“It’s real nice to be here for the memory of my son. Right now it’s just hurting me though, because they took an innocent kids life for nothing. As every day goes by it just seems more real to me that he is gone. I had 21 years with him and now it’s going on three years without him,” explained Peter Wright Sr., father of deceased artist Glenn “Spoof” Wright, when asked about his participation in the Strivers Gardens Gallery Emerge Arts Show .
They say the good die young. Yet, they also say not to allow one’s self to fall victim to cliché’s. So where is the happy medium? If art truly imitates life then how is it that such a promising, young artist’s journey could be cut so short? There is a war being waged between barbarians and everyone else and each party is equipped with their own platoon of soldiers. However, on the afternoon of July 12, the Strivers Gardens Gallery’s event “Emerge” landed a significant victory for us all in the name of progress and the healing power of the arts.
The art exhibition “Emerge” held at the Strivers Gardens Gallery was the brainchild of both ESQ manager of Strivers Gardens Gallery Lisa D. Hayes, as well as founder of Souleo Enterprises, Peter “Souleo” Wright Jr. The afternoon seemed a competition of who could be the most innovative. There were artworks ranging from a meticulously crafted assemblage of broken vinyl records, to four finely embroidered tea-bags baring the faces of dearest celebrities. Each piece stood successful in maintaining a unique voice as well as statement. Featured for the night was well known artist Danny Simmons alongside nine other artists whom were all considered on the cusp of “emerging” into artistic stardom. These artists include: Jason E. Auguste, Greg Frederick, Laura Gadson, Sean Paul Gallegos, David Hollier, Glenn “Spoof” Wright, Beau Mccall, Shirley Nette Williams, and Andre Woolery. Each of these individuals brought their own brand of flare as well as talent to the exhibition which made for a very diverse and thought provoking gallery.
“This exhibition is about showing that art that is considered ‘crafty’ can also have an intellectual value. This is also an opportunity for me to honor the memory of my late brother Glenn “Spoof” Wright who was murdered. Though he didn’t have the chance to be here physically, this is carrying on his legacy by spotlighting other emerging artists,” states co-curator Souleo during his welcoming. The afternoon was a perfect blend of foliage, creativity, and conversation. All the guests congregating around the sliver of paradise that is Strivers Gardens; enjoying each others company while appreciating the artist’s work. Thanks to the food provided by Bobbi-Jean’s Catering by Blondie there were no frustrating hunger pains floating around keeping anyone from fully enjoying themselves. “I’m definitely enjoying myself. Whether it’s dance, whether it’s paint, whether it’s photography that I’m actually involved in myself, I just think the arts is something worth supporting,” states guest Chevonne Robison when asked what she thinks about the exhibit.
“Emerge” truly was an afternoon of innovation. Each artist seemed to have had their own impression on what objects were “usable” and what were not usable in a given piece. “One of the reoccurring themes in this exhibition is the incredible use of materials to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary,” states co-curator Lisa D. Hayes during her welcoming of the guests. “I’m inspired by street art, by other artists, by music, by basically anything. When I started off doing photography, I wanted to make art for walls. However, I started to find photos on canvas or just photos by themselves boring after a while. So I started just throwing glitter on them and adding some vinyl and that’s how I began to get a lot of my pieces,” stated artist Greg Frederick whose “Vinyl Pop Art” pieces, where he configures faces with broken pieces of vinyl records, made him a definite choice to showcase that afternoon.
However, Frederick wasn’t the only artist experimenting with different ways of doing things. “I just feel like buttons are something common and every day that we sort of take for granted. I remember years ago I ran across a jar of buttons in the basement and they just kept eyeing me. So one day I decided to do something, so I made a sweater, and long story short, this is what happened,” stated artist Beau McCall whose sorcery over converting buttons into masterpieces earned him a spotlight at the exhibit as well.
(Click here to see the photo gallery from the event)
Though the excitement of the newly emerging artists seemed overwhelming, it was the humility and tranquility of the featured artist Danny Simmons that managed to keep everyone present and in the moment. “I love working with emerging artists being that I was one and that we are all sort of emerging all the time. Just to be here and have them call me the anchor artist is really gratifying and honestly an honor,” states Simmons when asked how it feels to be the headliner of such an event. Simmons also had a special message for the young artists out there just beginning to learn their craft, “Don’t be commercial; always seek to find your own voice. Really explore what you’re feeling and what you’re trying to say and do the best you can with it. Be consistent, and work at being an artist if that’s what you want to be. It’s hard work; it isn’t easy.”
All in all, “Emerge” art exhibition was an accumulation of creativity and art appreciation all the while paying respect to the memory of Glenn “Spoof” Wright’s of “House of Spoof.” The afternoon was a testament to never taking anything for granted as well as how beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places. Let us all continue to carry this message along with us on our daily travels. There is no reason why this youth’s life should be in vain. Together we have the power to push the arts into the forefront and senseless murder back into the dark ages where it belongs. We could entitle our piece, “A Trip from Barbarianism Back into Civilization.” Who in their right mind would pass up a masterpiece such as that? –timothy duwhite