ST. PETERSBURG — The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum is presenting “Reverberations,” a special exhibition featuring Black artists from Tampa Bay and the Southeastern United States, opening Saturday — Juneteenth — at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.
The exhibition aims to present a full picture of the Black experience, from the struggles of systemic racism and oppression to celebrations of resilience and hope.
The show was curated by Desmond Clark, co-owner of St. Cate Fine Arts, an art collection management business.
It is Clark’s first run at curating and he began in January, a short timeframe for pulling together an exhibition of 60 pieces from 23 artists.
Clark pulled pieces from Atlanta-based ZuCot Gallery, the largest African-American owned fine art gallery in the Southeast. He culled a number of sculptures by Basil Watson, including ones depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis and a haunting sculpture of a bound woman.
Local artists include Nneka Jones, Princess Smith and Kendra Frorup. Many pieces are on loan from the local Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts foundation.
The collaboration between the two museums is a result of the longstanding relationship between their directors, Terri Lipsey Scott at the Woodson and Laura Hine at the James.
Following the social upheaval of 2020, the James strives to present more inclusive exhibitions. “Reverberations” is a glimpse of what kinds of exhibitions to expect over the next two years.
The Woodson has plans for a new, larger museum, so presenting this at the James gives a sense of what the experience could be. In February, the city of St. Petersburg completed its $1 million pledge to the new museum, but $30 million must be raised to bring it into fruition.
Clark said that as a Black man, picking the pieces to tell the story was simple. He said it’s important to show that Black art isn’t just one thing and is often fine art. He thinks there needs to be more of a focus on Black artists so that galleries, curators and collectors can see the quality of the work.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “I wish there were more opportunities like this. . . I don’t know of any other Black curator in the Tampa Bay area at a local institution.”
If you go
“Reverberations” is on display through Aug. 29. $20, $15 students, teachers, seniors and active military, $10 youth ages 7-18, free for children 6 and younger. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, except on Tuesdays, when the museum is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-892-4200. thejamesmuseum.org.