By Janice Malone
NORTH NASHVILLE, TN—Last Saturday, Woodcuts Gallery Framing had an opening Reception featuring the works of their resident curator Omari Booker. The Nashville-based artist featured the works from his latest vibrant exhibit of paintings titled, “I LIVE HERE.” This collection is about the North Nashville and surrounding areas,” says Omari during the reception, which featured several of the area’s newest residents. ‘A lot of the paintings have been created on doors, windows and other items that have come out of the North Nashville area, as buildings have been torn down to be renovated. Some of the portraits that are featured in this collection are of people who live in the North Nashville area.”
North Nashville is currently in the midst of a massive gentrification sweep that’s occurring fast and swift. Booker, like so many others who are native to living in the area, want to preserve memories of their beloved homegrown region of the city for future generations.
“Why did I create the ‘I LIVE HERE’ exhibit? Well, because I live here!” says Omari with a laugh. “I grew up in North Nashville. I played tennis down the street at Hadley Park. I graduated from TSU, so as myself and other artists saw the neighborhood starting to change, we felt that it was important to preserve the culture of the area.
The centerpiece of the I Live Here exhibit is a painting that was created on an actual old door that includes the actual doorknob. The door was torn from out of a refurbished North Nashville home. The famous downtown “Batman Building” peeks through the skyline of the multi-colored, vibrant hues of the painting, but the real focus is on the expensive Werthan Lofts and the Cheatham Place Public Housing Development. Rosa Parks Blvd. divides the two properties, but there is far more than a street that’s a division between the two buildings, as Omari notes: “It’s a really vast economic disparity between the two buildings but the painting is displaying how both sides are co-existing together in the same area. Hopefully, residents can find a way to learn from each other.”
ABOUT OMARI. Omari Booker began his journey as an artist his senior year of high school at Montgomery Bell Academy. There he realized his gift for visual art and like most true artists, the path to developing his talent has been anything but linear. It has taken him through various disciplines and institutions including Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Tennessee State University. As he studied Mathematics and other more traditional curricula he finally focused on studio art and graphic design earning his B.S. in Graphic Design from Tennessee State University.
The entire I Live Here collection has a total of about 25 different paintings that are currently for sale. Can be purchased at Woodcuts Gallery and Framing until August 5th. Or contact the artist directly at www.omaribooker.com