My Foundations in Art Education includes Advertising, illustration, Drawing, Painting, Realism from the
Black Arts Traditions of Harlem, NYC and the Original Black Arts Movements of the 1900's
Studio Art is my passion. I create for my satisfaction and for my NYC Bred Culture. I have a FULL Artist's orientation and have had some important showings... still, I have never used my Art as a commodity. I found a way to market my skills and certain aspects of my studio work. As a result I have 50+ years with Art production and Art related professional experiences. Studio Art, Production Art and Educational endeavors are my primary means of support.
That is important because to fully develop an Art resource requires much personal research, mentoring, seeing the Great Art Creations and understanding the deeper underlying principles of the Fine Arts as a Philosophy or Way of Seeing. I call my Life time work (C) Neo Afro / Afroneo. My BFA Degree in Painting ( Neo Expressionism ) is my only Higher Education degree.
MOM 1973 / Acrylic on Burlap
In African American / Black Art, a distinction of "Afro Genre" ( or African American / Black Art )
has not been invented or developed for what we understand as BLACK Visual ART
In popular Music, Dance, Literature are exceptions as those Art Forms have transcended and innovated
American Culture definitions and boundaries. As such, those Genres of creativity have earned the privileged position
of being the sole Authoritative voice in defining the aesthetics of their Genre. So Black "VISUAL" Art remains a general field
With no specific Genre description, Black Art which is the poplar reference is defined as an aspect of Americana Art
and Culture and the general American / Euro Fine Arts Market. Operating through that lens is not a bad position
financially if you can break in, but in terms of definition, Black Artists run into a maze of stereotype, social ignorance
and a form of Philosophic Racism. By that I mean that We are measured against White / Euro standards of beauty,
artists license, Intent and integration into Art History.
I began to refine my various themes and descriptions to recognize that I had the makings of an Authentic Diaspora Genre.
I have a WHOLE LIFE practice with original stylistic signatures and decades of period studio work I create from imagination expressively, but I also create from 1. the popular culture narrative, 2. the history based African / Diaspora Folkloric narrative, 3. African American / African Theological narratives. Those Theoretical areas of distinction seem to be the sole Genre like entities in African American / Black Art. That leaves a big gap in our Art being defined critically as Great Art by us - because there is a catch 22 in definition. If you are collected in the higher finance markets of fine Art, defining yourself by African aesthetics will in many cases hurt your sales. That part is changing because there are more African American Collectors today. "Still"...those collectors are subject to the same limitations as Artists are because the High finance Market is basically an upscale Global Market where you find the same traditional forms of Racism and exclusive attitudes towards Ethnic Art.
L - R - The Young Artist, my Brother Billy Irving Jr. my Sister
Barbara Jean Irving and oldest sibling Beverly Dorothea Irving
Photo by Billy Irving Sr.
The reason we go to college and struggle to build a practice is to Present & Represent as part of a professional and cultural legacy. My work was always self reflective, experiential, narrative and free style which lead me to abundant creativity & production. I like to define my self from my Home culture beliefs system because that system is the core of my intent in Art and is what make my work authentic in both the African American, the African and the Greater African Diaspora. I started Traditional American Art School at 8 years old
( 3rd Grade ) in a program that accepted 5th Grade and above students( the Sachs School of Art, Bronx, NY, ( 1960 )
My Mother taught me to draw and I learned wood working, restoration of found things, fine graphic rendering and drum repair from watching my father Billy Irving Sr. My Uncle "Chink" ( Reynold Brown ) was a Fine Impasto Painter. My family's Artistic leanings were hobby based. None of my family pursued Art as a profession. My Uncle Harry bought me my first Oil Painting set and he was my first "Support" Patron and enthusiast. My Grand Mother, Ida Irving commissioned my first Large Water Color Paintings. A set of 20" by 40" Images of boys fishing and enjoying the outdoors...both were from imagination
and those paintings made me the new young Family Artist.
(C) Neo Afro / Afroneo
Neo meaning recent, revised, up dated, modified
Afro meaning of African Origin / Ancestry
(C) Neo Afro / Afroneo 2020
My B.F.A. Degree is in Neo Expressionism. I chose that Genre because I sold my Art in the East / West Greenwich Village
( from 1974 up until 1992 ) where the late Abstract Expressionists Movement was situated. I never sought representation, I was strictly a Street Culture based Artist in that time period. Originally I sold my Linoleum Block Prints. In 1979 I started my Wearable Art brand under the Street Name Story Master. I became an official NYC Street Vendor which is a great way to sell new work, network and meet clients. I also sold a lot of work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Plaza and along Central Park.
Orisha Carvings 1985 / Black Walnut and Cherry Wood
What is Black Art?
Black Art reflects the Black Experience and is usually founded in Portraiture, Realism and or African Motif. Black Art however does not reflect the same sociology of Americana Art Movements specifically because in many cases, Art is seen as a Folkloric pass time...a reflection of self and culture...so it also has a rebel / protest side that reflects the character of Black Culture.
. The Notion of "Self Taught" is also a feature of African American Artists...which reflects proactive and reactive Culture.
Self Taught reflects the inner struggle that African Americans are somehow brain washed by education.
Many see the Fine Arts world as "The Game". I consider that to be part of a Inner Cultural Pop Narrative. It has a purpose and is Legit in a partial way, but the emphasis on Finance and separatism in American Culture is what skewers the reality of
Educational Knowledge of the field of Fine Art and Fine Art Business. That field is many times rejected by African Americans which creates a disconnect in appreciating Liberal Avenues of Social behavior and belief.
You need education in the professional practices of Art and Self Promotion to succeed. I consider myself to be part of the "Progressive" Neo Abstract Expressionist Movement because I was operating in NYC as a Street Artist during the rise of
Neo Expressionism. We took all influences and created a new Language of Abstraction.
New Generation at the Scene of the Crime
Crow Quill Pen and Ink 1972
Hand Painted / Machine or Hand Wash