Even as I sincerely thank you for writing about Uptown Dental’s exhibit of the art of Sequoyah Rodriguez and David Bellecci, I must share my upset at the story’s racial insensitivity and glaring slight of Rodriguez’s gifts. To describe Rodriguez as an “African American Jew raised in the most orthodox area of Brooklyn, NY” without identifying Bellecci’s race as white can imply that being white is so “normal” that it need not be mentioned. This injustice, compounded by the complete absence of photos of Rodriguez’s art, is deeply dismaying.
When I contacted the Leader about writing a story—there was no press release—I thought that the very different backgrounds of the two close artist friends would make a good story angle. Bellecci is a white gay man who was raised Catholic in Oakland, while Rodriguez is, to quote from my email solicitation, “a mixture of Black, Indian (Oklahoma), Jewish (Ashkenazim) diminished Filipino, Gullah People (South Carolina), and more, straight, who was raised Jewish in the most orthodox area of Brooklyn…” Never did I expect that only one artist’s racial and religious background would be mentioned, and that his art would be rendered invisible.
Rodriguez’s bio, which is prominently displayed alongside his paintings, explains that he studied art at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, Kingsborough Community College, and the famed Art Students League of Manhattan. His art is a true expression of his background and humanity, and fully worthy of honor.
You will soon receive an invitation to meet both artists. I hope you will accept, and use the meeting as an opportunity to feature Rodriguez’s work in the Leader and restore balance to your coverage.
Jason Victor Serinus