Lisa Cain in NYC

“Juke Joint” by Lisa Cain

I urge you to hit the Harlem Book Fair this Saturday 7/21/12 at the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard (aka Lenox Avenue, aka 6th Avenue) at 135th Street. Very easily accessible on the 2 or 3 express train to 135th right outside the Schomburg’s door.

Why are you going? So you can stop by the booth of acclaimed folk artist and my very good friend Lisa Cain. If you were ever in my Harlem home you saw a painting from her “Juke Joint” series hanging in my living room.

Lisa’s not only a folk artist, she’s a neuroscientist. Yep, one of the only black female neuroscientists in the US (not to mention a former Miss Jackson State University) and we’re talking Deep South here, people.

She’s a true outsider artist. In fact she and I first became friends at one of my favorite annual events, the Outsider Art Fair in New York City, about 6 or 7 years ago. Actually we met while sharing a Super Shuttle van from LaGuardia Airport while en route to the fair, and we’ve become close friends over the years.

As she explained it to me, Lisa tends to paint images from her childhood and that of her parents and grandparents growing up in rural Mississippi. What you’re getting in her paintings are snapshots of rural social life and religious events. Do not expect images of pain and suffering. Do expect whimsical scenes of survival, hope and jubilation.