1001 Black Men #950


Outside Gunther’s Ice Cream, Sacramento, California.


Pretty much every place I’ve ever visited has its own required ice cream pilgrimage. Some places have more than one. Are you familiar with this phenomenon? Pretty much every place I’ve ever visited has at least one ice cream store that the local residents regard with the same reverence as a religious shrine. (Actually, for the right person, an ice cream parlor is a religious shrine.)

In Sacramento, one such place is Gunther’s Ice Cream, located in a low-slung, wedge-shaped building at the intersection of Franklin Boulevard, 3rd Avenue, and Castro Way. Like most ice cream shrines in the summertime, Gunther’s had a line of customers that stretched out the door. The lined moved quickly, though, and the customers seemed perfectly willing to tolerate the long queue. Apparently, in their estimation, the ice cream was worth the wait.

While I generally avoid this particular treat, my partner worships ice cream as a god. Whenever we travel, she samples the local offerings; and so I take  her opinions on the subject of which parlors are good and which parlors have room for improvement  quite seriously. Gunther’s may be pleased to know that my fabulous partner thought their ice cream was delicious. In all honesty, I could easily see her coming up with excuses to go to Sacramento just to try a few more Gunther’s flavors.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #949


I wish I could remember this guy’s name. He was really nice, and he had a great smile. Also, he was friends with my partner’s friend, T-Mark, and so I knew he had to be a great person. We ran into the two of them at an art exhibit I was participating in at SOMArts, in San Francisco. It was a very pleasant surprise. I don’t know T-Mark terribly well, and he’s more my partner’s friend than mine;  but he’s one of those people who always has a warm smile and kind words to share. When I think about the public perception of Black men as tough guys who’s emotion range extends from stoicism to rage, I feel sad for those people in the majority–actually, I feel sad for all those people outside of Blackness–whose negative stereotypes of African American manhood will prevent them from ever having the benefit of the warmth, love, and friendship of a guy like T-Mark or the friendly smile of a guy like his friend.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #948


Here’s one last portrait from my trip to the Claremont branch of the Oakland DMV.

Now that I’ve discovered the sketchbook solution to passing the time in the waiting area, I’m actually looking forward to my next trip to the DMV.

Of course, some might suggest that I make an appointment and avoid the line entirely; but that would require a level of organization of which I am not currently capable.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #947


This brotha was probably the best dressed man at the DMV all afternoon. He looked like he was ready to go to church, or maybe he was heading out to a nightclub after he renewed his license plates. It’s strange how, for certain genders and age groups, in certainly parts of the country, church clothes and nightclub clothes look pretty much the same.

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men #944


The best way I’ve found to pass the time at the DMV is to draw the people around you. When I misplaced my license for the second time in the last two years, I headed to the Claremont Avenue DMV with my sketchbook and settled in for a long afternoon. Getting to my turn didn’t take nearly as long as I expected, but I was still able to complete several drawings while I waited.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #943


Here’s another man who allowed me to photograph him for later inclusion in my online sketchbook. I met him at the Oakland Book Festival, towards the end of the day. He seemed somewhat disarmed by my request, but I showed him some images from this series of drawings, and he warmed to my request to make his portrait a part of this project.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #941


I met the subject of this portrait at The Art of Living Black (TAOLB) Open Studios Weekend at Mills College. They were with Roxana Dhada, a Bay Area artist and zine maker. I first met Roxana at the 2013 East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest. It was wonderful to run into my fellow artist at our 2015 open studios event.

At TAOLB at Mills, her very tall friend allowed me to photograph them for later inclusion in my online sketchbook.

Ajuan Mance

An Online Sketchbook @8-Rock.com