In the cold of the February winter, the Memorial Art Gallery opened its doors to its Black History Month Celebration Day — a part of the museum’s Celebration Series of culture and identity. Over 15 artists and performance groups, many based in the Rochester area, shared with the community their lovely work, which ranged from painting and poetry to dance and design.

With a set of events scattered around the venue, the showcase centered around the museum’s Vanden Brul Pavilion. The early end of the event hosted visual displays from Prince Will Star and Rochelle, who presented their artwork and painted live throughout the day. Across the floor, DJ ANDRE’ AGONY brought a sonic livelihood via Black gospel, hip-hop, and reggae that flowed throughout the day. 

Open to all ages, the event received a wide and diverse audience — ranging from young families to college-age students — and catered well to all. Performers from Garth Fagan Dance led visitors through a series of Afro-Caribbean dances, welcoming chants and laughter that echoed throughout the space. For individuals interested in exploring the museum’s work, a tour of the galleries was hosted by outreach specialist Delores Jackson Radney. Representatives from the Seneca Waterways Boy Scouts also led craft events for families that fostered play and connection through the arts.

Along with professional performers such as singer Cinnamon Jones and storyteller Angela Water Bamford, the event celebrated Rochester youth. Frederick Douglass R-Center’s Freedom Steppers, a dance group, performed in the museum’s ballroom — following a showcase of artwork from The Prestigious Gems. 

While the event’s primary focus lay on highlighting Black culture, creation, and performance, a strong emphasis on elevating community resources rang clear throughout the afternoon. Booths from Rochester-based organizations promoting wellness, health, and education lined the museum, and representatives from the community spoke alongside artists as the event progressed.

At its core, the event was truly a day of celebration, and a wonderful showcase of Black community, history, and joy in Rochester and beyond.

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