Souleo Universe

September 19 – November 7 at Harlem’s Strivers Gardens Gallery

Black Culture Icon’s Mixed Media Art Will Be Centerpiece of “eMerge 2.0:

Melvin Van Peebles & Artists on the Cusp”

HARLEM, NEW YORK (August 7, 2013) – Strivers Gardens Gallery and Souleo Enterprises present eMerge 2.0: Melvin Van Peebles & Artists on the Cusp September 19 – November 7 at Strivers Gardens Gallery (300 West 135th Street). With the visual arts debut of pioneering novelist, journalist, director, playwright, actor, rapper and musician Melvin Van Peebles as its centerpiece, the showcase series, now in its second year, will feature Peebles’ “Ex-Voto Monochrome (A Ghetto Mother’s Prayer),” – a mixed media meditation exploring the intersection between violence, economic disenfranchisement, womanhood and faith – and also boast noteworthy pieces from Van Peebles’ private collection, including two rarely-seen paintings by George Helton, deceased husband of Isabel Taylor Helton, designer of Van Peebles’ museum-like Manhattan apartment, which is home to the paintings, illustrations, and sculptures he’s completed over the years.

eMerge celebrates the future of contemporary art with some of today’s most exciting young and evolving visual artists. Dynamic creations from 11 early-career art makers, produced by re-imagining such everyday objects as thumbtacks, clothing buttons and vinyl records, will display alongside the items from the revered “master of artistic reinvention.”

“My life and career is defined by the constant pursuit of new forms of culture and self-expression,” said Van Peebles, who turns 81-years-old this month. “I am excited to finally share publicly another passion of mine, visual art, while lending support to the advancement of some really amazing new talent.”

“We are very excited to once again produce this platform for emerging artists to gain access to new audiences and greater opportunities,” said Souleo, founder and president of Souleo Enterprises, LLC. “With Melvin Van Peebles as this year’s keystone we are honoring his spirit of reinvention, from the continual transformation of one’s life to the re-purposing of everyday materials into cultural, political and social statements.”

Though primarily known as a the father of blaxploitation (1971’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is recognized as African-American cinema’s opening salvo) and independent film as a whole, Van Peebles has tried – and succeeded at – pretty much every type of artistic endeavor one can think of. He was even a Wall Street trader and New York news commentator.

As a playwright and Broadway composer, he earned two Tony Award nominations for “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” and “Don’t Play Us Cheap.” As an actor, he’s appeared in several films, including Robert Altman’s O.C. and Stiggs and Mario Van Peebles’ Panther, which he wrote and co-produced. He’s also been honored with numerous other awards, including a Grammy and a Drama Desk Award. Additionally, he received the Children’s Live-Action Humanitas Prize for The Day They Came to Arrest the Book and, in 1999, was awarded the Chicago Underground Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2005, Van Peebles was the subject of an acclaimed documentary entitled How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It).

eMerge debuted last year, anchored by visual artist Daniel “Danny” Simmons, Jr., whose work explores the connection between art and the human spirit. eMerge 2.0 examines a nexus between contemporary and popular culture. Lisa D. Hayes, manager of Strivers Gardens Gallery said, “Because of its liberal use of found objects, I consider this a ‘green’ visual arts exhibition.”

The exhibition is free, and the public is also invited to attend the eMerge 2.0 opening night reception on Thursday, September 19 at 6 pm;  the “Melvin Van Peebles Q&A” on Sunday, October 6 at 3 pm, and the “Artist Gallery Talk” on Sunday October 27 at 3 pm. All events are at Strivers Gardens Gallery.

Exhibiting Artists:

Joseph Cavalieri, JaSon E. Auguste, Greg Frederick, Laura Gadson, Josh Goldstein, George Helton, David Hollier, Clara K Johnson, Kimberly Mayhorn, Beau McCall, Melvin Van Peebles, Andre Woolery and Misra Walker (The House of Spoof Collective)

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