Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room
One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301-565-3805

Certain Party or Parties Unknown

*Content Warning*

Please be advised the artwork in Certain Party or Parties Unknown contains sensitive material that may awe, illuminate, challenge, unsettle, confound, provoke, and, at times, upset visitors. 

Join us for a Certain Party or Parties Unknown Film Screening
Friday, January 13th at 6:00 p.m.
Featuring light hors d’oeuvres, beverages, the premier screening of the Certain Party or Parties Unknown documentary and an artist talk following the film!

The Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room presents Certain Party or Parties Unknown (CPPU), a gallery exhibition showcasing original artworks by the seven artists featured in 2021’s outdoor public art installation, Certain Party or Parties Unknown (CPPU); a social justice projection art initiative raising awareness of three African American men who fell victim to racial terror lynchings in Montgomery County in the 1880s: Mr. John Diggs-Dorsey, Mr. George Peck, and Mr. Sidney Randolph. Click or scroll down to see the exhibition description

Certain Party or Parties Unknown Sizzle Produced by Raul Zahir De Leon

CPPU Documentary Film Screenings

Four documentary film screenings across Montgomery County unveil the making of Certain Party or Parties Unknown!

The Certain Party or Parties Unknown documentary captures the process of creating 2021’s outdoor CPPU installation from inception to opening night. Interviews with the artists reveal why they participated in the project, their personal connection to this important topic, how they developed their pieces from start to finish, and much more. 

The first screening takes place at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 13th at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room as part of the artist talk and closing ceremony for the Certain Party or Parties Unknown indoor gallery exhibition 

Three additional screenings will occur at the following locations:  

  1. BlackRock Center for the Arts | Saturday, January 14th
  2. Odd Fellows Lodge in partnership with Sandy Spring Slave Museum | Saturday, January 21st
  3. The Arts Barn | Friday, February 3rd 

        A roundtable discussion will follow each of the film screenings to further community dialogue and understanding. 

        Exhibition Description

        Certain Party or Parties Unknown

        Curated collaboratively by: Alix Lambert, Curtis Woody, LaShell Rivers, Liz Miller, Nikki Brooks, and Tim Davis with support from AHCMC curator Heloisa Escudero

        Film Screening + Artist Talk: January 13, 2023 | 6 – 8 p.m. | RSVP Here
        Exhibition Dates: November 2, 2022 – January 13, 2023
        Gallery Hours: Fridays from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

        The Certain Party or Parties Unknown gallery exhibition gives space to the physical materials and artifacts each artist created when developing last year’s outdoor projection artworks. It offers audiences an extended opportunity to experience these works, gain insight into the creative process, and reflect on this horrific part of Montgomery County’s history during Remembrance and Reconciliation Month. In addition to the indoor exhibition, opening reception attendees will experience an original outdoor installation projected onto the face of the Silver Spring Civic Building throughout the evening by award-winning editor, video journalist, and multimedia artist Robin Bell.

        Featured Artists: Alix Lambert, Curtis Woody, LaShell Rivers, Liz Miller, Nikki Brooks, Robin Bell, and Tim Davis

        Click here to learn more about the 2021 Certain Party or Parties Unknown project.

        ** Masks are encouraged for all guests, regardless of vaccination status. Outside food and beverages are not permitted in the gallery with the exception of water. **

        Photos of the 2021 outdoor public art installation by André Chung

        Gallery Hours

        Fridays from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

        Opening Reception Photos

        Featured Artists

        Alix Lambert | Artist Statement

        First and foremost, art-making has threaded its way through my life in such a way that the two are inseparable. My career has found purchase in many fields: sculpture, sound, photography, film, installation, performance. Much of my work is immersive, involving deep engagement with the subject at hand, and the form of the work follows the content. 

        My body of work has been called a “resoundingly aesthetic, a kind of living tribute to poet Frank O’Hara’s dandied adage of joyous subversion to natural, static order, ‘Grace to be born and live variously as possible”, by Tim Griffin (former Editor-in-Chief of Artforum magazine). My work is fundamentally various. Consider how I’ve approached crime: I’ve created a series of sculptures, directed a series of feature-length documentaries on various subjects including the Russian prison system, teen suicide and bullying in Ohio and a serial killer in SE Louisiana, created a gallery installation about the assassinations of journalists in Russia, written and edited CRIME (a series of essays, photographic portraits, and Studs Terkel-style interviews), and written a series of theater pieces developed from my own verbatim interviews and working in collaboration with different composers for each new iteration. Much of my work is immersive, multidisciplinary, and difficult to categorize. Throughout, I have returned to the question of how to navigate people through an idea, through a world. Working across mediums, I have found ways to engage different audiences around multiple facets of the stories I am sharing. 

        Follow Alix on Instagram! @lixilamb

        Curtis Woody | Artist Statement

        I am a mixed media collage painter, drawing inspiration from historical connection points that join together individuals, families, generations and communities. I create highly textured and intricately detailed original art pieces that are intended to breathe new life into and enhance the unique characteristics of a common historical heritage. Life is a circle and I take pleasure in salvaging the old to create something new, asking the viewer to recognize the past while appreciating the here and now. My paintings are research-based collages and layers which are fabricated in a variety of ways. I highlight impactful images and also play close attention to minute details. Some paintings start with hand cut museum board blocks that are painted, embellished, scratched and merged together. I used an assortment of found objects, old books, aged photographs, fabric, buttons, wood, words, vintage wallpaper and rusty metal combined with an assortment of artistic mediums. The meaning of the attached elements often becomes clearer to me as they are assembled. The result is a continual search for balance between spontaneity and historical relevance. My richly layered work invites viewers to step in closer, explore details, and create or reflect on their own stories of connection. Because of the multi-layering it is my expectation that the paintings become thoughtful, spiritual, interesting and sensitive creations. 

