Southfield gallery highlights contemporary African American art in a new exhibit

Umoja Art Basel: A Contemporary Affair features valuable works from over 30 African American artists.

interior of an art gallery with colorful paintings and sculptures against white walls

Umoja Fine Arts Gallery showroom.

This weekend, Umoja Fine Arts Gallery will honor local artists with their latest exhibit, Umoja Art Basel: A Contemporary Affair.

The gallery showing and sale will feature more than 30 African American contemporary and nationally-recognized modern artists. The exhibit will open on Friday, Jan. 27 and run through Saturday, March 11.

Marcel Stewart is the gallery manager of Umoja and a Detroit artist himself. Stewart says he credits his creative drive to growing up in the city.

“After I turned 18 years old into the 2000s, I then went on to see a different environment, and it opened my eyes up to a complete different spectrum, a completely different world, a completely different universe,” he said.

“I wanted to then show everyone who felt as if they had no hope, as if they had no positivity within their environment, that there is hope, there is a new light, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And with me being able to paint that just from my fingertips and give someone a new light or a new blink of hope, I think that that’s everything.”

abstract painting with red and blue boxes and gray paint dripping down
“Midnight Dreams” by Marcel Stewart.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, Jan. 27 from 5-9 p.m., hosted by award-winning BET journalist Ed Gordon. A second reception will take place on Saturday, Jan. 28. from 1-6 p.m.

Guests can expect both days to include free merchandise, an original art raffle and light snacks and libations by Fork Full of Love.

Umoja CEO and curator Ian Grant says it’s important that Black Detroiters take claim of the art scene.

“Our goal is to promote contemporary artists and to make sure that local and international artists are totally recognized throughout the country,” Grant said. “This is the fastest growing segment in the entire art world, so our goal is just to educate people about art, and make sure that they’re collecting African American art because the prices are going up.”

abstract painting of a woman with an afro depicted in deep jewel tones
“Queen Victory” by Rosemary Summers.

Featured artists at the exhibit include Marcel Stewart, Paul Goodnight, Rosemary Summers, Marcus Glenn and Larry Poncho Brown.

World-famous painter Annie Lee’s work will also be featured. Lee’s iconic piece “Blue Monday” was recently honored by Detroit-born superstar Lizzo on Saturday Night Live.

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.