East Austin art gallery debuts dynamic exhibit celebrating Black history
Regardless of what lawmakers are afraid kids will hear, Black history is American history, and RichesArt Gallery in Austin is spending February highlighting that. Its new exhibit is open until the last day of Black History Month, with an opening reception pushed to Saturday, February 5 to work around icy conditions.
“American History” features 19 local artists, who have contributed works that document “the dynamic journey of the Black experience and celebrate its impact on culture,” according to a press release from the gallery. Soul and gospel singer Myke B. The Label will perform at the reception, which is open to the public, and attendees are invited to an audiobook reading of comedian and activist Dick Gregory’s Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies.
Contributors whose work is featured in the RichesArt exhibit and centers on Black portraiture include:
- DeLoné Osby, a pansexual Afro-Indigenous visual artist who draws busy but beautifully balanced, swirling depictions of feminine subjects merging with natural forms, often snakes, skulls, and flowers. Osby brings many of the designs to life through woodburning and glittering gold embellishments. “I am just a goddess, standing in front of the universe, asking it to help me heal generational curses,” Osby writes in an online artist statement.
- Xavier Alvarado, a painter formerly of Omaha and Houston and of Trinidadian descent who makes mixed-media works that straddle the imaginary line between street art and what we’re more used to seeing on gallery walls. His work, impressionistic and buzzing with bright busts of color and chaotic lines, captures subjects that stay cool and collected. Many of them pose frankly, as if for a serious photograph.
- Lakeem Wilson, who hand illustrates, paints, and animates characters, from the realistic to the mysterious and cartoonish. His works, many inspired by magazine editorials, appear to reveal scenes the way a photojournalist would, unfolding moment by moment and often in public spaces. “I’ve grown to realize that I have the power to evoke change through my art and help bring clarity to how people see the world,” he writes on his website.
- Chris Tobar, who hops from medium to medium, recently sharing digital illustrations and collages in electric colorblocking and geometric patterns. His portraits, android-like in hue and styling, wear structured jackets, wide brim hats, Black Lives Matter apparel, and even space helmets. Almost painfully cool, each subject could sell a fashion line, but whether donning a determined gaze or floating through space, they all seem to have much more important things to do.
RichesArt, according to watercolorist and owner Richard Samuel, is the only Black-owned art gallery in Austin. Aside from curating works, the gallery is a cultural hub where visitors can take drawing classes and meet up for block parties.
“As Austin continues to grow, so does the need to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities that make this city truly beautiful,” Samuel says. “I want visitors to leave with a better understanding and appreciation of how Black history shaped this country into what it is today.”
RichesArt Gallery is located at 2511 E. Sixth St., suite A. Register for the free reception event on Eventbrite.