a “half black” rockwell

I think this is so cool.  Just one thing though…. If his father was mixed-race himself, how is it possible for Mr. Claiborne to be half black? Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning his personal identity.  I would love to have a conversation with him about it.  About how he came to that conclusion.  I used to think that if I could make “half black” kids.  Then one day I realized that… I can’t.

A Rockwell Illustrating a Street-Lit World

By COREY KILGANNON

Jason Claiborne

When Jason Claiborne was a third grader at Public School 187 in Washington Heights, the teacher scolded him for drawing a picture of a naked woman.

“Jason stood up and told the teacher, ‘I come from a family of artists and we have nude paintings on the wall,’ ” recalled his mother, Jane Jaffe, 65, whose father was Richard Rockwell, an artist and a nephew of the famous illustrator Norman Rockwell.

That would make Norman Rockwell — who was born 116 years ago on Feb. 3 — a great-great-uncle to Jason Claiborne, a 33-year-old artist living in Inwood, Manhattan.

If one were to have preconceptions about what a relative of Norman Rockwell would be like, Mr. Claiborne might not match them.

First of all, he is, as he calls it, “half black,” being the product of Ms. Jaffe’s second marriage, to a mixed-race man named Mario Claiborne. Jason Claiborne did not grow up in middle America, but rather in Washington Heights.

Like Rockwell, who died in 1978, Mr. Claiborne makes his living illustrating book and magazine covers. But Mr. Claiborne does not sit at a spindly easel painting sentimental portraits of white-bread middle Americana. He uses a computer to illustrate the covers publications that fall into the so-called street lit genre of publishing: urban tales of city dwellers who deal in guns, drugs, gangs and vice. The characters (and readers, largely) tend to be people of color.

“Norman documented middle America, and I’m documenting the ’hood,” said Mr. Claiborne, president and creative director for Augustus Publishing, which puts out books with titles such as “Ghetto Girls” and “Streets of New York.”

Authors include former prison inmates and gang members, and Mr. Claiborne provides the brash cover art that is more hustlers and hip-hop than the hobos and homespun scenes of “Saturday Evening Post” covers.

“A lot of Norman Rockwell illustrations can be seen as Polaroid images of the American dream,” Mr. Claiborne said. “I’m showing an American dream that’s not as pretty.”

…“Norman drew life as he experienced it, and like him, Jason draws from his personal life experience,” Ms. Jaffe said. “Norman would not be averse to the way Jason’s doing, because Norman was always ahead of his time as well.”

Richard Rockwell — whose father was Jarvis Rockwell, brother of Norman Rockwell — became a notable illustrator for comics and a courtroom illustrator, before dying in 2006. Richard’s daughter Jane Rockwell (later, Jane Jaffe) became a noted dancer and actor and Radio City Rockette, before becoming a lawyer and eventually taking her current position as an administrative law judge for New York State, in Brooklyn.

Mr. Claiborne has been painting on canvas since childhood. His mother raised him as a single parent, and he developed a close bond with Richard Rockwell and spent much time in Richard’s house surrounded by Norman Rockwell’s art and watching Richard Rockwell sketch. Richard Rockwell drew for many comic strips, including the Steve Canyon series for more than 30 years. He was also a prominent courtroom sketch artist, and several of his sketches hang on Mr. Claiborne’s walls.

Ms. Jaffe noted the significance of having an interracial descendant carrying on the Rockwell artistic mantle.

“When my father was on his deathbed, Jason whispered in his ear that he would keep the Rockwell creative juices flowing,” she said.

DESCRIPTION

Read more HERE

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “a “half black” rockwell

  1. This is such an interesting story…but is his dad mixed or biracial? I know someone else whose mom is biracial (black & white) and he considers himself to be biracial as well. I’m not gonna even try to tell him otherwise. Still a cool post.

  2. clarification: Is his dad mixed with more than 2 different races? Or does he have a parent of one race and the other parent is of another? You really need to be specific these days when discussing this…

  3. If you married a guy who was also mixed and had children ( a la Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet), wouldn’t those kids also, technically, be “half black/half white”?

    Don’t know how this guy got “half black”, but whatever makes him happy I guess! 🙂

  4. Considering his appearance, what *should* he call himself…a quadroon? If he looked liked Wentworth Miller, I would understand the point. In that case I would say “white” makes perfect sense too. I have a hard time seeing the big deal here though. Human beings are not fraction problems. Is there a blood quantum system that you reference for racial labels? If his father was Black identified, that’s probably the simple explanation for it. It happens. If you’re going to be an essentialist, please be consistent.

  5. Ridiculous, Lenny’s half and Lisa’s half Black would not make another half, it would make a whole. But Puerto Ricans like yourself enjoy figuring out the percentages of human beings when it comes to their African ancestry. This has nothing to do with you. This is Samantha of course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s