Saying Goodbye : A Stepping Stone to Greatness- Courtney Brooks
By: Courtney Brooks
December 31st, 2019
As I sit in my office, I am reflecting on today, the last day of the year, the last day of the decade, and what was supposed to be my last day at ArtsXchange. My thoughts are grateful, yet my heart is heavy and my spirit is floating in a space of endless possibilities. Fortunately, I have a few more weeks to share my humble presence and conclude my journey as the Jack Sinclair Gallery curator and director. Just enough time to close out the solo exhibition, Heavy Clouds from multidisciplinary artist, C. Flux Sing.
The Heart of the Matter is, I have been Above the Clouds, Between the Blues, deep with Frustration and yet feel a sense of Relief with my journey here at the ArtsXchange.
This current work on display is not coincidental. It was planned since the first exhibit, The Art of Values, where C. Flux Sing was one of nineteen featured artists. I personally relate to the various titles given in C.Flux’s first solo show. Each representing every mood I have experienced thus far. The Heart of the Matter is, I have been Above the Clouds, Between the Blues, deep with Frustration and yet feel a sense of Relief with my journey closing here at the ArtsXchange. Heavy Clouds serves as the ninth art exhibition held in the gallery since the new location opened in January of 2019. The number nine is said to represent wisdom and responsibility, to serve humanity by making the world a better place.
My curatorial path with the Southeast Community Cultural Center has delivered just that. Within 12 months of back to back gallery exhibitions, community events, social gatherings, workshops and other programming, I have been blessed to connect with multiple generations, creatives, local talent, support small businesses and other non profit organizations. Seeing the smiles on guests face, hearing testimonies of their experience or asking children with faces that resemble mine, what their favorite art piece in gallery was a joyful and much appreciated.
Furthermore, I was proud to coordinate Herstory, an all women’s vendors market held for Women’s Month in March. Establishing relationships with guest artists like Corrina Sephora, who brought gun awareness and shared a metal forging workshop, turning rifles into flowers and handguns into dreamcatchers. Spending time with ArtsXchange studio artist activist, Charmaine Minnifield, whom blessed us with her solo exhibit, Ritual that dressed the gallery in candles and the calmness of blue and white paintings. Providing a space of healing, an alter to praise ancestors and the Most High. A special space to celebrate the lives of beloved community members who transitioned this year, (Rest in Power, Tanya Crooms and Baba Melvin “FluteMan” Cooper.)
It was also those summer mornings where I witnessed and participated in Brandon Sadler’s artistic skills. He kindly shared his knowledge and tea sessions in his studio with youth volunteers who helped paint the out door mural, These Seeds Will Grow As You Do. Highlighting the center’s community garden, donated by HABESHA INC. I believe the message is to keep going, to keep learning, keep being a visionary that teaches us to help one another.
The month of August came fast and I was honored to help coordinate and participate as an artist, with guest curator, Kimberly Stewart. Her 2nd annual art show, The Reclamation Project shared a visual celebration of Black women's beauty, spirituality, sensuality, and sexuality. A panel discussion closed out the show with a room full of guests held in the Paul Robeson theater, commentary about the perceived self-image and worth as women was open and well received. (Bonus - my artwork first time displayed and sold in the gallery.)
I was entering into an arena I didn’t know and this would not be the first or the last time the grace of God would see me through challenges.
As the seasons changed, I quickly learned to muster up every skill I have gained in my career to help guide me through unexpected timeframes, deadlines, pop up events, committee meetings, research, teamwork and customer service ahead of me. It was time for the annual fundraising gala, Renaissance, the Ebon Dooley award ceremony and Atlanta Collects exhibition. I was entering into an arena I didn’t know and this would not be the first or the last time the grace of God would see me through challenges. I was under a lot pressure, personally and professionally. However, I am so grateful for the support given. Special thanks to the gallery committee, Lisa Tuttle and Ric Washington, your wisdom will always follow me. We are all connected in some way, and it will continue circles back around.
Atlanta Collects Exhibit was classic and carried the most valued work to date in the Jack Sinclair Gallery. Grateful for guest curator, Mike Harris and the 10 notable fine art collectors who trusted us with over 50 artists works. A Collectors Talk and Artist Talk hosted by Jamaal Barber of Studio Noize Podcast, shared gems and history lessons with each piece. A limited edition catalog was also created to archive its importance. I was taught a deeper appreciation and understanding for investing and collecting masters, and emerging artists works. . Artists like, Kara Walker and Kevin Cole, Ruby Chavez and Kehinde Wiley, Shanequa Gay and Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawerence, Tawny Chapman, and Derrick Phillips, Betye Saar, Miya Bailey and Alfred Coneth, just to name a few.
I will miss reuniting with familiar faces, history convos with the elders and walking the halls to visit Victor Love’s Evolve acting studio. Enjoying Colombian coffee breaks with Santiago in his dimly lit music studio or hearing old school music playing next door in Baba Zakee’s studio, (the most inviting space) where he held a mentorship program for young black boys. October slowed down and I experienced One Beat , Performance Art Theatre, where 25 musicians from all over the world joined us for a week long residency. I shared happy feelings with my art hanging next to incredible photographers, Shawn Dowdell and Sista Shaman in the Convergence exhibit. I will miss the calming incense burning across from me, thank you, Dr. Nyrobi Moss for co-signing my greatness and to Ms. Yvonne Rosegarden, thank you for reminding me to reclaim self care in the wellness studio. To the previous Executive Director, Leslie Posey, thank you for always including me in the conversations, supporting and encouraging me to stand in my power. Your contributions to the ArtsXchange are not forgotten.
2019 has truly been an epic year for my career. What began with a 3 month contract proposal, led me to more astounding opportunities and 9 more months of building relationships. A stepping stone for self discovery,I honestly expected to be asked to return but I have no regrets and lessons learned. My heart is full and I am now prepared to move forward as the curator -in- residence for the Atlanta BeltLine. Thank you Alice Lovelace and ArtsXchange team, cheers to 2020! May my presence be forever apart of the ArtsXChange legacy.