We’re Already Home

Inspired Artists Grace Grounds & Walls for BAIA’s Juneteenth Gallery Opening

By D. Amari Jackson

I’m in the hall already, on the wall already                                                                                     

I’m a work of art, I’m a Warhol already                                                                                         

On another level, on another plane already                                                                                   

H-O-V I got my own lane already…

I’m already home                                                       

—Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter

The highly-anticipated opening of the Black Art in America Gallery and Sculpture Garden on June 18 and 19 will feature the works of a compelling mix of emerging and established artists. Their art adorns both the gallery walls and exterior garden of the new art complex at the corner of Connally and Semmes streets in East Point, Georgia.

Housed on a near-acre of land and surrounded by a sculpture garden, the art gallery boasts event spaces, art lounges, a gift shop, and jazz deck. Through the Black Art In America (BAIA) Foundation, devoted to facilitating the growth of artists while cultivating the relationships and opportunities that bring Black artists and communities together, the gallery will offer regular programming for residents, students, and artists from the local neighborhood and beyond. The grand opening will feature some of the most prominent contemporary and legacy art works from African American artists in the country.

Here are some of the artists, artworks, and highlights you can expect to see Opening Weekend:



♦ Large, colorful murals soar from both sides of the main parking lot, the respective works of Atlanta-based artists Charmaine Minniefield and Fabian Williams. At the far end, Minniefield’s 36 x 8-foot abstract image fronts a bin, its vibrant mix of colors swirling and snaking like the roots of a growing tree. On the building’s side, William’s massive 80 x 14-foot mural—replete with axioms, affirmations, and historical references—hosts several young, enlightened beings riding clouds while holding a book or sitting lotus position with eyes closed, meditating.

Freedom Quilt by Charmaine Minniefield

♦ The Sculpture Garden, perhaps the Crown Jewel of the complex’s stunning exterior, highlights the work of two Nigerian-born artists, Nnamdi Okonkwo and Jonathan Imafidor. Okonkwo’s  Friendship graces the garden’s center, a clay-sculpted, cast-in-bronze tribute to Black female bonding and sisterhood. Not far away, Imafidor’s intricately detailed beta fish and tortoise sculptures, welded from scrap metal, straddle the sides of a garden bridge.

♦ Among the artwork dotting the exterior of the complex is Garden Art for the Soul, Black Art in America’s flagship collection depicting vivid images of African American culture, history, and everyday life. The popular collection includes work from some of the country’s top Black visual artists including Frank Frazier, Phyllis Stephens, Stacey Brown, Sonja Griffin Evans, and BAIA founder Najee Dorsey. The images include such legendary figures as Zora Neale Hurston, Harriet Tubman, Muhammad Ali, and more.

Fabian Williams working on mural

♦ At the side of the complex, a Community Tree boasts headlines relevant to Black folk and projects street signs marking such historic communities as Harlem, Tulsa, Greenwood, Blacktown, and Rosewood. Near the historic tree, an old-school van is covered with Najee Dorsey’s colorful Return to Eden series, apropos for a new garden. Around the corner, Dorsey’s mixed media piece on Robert Johnson adorns the back outside wall of the complex, an actual guitar emerging from it.

♦ The Sculpture Garden and exterior of the complex is further immersed in rich greenery with its wide variety of plants, herbs, and even a few fruit-bearing trees. Fittingly, the garden is tended by another artist, Riyah (Niko) Benoit, who will conduct tours of the grounds and point out its diversity of life including its Japanese Cypress, cedar, cherry, and plum trees; its African Daisies, azaleas, and butterfly bush; its rosemary, thyme, basil, and peppermint herbs, among others.



♦ The canopy-centered, wrap-around deck hugging the corner of the complex is named in honor of the late Eugene Foney, prominent art dealer, consultant, publisher, entrepreneur, and champion of African American art. Recognized across the country as the “art dealers’ dealer,” Foney was a tireless advocate for artists who spent four decades developing the fine arts market for African American artists and helped establish the Houston African American Art and Culture Museum. He was also an early supporter of Black Art In America who advised and travelled the national art circuit with Najee Dorsey.

“Gene was a huge part of this because he talked about how important it could be for BAIA to have a physical location, a ‘real estate play’ as he called it, for the growth of the company,” recalls Dorsey, of his close friend. “Gene was also a huge proponent of paper and Black media because he came from the publishing side,” explains Dorsey, noting how Foney would have loved the production of the hardcopy BAIA The Mag. “That’s so Gene right there. Something that informs the community, that people can get free access to.”

What also, for Dorsey, is “so Gene” is the naming of the jazz deck after him, a platform for outdoor social events, gatherings, and music. “The deck is so fitting because it’s a perfect combination of art and a social platform for a good time, and anybody who knew Gene knew how much he loved to party and have a good time. So that’s why the jazz deck is so befitting of being named and his honor.”    

