Danny Simmons Anchors Harlem Exhibition That Features Hot New Artists

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[Arts & Culture]

Strivers Gardens Gallery and Souleo Enterprises, LLC, present "eMerge: Danny Simmons & Artists on the Cusp." The exhibition will feature the works of renowned visual artist Danny Simmons and nine innovative and visionary contemporary artists from New York City and London repurposing everyday materials into elaborate works of art. Co-curated by Lisa D. Hayes, Esq., manager of Strivers Gardens Gallery, and Souleo of Souleo Enterprises, LLC, the exhibit will run from July 12 through September 7 at Strivers Gardens Gallery. Anchoring the exhibition is a presentation of abstract-expressionist painter, Daniel “Danny” Simmons, Jr., featuring select works from the last four decades. Each piece exists on a continuum of Simmons’ exploration of the human relationship to spirit. With contemporary and indigenous art as inspiration, Simmons investigates how a spiritual connection is developed and nurtured through the creative process to be sustained beyond the realm of physical art. Featured in this exhibition is Simmons’ The Door (1989), a fusion of painting and poetry on a wooden door that serves as a literal and figurative gateway to the exhibition’s eMerging artists. “My life's work has been dedicated to providing opportunity to emerging artists," Simmons says. "My Rush Arts Gallery has helped to launch the careers of some of the world’s most noted artists of color. This opportunity to exhibit with artists on the cusp of entering the global arts discourse is very gratifying and a great way to demonstrate my respect and admiration for new and exciting talent.” “eMerge will be the first in a series of annual exhibitions featuring the work of new and exciting visual artists,” Hayes adds. “This exhibition is a multi-medium exploration of form, portraiture and abstract expressionism using a variety of mediums. Doors, tea bags, pins, sneakers, threads and buttons are transformed from the ordinary to visual expressions of memory and tribute.”

Artist Beau McCall visually imagines W.E.B. Dubois’ concept of double consciousness in Until We’re Free (2012), a statement that opens the discourse on race, class and politics in the 21st century; McCall combines decorative buttons with glow in the dark thread to transpose the American flag over the color pattern of the Pan-African flag on four panels of crowns, the latter inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In her U.S. debut, Londoner Shirley Nette Williams pays tribute to iconic and tragic women of song in A Nice Cup of Tears (2012), stitching onto teabags portraits of singers Whitney Houston, Billie Holliday, Tammi Terrell and Florence Ballard. 

Greg Frederick celebrates pop cultural icons and highlights the cyclical nature of pop by creating portraits of Andy Warhol and Notorious B.I.G. with broken record vinyl and record sleeves. Andre Woolery challenges negativity and stereotypes through his thumbtack portraits of Jay-Z (The Tackover, 2010) and Jimi Hendrix (Electric Feel, 2011). Al Johnson’s art may be seen as an inclusive vision that captures the classical, weaves it with the contemporary and refracts it through the prism of his remarkable individuality as evidenced in This Everlasting Moment (2011). David Hollier challenges mass consumption and commercialism through Greenpoint Sky (2012), with images of corporate logos on canvas.

Laura Gadson pushes forth the tradition of art quilting in the hip-hop inspired piece Old School Hip-Hop (2010), paying tribute to Kurtis Blow.

Jason E. Auguste incorporates technological resources in the digital age with a tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat in JMB Code (2011); the interactive piece integrates QR (quick response) codes throughout the work and, with a mobile scanning device, transports viewers into the digital world to explore the history and impact of Basquiat.

Finally, art collective, House of Spoof, utilizes technology to bridge the digital age and traditional mediums for works that capture the fears, hopes and dreams of youth. Featured from the collective are co-founders the late, Glenn “Spoof” Wright and Misra Walker. Walker pays homage to Wright, a community- and family-oriented young man who was brutally murdered at the age of 21, in the stencil portrait Stay Hungry (2011). A collection of Wright’s photography explores the depths of Down syndrome through photo portraits of his special needs brother, Isa Freeman.

“We are very excited to present a platform for emerging artists as a means to increase access to artistic opportunities,” Souleo, founder and president of Souleo Enterprises, LLC, says. The company is a producer of events and content for a variety of media and nonprofit institutions. “For me it is a way to honor my brother Glenn 'Spoof' Wright, whose life was taken away on the cusp of his own emergence. I hope that by including his artwork others will be inspired and empowered by his message of love, positivity and healing which continues to inspire me in my work to support the arts."

Serving as media sponsor is rolling out, the nation’s largest free urban weekly, and food sponsor is Bobbi Jean’s Catering by Blondie for the Opening Night Reception.

The public is invited to attend the Opening Night reception on Thursday, July 12 at 6 pm, the “Talk with the Artists” on Sunday, August 12 at 3 pm and the Closing Night Reception on Thursday, September 6 at 6 pm.

Opening and Closing Nights will also feature artwork and musical performances from members of CULTURE CRASHERS, the youth initiative created by Souleo Enterprises, LLC, presented in partnership with the Harlem Arts Alliance. The Gallery, located at 300 West 135th Street, is otherwise open to the public by appointment only. For details on the events, visit: http://striversgardensgallery.vpweb.com or www.souleouniverse.com.

The Strivers Gardens Condominium located in the heart of Harlem operates Strivers Gardens Gallery. Strivers Gardens Gallery is committed to providing a venue for gifted professional visual artists to promote Harlem's cultural, economic and social renaissance. Prior exhibitions have featured celebrated works by iconic artists such as: Romare Bearden, Leroy Campbell, Betty Blayton, Otto Neals, Ademola Olugebefola, Kwame Braithwaite, the artists of Gee’s Bend and more.

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