Art of the African continent and how is translated through storytelling and visual art is the focus of the African Diapora exhibit, curated by Trina Slade-Burks and Anthony Burks Sr. Created in 1992, they run ATB Fine Artists & Designers, an established West Palm Beach art-based consulting firm that creates, sells, promotes and educates art of different disciplines nationally. These arts include visual, performing and literary, they have created art events and exhibitions throughout South Florida and NYC.
“The vision of this is to have an African Diaspora (The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world – predominantly to the Americas) exhibition at the Center for Creative Education,” says Slade-Burks. “This is the third installment of the exhibition. Originally created in 2013, the African Diaspora had displayed a vast variety of artists from around the country. We have achieved this not simply hanging art on a wall or sitting it on a pedestal. It was accomplished by unique story telling through the eyes, hands and lips of the artists themselves. The focus is to show the community that there is another aspect of art and culture in a community that many of the Palm Beach County community have yet to experience. This year’s group includes artists who are originally from, reside or are represented in the state of Florida in one location here in Palm Beach County. The concept of art itself does not have to be in reflection of the diaspora.”
Some of the best known examples of this art comes from a group called the Florida Highwaymen. In the early 1950’s through the 1980’s roughly 26 African-American artists used vivid and bright colors to display the beautiful untouched Florida landscape. The Florida Highwaymen painted scenes they saw every day in the wilds of Florida – wind-bent palm trees, serene sunsets, churning oceans and bright red Poinciana trees. They painted from their garages and back yards on inexpensive Upson board and then on the weekends they would travel and sell their Highwaymen paintings to hotels, offices, businesses and individuals for around $25 a piece. They could also be found selling them propped against their cars or trucks on the sides of the highway, hence the name.
Collecting their art has become an exciting yet increasingly expensive, hobby. The market for an original work of art by a Florida Highwayman artist can easily rise to $5,000 or more. Some of the Highwaymen who are still living have resumed painting to meet the continuing demand for their work and often exhibit in high end galleries.
Another major artist in the African Diaspora show is Everett Spurill. For more than 30 years Everett, a self-taught artist, has been involved in collecting and creating art. Spruill was born in Birmingham, Alabama and earned a degree in Business Management from Berea College, Kentucky 1976. As a youth Everett spent many afternoons at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The museum and his early exposure to classical music would become a great influence on his artistic development.
”My Mom worked at A.G. Gastons’ Lounge in the afternoon, I’d wait for her at the Museum until she got off… the Museum was my refuge and fueled my love for art. I really enjoy working with my hands, drawing and wood working projects were part of our industrial education during the 60’s. I also had an ear for music so mom insisted I have voice and piano lessons,” Spurill says. “I work in three styles and use a variety of found objects, including, but not limited to, shells, magazine pages, tissue, postage stamps, various paint mediums, photographs, cut and torn hand-painted paper, air-brushed hand-cut silk-screens and drawings. Themes for my creations range from Family, Music (Jazz and Blues), West African Culture and my own experiences as an African-American. As a self-taught artist my techniques are the result of extensive experimentation. Harmony and contrast are the most important qualities I want to convey. My abstract works feature three ongoing series that I call “Intuitive Creation”. Mindscapes, Tribal Rhythms and Middle Passages Series. are created mainly by letting go of conscience thought, relying more on intuition, instinct. Since the steps are intuitive and emotional rather than cognitive, The exact processes are not easy to repeat, the end result is always different….but aesthetically better.
Permanence and longevity of the work are my major concern, every effort is taken to best preserve and protect the works by using archival pigments (non-toxic) and substrates free of materials that shorten the life of the art.”
Other artists in the African Diaspora exhibit include Kianga Jinaki and Anthony Burks Sr.
The exhibit will be at the Center for Creative Education in Northwood. From September 3rd to October 21st. Opening Reception is September 10th from 6 to 8:30 pm with live music and food. A Brunch & Lecture will take place on September 17th noon to 3 p.m. (Limited Seating)
Spend your afternoon attending a panel discussion of art professionals who service the art community. Each ticket is $35.00. The ticket includes picnic style meal (entree, a soft drink & dessert) a gift bag & raffle drawing for door prizes. Grand prize Bronze Anointed Mask Ring Custom Limited Edition Ring designed & created by exhibiting artist Nzingah Oniwosan (Value $125)
- Nzingah Oniwosan- Multi-disciplined artist
- Sabine Millien-Felix- Partner at Millien, LeBlanc PLLC
- Keith Spruill- Art collector
- Gregory Dillard – CEO & President of Grapeseeker –
- Dr. Kahlil Vadre Moses-Chiropractive Physician, collector
- Rolando Chang Barrero – Founder/Owner/Curator The Box Gallery
- Rena Blades-President & Chief Executive Officer Cultural Council of the Palm Beaches
- Genia Baker- Project Manager for the City of West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
- Debbie Motivates M.S., DMFT-Mental Wellness Advocate | Social Services Consultant