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Walk this way! Myrtle Avenue celebrates Black history with art stroll

Black History Month comes to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the form of an Artwalk

By Matthew Perlman - Source: http://www.brooklynpaper.com
 PIECE OF CUPCAKE: Ify Chiejina shows her work at The Brooklyn Sweet Spot during the Myrtle Avenue artwalk, part of the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill Black History Month celebration.  Photo © Stefano Giovannini

PIECE OF CUPCAKE: Ify Chiejina shows her work at The Brooklyn Sweet Spot during the Myrtle Avenue artwalk, part of the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill Black History Month celebration. Photo © Stefano Giovannini

Myrtle Avenue is turning into art alley for Black History Month.

The Myrtle Avenue Partnership kicked off its “Black Artstory Month” on Feb. 1, with an art walk along the busy commercial strip that runs through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. The month-long program also includes storytelling, lectures, and live performances from musicians and spoken word artists. Organizers chose the locale because of its background as a black bohemian hot spot.

WALLFLOWER: Work on display at The Emerson for the Myrtle Avenue art walk.  Photo © Stefano Giovannini

WALLFLOWER: Work on display at The Emerson for the Myrtle Avenue art walk. Photo © Stefano Giovannini

“This neighborhood has a rich artistic history,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida, deputy director of the Myrtle Avenue Partnership, a merchant group. “All of our arts and culture programs are looking to create opportunities for artists. And to create partnerships between businesses and artists.”

The art walk included 10 businesses along Myrtle Avenue, that will display works from about a dozen artists for the next month. The theme for the works, and for the other “Black Artstory” events, is the migratory experience of black people.

“It’s about being part of a community but not exactly being connected to it,” said Daonne Huff, who curated the celebration. In coming to a new place, she said, “there’s an exploration of identity and an establishing of roots. We want to reinforce the idea that every story is unique and deserves to be told.”

MOMMA CRIED: “To My Momma” is a painting by Sophia Dawson on display at The Brooklyn Sweet Spot. It shows relatives of Kamau Sadiki, who supporters say is being held as a poltical prisoner. Courtesy of the artist

MOMMA CRIED: “To My Momma” is a painting by Sophia Dawson on display at The Brooklyn Sweet Spot. It shows relatives of Kamau Sadiki, who supporters say is being held as a poltical prisoner. Courtesy of the artist

Among the showing work in local businesses is Sophia Dawson, a lifelong Brooklyn resident who lives in Brownsville. Her work deals with black activism, especially the Black Panther Movement of the 1960s.

A piece of hers is hanging at The Brooklyn Sweet Spot, a cupcake shop on Myrtle Avenue between Adelphi Street and Clermont Avenue. The mixed-media painting, called “To My Momma,” depicts relatives of Kamau Sadiki, a former Black Liberation Army radical who is serving a life sentence for the 1971 murder of an Atlanta police officer but insists he is innocent.

 WALL OF FAME: Artist Angel Garcia shows work at The Emerson on Myrtle Avenue on Feb. 1. Photo © Stefano Giovannini

WALL OF FAME: Artist Angel Garcia shows work at The Emerson on Myrtle Avenue on Feb. 1. Photo © Stefano Giovannini

“Through my paintings I try to tell the story of people who we don’t hear about in school,” said Dawson. “My subjects tend to be still living, and still in the pursuit of justice.”

Dawson appreciates the opportunity to show her work in a public place.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I’m all about bringing work to the streets, to the people.”

The Sweet Spot is glad to have her.

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