Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became law on Jan. 1, 1863, the Civil War continued to drag on, and slaves held in Confederate states weren’t freed until the Union had secured surrender from each capitol. Therefore, “Emancipation Day” varied from state to state.
In Florida, this key historical designation is given to May 20, the date Lincoln’s proclamation was read – by a conquering Union commander – at the capitol building in Tallahassee.
Juneteenth, a federal holiday, takes place on June 19, the anniversary of emancipation in the state of Texas – the last stronghold of institutionalized slavery.
The Green Book of Tampa Bay has organized The Journey to Emancipation, an exhibit of works by local artists, Saturday at thestudio@620. It’s positioned midway between Florida’s recognized anniversary and the national day of celebration. It’s the organization’s second annual group exhibition.
Although the art will remain through June 30, Saturday’s event is noteworthy because the artists themselves will there, in discussion with Green Book co-founders Hillary Van Dyke and Joshua Bean, to discuss – among other things – why they created the work thy did upon receiving Van Dyke’s Call to Artists.
“We don’t tell anyone what type of work to submit, or what it needs to look like,” Van Dyke explained. “So they have the freedom to do what they want, but we are always trying to pay homage to Black history and Black people.”
Green Book is a Black-owned business directory that serves Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
“And Josh and I are very much into art, so we know the ways that art makes us feel, relaxed and at peace and free. And so we just want to give that to the community – to come and see extremely talented people and their work. I guess it’s more about the feeling of freedom that we feel when we’re experiencing art.”
The participating artists are all listed in the Green Book, Van Dyke said.
“One of the things about Green Book is having the directory to help people do better about spreading the wealth in the community,” she explained. “But we also were very serious about making sure the arts and entertainment category includes people who aren’t traditionally considered businesses, but still are producing something that matters and should be uplifted as well.”
Although most of the featured art will be standard size, two creatives – Carlos “Zulu Painter” Culbertson and Jason “Wayward Walls” Harvin – have painted wall-sized murals.
The other artists include Eb&Floww, Dr. Goggles, Myiah Pink, The Nature of Fire, Nomadic Fete, Tenea D. Johnson and Vivia Grier.
Saturday’s event will also feature live performances by musicians Queen of Ex, Shadcore and Shelby Sol, from the Green Book directory.
Coming June 10 to thestudio@620, Green Book joins with The American Griot for An Anthology of Voices. The 6-9 p.m. event is being billed as “complete artistic immersion,” with a variety of artists celebrating Black stories through different mediums.
All info (and tickets) at thestudio@620 website.