'Black Art Matters' at new Mt. Airy Art Garage venue

by Len Lear
Posted 6/9/21

The Mt. Airy Art Garage will introduce its first exhibit at its new home, “Black Art Matters,” on June 19.

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'Black Art Matters' at new Mt. Airy Art Garage venue

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The Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), which recently moved from a small space at 6622 Germantown Ave. to a much bigger location at 7054 Germantown Ave., will introduce its first exhibit at its new home, “Black Art Matters,” on June 19. The show will continue through Aug. 29.

“We constantly strive to provide a venue that supports our diverse membership,” said MAAG director Arleen Olshan last week. “This extends from race and identity to all the forms of art our members create. For our summer gallery show, MAAG is announcing the Black Art Matters exhibit to honor the Black Lives Matter movement and the significance Juneteenth plays in our collective histories. This is a gallery exhibit to celebrate the Black experience, both positive or painful, the struggles and triumphs, whether beautiful or brutally heart-wrenching.”

MAAG is a nonprofit member arts organization celebrating its 12th anniversary this year.

It serves as an incubator for professional and emerging artists who work in creative partnerships with local adults and young people to spread the spirit of art, community and sustainable living throughout Northwest Philadelphia. “We foster civic engagement and community revitalization through the arts,” said Olshan in an earlier Local interview, “while serving as a center for children and adults to learn, find safe space and rejoice in the unique creativity that springs from us all and to utilize creative expression as an instrument for social change.”

MAAG has established partnerships throughout the city that include City Hall, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Lovett Library, The Philadelphia Theatre Company l at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Fabric Workshop Museum, La Salle University Museum and other local organizations.

“Nonprofits like ours have been vulnerable to economic downturns. Trends for arts and culture nonprofits take the hardest hits whenever there's a recession. In our current climate, now more than ever, creativity is vital to underserved populations.”

MAAG has worked with more than 100 local artists, including Sara Allen, Poppy Rae Bass, Meri Adelman, Judy Levy, Josie Bunnell, Elisa Goldman, Rob Foy, Maryellen Grysewicz, Marjorie Stewart, Greg James Wilson, Akilah Zuberi, Caroline Sargent, Erika Press, Larry West, Don Stephens, Susan Levering, Gail Lloyd, Solomon Levy, Leslie Hanlon, et al.

One artist whose work will be in the new exhibit is Mookie/Sloan Carter, who told us, “I am a Black lesbian artist who grew up in the south in the mid-'60s. At the age of 5, I would refuse to wear dresses to church. It was then that I knew how different I was. My art reflects my desire to deal with the trauma inflicted by racism, homophobia and my experience as an outcast by my faith. Each piece shows the darkness and emptiness as well as my constant need to see the world through bright colors.”

Another of the exhibiting artists, L. Seeney, has studied in the U.S., England, France, Canada and Italy; she received her Bachelor's degree in Fine Art at Tyler School of Art and her Masters’ degree in Studio Arts at New York University. She has had numerous one-person exhibits, and her artwork is in the permanent collections of museums throughout the world.

One of her works on exhibit, “'Black Lady is All You See,' refers to the fact that many of us simply see a person’s skin color first before we gather any other information from their clothes, stance or intention.”

Yet another exhibiting artist is W. Devaul Emmett, who was born and raised in Harlem, New York. During the past decade, he has transitioned from a career in education to his passion — art. He earned a BFA in painting last year from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

“My interests in art have always been in the areas of landscape painting and sculpture,” he said, “which is now inclusive of organic sculptural creations via ceramics. The mediums used to create my art have included acrylic and/or oil paints, oil pastels, graphite, plaster and clay … It is a rewarding gift to revisit my love — art — and dedicate this time to it. However, my pursuit is not self-motivated for one’s own gratification. Giving back to humanity is important as well.”

For more information: 267-323-2312, info@mtairyartgarage.org or mtairyartgarage.org. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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