Visual Arts

City Gallery will host the 2021 MOJA Arts Festival Juried Art Exhibition. Additional pop-up exhibitions are being planned for the opening weekend of the Festival. Details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page. The 2021 MOJA Arts Festival poster artist is Arianne King Comer.

Visual Arts components of the festival annually include a juried art exhibition, artists receptions and talks.  Past MOJA posters artists have included Synthia Saint James; John Christopher Wright II; Cedric Umoja; Fletcher Williams III; works by Philip Simmons; Alvin B. Glen; Jonathan Green; Doyle William Cloyd; and many others.

Jonathan Green Exhibition

Date: Thursday, September 30, 10:00am through Sunday, October 10
Venue: James Island Arts and Cultural Center
Address: 1248 Camp Road, Charleston, SC 29412
Admission: Free
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Exhibition of Jonathan Green’s illustrations for “The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls” written by Louise Meriwether.

“This project is funded in part by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.”

Juried Art Exhibition

Date: Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 10, 12:00 – 5:00pm
Venue: City Gallery
Address: 34 Prioleau Street
Admission: Free
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The annual juried art exhibition highlights the recent work of artists across South Carolina featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture and fabric art.  Artworks receiving prizes are presented alongside a limited selection of pieces identified by the juror as meriting display.  This year’s juror is watercolorist Andrea Hazel.

The annual juried art exhibition highlights the recent work of artists across South Carolina featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture and fabric art. Artworks receiving prizes are presented alongside a limited selection of pieces identified by the juror as meriting display. This year’s juror is watercolorist Andrea Hazel.

Invited artists for this year’s exhibition include: Kelly Atkinson, Kelvin Blufton, Maxine Brown, Julie Byrd Diana, Andrea Capers, Alfred Casciato, Jeleata Nicole Davis, Sonny Dugal, Lynda English, Kerri Forrest, LySandra Gathers, Rosemary Giusti Dillon, Alvin Glen, Bob Graham, Raven Greene, Malik Hayward, Katie Heatley, Shannon Hopkins, Ann Igoe, Lori Isom, Caseline Jenkins, Anne M. Jennings, Christine Johnson, Rachel Jones, Christopher Kyle, Cynthia Male, Robert Maniscalco, Ervin McDaniel, Harry McFadden, Zaire McPhearson, Robert B. Reed, Addelle Sanders, Gloria Smith, Stuart Tessler, La Toya Thompson, Simone Voelker, and Marvin Youngblood.

Dance

Due to the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, MOJA will not host a residency with a mainstage touring dance company in 2021. We are planning to incorporate participatory dance events in our schedule of neighborhood outreach performances in Charleston’s beautiful park spaces. Details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

Past festivals have included internationally renowned performances by Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, A Dance Company ; the Dance Theatre of Harlem who was cop-presented with the Charleton Gaillard Center;  Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO);  and the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.

Theatre

The realities of COVID-19 have made it impossible for our traditional theatre ensembles to mount work for the 2021 MOJA Arts Festival. If drama instruction or workshops are deemed safe and advisable, details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

Past productions have been presented by Art Forms and Theatre Concepts along with performances by Lady in White Productions, PURE Theatre, Charleston Black Theatre and many others in such theatres as the Dock Street Theatre other venues.

Heritage & Community

Sadly, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has recommended for a second year our deferring the MOJA Community Tribute Luncheon to 2022. Community outreach efforts will be anchored by MOJA’s annual Fourth Grade Readout, this year providing over 1,000 area elementary school students with a hardcover copy of Louise Meriwether’s “The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls,” illustrated with the artwork of Jonathan Green. Details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

Heritage and Community events have included activities celebrating African-American and Caribbean culture and heritage in the Lowcountry.  Local performers, activities for children, poetry readings, youth performances, and workshops are always on offer alongside community partners and social service organizations.

Health & Recreation

In the interest of the safety of our audiences and artists, the 2021 MOJA Arts Festival will shift its focus in the areas of Health and Recreation to highlight the importance of exercising personal responsibility with regard to fighting the impact of COVID-19. Details of specific promotions and special offers, particularly for those who have taken steps to be fully vaccinated, will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

Past health and recreational events have included junior and adult tennis tournaments and the Charleston Boxing Club Annual MOJA Cup.

