Shelley Danzy January 25, 2021
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“An artist’s duty is to reflect the times,” the great singer and activist Nina Simone once said. It’s easy to believe that she supernaturally perceived the Jack Sinclair Gallery at ArtsXchange. The space uses her quote, a beautiful truth, as a welcoming wall text.
The exhibition truth 2 power: ART IN A TIME OF UPHEAVAL, on view through Sunday (January 31), features diverse and socially conscious work by resident artists Atu, photographer Jim Alexander, N’Dieye Gray Danavall, Theresa Davis, Carolyn Renée, Tafawa, Lisa Tuttle (also the exhibit’s curator), Kenneth Zakee and Sugacane Syrup artists Ugo Agoruah, Thomas Bess and Choze.
Jack Sinclair Gallery is inside the ArtsXchange (Southeast Community Cultural Center) building in East Point. It’s named for the late Jack Whitney Sinclair, the installation sculpture artist who created the old Arts Exchange gallery space in the Grant Park neighborhood. Before joining the center, he’d started what was known as the Mattress Factory in Little Five Points and the Jack Sinclair Letterpress Studio.
Under the leadership of Alice Lovelace, founder, and board chair, ArtsXchange has been a performance and studio home for artists since 1984, moving to its East Point home in 2019. Even COVID-19 can’t stop the creativity. ArtsXchange has shifted to virtual offerings that range from online acting classes for senior citizens to a writer’s workshop series and open-air artisan marketplaces, plus artist talks and classes. The focus on “interdisciplinary, intergenerational, multicultural” art “committed to social justice” remains.
LOCATION, ETC.: 2148 Newnan St., East Point. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday for socially distanced in-person visits. Masks required. CDC guidelines apply. Stay up to date on Sinclair Gallery events on its Facebook and Instagram pages. 404.624.4211.
MORE ABOUT ARTSXCHANGE: Housed in the former Jere Wells Elementary School, with 20,000 square feet of space on four acres of land. Has 14 resident artists. Visual artists such as artist/educator Kevin Cole, Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015), and Louis Delsarte (1944-2020) have been part of its community.
PREVIOUS EXHIBITS: Signs of the Times: Documenting the Power of the People, 1960-Today with documentary photographer Jim Alexander, whose work is part of the current show, and the juried show Scattering Dreams: Art in Response to Global Crisis, early in 2020.
Kenneth Zakee's "Black Power" (2020), a fused textile applique, is part of the "truth to power" exhibit on view through Sunday. (All photos courtesy of the gallery)
“Ida B. Wells” (2020) by Lisa Tuttle is pencil and watercolor on vellum. Wells (1862-1931) was an investigative journalist, educator, early civil rights leader, and a founder of the NAACP
Also part of “truth to power” are “Creator” (left) and “Cornered Wisdom” by Atu, a master wood sculptor in the ancient West African tradition,
WHAT’S NEXT: Sinclair Gallery will hold a solo show featuring Atu; invitational and juried shows; and another resident artist show. In February it launches the podcast series Art Shouts. Week 1 will focus on art and well-being and Week 2 on art and justice. Week 3 will focus on Sinclair Gallery and ArtsXchange events, with Week 4 focusing on art activism.
MOST MEMORABLE: At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, outside walls at the ArtsXchange building became a backdrop for community murals by emerging artists. A large cross-section of neighbors attended the unveiling, which was accompanied by music and visual performances.
LAST WORD: “We’re trying to keep social justice and the arts relevant and alive,” says Vanessa Manley, who co-chairs the ArtsXchange board. “In the midst of everything we’re going through in this country, our artists were still creating. We really want this gallery — our entire cultural center — to be a destination for folks who want to hear a message in the art. We’re resilient.”