Art galleries offers a space where we can see the genius of the human mind. It’s a space where ideas, feelings and abstract thought are given physical being and time to savor. With such a vibrant city known for blues and its prolific art scene, Memphis has no shortage of creative spaces. BLAC is spotlighting three of the most influential Black-owned galleries in the city that you should visit.
The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery
This museum and gallery houses the work of reknowed photojournalist Dr. Ernest C. Withers. He was at the forefront many historic moments in the Civil Rights Movement including the Montgomery bus boycott, Emmett Till lynching, Memphis sanitation strike, Negro league baseball. One of his most poigniant stills includes an intimate photograph of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. resting at the Lorraine Hotel after the 1966 March Against Fear. He has also photographed other movement icons such as Rosa Parks, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. When he died at age of 85, he left around 1.8 million photographs which are being preserved to this date by this institution. The place was founded by Rosalind Wither, the photographer’s daughter, who heads it as director and conservator.
Urevbu Contemporary (formerly Art Village Gallery)
Urebvu Contemporary and its owner, Shiela Urevbu, are on a mission of championing emerging and mid-career artists from the African diaspora. The gallery devotes itself to creating culturally meaningful exhibitions, programs to foster appreciation for diversity through opening up America and Memphis to the art created outside of its culture. The gallery is renowned for its cutting-edge exhibits and for featuring Black artists that participate in contemporary social and cultural discussion that crosses borders between Western and non-Western cultures.
Currently, the gallery is showcasing the first solo exhibit, titled “Be/longing,” of Nigerian painter Amarach Odimba in America. They’re set to feature Ethiopian artist Derege Demissie, Nigerian painter Johnson Uwadinma and Congolese expressionist Douglas “Doudou” Mbdemba.
Tone Memphis is a local-based arts organization with a space in Orange Mound. Formerly named the The CLTV (The Collective), the organization was rebranded with its current name, but with the same mission: supporting Black artists and setting ablaze Memphis’ cultural landscape with creativity and Black voices. Their creative space is rotated with different exhibits and events every month. Tone represents the current, the youthful, and the now.
After closing its latest exhibit “Itutu: Diddy Ain’t Invent The Remix,” they’re gearing up to throwing the hippest Halloween party, dubbed the “Black October,” in town.