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Bronzeville, Near South Side

‘Black Wall Street’ Exhibit Kicks Off The Reopening Of Build Bronzeville, Closed Since The Pandemic Began

The exhibit, featuring work by a Bronzeville artist, will honor the economic resilience of Black Chicago and beyond.

People pose for a photo with a banner that reads "Our parents met at Juneteenth 1992 in protest to Rodney King's beating" during the Juneteenth Celebration ReBuild Black Wall Street in Bronzeville on Friday, June 19, 2020. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRONZEVILLE — Build Bronzeville will reopen to the public this weekend with a pop-up gallery experience featuring an art installation from local artist Dorian Sylvain.

“A Black Wall Street Journey,” a collaboration between Build Bronzeville and Smart Museum artist Rick Lowe, is a companion project of Lowe’s and the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Greenwood Art Project.

Saturday’s event marks the first time Build Bronzeville, 314 E. 51st St., has opened since the pandemic began. The free event — which runs noon-4 p.m. Saturday — will also feature music from Marqueal Jordan and small bites from Sugar and Spice Cafe and chef Jeffrey Crittenden.

“I was looking for a location in which we could have a community site, where we could bring the voice of concern of this project on a community level,” Lowe said.

The installation has two parts: Sylvain’s, which is being kept under wraps until Saturday’s unveiling, and “The Black Wall Street Journal,” a ticker displaying factoids about the economic conditions of Black Chicagoans and beyond. While Lowe admits there isn’t much “positive news” out there regarding Black people and economics, he believes optimism can come from changing your perspective.

“When you start looking on a community level, you can see these moments of hope, and the things that have inspired Black people throughout,” siad Lowe, who was awarded a MacAruthur Genius grant in 2014.

With the exhibition running until December, Lowe and his team hope to build a community around the idea of “positive economic collective activity” that will continue long after the event ends.

Saturday’s event kicks off a season of programs at Build Bronzeville, an organization that has worked to restore the once-thriving 51st Street corridor by bringing commercial activity to the area. The ARTrepreneur Series, a live panel discussion featuring the city’s Black creatives hosted by Sam Trump, begins next week.

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