On February 21st Progressive Black Men Incorporated (PBM) hosted the 6th annual Blazers in the Arts event at Florida Atlantic University. Blazers provides a creative space for black talent to be shared amongst the community.
“Blazers in the Arts can best be explained as a massive art exhibit that showcases talents in art, music, and spoken word,” said Donovan Saint Cloud, who is a member of PBM. He and Gandhi Lucate serve as the event coordinators for Blazers.
They’ve both held their positions as event coordinators with the group for nearly a year now and have connected with a lot of people to make this event a success. The two men worked tirelessly to pull together a culturally diverse event that showcased local black talent while simultaneously keeping attendees entertained.
This year’s event theme was “Coming to America” which brought out some amazing outfits.
“While there is no dress code, the event always has a theme. Attendees should aim to dress as elegantly as possible in relation to the theme of the event” said Cloud.
The event took place in the student union and was spread out among multiple rooms, including Like Oak. There were musical performances, live painting, and, of course, artwork displayed in all of the rooms.
Jahreal, one of the performers, mentioned that one of his band members connected him with PBM to allow him to perform and how grateful he was for the opportunity. This was his first time attending this event and he was very impressed by the involvement of the student body.
Another musician, Verlene Faust was also contacted by a PBM member to sing at Blazers and was honored to do so.
She sang several times throughout the event and was ecstatic at the response from the crowd, “The performances were great and it was awesome being able to share this creative space with other artists like myself. It was unfortunate that the microphone kept cutting out, it affected some of the performances negatively and the crowd became less receptive while we were having technical difficulties but besides that, I loved everything about it!” said the musician.
During soundcheck in Live Oak, all of the equipment was working fine but as the show began the microphones chipped in and out, butchering some of the songs the musicians were trying to perform. Nevertheless, the show went on and the audience sang along too. The band played exquisitely and supported all artists that stepped onto the stage with a steady flow of melodious music.
Ari Charis, a first-time attendee and artist who painted at least 10 of the portraits displayed in the gallery, was excited to see attendees interacting with her artwork. “I am not exactly local but I am based out of Florida. I am a single mom so this is not a hobby, this is my career path. I am showing my kids that you can follow your dreams no matter what and that when you have a passion you should continue to follow it no matter how old you are” said Charis.
Her pieces were posted at the forefront of the event and caught the eye of nearly everyone who entered the creative space, “Eve” was a popular one amongst the crowd.
Fashion Forward took the exhibit to the next level with live paintings of the outfits on models. Once the model’s outfits were painted, they posed and strutted for the crowd.
Following the event, I spoke to some attendees about how they liked the event.
“I did enjoy myself. I loved the art, it was really beautiful but it didn’t seem well planned out. We were constantly walking back and forth in the rain from stage to stage and there was more art in the back of the student union that I didn’t even know about until they were packing up” said Leonela Gaithers.
Returning attendee, Alex Regis said, “I loved that there were more forms of art this year like poetry, live-art, multiple musicians, and a lot more paintings than last year.” She went on to say, “Even though there was art in the Grand Palm room it didn’t look accessible. It looked like it was in a restricted area so I didn’t know there was art back there. When most people arrived, they walked straight through the student union and along with the crowd headed into Live Oak and missed out on another 4 rooms of artwork”.
“Compared to last year, Regis said, the artists seemed confused by what time they would be performing since the schedule was off by an hour. Last year’s event was off by an hour as well but there was no obvious confusion because they didn’t allow attendees into the venue until set up was 100% complete.”
Donovan informed me that the very first Blazers was hosted in the Engineering East building and Blazer’s editions 2-5 were in the library. “This year we decided as a collective that a change was needed so we chose the student union”. He did not go into detail about what prompted the change in venue however, that has not stopped student speculation.
“I heard that they didn’t do it in the library this year because of the owl card system and that really sucks because I have been looking forward to getting an elegant picture of me in the library like people who went last year. I hope that next year they put it in there instead or make it an off-campus event if the owl card thing is really that big of a deal,” said student, Erika Pierre.
Overall, this event did exactly what it set out to do: connect the black community in a creative space and looking good while doing it. Donovan said that PBM “has not discussed a location for next year and regret nothing about the event”. So if you missed out on it this year, remember there’s always next year!
The artists mentioned in this post can be contacted through Instagram
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All images in this story were taken by @2live_frankieg
For details on all the artists featured at Blazers in the Arts Donovan can also be contacted through Instagram: @donsaint_cloud
Mykera Crawford is a staff writer for the Paradigm Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org .