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How Crenshaw Dairy Mart has promoted cultural healing through art in South L.A.

Two years ago Crenshaw Dairy Mart turned into an art gallery, the Inglewood section remained an empty space where co-founders Patrice Coolers, Alexandre Ali Reza Doris and Noe Olivas spent their time talking to neighbors and praying at their new gathering place.

In 1965, just one day after the Watts Uprising, the original Crenshaw Dairy Mart opened as a local store for black residents on the eastern border of the recently desegregated neighborhood. Before that, the building was built exactly one hundred years after June 16, 1865. This whole story remains in the gallery today.

“We really sat down with each other to think about what it means to keep Crenshaw Dairy Mart,” said Cullers, who was also one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. “There’s a reason we haven’t changed the sign or the name.”

Since its inauguration in 2020 – and with the latest addition to CEO Ashley Blakeney – Crenshaw Dairy Mart has been presenting the work of imprisoned artists, promoting healing through ongoing prayer and urban gardening workshops and raising funds for affected cultural workers in South Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Crenshaw Dairy Mart. Photo: Darius Morrow.Lighting Up the Sky and Pray for LA, Crenshaw Dairy Mart, led by co-founder noé olivas. Prototype of the installation, Mural, 2020–2021.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s mission has always been to nourish, above all. Initially, Coolers and Doris headed to the Antelope Valley, an area where, according to Coolers, “there are not enough resources and a place where many people who have been gentrified by the city are moving.” It wasn’t until Coolers contacted her childcare provider at Sage Garden Montessori that she discovered that there was a former dairy store in Inglewood. “In a way, we like to say that Dairy Mart was brought to us by my child,” says Coolers.

Like its predecessors at Brockman Gallery, 32 Gallery and Ankrum Gallery during the heyday of the black art movement in the 1960s, Crenshaw Dairy Mart is interested in the development of black art forms. Creating a new gallery that still uses the old name and inscription was a way to celebrate all those who have revived a neighborhood that was once denied to them.

“In the process of tracing the legacy of the Black Art Movement in South Central, we named a story of frustration with color artists and black artists,” says Doriz.

Inglewood has been at the center of division and displacement since it first became a black neighborhood. Many parts of its growth were beyond the control of black people, even after it was racially desegregated in the mid-1960s, when white escapes and the construction of entertainment complexes such as the Forum prompted them to think about creating a self-sufficient city. And this continues to be the case, as many in the community still feel excluded from the process of approving even more massive sports complexes, while at the same time a huge wave of white, wealthier homeowners represents an uncertain future for families. living near the Poverty Threshold. In response, artists and organizers, including Crenshaw Dairy Mart, have banded together to support and orient themselves in their longevity and core values ​​in Inglewood beyond the white-dominated art market.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Photo: Courtesy of Gio Solis.Crenshaw Dairy Mart co-founders Patrice Coolers and Noah Olivas performed “Dangerous Times, We Must Be Connected” at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Los Angeles, curated by Crenshaw Dairy Mart and presented by For Freedoms on February 28, 2020.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s inaugural project in February 2020 was an impactful debut. “Yes to R! Archives and legal concepts (Part 1: 2011-2013)”Curated by Doris and Otham Breon Williams, used the gallery space to set out a decade-long timeline of how artists acted as the first response to injustice at the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. A stack of the 2,865-page plan to expand the LA County Jail was on display, along with a paper shredder, wings made from Cullors’ brother’s used clothes for her presentation in 2020, and email correspondence between Cullors and the Reform LA Jails coalition after boarding LA County. the supervisors voted to put measure R, aimed at criminal justice, on the ballot.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart continued its archival work around Measure R with “CARE NOT CAGES: Pandemic treatment”, A show co-authored by Doris and Anna Breeze, which explores how public health crises highlight the evils of the prison system. The resulting inexcusable online exhibition brought together poems, comics and paintings by six imprisoned artists who created several works in response to the pandemic that plagued more than 48,000 people on Covid-19 for failing to comply with public health protocols in prisons. CARE NOT CAGES not only raised artists who would not be in conventional commercial spaces, but also reflected on the state of insecurity of the closed population.

Everything is done with intention and care with the spirit that leads us.

The individual practices of the founders also became unchanged at Crenshaw Dairy Mart. olivas, who is currently working on his own exhibition for the gallery, gravitates towards research and drawing as his main forms, but is now considered a multidisciplinary artist. His research work explores a common theme in Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s installations and exhibitions: prayer and mourning.

“Much of our work right now is rooted in trying to be here during the uprising [in the summer of 2020]the pandemic and all these other amazing things and part of why we feel good is that everything is done with intention and care with the spirit that leads us, ”says Olivas.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Image courtesy of Crenshaw Dairy Mart. Photo: Filmblacktivist (@filmblacktivism).co-founder of Crenshaw Dairy Mart noé olivas, domingo (2012 – present); 63 sq. Ft. 1967 Chevy Step-Van truck with wreck and movable social sculpture. 6’2 “x 10’3” x 7’2 “.

The upcoming olivas exhibition (under the working title “Let’s Pray”) asks what collective mourning looks like in the healing spaces of the community. This became an urgent issue in the first year of Crenshaw Dairy Mart as a gallery, as the founders watched the devastating ways in which the pandemic disproportionately affected black, brown and poor communities in southern Los Angeles. Against the background of the tragedy, the group longed for more places to mourn.

“A lot [“Let’s Pray] it has to do with group celebrations and gathering people, as far as we can, through art, ”says Olivas.

Along with the olivas exhibition, it is a continuation of Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s Prayer for LA program, which will include the second iteration of their “removal sub” in partnership with LA County. The pod, a garden built within a geodesic dome, will be used for seed-to-table cultivation and treatment seminars organized by local black farmers and abolitionist groups.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Image courtesy of artists and Crenshaw Dairy Mart. Photo: Gio Solis.Crenshaw Dairy Mart (Patrice Coolers, Alexandre Ali Reza Doris and Noah Olivas), abolitionist pod (prototype) (2021). Modular geodesic dome containing an autonomous garden.

For the founders of Crenshaw Dairy Mart, art is just as much about giving as it is about showing. They think it was a privilege to find the place; thus, the team has a duty to be a cultural carrier in Inglewood, while practicing its abolitionist values ​​to imagine a world free of police, cartel solutions and criminal society.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Blakeney said. “One of the biggest lessons is about mutual accountability in the neighborhood. There were many difficult lessons learned about art, organization and the crossroads for both. ”

Crenshaw Dairy Mart is committed to keeping up with large-scale development – from digital billboards and new apartments to the largest stadium in the NFL – in a predominantly black city. Uniquely, Cullors, dorriz, olivas and Blakeney have not been overwhelmed by the pressure to adapt to the forces that cause fear of abandonment. Moving forward, Crenshaw Dairy Mart will keep up the pace to ensure that all signs – from staff to the message – always point to Inglewood.

How Crenshaw Dairy Mart has promoted cultural healing through art in South L.A. Source link How Crenshaw Dairy Mart has promoted cultural healing through art in South L.A.

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