♦ Adorning the sizable wall facing Eugene’s Jazz Deck is the jazzy hanging mural of Judy McReynolds Bowman entitled Detroit Swag. And that’s exactly what this vibrant image shows as sharply dressed African Americans socialize, dance, play instruments, post up, and chill. On the deck itself, not far from its central canopy, two near-7-foot-tall male figures, decked in Sunday’s best, stand upright, slimmer than the deck pillars they front.



♦ Upon entry, step into the Dr. Samella Lewis Gallery, named for the recently departed icon. Black Art In America is honored to name its main gallery after Dr. Lewis, an artist, educator, scholar, curator, writer, administrator, editor, filmmaker, and collector who played a massive role in the development of the field of African American Art.

♦ Encounter the fencelike installation of Lavett Ballard with HerStories Shrine. Ballard employs large fence panels as sculptures to be experienced as standing, ‘in the round’ pieces or as hanging works of art. The artist has stated that her “use of reclaimed large and small aged wood fences, is a symbolic reference to how fences keep people in and out, just as racial and gender identities can do the same socially.”  

♦ To the left, wall space is devoted in homage to the art of numerous deceased artists, among them paintings and sculptures by the likes of such luminaries as Louis Delsarte, Fred Jones, Richmond Barthé, William Tolliver, and Richard Yarde.

“I Heard A Song and the Whole World Changed” | Jamaal Barber
Size: 72″ x 46″
Medium: woodcut, acrylic, roofing paper, screen print
Price: $10,000

♦ Major works by Chinemerem Omeh and Najjar Abdul-Musawwir grace the Lewis Gallery. Omeh’s Saturated Nostalgia Series: Reliving Memories and Transition is a self-examination of his childhood, early education, and the quest for his own unique identity. Abdul-Musawwir incorporates elements from his Banjo series and Fatiha and Door of Return series to produce a combined and consistent expression of the “African-ism and American-ism” in his work as it relates to the Black experience.

Faith Ringgold’s famous Obama bust corners the Lewis Gallery not far from Money Mike by Alfred Conteh. Sharing the wall with Conteh is Marlon Hitchcock’s reimagined workings of classic community photos taken by his uncle. Hitchcock’s images, never seen before, include Fellas, a mixed media photo sporting an imposed Ebony magazine brand, and Easter Sunday, boasting a Life magazine label.

♦ The Lewis Gallery further features works by a wide variety of acclaimed artists including Daphne Arthur, Kevin Cole, Obiora Nwankwo, Deborah Shedrick, Kevin Johnson, Nathanial Mary Quinn, Mason Archie, and more.



♦ To the right of the entrance, The Najee Dorsey Gallery offers several of Dorsey’s intricate paintings and mixed media pieces including Return to Eden and The Listening Room. The latter incorporates photo montage and paint while celebrating the passing down of the love of music from one generation to another. As an artist, Dorsey is nationally recognized for his mixed media collage and digital media collage images of historical figures, as well as his nostalgic depictions of African American life in the southern United States.



♦ Once you view and pass through the Lewis Gallery, step into The Frank Frazier Gallery, dedicated to the nationally acclaimed artist and his inspiring six-decade career. Along with producing popular works of art celebrating the Black experience, the influential Frazier has been at the forefront of mentoring, educating, and guiding artists in their developing careers. Frazier was also an early and pivotal supporter of Black Art In America, as he still is, and we are proud to bear his name on our gallery.

♦ Encounter major works by such talented emerging and legendary artists as Khalif Thompson, Cedric Michael CoxKerry James Marshall, Ronald Walton, and Abiola Akintala. Vibrant watercolors on canvas by Stacey Brown consume the right wall of The Frazier Gallery.


Come view and experience this and much more on Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th for our Grand Opening and Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at 1802 Connally Drive in East Point, GA.

There’s no reason not to, ‘cause we’re in the hall already, we’re on the wall already, we’re already home.                                                                                                        


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AMARI JACKSON is a creator, author, TV/web/film producer, and award-winning journalist. He is author of the 2011 novel, The Savion Sequence; creator/writer/coproducer of the 2012-2014 web series The Book Look; writer/coproducer of the 2016 film Edge of the Pier; and current writer/coproducer of Listen Up! on HBCU GO/Roku TV. He is a former Chief of Staff for a NJ State Senator; a former VP of Communications & Development for the Jamestown Project at Harvard University; and a recipient of several writing fellowships including the George Washington Williams Fellowship from the Independent Press Association. An active ghost writer, song writer, martial artist, and journalist, his writings have appeared in a wide variety of national and regional publications.

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