Jackson Pollock

His art centers on African American actors whose film titles 'Fade to Black'

His art centers on African American actors whose film titles 'Fade to Black'

The California African American Museum is teeming with ghosts. They haunt its lobby atrium, which is airy and still, bleached out from sunlight seeping in through a canopy of skylights onto stark white walls.

Five soaring murals pop against this blinding palette, jet-black chalkboard surfaces bearing the hand-drawn titles of silent and early talkie films: “The Birth of a Nation,” “Hi De Ho,” “Check and Double Check.” The white text is blurry and fading, as if just on the brink of erasure — ephemeral messages, ghost-like themselves.

The installation is Gary Simmons’ “Fade to Black,” opening Wednesday, in which the artist conjures the spirits of...

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