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Artists take ‘The Long View’ at Bromfield Gallery

Boston’s Napoleon Jones-Henderson shaped this show featuring five artists of color, himself included.

Bryan McFarlane, “To Beach the Whales,” oil on linen. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery NAGA, Boston.Cao Qian

Napoleon Jones-Henderson’s “I Am As I Am — A Man” closes at the Institute of Contemporary Art on July 24. But if you want another taste of the Boston artist’s deeply humane imagination, he has organized “‘THE LONG VIEW’ — WHAT DO YOU SEE (DO YOU SEE ME!)” at Bromfield Gallery, featuring five local artists of color who have been tending their art, their communities, and their souls for decades: Ekua Holmes, Bryan McFarlane, Chandra Dieppa Méndez-Ortiz, Hakim Raquib, and Jones-Henderson himself.

The paradigm of individual and community is not binary, Jones-Henderson writes in a poem in his curator’s statement: “ … one lives in community/ while imagining oneself an individual,/ while all along/ you are just a ripple of,/ a LONG VIEW.”


The art turns the gallery into a small but spiritually spacious chapel: a place for memory, dreaming, and the tender knitting together of hurt and hope. McFarlane’s paintings, sumptuously smeared, dolloped, and brushed in lush colors, read like the roiling imagination itself, full of nebulous glimpses of terrors and comforts, demons and deities.

Ekua Holmes, “Return,” collage/mixed media.Ekua Holmes

Time and space merge and jumble in Holmes’s and Méndez-Ortiz’s collages. Holmes’s “Return,” with voluptuous and gossamer blooms wreathing a figure in a doorway, feels like a cherished memory, an almost tactile glimpse of home.

Méndez-Ortiz’s “Watershed” also has a figure in a door — here, of a tumbledown, red-roofed shack by the water. A second door opens to an urban alley with iron bars over windows; a city is inside. The ominous reddish sky drips with paint. “Watershed” depicts the turning point of the title, a home on the verge of dissolution and transformation.

Chandra Dieppa Méndez-Ortiz, “Watershed,” collaged papers, acrylic, cardboard, xerox, newspaper, tape, and jean on wood.Chandra Dieppa Méndez-Ortiz

More shacks appear atop two of Jones-Henderson’s “Requiem” totems. He sees the fabric-festooned sculptures as safe havens for Black heroes such as jazz musician and composer Charles Mingus, activist Marcus Garvey, and poet Countee Cullen.


The works in “THE LONG VIEW” embrace life’s threats, wounds, and losses. But there’s succor and rejoicing, too. Just look at Raquib’s digital print “The Dancers,” in which proud figures move against a shimmering, kaleidoscopic ground. This show roots imagination’s power in the ties that bind: homes, community, ritual, and history are the gardens (fertilizer, compost, and all) from which art grows.


At Bromfield Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., through July 31. 617-451-3605, www.bromfieldgallery.com

Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.