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Juneteenth Celebration at Battlefield Park

Jackson, MS—“Juneteenth” is the name given to the day in 1865 when enslaved Africans in Texas and other parts of the Deep South received word of their freedom. Abraham Lincoln had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. When they learned of their freedom, formerly enslaved Africans celebrated. The tradition has continued annually throughout the South.

Jackson’s Juneteenth Celebration will take place on Saturday, 13 June 2009 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Battlefield Park. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Elders – Empowering Our Youth.” This family-friendly event endeavors to feature local performing and visual artists, including poets and drummers. Confirmed performers include Love City Players and The Poet of Truth.

This Celebration is in its planning stages. Dancers, musicians, vendors and others who are interested in participating should contact Martha “Msemaji” Jenkins at 601 622 6057 and/or June Hardwick via email at junehardwick@gmail.com.



July 24, 2008

Gallery features African-American artists By Sherry Lucas/The Clarion-Ledger
Sanaa Gallery
Top line: The new Sanaa Gallery (named for the Swahili word meaning "work of art" and "beauty") adds a showcase for African-American art to the Fondren arena.

Sanaa Gallery and custom framing shop, located on the first floor of the Fondren Corner building, has its grand opening today. Music and refreshments augment the art draw.

"What I wanted to see in Jackson and particularly in Fondren was an art gallery featuring multi-ethnic and multicultural reflections," says owner Lorenzo D. Gayden, a Jackson artist and jazz trombonist. "I wanted to see more sculpture and different types of abstract art in an atmosphere that's upscale, comfortable and relaxed."

Gayden received a 2008 Miller Urban Entrepreneur Series grant of $15,000 after submitting and presenting a business proposal for the gallery.

Works include ceramic sculptures by Harold Miller, wood burnings in a Bob Marley series by Shambe Jones and a painting by Tony Davenport.

Gayden's own work testifies to twin loves of art and music, with musicians ablow, their energetic sound translated in hot colors and starbursts.

Good energy: Gayden, who attended Mississippi State University and was a fine art major at Jackson State University, was drawn to the Fondren area because of its vibrant mix.

"It seems to be very professional and at the same time, very interested in art - not just in the classical sense but in terms of its impact on culture.

"I think I bring a perspective and an experience a lot of Jacksonians can relate to and that's perhaps a bit different from what has been most commonly represented," Gayden says. "I think it fits in very well."

Gayden foresees exhibitions every other month, if not monthly, that'll focus on individual artists, themes and social and cultural topics.

- Sherry Lucas


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Diverse Views of Art
by Ward Schaefer
September 10, 2008

“Art should reflect the diversity of people,” Lorenzo Gayden says.

Gayden, a Jackson native, opened the Sanaa Gallery this July “to add the beauty of the African American experience to the (Jackson) art scene.” Located in Fondren Corner, Sanaa takes its name from the Swahili word for “work of art.” The gallery embodies Gayden’s commitment to diversity: from its walls, painted in several different soft colors, to the variety of media on display, which ranges from abstract painting to photography to jewelry.

Gayden is a jazz trombonist and an artist in his own right. His love of music is evident in his paintings, as well as the work of many other artists in Sanaa. Shambe Jones’ wood-burning portraits of Bob Marley display impressive technique, contrasting powerful iconography with non-traditional media. Two abstract ink works by Lonnie Robinson, “Saturday Night” and “Sunday Morning,” evoke the similar ecstasy in secular and religious celebrations.

The idea for Sanaa, which also offers custom framing, first came to Gayden two and a half years ago while he was working in the framing shop at Hobby Lobby. The Miller Urban Entrepreneur Series provided funding help in May. Gayden was one of 12 applicants and the first Mississippian ever to win a grant from the business plan competition.

Gayden says that Fondren was always his first choice for a location. The Fondren Corner building already houses a traditional watercolor studio, two photography studios and another contemporary art gallery, making it an ideal place to develop a conversation through art.

“When you come to this particular building, you get diverse views of art—each one compelling, each one beautiful,” he says.

Gayden plans to open new shows roughly once a month, striking a balance between focusing on individual artists and collecting work around a specific theme. One exhibit, tentatively titled “New Traditions,” will “highlight using non-traditional media and using traditional media in non-traditional ways,” Gayden says.

Gwendolyn Magee, a renowned Jackson fiber artist whose work hangs in the Mississippi Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will display some of her exquisite abstract and narrative quilts to the show. Of her work, Gayden says, “This is what you do when you take what you’ve inherited and push it to a whole other level.”



October 30, 2008

Expanding the Mind

Kyle Doherty

'New Traditions'

Top-line: "Nontraditional" is the order of the day for a new exhibit at Fondren's Sanaa Gallery.

Titled New Traditions, the show features works by renowned artists Gwendolyn Magee, whose abstract works are on display at the Smithsonian Institute and the Mississippi Museum of Art, and Johnnie Mae Maberry, the chairwoman of the art department at Tougaloo College.

Gallery owner Lorenzo Gayden hopes the show will provoke thought and expand minds.

"I hope that they will take away the fact that art here in Jackson goes beyond what is traditionally considered to be art," he says. "A lot of folks believe that art has to be of a person or a thing, like, say, floral scenes or figurative portrayals of people.

"I want people to see that art here in Jackson is as progressive as any other part of the country or the world."

Magee and Maberry, who collaborated on the exhibit in addition to providing their art, have made careers out of finding inventive ways to channel creativity.

"Maberry actually epitomizes that in the use of organic and inorganic matter in her abstract art," Gayden says. "(She) uses a number of different nontraditional techniques; I don't think she even uses a brush.

"This is a new avenue of expression for her."

Gayden describes one of his favorite pieces by Maberry, a combination of acrylic paint and moss called Untitled #3.

"Most of her pieces are actually untitled, which is done intentionally to allow the viewer to interpret them," he explains.

Magee, on the other hand, takes a traditional craft and stands it on its head.

"She uses fabric the way a painter would use paint to render works that are both abstract and figurative," says Gayden. "Quilting uses various pieces of cloth to render images. What she would do is actually embroider designs into individual pieces of fabric and incorporate them into an overall design."

Gayden adds that despite their renown, the artists were pleasant to work with while organizing the show.

"Most people think of artists as being very egotistical and strange, but both of these ladies ... break that stereotype."