“… what Africans brought here as slaves to modern-day visionaries who have changed the course of American history, the history of Black Americans is filled with possibility, promise and pain.”
—from the catalogue description of “The Black HIStory Show,” starting Jan. 24 at the Exact Science Gallery on Melrose Avenue.
Since the early 1980s, the shopping, entertainment, and dining Mecca along Melrose Avenue has been a go-to spot for hipsters and scene makers who frequent Los Angeles’ fashionable West Side. While it strives to project a trendy persona ranging from fancy to funky, the overall economic reality of this Hollywood adjacent enclave is decidedly upscale. Recently, a new arrival in the neighborhood has offered up an intriguing option for diversity in the area. Unofficially in business for several months, the Exact Science Gallery held its formal opening Jan. 24 to coincide with the upcoming Black History Month celebration.
Artist and gallery owner Adam Rebellion never had a proper entry into the realm of visual arts, unlike his father who had the distinction of being Philadelphia’s oldest Black photography gallery owner as the proprietor of a studio from 1969 onward. Born Adam Lorick, Rebellion grew up in an apprenticeship to his father, along the way accumulating training in printmaking and jewelry design at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, coupled with a sound business education at Temple University.
Unlike many who relocate to seek their fame and fortune in LaLa Land, Rebellion had a well-thought-out game plan. Having long been a devotee of various fashion trade shows, including the Agenda Show, the Magic Marketplace, and Project, he had developed an extensive network of like-minded spirits, including his business partner, Drew Trela and they held a “soft opening” for Exact Science in September of 2014.
Needless to say, competition on the retail battlefield of Melrose is fierce, but Exact Science has devised its own unique approach by creating the wares it offers up to a sophisticated audience.
“Exact Science is motivated by the hybrid, collaborative and fundamentally grassroots experience that spawns distinctive strains of urban art and fine art,” explains Adam Rebellion.
Exact Science aims to keep its approach fresh with a continueous “…shift between genres, scenes, styles, talent and media…” to establish an open ended format.
“In this manner, our concepts are expressed in a variety of formats without being bound by convention,” Adam sums up the gallery’s overriding philosophy.
The artists represented in the show include sculptor Big Cook; home grown graffiti artist Cre8; graphic artist and public muralist Mear One; Pose2 is Mr Maxx Moses; and multi-media artisan Leland Sharp.
The pieces presented, like much of what is labeled “street art,” often have an overtly political message behind their execution. Big Cook’s sculptures, displayed prominently in the center of the gallery, are a statement on the plight of child soldiers engaged in conflict throughout the African continent.
Big Cook revealed his own motivation for creating the pieces thusly, “children are being kidnapped from their homes, ripped from their mothers’ arms and sent to brutal war camps. While being trained to kill, they’re fed poisonous cocktail drugs to dull their senses, preparing them to live and fight in total chaos.”
To make his point, Cook has fashioned five preadolescent figures painted matte black, some of them holding rocket propelled grenades or Kalashnikov rifles, or wearing golden sneakers, to depict the absurdity of innocents caught up in the madness of war. The five individual sculptures will be auctioned off and proceeds will go to “Invisible Children,” a charity founded for the victims of these conflicts. The actual auction will take place on June 16 (Juneteenth, the celebration of the abolition of slavery), with additional pieces added each month leading up to the final event (open only to individuals participating in the bidding).
Interested parties may bid on the individual pieces by visiting the gallery, or through the website at www.exactscience.com.
In a sense, the show was too successful for its own good, as an overflow crowd jammed the confines of a space with a listed maximum capacity of 200, and the fire marshal shut the event down at 10:30 p.m., far short of its scheduled closing at midnight.
For those who missed out on the festivities however, the show will continue until Feb. 21, when a closing gala will be held. Exact Science Gallery is located at 7565 Melrose Ave., between Curson and Sierra Bonita avenues.