The CLTV Is Shifting The Black Arts Narrative In Memphis To New Heights With Gallery Opening

January 11, 2019  |  

The CMPLX

Source: The CMPLX / Courtesy of Nubia Yasin

A Black arts renaissance takes center stage on Friday as a bevy of artists, artisans and supporters, gather in the historically Black neighborhood of Orange Mound to celebrate the opening of The Complex (CMPLX), a gallery space built by The CLTV in Memphis, Tennessee.

The CLTV is a commune of Black creators who are continuing the rich, creative legacy embedded within the city’s framework. Their goal is to position their art as an outlet to express the joy, the fear and frustration of living while Black in America, Memphis and beyond.

For the past four years, the group has tirelessly worked to build the foundation for the gallery space by disseminating the message through their powerful creations, along with hosting community events to engage with legacy art institutions in the city like Brooks Museum and Arts Memphis.

The location of the gallery is so central to The CLTV’s mission, as Orange Mound is the oldest established and owned Black neighborhood in the country. I first visited the space in October during a press trip where we spoke with a few of the The CLTV’s member’s and their vision for the future which included solidifying Memphis on the map as a hub for Black art makers.

“The CLTV is so important for Memphis in this moment because of the open embrace and unequivocal support of black artists in this city,” said Lauren Kennedy, the executive director of Urban Art Commission  “Despite being a majority black city, access to opportunities and support for artists of color continues to be limited and limiting. This is something that all arts organizations should be grappling with, but for black artists and organizers to be at the front of addressing these systemic issues is paramount. UAC is proud to support The CLTV and grateful for their partnership and what they do for black artists in Memphis.”

The event will open with musical performances by the following musicians: NuJas, Erlee, Magnolia, Ricky Davaine , Don Lifted, Cameron Bethany, Rudy Rhymer, Cities Aviv, and AWFM, which will begin at 7 p.m.

The CMPLX

Source: The CMPLX / Courtesy of Darius Williams

Friday’s opening exhibit will profile work from by Picassa Brown, Ziggy Mack, Chuck Johnson, Benin Ford, Felicia Wheeler, Terry Lynn, Catherine Elizabeth, Natalie Eddings, Nubia Yasin, Lester Merriweather, Vitus Shell, Carl Moore, Jared Small, Lawrence Matthews, and Silas Vassar in an exhibition entitled, “Inheritance | A Celebration of the Lineage of Black Art in Memphis.”

“The Collective is what happens when people dare to dream and instead of that dream being deferred, it is supported, encouraged and galvanized into the direction of its’ purpose,” said Felicia Wheeler, a Black visual artist, ceramicist, and soap maker.

The opening of the The CMPLX is a bedrock moment for The CLTV to elevate Black artists in Memphis with their distinctly unique voice.

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