Starting Arts African drummers, show-stopping artwork and a packed house were part of the opening reception for the latest exhibit, The Journey, at Santana Row’s Gallery 85 on Feb. 27.
The Journey, a celebration of Black History Month, is comprised of 25 artists who address the theme of equality and celebrate African heritage and life.
On the back wall hangs Danielle Dufayet’s, “I Have a Dream.” Dufayet, who led a conga line at the reception, painted a picture proclaiming Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous words, “I Have a Dream,” between two cupped hands, one black, one white. The painting is divided. The black hand rests on a white background, while the white hand is painted atop a black canvas, showing the division among races. However, the slight blur between the stark contrast of the two colors portrays the crossover and collaboration between the two – showing that despite skin color, they are one.
Another piece is the simply stunning oil and spray paint creation by Russell Powell, “Natural Beauty” – a breathtaking African beauty staring directly at the viewer. She’s mesmerizing and soulful; innocent yet worldly. The image is captivating. Powell’s “Connected” is equally enthralling. A white owl sits stop an African man whose face is painted with white markings. His body molds into an enchanting white lion with blue eyes that match the man’s jeweled necklace. The lion, man and owl are one. The human race is one with nature and its surroundings.
Although each piece has meaning – some more controversial than others – the show opening was a true celebration with Janetta Coleman and the Starting Arts drummers (Coleman’s two children and a guest) who performed throughout the night.
“It was an extraordinary experience to work with the staff at Gallery 85,” said Starting Arts’ Executive Director Ann Watts. “They were very supportive and enthusiastic. Combining the beautiful visual art pieces with the rhythms of the drums made for a feast for the eyes and ears – truly joyful and inspirational.”
Part of the event included a raffle of a jersey and football signed by Gallery 85 owner, Vernon Davis, who founded the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts. Some of Davis’ prints and a foundation t-shirt were also raffled off. Davis even made an appearance to mingle with the artists and guests, sign autographs and take photographs.
All of the artwork in The Journey exhibit is for sale and the show runs through April 24 at 377 Santana Row, Suite 1180 in San Jose. Visit www.vernondavisfoundation.org/galler85 for additional information.