This Weekend: The 50th Annual Fulton Art Fair

Congratulations to The Fulton Art Fair on the golden accomplishment of 50 years of making art accessible in in Brooklyn. Here, from their website:

History of the Fulton Art Fair

Troubled by the media depiction of her neighborhood as being crime-ridden, mortician Shirley Hawkins, a resident of Bedford Stuyvesant, set about to correct that image. She, along with artist friends Ernest Crichlow and Jacob Lawrence reached out to other local artists in 1958. Among these were: Joan Bacchus Maynard, Onnie Millar, Leo Carty, Otto Neals, Tom Feelings, Al Hollingsworth, Olga Kandel, Violet Hewitt Chandler and the Hewitt family. The media focus on crime omitted almost all positive aspects of life in this close-knit, working-class community. Surely there was crime, but by no means did it overshadow the pulse of the community to rise above poverty; to be gainfully employed; to own homes and businesses; ensure their children the opportunity of good education, proper nourishment, religious and home training. This was the Bedford Stuyvesant known to Shirley Hawkins; a work in progress, much like neighborhoods throughout the world.

This outdoor celebration of art, live music and culture runs Friday – Sunday from noon to 6:00pm at Fulton Park, Fulton Street between Lewis and Stuyvesant Avenues in the “do or die.” On Saturday, July 5, A Tribute to the Elders honoring elder artists, Dolores Inniss-Carty, Otto Neals, Violet Hewitt Chandler, Edwards Bates, Miriam Francis, Emmett Wigglesworth, and Onnie Millar (who I happen to adore) commences at 1pm.

Each day from 2:00 – 5:30, Brooklyn artist Aisha Cousins reprises her performance piece, Diva Dutch, integrating the deeply rooted cultural traditions of hair-braiding and rope-jumping among African diasporic women. She performed the “hair” piece in communities of color in both London and Paris earlier in the year. Close your eyes, hear the rope-tapping rhythm, remember your old jumping songs and bring them to participate.

Aisha Cousins “diva dutches” in Bed Stuy.

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11 Responses

  1. I found this blog during a search on Onnie Millar. A friend of mine has painting on wood signed by Onnie Millar. I was intriuged by the painting and now in the process of learning more about her and the painting. So far I found that she was an artist in who taught artwork to senior citizens in Brooklyn. If any one can give me any more info it would be greatly appreciated. I have a jpg of the painting if any one would like to see it.

    • Hi Tim. Did you find out any more on Onnie Millar. I have a wooden portrait of a Persian woman that my mon gave me years ago that I just now hanging and she is the artist. woulld love to know more

      • Onnie Millar was my friend. She was a wonderful artist and phenomenal human being who passed away over a year ago. Not many people knew that she was also a poet.

  2. I had the pleasure of being in the company of Onnie Millar at a very young age. My mother was a huge fan an friend of hers. On occasion we would go to visit her at her home on Brooklyn Ave. I remember loving how colorful and eclectic the space was. In her livingroom was a large bay window that had plants and beautiful pieces. Some hers some not.

    Onnie was a poet and playwrite. She also
    made the most beautiful stone people statues. In retrospect, they appeared to be Ethiopian influenced as did the people she created on her shell pendants.

    What I appreciate now about the pendants is that she realised they did not require a frilly chain. Rather, they hung from a simple waxed cotton cord. Anything more would have taken the attention away from the intricate work in the pendant.

    Onnie gave workshops to youngsters in a club I was a part of called Hansel and Gretel. She was very encouraging and patient with us. Supporting us in exploring the media put before us.(While writing this I’ve come to see that she was influential incultivating in part my creative voice.)

    Onnie was gentle,soft spoken, talented and beautiful. She wore a silver afro which she would pin into a french roll from time to time.

    During either the late 60’s or early 70’s she was celebrated across the pages of Essence Magazine. However,
    in my opinion she never received the type of recognition that she deserved.

    I am thankful for this opportunity to share my recollections about this Brooklyn Jewel I was fortunate enough to know.

    (While writing this I’ve come to see that she was influential in
    cultivating in part my creative voice.)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your recollection, she was indeed a “Brooklyn Jewel.”

  3. Onnie Millar was a aunt. My maternal grandmother’s sister. We she passed away, losing her was devastating to my family. When I was younger I remember spending time with her in her apartment on St.James Place in Brooklyn. She taught me so much about art. All kinds of art. I always believed her work should have been more recognized but she was happy to not be. I am so happy to read that her legacy will live on through her pieces and her family.

    • Thank you Caprice for your comment. Your aunt was absolutely magical.

  4. I am so sorry to hear that Onnie has passed on but I was so happy to read the postings about her. I was fortunate enough to meet her many years ago and she was truly a beautiful person. I have a stone sculpture she named “Brazilian Family” and I cherish it in my collection.

    • Thanks for your comment, Trudy. How wonderful that you have her work in your collection.

  5. It is always so wonderful to hear from people who have my Aunt Onnie’s work. Besides family, that is what she loved the most. Art and Music.

    • I just recently was driving in the rain and someone had put two of your aunts paintings of fruits and flowers. When I found them I researched them under Mill(e)r not Millar and didn’t realize who had done them. After reading this I am A proud owner of two works from a known artist. My best to your family and my condolences on your loss. P.s.(I found them in Knoxville, TN)

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