Literary

In the interest of the safety of our audiences and artists, the 2021 MOJA Arts Festival will not host a visiting author for its traditional Literary Corner reading and reception. Poetry programming is being developed with Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker and the MOJA Planning Committee. Details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

Literary events in the past have included Black Ink: The Charleston African-American Book Festival; the 2018 MOJA Festival  forged partnerships with the inaugural Free Verse Festival and the NEA Big Read to present an incredible lineup of literary events.  Annual offerings include a poetry and storytelling series with numerous local and regional poets such as Carolos Johnson and the Speak Freely Foundation, Damon Fordham, Regina Duggins, Horace Mungin, and many others.  Other featured literary events are our annual Swahili Workshop, outreach in local schools with a 4th Grade Readout day and Children’s programming at the main branch library.

Music

Music will take centerstage at the 2021 MOJA Arts Festival, but with a focus on concert programs in intimate settings that accommodate safe assembly in keeping with CDC guidelines for COVID-19, and in outdoor park settings where families, friends and neighbors can safely gather. Details of specific programs will be posted as they are finalized here and on the CharlestonArts.org calendar, as well as on MOJA’s Facebook page.

MOJA Arts Festival has featured some of the most talented musical artists not only locally but nationally and internationally.  Such artists and groups have included Charleston favorites Ranky Tanky; Quiana Parler and Friends; Hot Buttered Soul; Mighty Joshua with the Zion 5 and Keith Porter; Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa and Super Deluxe; The Dubplates and Future Fambo. Other musical events have included our annual Gospel Series at Trinity United Methodist Church, the College of Charleston Gospel Choir and special events like Soul in the Garden with Zandrina Dunning and Christian Smalls at the Gibbes Museum.  Other featured music has included the environmental works of contemporary composer John Luther Adams, the journey of hymns through history;  Ellington’s Sacred Concerts at the Charleston Gaillard Center with Charlton Singleton, Nathan L. Nelson, and Lowcountry Voices and Friends; and First Class Band aboard the Spirit of Charleston. The Charleston Music Hall played host to Higher Ground: The Music of Stevie Wonder and Woman & Cooke: A Tribute to Sam Cooke.

Gullah Moja Art Experience

Date: Friday, October 1 5:00pm through Saturday, October 2 6:30pm
Venue: Cannon Street Arts Center
Address: 134 Cannon Street
Admission: Free
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Jayn de Gullah/Geechee Famlee fa de “Gullah Moja Experience” brought ta hunnuh by de “Gullah/Geechee Family Foundation” and de “Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition” een partnership with the Moja Cultural Art Celebration of de City of Charleston, SC een de Gullah/Geechee Nation. Come experience Gullah/Geechee culture, arts, and history as we pay homage to our ancestors and celebrate our living legacy at three events October 1st and 2nd, 2021 in the Holy City.

Free Verse: Kickback III (open mic)

Date: Friday, October 1, 6:00pm
Venue: Dock Street Theatre
Address: 135 Church Street
Admission: Free
Hosts: Charleston Free Verse Poetry Festival
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An open mic to open minds! Sign up to perform here: https://morowamosai.com/freeverse-festival-the-kickback

Deninufay African Drumming and Dance

Date: Saturday, October 2 4:00pm
Venue: Dereef Park
Address: Dereef Court
Admission: Free

Drapetomania by Abba Nizar

Date: Saturday, October 2, Sunday; October 3; Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10 from 12:00-5:00pm
Venue: Praise House at Dereef Park
Address: 78 Morris Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Admission: Free

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Drapetomania is a solo art exhibition featuring the paintings of Kelvin Maurice Blufton, Sr., better known as Brother or Abba Nizar, on view at the Praise House at Dereef Park (78 Morris Street).  “Drapetomania” was a diagnosis rendered by certain physicians circa 1851 to explain that a mental illness afflicted certain Africans, causing them to flee captivity. It was considered an uncontrollable or insane impulsion to wander. Nizar’s work focuses on Gullah Culture and the anti-slavery, collective resistance waged by captured Africans forcibly immigrated to the United States from West Africa. This resistance movement, spanning from 1526 to 1868, was more sizable and politically significant than the more well-known Underground Railroad. Drapetomania will be on view on Saturday, October 2, Sunday, October 3, Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10 from noon until 5pm, or by appointment. Please call 843-958-6484 to inquire about additional viewing opportunities.

