<em><strong>This Week in Black Art and Culture is sponsored by <a href=”https://www.actorsplayhouse.org/young-talent-big-dreams-2022/”>The Children’s Trust</a></strong></em>
Above:Air Jordan x Nina Chanel Abney | Photo: Instagram @apolloluo1976 via Snobette
XSet acquires Astoic Management and names Lonnie Anthony Chief Innovation Officer. The Baltimore Museum of Art instates Jessica Bell Brown as its director of contemporary art. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards Derrick Adams a $1.25 million grant to create a Black culture archive in Baltimore. Nina Chanel Abney creates a new Air Jordan 2 for a July release. Read more in This Week in Black Art and Culture.
XSet Appoints Astoic Management Co-Founders as Execs
XSET, the world’s fastest-growing gaming and lifestyle organization, announced it has acquired Astoic Management. As a result of this acquisition, it has appointed both co-founders to executive roles at XSET. Lonnie Anthony will serve as chief innovation officer (CIO), and Rob Martin will serve as chief experience officer (CXO).
XSET fields some of the world’s top competitive esports teams in titles including Valorant, Rocket League, Rainbow Six, Fortnite, Warzone, Apex Legends, eNASCAR and more.
As the chief innovation officer, Anthony will work with the company’s founders to lead innovative and strategic decisions for XSET’s overall business and brand. Additionally, as chief experience officer, Martin will work to create memorable experiences and events to help catapult XSET to the forefront of gaming and entertainment. Both Anthony and Martin will be part owners of XSET.
“When it came to joining XSET, it was an easy decision,” said Rob Martin. “Having ownership in the fastest growing and most diverse gaming lifestyle brand in the world is a life-changing opportunity. We’ve been at the intersection of gaming, fashion, tech and culture for over 10 years now. Our goal is to create countless experiences for the gaming community, musicians, athletes and fans of XSET. With the team we are building at XSET, we look forward to shaping the landscape for the future of gaming.”
Astoic Management has represented celebrities such as Offset, Floyd Mayweather, Ronnie2K and Cassy Athena. Additionally, it has brokered a plethora of deals with companies including NBA2K, Facebook, Nike, Jordan, AT&T, Microsoft, FOX, Stockx, Viacom, Postmates, New Era, Turo, MLB and many more. Anthony recently was selected as one of the 2021 Sports Business Journal’s New Voices Under 30 due to his past work of integrating celebrities into the NBA 2K video game and building a campaign for rapper Offset with New Era and the Atlanta Braves.
Nina Chanel Abney Debuting Air Jordan 2 This Summer
Nina Chanel Abney, an artist who previously collaborated with UNO and just debuted a new work for Miami’s Worldcenter, will be Jordan’s next collaboration. Nina Chanel Abney teased her next Jordan collaboration on April 13 by sharing a Jumpman logo recreated via Abney’s aesthetic viewpoint.
Abney has contributed artistically to many different mediums over the past two years. In 2020, her UNO collab was announced, and since then, she has designed magazine covers, most notably the New Yorker last May. She also designed the cover of Meek Mill’s most recent LP, Expensive Pain. Following the release of images indicating a possible Air Jordan Retro 2 collaboration with artist Nina Chanel Abney, the Chicago native took to Instagram to confirm the collaboration with an image of herself wearing a pair of her Jordan Retro 2 High white and red sneakers while in attendance at the annual Jordan Brand Classic basketball tournament on April 15 in Chicago.
Abney also sported a baseball cap at the occasion, which might be a preview of a future Jumpman march.
The Nina Chanel Abney x Air Jordan 2 includes a suede toe guard and heel, off-white midsoles, and gray/red rubber outsoles on the high tops, while the low tops are identical but in a green tone.
Baltimore Museum of Art’s New Head of Contemporary Art
Jessica Bell Brown, an art historian, has been named curator and head of the Baltimore Museum of Art’s contemporary art department. Brown has previously worked as an associate curator of contemporary art at the museum since arriving in 2019.
In this position, she will oversee a department of five associate curators, curatorial assistants, and fellows, and manage the constantly expanding collection and presentations of contemporary art.
Previously, she held roles at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Creative Time.
Brown has co-curated two major projects during her tenure at the BMA. A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration is a nationally traveling exhibition with newly commissioned works by 12 acclaimed artists exploring the profound impact of the Great Migration on the social and cultural life of the United States from historical and personal perspectives. Co-organized with Ryan N. Dennis (she/her), Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) chief curator and artistic director of the Center for Art and Public Exchange, A Movement in Every Direction debuts at the MMA on April 9 and opens in Baltimore on Oct. 30.
“Since joining the BMA, Jessica has positioned artists’ voices at the core of her curatorial work, creating new platforms to experience art as envisioned by its makers and bridging institutional and artistic visions and approaches. Her vision, keen insights and commitment to artists will be integral as the BMA continues to diversify its collections and expand the narratives of art through its exhibitions and programs,” said Asma Naeem, interim co-director and The Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator.
Other BMA exhibitions include Stephanie Syjuco: Vanishing Point (2021), How Do We Know the World? (2021) co-curated with Leila Grothe, and Thaddeus Mosley: Forest (2021-22).
Derrick Adams to Create a Black Culture Archive in Baltimore
Derrick Adams, a Baltimore-based artist, has been given a $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York to create an archive that would preserve the activities of Black artists and creatives in the city.
Adams has engaged the assistance of two cultural experts to help actualize the plan. As creative director, Jelisa Blumberg, an architect based in New York, will oversee research and development. A project advisor will be Kali-Ahset Amen, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“The Black American experience has strong roots in Baltimore—I am both honored and eager to share this project with the city,” Adams said. “It will live as a modernized historical society, whose dedication is equally important and inclusive.”
The idea was dubbed a “collaborative counter-institutional space” by Adams. The archive is planned to be kept in both physical and digital forms, and both catalogs are to be placed in the Black Waverly district, a predominantly Black community. The facility also is slated to include a gallery dedicated to Baltimore-born photographer Henry Philips, who died in 1993.
Along with the features previously mentioned, The venue will have a digital archive lab, a screening room, and a café and gift shop highlighting local Black-owned companies.
The “collaborative counter-institutional space” is expected to be completed by 2025. The Mellon Foundation will provide operational assistance for the initiative for two years.
-Sumaiyah E. Wade