One of the many ways that black people have expressed themselves is through art. Whether it is a beautiful melody, a riveting play, or a vibrant painting, black history relies on storytelling and the different ways black people choose to tell those stories. The following are some art spaces all over the U.S. where you can support black arts, be educated on the richness of black culture, and have a great time!
The Gallery About Nothing (Baltimore, MD)
The Gallery About Nothing is a black-owned art gallery in downtown Baltimore. The gallery displays over 200 pieces of art and 85% of these pieces were created by black women. Even though it is still pretty new, as it was founded by Mark Shawn Clarke Jr. in 2018, it has reeled in a lot of attention, particularly for its Mini Hip Hop Museum on the second floor of the gallery. This museum includes vintage Hip-Hop items that have been collected since the 70s including CDs, cassette tapes, vinyls, magazines and more. In addition to showing the work of local artists, The Gallery About Nothing also hosts hip hop–themed game nights as well as sip and paint/puff and paint nights.
E&S Gallery (Louisville, KY)
As one of the world’s oldest and largest African-American fine art galleries, the E&S Gallery has established a reputation of providing customers with high quality, collectible artwork. In fact, this gallery specializes in helping its clients build art collections. E&S Gallery, Inc. was founded in 1989 by Walter Shannon who still runs it today with his wife, Cathy. E&S offers original and limited edition African American artworks including originals, graphics, and sculptures created by renowned artists. Some of E&S’ clients include the Tom Joyner Foundation, singer/songwriter Kem, comedian Sinbad, BET’s co-founder Bob Johnson, Kanye West’s late mother Dr. Donda West, and the late great Muhammad Ali who happened to be a Louisville native! E&S Gallery has also been featured in several national publications including Art Business News, Black Enterprise, Decor and Southern Living Magazine. This reputation for delivering high quality art pieces is why E&S has been named “Best Gallery in Kentucky” and one of the “Top 25 Galleries in The U.S.” by American Art Awards since 2015.
Galerie Lakaye (Los Angeles, CA)
Galerie Lakaye, Creole for “gallery from back home”, is a contemporary ethnic art gallery that specializes in Haitian art. True to its name, Galerie Lakaye was born from cofounder and Haitian native Carine Fabius’ love for her country and its rich culture. The gallery first opened in 1990 at Fabius’ Hollywood home which she shares with her husband and cofounder, Pascal Giacomini, who happens to be an artist himself. In addition to showcasing artwork, Fabius also organizes book readings, invites guest speakers, and hosts several events to help educate her audience even more about Haitian culture and art. As a result, larger audiences are drawn into the gallery who are. Galerie Lakaye is already among only a few galleries in Los Angeles that specialize in Haitian art. Since its opening, Galerie Lakaye has received media acclaim through publications that include the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and LA Weekly, as well as several features in television shows and news programs.
The Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX)
George Hawkins founded The Ensemble Theatre in 1976 with the purpose of providing more diverse roles for black actors after observing that they were often type casted by their race for characters of a lower class (e.g. slaves, maids/housekeepers). Hawkins wanted his theatre to focus on fairly portraying themes of black people and today The Ensemble Theatre is one of few professional theaters in the Southwest that is devoted to producing works that convey the African American experience. In fact, it is the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the region. Aside from hosting performances, The Ensemble Theatre also has a Performing Arts Education program which provides educational workshops, artist-in-residence experiences, and live performances for students both on and off the theatre site. Their Young Performers Program offers summer training for youth in all facets of the theatre arts. Through these various programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.
Terrance Osborne Gallery (New Orleans, LA)
The Terrance Osborne Gallery was founded by Terrance Osborne, a native New Orleanian and artist. Inspired by the rich culture and color that New Orleans is known for, Osborne decided to pursue art fully after the devastation of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. His paintings pay homage to his hometown by portraying various aspects of New Orleans and its inhabitants using a wide array of vibrant coloring. Some scenes that he has rendered include Mardi Gras, famed New Since Orleanian cuisine (e.g. crawfish), and jazz. Ever since, Osborne’s artwork has become nationally recognized and revered earning him media attention and honors including the “Forty Under Forty Award” for his teaching and artistic contributions to the city of New Orleans. He has also had design collaborations with Nike and the NBA Hornets.
Williamsburg Music Center (Brooklyn, NY)
This black-owned jazz venue was founded in 1981 by Gerry Eastman, a composer, conductor, and musician who has worked with several legendary musicians including Count Basie, Etta Jones and the Isley Brothers. One of the main reasons why Eastman sought out this venue was to provide a safe space for POC musicians who were often discriminated against (including himself) to perform as the 80s was a racially turbulent time in New York. Since then, the Williamsburg Music Center has hosted 400 bands within the last 38 years and is equipped with a baby grand piano, guitars, acoustic & electric basses, drums, electric organ, and more to help keep the good times rolling!
We enjoy celebrating amazing artists and phenomenal storytellers. Have you found a local gallery, studio or theatre company you love? Tell us about it in the comments section below or share it on IG Stories tagging @ShaunT.