Just in time for Juneteenth and only two blocks away from where Union General Gordon Granger announced the enforcement of the end of slavery on June 19, 1865, the Galveston Arts Center has mounted a new exhibit exploring the resistance to slavery and the lasting effects on black culture in Houston---mainly Houston's disappearing Third Ward.
Rappers, R&B singers, African drums, old slave photos and signage trumpeting the greatness of MacGregor Park make up the collaborative exhibit “Two & 1/2 Years: A Visual Celebration to the Spirit of Juneteenth” by multi-media artists Robert Hodge and Tierney Malone.
It’s not an in-your-face indictment of the atrocities of slavery as much as it’s a reminder of black beauty and black excellence in defiance of oppression.
And fitting, when you realize that when Granger read those words he was enforcing what President Abraham Lincoln had already made law more than two year earlier — the end of slavery. There were still 250,000 people enslaved in Texas.
The collections of works on display are the visual representation of a musical antecedent, the jazz and hip-hop album Two & 1/2 Years: A Musical Celebration of Juneteenth. Shared with audiences since last year, the album has its proper release on June 19.
Both the musical component and the multi-media aspect are meant to reach a new generation to help acknowledge the sacrifices of the ancestors and the struggle that exists today.The paintings and collages do so with striking ferocity.