One of the Top Black Cultural Events of the Decade Happening Juneteenth! Pull Up, Atlanta! by Debra Hand
By Debra Hand
Y’all this is BIG! I’ve been pacing the floors, sitting on the edge my seat, then pacing some more. Like a friend of the royal family awaiting the birth of their new heir, I’ve been excitedly anticipating this moment, knowing the importance of its impact on the future of Black culture. Finally, it’s been born and I am ecstatic!
Black Art in America’s new gallery has been born into the rich legacy of Black culture—conceived of in a spirit of deep love for Black art, Black community, Black excellence, and the great ancestors who have consistently made a way for those coming behind them. I feel the arts’ icon, Samella Lewis, smiling! I feel the arts’ institution builder, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, smiling! I feel the renowned arts’ advocate, Eugene Foney, smiling! The list goes on. But most importantly, their work goes on.
The opening of this gallery is a proud moment for every Black artist, collector, art enthusiast, cultural warrior, and member of the Black diaspora who understands that the center-piece for our survival as a cultural group relies on our ability to gather together with intention and purpose. It relies on our ability to harness our collective creative potential to affect change in our communities. It relies on our mastery of art and image making to produce narratives that reinforce our beauty, worthiness, and power in the eyes of each other. All of these activities require infrastructure, and, as I once heard Dempsey Travis say, “a place to be somebody.”
Dempsey’s expression, presumably, was derived from the play titled, A place to Be Nobody written by the Pulitzer Prize winning Black playwright Charles Gordone. Dempsey’s expression offered a brighter take on being Black in America and finally having places where we could feel proud of ourselves as a people. Black Art in America’s huge new gallery space and cultural mecca located in East Point, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta, will certainly provide that “place to be somebody.” And not just anybody, but somebody who is seeking a deeper look into their own internal value by surrounding themselves with the artistry of those who speak specifically to their existences—their stories, hopes, memories, emotions, traditions, legacies, and projections of what life should be. Black Art in America’s gallery just added mightily to the infrastructure of Black culture’s “places to be somebody.”
Nurtured into reality by its dotting father, the renowned artist, Najee Dorsey and his wife, co-partner and co-producer of Black consciousness, Seteria Dorsey, this crown worthy extension of their legacy is a sight to behold. It is gorgeous and it screams Black beauty, pride and excellence from its exterior murals and sculpture gardens, to its interior walls newly appointed with the best of the best art being created by Black artists. The building from outside to inside is a masterpiece designed to steep each visitor in, not just culture, but in the honor of existing in the beautiful Black bountiful hues of “us;” a “place” where we can be affirmed in the greatness of our humanity, and a “place” where we can gather, greet, and share moments of cultural relevance to our community.
It will serve as a cultural mecca. There will be art and conversation, music, and salon talks with artists and collectors, and celebrations. In fact, the first huge celebration will be the actual grand opening on Juneteenth weekend. What a perfect time! On Juneteenth weekend as we commemorate the freedom of our people, we celebrate them with a crowning jewel achievement: Black Art in America’s gallery devoted to showcasing our greatness and who we are continuing to become, thanks to their sacrifices. Standing proudly on almost an acre of land whose soil has surely known the labor of their hands at some point is a place for us to gather in dignity and in celebration of them and each other. This will be so much more than an art gallery.
If it were only a new Black art gallery opening up, I would still be excited about the idea of artists having a new place to have their work seen and distributed, but this gallery is not just a business endeavor. This is not just Black entrepreneurship or an additional commercial space. Let me explain why this gallery is so different by repeating a statement I once made and will continue to say over and over until I think every Black person across the globe has heard it loudly and clearly, and that statement is this:
The business of Black art and the preservation of Black culture are two very different things, even when the two activities overlap.Bartholomew Jones standing in front of Alfred Conteh's artwork Money Mike.
And trust, these activities don’t overlap as often as is good for uplifting us as a cultural group. Billions and billions of dollars is made every year from every form of Black art, and it is crystal clear that uplifting our culture is never the goal of these corporations profiting from everything from Black music to Black imagery in film and media. This is why the Black Art in America's gallery represents something far beyond a commercial endeavor. This gallery will be about cultural upliftment, first and foremost, and not just in addition to. If you know anything about the history of the Dorseys and their work as cultural and arts’ advocates via their work in their Black Arts in America Magazine and online portal, then you know that the gallery will serve to extend that activism and provide more opportunities to physically bring together great artists, great thinkers, conscious collectors, and the community at large in ways that will create a new renaissance in Black art. The magazine has been doing a phenomenal job of helping to grow the Black arts community for more than a decade.
This is why I refer to the gallery’s grand opening as one of the most important cultural events of the decade. It will provide the physical space for the Black arts community to thrive even more. I can only image the artists, and writers, musicians, scholars, and collectors and art lovers that will fill this space with laughter and camaraderie. Great ideas and plans will be hatched. New friendships will be formed. New collectors will be created. New art will be inspired. New moments in beautiful Black culture will be created for us to participate in and share together. This is the stuff renaissances are made of. Yes!
The brand-spanking-new Black Art in America Gallery and Sculpture Garden is truly a welcome and exciting addition to Black culture at a time when Black art is gaining such widespread international attention. It is a new “place to be somebody” and a new place to learn more about the “somebodies” that came before us.
Congratulations Najee and Seteria Dorsey!
Enjoy your historic day, and have a beautiful Juneteenth!
As always, we appreciate you taking the time to read these articles.
Black Art in America Gallery and Gardens
1802 Connally Drive, East Point, Georgia 30344
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