        Visit Curtis’ website

        LaShell Rivers | Artist Statement

        What I have to say to you as far as an Artist Statement is that I am strong, and am riddled with epilepsy which took place in my 20’s. Removing a piece of my brain is what it took just for medication to control them. I believe the removal of tissue also strengthened my talent, for I always had art and writing as a means to escape… depression made it my way to survive. Bipolarism came, and anxiety disorder for a seizure caused a car crash and I took a life…But I paint and have written about my mental disorder. Just a regular Homegirl.

        Visit LaShell’s website

        Follow LaShell on Instagram! @artisticbrains

        Liz Miller | Artist Statement

        Hair is a part of all of us. Our skin anchors it. We live within it. And because of it, hairstyles and designs have enjoyed a rich, multi-hemispheric tradition that has spanned the millennia. 

        Liz Miller’s work explores the connection between our roots and contemporary America. Textile, ancestry and contemporary black culture are her inspirations. Her work takes the form of static installations, artifacts of rituals and/or full scale performances, films, and social experiments. 

        Cataloging hair stories since her formative years, Liz celebrates the limitless potential of hair, most often as it relates to African-American culture. The work questions hair and body politics, while addressing such issues as appropriation, classism, gender, ethnicity, anti-blackness, equity, identity, and the commodification of the black body. 

        Visit Liz’s website

        Follow Liz on Instagram! @liz_miller_productions

        Nikki Brooks | Artist Statement

        Nikki Brooks was born in 1975 in Brooklyn, New York, but was raised in Spotsylvania County, VA. She is a multi-disciplinary artist that works specifically in installations and assemblage that are infused with digital and audio elements, paintings, sculpted text, and collage spaces. These works encourage the viewer to connect in forms of writing, storytelling, and shared dialogue through workshops that focus on diversity, inclusion, truth- telling and lament. 

        Nikki’s artwork focuses on social activism and art. She creates artworks that provoke the audience to interact with the objects, images, sculptures, and writings presented in the space. Artists like Fred Wilson, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Maya Lin, and Adrian Piper have inspired and influenced the way Nikki curates her space to become this communal space for all viewers. She describes her created spaces: as “walking into one of my collages.” 

        Nikki describes her installations as a “collage in 3-D, a multitude of voices.” The words and teachings of the strong women in her life are the guiding light to these artworks. Juxtaposed with those teachings are artworks that are ignited from social unrest among her community and the world. The work is beyond beautiful, and Nikki layers the work so that the audience cannot just admire the ‘beauty’ aesthetic. Each painting, each digital piece, or object is a pandora’s box of truth telling, and oftentimes a lived experience. Therefore, the viewer must interact within the space to get to the core meaning. Some artworks are 2-D, and other artworks are 3-D, and incorporate food. These combinations of artworks use the notion of comfort and utility as a way of inviting the viewer to interact with its functionality. 

        Nikki continues to create works to push tough conversations as a way of getting people to participate in these issues, not just admire them as if they are pictures. She consistently undertakes the work to imbue these narratives into the consciousness of people who generally do not have to participate or understand because they have a privilege not granted to Blackness. 

        Visit Nikki’s website

        Follow Nikki on Instagram! @nikkibrooksart

        Robin Bell | About Robin Bell

        Robin Bell, founder of Bell Visuals, is an award-winning editor, video journalist, and multimedia artist based in Washington DC. Robin works on a range of creative, political and public interest projects. Building upon his formal training as a classical printmaker, Robin developed a unique style of live video collage which he has performed at well-known venues, including The Kennedy Center, 9:30 Club, The Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Central Park Summer Stage in NYC, and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles California. AHCMC is thrilled to work with Robin on Certain Party or Parties Unknown as we strive to deepen community conversation and understanding of Montgomery County’s history and the critical need to build a more equitable future for all residents. 

        Visit Robin’s website

        Follow Robin on Instagram! @bellvisuals

        Tim Davis | Artist Statement

        In my work for the multi-media public art for “Certain Party or Parties Unknown”, I created two paintings as a core for remembrance of the reconciliation of John Diggs Dorsey, Sidney Randolph, and George Peck.  Each one of these men was a victim of racial terror in Maryland. I titled the first painting the “Spirit of the Three” and the second “In Remembrance”. In the research and creating, I felt that their Spirit was important to lift up but also show symbols of jail bars, the dragging of the men in the streets in red and black to the lynching tree, the two Americas, and the folded African American flag being held by a mother, wife, or sister of the men. 

        My narrative is rooted in the identity of the black male growing up, living, and working in our society.  The black male has always been targeted and subjected to brutality, racist attacks, injustice, displacement, and mass incarceration.  My style or signature with many figures has been to paint faceless individuals to allow the viewer to see something more without the use of features and to “fill in” the expression and the visual conversation. The figures are faceless representing the spirit of individuals, and also being invisible or in the shadow.   

        This project allowed me to walk and be part of the historical path of the actual dragging of these three men on the streets in Montgomery County and finally remember and collect the soil for the three. I also traveled to Montgomery Alabama to The Equal Justice Initiative and Museum to witness the names and places where thousands are memorialized and to acknowledge the horrors of racial terror in The United States.   To remember the many who have died this terrible death, let us start with the truth and join together to end terror. 

        Visit Tim’s website

        Follow Tim on Instagram! @timdavisart