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Amar Stewart x ABCLT Let's Talk About Redlining 8x10 Print
Garden Party is honored to be working with Amar Stewart and the Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust on a project to support ABCLT's campaign to provide permanently affordable housing, home improvements, and property tax relief to legacy residents of historic Burton Street Community, which is located off Haywood Road in West Asheville.
On December 15, 2022 a special portrait of Mr. Clifford Cotton was unveiled at Tracey Morgan Gallery. Mr. Cotton, a longtime resident of Burton Street, is also the grandson of E.W. Pearson. Mr. Pearson was a prominent figure in Asheville's history who brought an entrepreneurial spirit and community engagement to Black neighbors in West Asheville. Pearson owned several businesses, helped create an agricultural fair for community members, started the first Black baseball team in Asheville, established affordable housing projects, and throughout his life advocated for better social, educational, economic, and charitable opportunities for Asheville's Black community.
When Amar first began working on this project, he met with Mr. Cotton to learn more about the legacy of Burton Street. It was through their conversation that Amar learned Mr. Cotton had never been able to sit in the front rows of the Fine Arts Theater in downtown Asheville; because of segregation, Black folks had a separate entrance from white movie goers, and were only allowed to sit in designated areas in the theater's balcony. This story was the jumping off point for Amar's portrait.
"I wanted to capture Mr. Cotton sitting on the front row, on the ground level by himself. He had never sat in these seats before. The color red, which is strong in the painting, represents "redlining" here in Asheville."
This special project honors the legacy of Black communities, similar to Burton Street, that have often existed in a bubble and that ultimately become vulnerable to bursting as systems of oppression work to push them out of our current collective.