Posted February 1, 2023

Piedmont Arts honors African American legacies and artistic contributions with Black History Month events and exhibits

All month long, exhibits and programs will take place at Piedmont Arts to celebrate Black History Month.

"Hanging Tree Guitars" is an exhibit by Freeman Vines, a musician and artist who creates guitars out of found objects, notably a Steinway piano, the wood of a tobacco barn, and a tree where a man was once lynched. Rooted in a deep spirituality and quest for answers, Vines’ work reveals the hidden stories of the American South. In addition to Vines' haunting sculptures, this exhibit also includes a number of tintype photographs by Timothy Duffy that capture scenes from Vines’ life and artistic process. “Hanging Tree Guitars” is on loan from Music Maker Foundation.

“Rupe Dalton Retrospective” remembers beloved local artist, Rodney Scott “Rupe” Dalton, whose passed away in 2022. Rupe's airbrush paintings depict scenes from the everyday lives of his friends, family, and neighbors and speak to the traditions of many Black Southern families. Often called a renaissance man, Rupe was a barber by trade, a comedian at heart and a born artist who used airbrush to create works with depth and soul. His work elevated airbrush to new heights and his powerful subject matter invites memory to play an intimate roll in viewing his work.

These admission-free exhibits will be on display through March 18.

The African American Read-In and Family Day will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Piedmont Arts. This annual celebration of African American artists, performers, and writers includes story time, crafts, an interactive musical instrument display, and a public read-aloud. Amy Stuart will lead a sing/play along with traditional instruments and history songs/games. This event is held in conjunction with the National African American Read-In, established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. African American Read-In and Family Day is sponsored by Sovah Health and Carter Bank & Trust.

Riddick Dance will perform contemporary ballet on Thursday, March 16 at Piedmont Arts. The group brings a broad repertory, expressive movement and a fusion of dance styles to the stage. The performance will include three works, including a dance-theatre piece, a mixed media piece, and an improvisational dance-theatre piece based on speeches and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This event is partially supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts.

In addition to these galleries and events, the Discovery Room at Piedmont Arts is free and open to the public and will have free crafts to learn about Black History all month. There is also a collection of books on loan from Joyce Staples and Imogene Draper that show the vast, incredible spectrum of African American stories, creators, and innovators for perusal by museum patrons.

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