Tucson gallery focused on work by Black artists hosts grand opening Friday

Blue
Lotus Artists’ Collective, a new Downtown gallery dedicated to creating
a space for Black artists, will hold its grand opening this Friday.

The collective was formed last September, BLAC founder and board president Laura Pendleton-Miller said.

“Last year, 2022, a small group of people who are active volunteers
got together for a happy hour to talk about what we, as community
volunteers, could try to help Black artists get more visibility in this
community,” said BLAC founder and board president Laura Pendleton-Miller.
“And at that point, we were really thinking on being advocates. But
over the next months and with the prodding of other artists — and after
some research in the community — we thought, ‘No, let’s just do it
ourselves.'”

“And we got the name from an artist, Willie Bonner, who thought it would
be very symbolic because the blue lotus is a very important flower in
Africa that grows into great beauty out of muck,” Pendleton-Miller said.

BLAC hosted a soft opening of their gallery, located in the Pioneer Building, on March 25. It featured eight artists — including four from Tucson. 

“That
was our inaugural show and we had a really good turnout that evening,
standing room only, and we thought we had a good start at gaining some
visibility at the gallery, letting people know where we are,”
Pendleton-Miller said. “And in the meantime, we were planning for this
grand opening.”

BLAC’s new show will feature two artists — one living and one dead, said Pendleton-Miller.

The deceased artist, Jacob Lawrence, was a renowned Harlem
Renaissance painter best known for his series “Migration of the
Negro.” 

The living artist, Nikesha Breeze, is a Portland, Oregon native who lives in Taos, N.M. She explores Afro-Futurism,
intersectional identity and diasporic experience through her art. 

BLAC is showing Breeze’s series “Within the Skin,” which is a tribute to her ancestry. Her
pieces are painted on doors — artwork on one side and poetry on the
other.

Breeze will also be participating in an artist talk on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at 44 N. Stone Ave. Pendleton-Miller said people should RSVP for the artist talk by emailing [email protected].

The grand opening will also include a block party, with the street in front of the gallery closed off for the celebration. Food trucks Off the Hook and Cotton Family BBQ will be there for as well as Italian ice. Music will be provided by DJ KP, Pendleton-Miller said.

“I’m excited that we are bringing something to the community that it doesn’t have. That we are exposing them to local, national and international black artists who are giving a different perspectives,” Pendleton-Miller said. “And that the artists that we’re showing here tell stories through their art, and so, in many cases where we have been left out of history and the education system. And that we’re going to be taking a little bit of control and put some of that information back into the community.”