(Photo by Holly Quinn)
Nataki Oliver’s art gallery, The Sold Firm on Tatnall Street in Wilmington, was doing well in early 2020, with a big event lined up at the 76ers Field House for the early spring.
We all know what happened next. COVID-19 hit, and Delaware went into lockdown. The event, like many others, was canceled, and Oliver was left with nothing but a lot of time to think about what to do next. As one of only two Black-owned art galleries in the state of Delaware — the other, folk artist Eunice Lafate’s Lafate Gallery, is also in downtown Wilmington — she often supported Black artists, helping them put together art exhibitions and showing them how to price their art.
“When George Floyd was killed, and the world — we knew what was happening, but the world opened their eyes to it — saw what was happening, that’s when I decided that it was time for me to do an exhibit where it allowed multiple Black artists to express how they felt at this time,” Oliver said. “And then, because I never had a grand opening, and we were coming out of the quarantine, I thought it was the time to celebrate [my] Black, woman-owned business.”
Pendulum Swing group exhibit opens on Saturday, Aug. 1. Timed tickets are required in order to limit the number of visitors inside at one time. If opening night sells out (and there’s a good chance it will), you can still experience the exhibition during gallery hours through Oct. 30. Masks will be required.
Most of the 16 artists exhibited live in or are from Delaware. Two, who found out about the show via social media and shipped their work to Oliver, are from North Carolina and Florida. All are Black.
“Let us have this moment,'” she said, adding that she is planning to add allies of different races to the exhibition for the final month of October.
The exhibit is interactive, with guests becoming part of the artwork themselves through a table where they can add literal paper receipts around a small, colorful sculpture of a young man. Guests will also be given a small piece of cardboard and a marker when they enter, on which they’re asked to write their feelings about the exhibit. Then, inspired by the Paris Padlocks of Love, each one will be zip-tied to the link fence in front of the gallery, where passersby can read them.
When then the sun goes down, Oliver said, a video will be projected on a wall that displays a haunting portrait of Trayvon Martin by Delaware artist James Wyatt.
“It looks amazing because Trayvon’s face shows through,” she said.
For this exhibition, The Sold Firm is waiving its commission on art sold. Interested buyers are asked to contact the artists directly via the contact information that’s on each artist’s plaque, along with a personal explanation on why their piece is important to the show.
The exhibited artists are:
- Crystal Baynard-Norman
- Ellen Cappard
- Adriana Dumphrey
- Chris Enty
- Anthony Fletcher
- Shakira Hunt
- Clarakhay Johnson
- Ayeola Kaplan
- Eunice Lafate
- Gregory Lambert
- Velvet Poindexter
- Stephanie Sibbley
- DeVaughn Turner
- James Wyatt
- Jyaire Wright
Tickets to the Pendulum Swing opening are available on The Sold Firm’s website.
For more on Oliver’s entrepreneurial journey, check out the next installment of the Seeking Equity in Wilmington series, dropping next week.-30-
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