February 1, 2018

Joe Minter @ Atlanta Contemporary - Once That River Starts to Flow

Joe Minter: Once That River Starts to Flow
Atlanta Contemporary
Through April 1, 2018

Joe Minter is ”The Magic City” and “The Magic City” is Joe Minter. He is one of a long line of decedents of emancipated slaves, farmers, coal miners, and steelworkers who built Birmingham into the city it is. To visit Joe Minter’s home is a to take a walk in the deepest recesses of American history. Abutting right up to his property is the Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens, “ancestral African burial grounds” where Michelle Obama’s great-great grandfather is buried besides countless hero veterans of war who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Minter frequently ends his long days by sitting beside the cemetery, not talking, “just listening to the 70,000 collective years of lessons the ancestors can teach him.” Joe Minter’s exhibition is a fully new body of work. 

JOE MINTER (b. 1943) is a retired construction worker and “outsider” artist who created his “African Village in America” at his home and an adjoining vacant lot at 912 Nassau Street near Shadow Lawn Memorial Park in the Woodland Park neighborhood of Birmingham. The African Village in America was begun in 1988 after Minter received a vision from God. The result, which is being continually enlarged, is a densely-packed art environment consisting of sculptures, monuments, signs, plantings and totems. The primary themes involve African-American history, particularly in Birmingham. Specific installations memorialize the 1963 church bombing and Martin Luther King, Jr’s stay in the Birmingham City Jail. He includes references to the spirits of African warriors looking over their descendants, and the achievements of African-Americans in numerous fields. Alongside the themes of achievement and loss are constant Biblical references and words of praise and thanks to God. These messages are distinct from William Rice’s “cross garden” in Prattville in that they favor praise and respect for God and creation rather than fiery appeals for salvation.

535 Means Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318