Recognizing Jacksonville's African American heritage

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  • | 12:00 p.m. June 28, 2010
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by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

In the first half of the 20th century, much of Jacksonville’s history was written by and about African Americans. The part of west Downtown called LaVilla was a center of culture, especially music. The late Teddy Washington grew up there with the late Ray Charles. Genovar’s Hall was a performance venue for the most well-known African American singers and musicians of the era.

Jacksonville’s African American community also has a rich history in business and entrepreneurship, said Carlton Lamar Robinson, president of the First Coast African American Chamber of Commerce and an instructor at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He was at the Adrian Pickett Gallery Thursday for the unveiling of the first in a series of prints titled “Harlem of the South,” a celebration of Jacksonville’s heritage.

“We want to promote Adrian as an artist and as an entrepreneur,” said Robinson. “He took something he’s passionate about and turned it into a business.”

Robinson and Pickett worked together to create the concept, then Pickett used his talent to transform those ideas into art.

Pickett, who has gained a reputation for his realistic pencil and charcoal drawings, said combining people with architecture, as he has in the first of the “Harlem of the South” series, was a challenge.”

“I do portraits of people and animals. It was definitely out of the box for me,” he added.

The original drawing is on exhibit at the Adrian Pickett Gallery at the Landing. Limited edition prints, signed by the artist, will be available beginning Saturday. For details call 962-2540.

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