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Art and fashion mix for summer

At a recent opening for “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the connection between art and fashion was evident. The evening was hosted by artist Jeff Koons. H&M fashions were also showcased on top models such as Alek Wek, China Chow, Stephanie Seymour, Leandra Medine and Cindy Sherman.

Celebrating the opening of its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue, H&M is the retail sponsor of “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective,” which will run now through Oct. 19, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, located at 945 Madison Ave., at 75th Street in Manhattan. On July 17, the Swedish retailer will unveil its newest flagship store and its first ever collaboration with the notable and influential Koons. A limited edition Koons-inspired H&M leather handbag will be available for purchase at select H&M stores.

The exhibit will also travel to Centre Pompidou, Musee National d’Art Moderne, in Paris from Nov. 26-April 27, 2015, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from June 5, 2015-Sept. 27, 2015. For more information, visit

On July 12 from 4-7 p.m., there will be a reception at the Essie Green Galleries (419A Convent Ave., Harlem) introducing artist Lester Gunter’s collection of paintings, called “The Imagist.” The exhibit will be on view from July 12-Aug. 9.

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Gunther studied with the late Jacob Lawrence, Barrington Watson and Robert Brackman. His work focuses on Jamaican art. He will show his usual European-styled landscape paintings and portraitures. Black people were rarely depicted in art at the time, just as was the case in earlier eras. Note the simply styled dress, the hats and well-tailored clothes.

The Jamaican-born Gunter is known for his lush landscapes, market scenes and series of nudes. He has translated and transmitted his identity and experiences through his paintings for more than 45 years.

Jamaica’s modern art movement was motivated by many Jamaican artists and thinkers. Their intention is to reclaim their history and identities. They offered tuition to young Black students to encourage them to seek subjects more closely related to Jamaican life. Some artists turned their vision inward and began painting their own people.

As Eddie Chambers, a Black-British curator of Jamaican parentage, noted, “For Black people, ‘history’ refuses to be a lifeless and dull conglomeration of boring dates and events. Instead, it presents itself as earlier episodes of a current existence. We are the latest chapters of our current existence. Identity has an urgency and a relevance, which is literally worlds away from the individualism which many people take it to be.”

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