One of the most moving things I learned about the 1930s, was the way art was able to overcome divides of all kinds. Just like today. Just like always. But the 1930s was absolutely incendiary with civil rights brewing, the Depression, Prohibition, the strange in-between times between the two world wars, just a scant twenty years.
So much was on the boil, was at the tipping point of burbling over and causing world chaos. Yet…art was on the rise. Artists of world renown in our own day were just cresting the wave of possibility at that time.
In my Art Deco Mystery series, one of the biggest delights of my life is revealing some of these forgotten moments when art overcame racism and sexism and division of all kinds.Even in the Thirties.When art created beauty in the midst of absolutely dreary trials and adversity. Which to me, makes it all the more radically interesting and beautiful.
Because of all that, I dedicated my latest novel, The Pearl Dagger, to all artists. Because artists make the world a bigger and better place.I have a special mention to two of my friends who have inspired me greatly and all in the spirit of the era I love to write about, where art has the capacity to overcome social divides.
Destinee Rea, Broadway actor currently on Broadway in The Book of Mormon, is a founder of a group called BOLD. A nonprofit dedicated to, “Building up black women in the performing arts for the restoration of culture…We seek to create a culture in which black women are one another’s allies. A community in which women can celebrate and grieve with one another, breaking down the scarcity mentality, allowing us to experience life with one another through the transformative power of unity… Art has the power to shape culture.”
And Kellye Garrett, bestselling author who won too many awards to list here;-), who was one of the founding members of Crime Writers of Color. I asked her to share her thoughts. “I think anyone who has seen Frankie’s List https://sistersincrime.org/frankieslist on the Sisters in Crime website is probably appalled with the shockingly low numbers of queer writers and writers of color with crime fiction books. Having come from a background where I was a Pitch Wars mentor and started the first-ever Adult and New Adult Debut Author group in 2017, I understood the importance of community.Having co-founded Crime Writers of Color last year with Gigi Pandian and Walter Mosley, I think what I appreciate most about the group is how supportive we are for all of our members, whether it’s a published author receiving a major award or an emerging author looking for advice on an agent. It’s also a safe space for us to bond over the unique things we encounter as writers of color in crime fiction.”
Our own MissDemeanors, Alexia Gordon is also a member of Crime Writers of Color and I asked to hear her heart on it. “Crime Writers of Color was created as a forum for mystery, thriller, and suspense writers of color at all stages of their careers to connect with, celebrate, and support each other. We seek and share advice, cheer others’ good news, commiserate with each other, encourage each other, network, and sometimes vent. What began as a few writers posting to a message board quickly grew to include meetups, a social media presence, unified branding, and public recognition. As of this afternoon, we had 166 members.Crime Writers of Color’s exponential growth over little more than a year illustrated the need for a place where writers who are still under-represented in the larger crime fiction community could come together for mutual uplift. Crime Writers of Color allows us to feel more like a tribe and less like unicorns.” For a fantastic list of bookclub reads from Crime Writers of Color, check out: https://books2read.com/rl/cwoc
Beautiful, right?THIS is what I love about art. We need each other, and despite our differences, art brings us together. In The Pearl Dagger, I feature The Savoy dance hall in many scenes. The coolest thing is that it was intentionally integrated in the Twenties, had a capacity of four-thousand (!!), two band stands, and outside the doors there could be race riots in Harlem. But INSIDE…it didn’t matter if you were uptown or downtown, black or white, Catholic or atheist…all that mattered was if you could dance. That’s the power of art.
We would love to hear from you! How have you witnessed art bringing people together? Are you surprised at that 1930w example of The Savoy? (I was!) Who are some of your favorite writers of color? How have their stories impacted you? Who has inspired you?
For today’s BIG SUMMER GIVEAWAY, we are featuring three books from two of our fabulous MissDemeanors! Murder in G Major and Fatality in F by Alexia Gordon.
“The captivating southwestern Irish countryside adds a delightful element to this paranormal series launch. Gethsemane is an appealing protagonist who is doing the best she can against overwhelming odds.” – Library Journal (starred review)
And A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn.
“A true page turner…I found the plot fascinating, and de Hahn builds the tension and suspense perfectly to a satisfying conclusion. I was left wanting to read more about Agnes, and I am looking forward to her next adventure!”—Charles Todd on Swiss Vendetta
Just comment below to enter to win. We love connecting with you, so thank you for sharing your thoughts! Good luck to you all!
I think art does transcend race, nationality, etc. I’m a teacher and I love what children’s art says about them!
Nice giveaway! They all sound like such great reads. Love cozy mysteries.
Art has always been a big part of my family. It helped my daughters find their voice when they were young, and had provided a freedom of expression for us all.
I love viewing art from different cultures, it’s a wonderful way to connect with the world! I’m never without my camera, doing my best to create my own little works of art!
I agree, Emma. As a passionate traveler and wanna-be photographer, I’m always looking for visual metaphors. Last summer in China I snapped a photo of a street in the oldest part of Shanghai. An expensive sports car, almost covered with a tarp, was parked in front of a house dating from the 1600s. For me, this was China–the old and the new.
The arts can bring people together because of its ability to overcome cultural and ethnic differences. It brings people together because of their joint love of a particular form of art.
The titles are so cool and I see art bringing others together when I attend local art festivals & interact with the artists. Their availability to explain their work to every person, no matter their ethnicity is really amazing to experience.
You’re a Thursday winner, Pam! Congrats!
The arts, especially music, have been a big part of my life. It makes life worth living. Thank you for the chance to win.
Art is universal….. it may be seen but not heard, heard but not seen, and many other permutations that cross boundaries of place and language and experience. Our lives would be poorer without it. You’ve made me think about the nature of Creativity…. and I think I’ll focus on that in next week’s blog!
Art is what makes life flow.
Art is a language without words so everyone understands and can communicate with it.
Great giveaway. They all sound great.
You’re a Thursday Giveaway Winner, Janis! Congrats!
I love the arts! My daughter is a Teacher and has always been interested in music, drama and drawing. We also incorporated reading into that by reading books about the arts. Thanks for the chance!
Ohhhh sounds interesting! Adding this to my “to read” list.
I am not very arty myself, but I appreciate it in many forms. Thanks for the opportunity.
Love the titles of these books. I’m very interested in reading them. Art is feelings shared by all people.
You’re a big Friday Giveaway Winner, Marcia! Congrats!
I love mysteries.