Aaron Douglas Art Fair announces 2015’s featured artist

Stephanie Cannon

Organizers of the Aaron Douglas Art Fair held a press conference on Wednesday to announce that Jordan E. Brooks has been named the Featured Artist for this year’s fair.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by my community for my efforts,” Brooks said. “It’s a blessing. I’m loving it.”

The press conference, held in front of the mural at Aaron Douglas Art Park, located at 12th & Washburn, also saw the unveiling of the featured art for this year’s fair. The piece, titled “Social Networking,” will be featured on posters and promotional material for the event, which was named in honor of Topeka native and celebrated Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas.

Fair organizers selected Brooks and his painting to represent this year’s fair as a tribute to Douglas’ legacy and his continuing influence on today’s young artists.

“‘Social Networking’ was chosen as this year’s featured art because of the powerful statement it makes on life and the modern world and because it pays a fitting tribute to a style of art that Aaron Douglas himself pioneered,” said Art Director The GYPSY.

For Brooks, who considers Douglas a personal and artistic influence, being named featured artist allows him the opportunity to merge his identity with his inspiration.

“If you get a chance to check it out you’ll notice the little boxes between represent kind of like symbols of windows, this going back to the name ‘Social Networking,’ having to do with the internet, and all the web pages and the birds that tweet,” Brooks said. “And then all the colors that symbolize a kind of social network platform representation so far as the light blue being Facebook or the orange being blogs. I was trying to reference Aaron Douglas, but update it.”

A rising star in the local art community, Brooks’ diverse collection of fine art and illustrations has been showcased at several galleries in the Topeka and Kansas City area. Recently, he traveled to New York City to take part in an emerging artist exhibition that saw his work land on the pages of the fine arts publication “Powers of Perception.”

In addition to creating a steady stream of artwork, Brooks is also in the process of publishing his own artist book. Titled “C.O.L.O.R.S.,” the book is set for a fall 2015 release.

The Aaron Douglas Art Fair has served as a springboard for many emerging local artists, including Brooks, who was among the 50 artists who participated in last year’s fair. Brooks encourages emerging artists to take part in events like the Aaron Douglas Art Fair and offers a few words of advice.

“Once you find a passion then stick with it because you’re never really sure of how it’s going to develop,” Brooks said. “You may know where you want to go with it but the journey along the way is probably not going to be what you expected or go as planned. That’s probably the best advice I was ever given is just to stay the course and once you fall in love with the process the end result will be beautiful.”

On Friday, April 24, organizers of the fair will host their Artist Unveiling Party at PT’s Coffee, 1635 SW Washburn Ave. The party will run from 6:30 – 10 p.m. and feature an open mic, a meet and greet with Brooks and music by Blake Martin. For details, visit www.facebook.com/AaronDouglasArtFair.

The Aaron Douglas Art Fair, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, will take place on September 26 at the Aaron Douglas Art Park. The fair is free and open to the public. Local artists, performers and musicians interested in taking part in the fair can find details at www.aarondouglasartfair.com.