The African American Cultural Alliance (AACA) has provided a fascinating and instructional ethnic festival experience for the community about African and African American culture each September for over 30 years. This year’s 31st African Street Festival, September 20-22, features a very special project bringing together three of Nashville’s finest visual artists in a display of their works about Black men in motion, at the Hadley Park Community Center.
“This year’s African Street Festival is September 20-22,” said Kwame Leo Lillard, the AACA organizer. “This art exhibit was the collaborative instant idea of a visit to the art studios’ of Michael McBride, James Threalkill and Joseph Love located on Chestnut Street. I walked into the studio in May 2013, and on one wall was the painting of the Mercedes grand prix race cars driven by Herman Lang [1930s] and the Black English driver, Lewis Hamilton [current]; on another wall was Black jockeys winning the Kentucky Derby; and the other wall was a brilliant head on painting of a Black Olympic bicyclist.
“I asked Michael and Joseph if there has even been an art exhibit featuring Black jockeys, Black bicyclists and Black grand prix drivers. The answer was no. We said, ‘Let’s do it at the African Street Festival.’ With the diverse attendance at the African Street Festival, what better way to display fine art than in a place that is easy to access, free of charge and not as intimidating as a ‘proper art gallery.’ Even more impacting is this ethnic exhibit utters destruction of stereotypes limiting African Americans successful progress to only basketball, football or baseball. Come out and view this art show exhibit and feel proud.”
“I am honored to return as an exhibitor at the annual African Street Festival where I first exhibited as an artist some 25 years ago,” said Threalkill. His works on display focus on Major Taylor, an African African cyclist who has inspired millions.
Michael J. McBride is a native Tennessean who earned his undergraduate degree in art from Tennessee State University and his graduate degree in painting from Illinois State University. Currently, as an instructor of art at Tennessee State University and former adjunct faculty member at Watkins College of Art and Design and Film school, his commitment to the Nashville art world’s future has always been at the forefront of his own career. His current body of work titled Too Black Too Fast is a traveling exhibition of art about African American jockeys and trainers.
“In the early 1920s, mechanic and race car driver Charlie Wiggins helped form a national racing league for African American race car drivers,” said Joseph Love. His works focus on the history of the Black men who drove formula and grand prix racing cars. You can see more of these intriguing artists’ work through the month of September at the Tennessee Art League at 219 5th Avenue of the Arts.