and the covers are professional. You can also order custom made covers through this service.

#5: Author Marketing Club

On this site, you’d get to explore the work of an individual artist who designs their own pre-made covers. If you like one, you will email them through the site but you will buy directly from the artist just as you would if you spoke to them directly. Their prices are also extremely affordable. I’ve seen some really professional looking covers for as low as $20.

PreMade Cover for my 3rd Poetry Book.
PreMade Cover for my 3rd Poetry Book.

This is just a fraction of the number of Pre-Made Book Cover Designs available out there for Self-Publishers. I didn’t include 99 Designs because though the process is off the charts (I really enjoyed working with the various professional artist to see who could make the best cover), it’s not ideal if you are on a budget and falls into the custom book cover category.

The benefit of pre-made covers (if you can’t afford a custom cover) is that they are professionally pre-designed by professional artists who understands exactly how to position the font and combine colors and everything that is important to a cover. With all of this information at our fingertips, there really is no reason for a crappy cover.

Remember: Books are judged by their covers! And in this age of technology, there really is no excuse.