Gullah MOJA Art Experience

Date: October 2, 12:00pm
Venue: College of Charleston, Courtyard of Sciences and Mathematics Building
Address: 202 Calhoun Street
Admission: Free

Enjoy a Gullah/Geechee afternoon of spoken word, Gullah/Geechee talk, ourstory, and art featuring Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation; artist Quadrey Stuckey, Elder Carlie Towne, De African Spirit Dayclean, Poetress Georgia Nubia, and Songstress Lorraine Singleton. Bring da famlee fa jayn we!

Bright Family Singers and Magnolia Singers

Date: Sunday, October 3 11:00am
Venue: White Point Garden
Address: 2 Murray Boulevard
Admission: Free

Carl Bright and the Bright Family Singers and Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers

Whip Appeal – Live Taping

Date: Sunday, October 3, 8:00pm
Venue: Dock Street Theatre
Address: 135 Church Street
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We are delighted to be partnering with Charles A. Miller Jr. to have the live taping of his “Whip Appeal” tribute to the music of Babyface coincide with this year’s MOJA Arts Festival. Whether you are able to be amongst those attending the recording, or if you enjoy the fully produced professional video via MOJA social media after the festival, we know you are going to be knocked out. Charleston has many of the world’s finest musical talents and we can’t wait to hear what they do with this storied songbook.

Caja de Cuerdas and Birdz I

Date: Friday, October 8, 5:30pm
Venue: Corrine Jones Park
Address: 36 Marlow Drive
Admission: Free

Caja De Cuerdas (Box of Strings) enjoys sharing their diverse palette of music with audiences of all backgrounds. Their original music blends classical, jazz and rock. Anchored by classical guitarist Gregory Guay, and Venezuelan-American producer and singer Hector Salazar, the group also features pianist Manuel Toro, bassist Roman Pekar and Baldwin Bonilla on percussion.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Stephanie Birdz I Mattis first started writing and singing at a young age, in a City which gave rise to the biggest names in reggae music. While in the church at age 9, she wrote her first song, titled Guide Me. From there, Birdz I continued working on her craft and has evolved into a skilled contemporary artist with roots in classic reggae, soul and R&B. Her backing group will feature Reggae Infinity members Ras B on Drums, Anand Manoharan on Guitar and Well charged band member Vasily Punsalan on bass guitar.

Joey Morant Jazz Jam

Date: Friday, October 8, 7:00pm
Venue: Festival Hall (formerly Memminger Auditorium)
Address: 56 Beaufain Street
Admission: Free, Reservation Required

MOJA Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Joey Morant. Join as friends and family come together in a musical celebration of Charleston’s beloved jazz icon, the one and only Joey Morant.

Soul FunKubanized x Cuban Cowboys

Date: Saturday, October 9, 8:00pm
Venue: Festival Hall (formerly Memminger Auditorium)
Address: 56 Beaufain Street
Admission: Free, Reservation Required

Local percussionist and afro-Cuban musician extraordinaire, Gino Castillo brings a 9-piece band to help close out the MOJA Arts Festival! Expect upbeat festive music including the Cha-Cha-Charleston. Joining Gino (percussion, vocals) are Jake Holwegner on bass; Matthew Killby, drums; Jonathan Lovet, piano; Robert Lewis, saxophone; Jon Thornton, trumpet; Ro Lafayet, vocalist; Tonya Williams., vocalist; Amos Hoffman guitar and Cuban tres.

Steamroller Band

Date: Sunday, October 10, 4:00pm
Venue: Cannon Street Arts Center
Address: 134 Cannon Street
Admission: Free

Steamroller represents a new generation of Charleston’s neo-soul, funk and R&B musicians. Vocal duties are shared amongst all the players. The band is full of accomplished players including Noah Jones on Keys, James Rubush on Guitar, Sean Bing on Drums, Cameron Wescott on Bass, and Whitt Burn on Guitar. Come and get your weekly dose of heavy, deep pocket grooves!

Celebrating Unity Through Music and Dance

Date: Wednesday, October 13, 4:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: Enston Homes Management Group
Address: 900 King Street
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Presented by The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston and the MOJA Arts Festival, featuring Mystic Vibrations.

Well Charged

Date: Friday, October 29, 5:30pm
Venue: Medway Community Garden
Address: Hinson Ave., James Island
Admission: Free

Don’t miss the 2x Charleston City Paper Reggae Band of the Year, Well Charged. With over 50 years combined experience performing Jamaican rhythms, their style is a faithful nod to the early pioneers of reggae: Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis, Desmond Dekker and Prince Buster, to name a few. Forget about your worries and dance to their unique blend of vintage reggae, rocksteady and ska!