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Black Alaskan Artists Matter has First Friday exhibit

A group of Black Alaskan Artists are kicking off a traveling exhibit with a Fairbanks First Friday event tonight.

Both the exhibit and the group behind it are called Black Alaskan Artists Matter. Fairbanks musician and visual artist Alyssa Quintyne says this is the third annual event for the group, but the first in-person.

“The first two exhibitions we did were virtual,” Quintyne said.

She says Perseverance Theatre, headquartered in Juneau, contacted her in 2020, looking to do something more than a short Black History Month presentation.

“ For myself and MoHagani, and Amable J. Rosa at the time, collaborated to sort of figure out what that something more would be, and BAAM was born.”

BAAM, B-A-A-M is still curated by Quintyne and M.C. MoHagani Magnetek, a Fairbanks-based writer, and storyteller.

“ You know, for example, if you go on Google and you search black Alaskan artists, you don't really see anybody. If you talk to other folks in the art space about Black Alaskan artists that have had exhibits, or who are teachers, or who have curated their own craft in Alaska, you barely hear about anybody, and that is the problem,” Quintyne said.

Rio Alberto, Director of Marketing and Engagement of Perseverance Theatre says they wanted to support artists who aren’t normally exhibited.

“ We're looking at artists, many of whom have not hung their work in a gallery before. And so by putting resources into the professional development in of these artists, including gallery space, including for matting and hanging and, and just giving the information on how do we do an artist's statement, that's a little bit of why Perseverance Theater thought, you know, we need to do something more,” Alberto said.

This spring’s exhibition opens tonight at VENUE on Second Avenue in downtown Fairbanks, with live music starting around 6:30. It features painting, hip hop, poetry, photography,

make-up design, storytelling, and other forms of art. Quintyne says Perseverance will help move the exhibit to Juneau in May and to Anchorage in June, to increase its exposure.

“ For this one here in Fairbanks, we have 12 artists, um, including some returning Fairbanks artists, and in Juneau and Anchorage, it might be a little bit more than 12 because we also have some performing artists in both those locations,” Quintyne says.

Alberto says there will be receptions and a chance to meet the artists in each of the cities.

 ”And I hope that folks that attend First Friday events, you know, recognize, ‘oh, wait a second, there are Black artists in this community or across the state that we have access to, and are doing remarkable work that we can celebrate and uplift’.”

“And I hope that ultimately, you know, people just, um, are able to see this as art for art's sake as well, with a focus that includes all Alaskans.”

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.