Eatonville’s 130 Year-Anniversary Embellishment of Local and Bronze Kingdom Art
By Roger Caldwell
Eatonville, Florida is recognized as the oldest Black incorporated town in America, and it has survived. This is significant because in a time when statues and art is being torn down and destroyed, Eatonville is building up and edifying the strength, power, and genius of Africa and African-American art.
The significance of a culture is measured by its skill and longevity of its art, and the art exhibit displayed at the Eatonville Town Hall is a testimony of our greatness and creativity. In 1887, Eatonville was the town that freedom built, and in 2017 Mayor Eddie Cole and his team embraced the future with progressive leadership and a forward vision.
Something special is happening to Eatonville in terms of pride, new economic projects, and love for one another. A new $18 million elementary school will begin construction in August; a $100,000 grant will improve the parks, and construction of a national chain restaurant “Zaxby’s” is coming. There are also 99 acres of land that will be breaking ground for construction for mixed level home-sites in the next few months.
The art exhibit “Eatonville Proud” represents a resurgence of what had always exhibited in the African- American community, and that is pride in strong culture values. The ways these values are portrayed govern all of the major social institutions. Five local artists, Joyce Hayes, Ted Hollins, Ronald E. Kelly, Everett Spruill and Jane Turner-(Jilly) have come together to recapture some of life’s drama as we see it unfold in our community, from the past, present and future.
“Some African-Americans are uncomfortable with the names of our ancestors, but all we are talking about are those ancestors who have sacrificed their blood for our existence. Those who have sacrificed everything so we can be better off than they were when they came along. When you look at the statues and art, it unites a people as opposed to divide,” says Khalil Osiris – Director of Sales, Bronze Kingdom.
There were three magnificent and beautiful pieces from the Bronze Kingdom at the front of the Black Art exhibit showcase, and the artists’ work was displayed all over the first floor. Jane Turner, a longtime resident and artist of Eatonville, is the curator of the exhibit. In explaining Eatonville Proud, Ms Turner says “The definitive aspect of a people is found in artistic expression. This time we have chosen canvas as a backdrop as well as a variety of other mediums.”
As Eatonville kicks off a year-long celebration of its 130th anniversary, the art exhibit opened on 8/18/17 and be displayed until 9/20/17. Many took the time to stop by the Town Hall and experienced our power and greatness thru art.
”Each artist’s uniqueness plays off of the other to bring to the audience a well rounded perspective of skill and mastery. In addition, the exhibit also included the introduction of authentic African bronze, from The Bronze Kingdom. This is all evidence of a direct link to our community and Africa, and our ancient heritage of richness” explains Jane Turner-curator of the exhibit.
Eatonville Town Hall is located at 307 E. Kennedy Blvd, Eatonville, Fl. 32751, or call 407-623-8900 for more information. All visitors must sign in and show Photo I.D. at the front desk, and the hours are from 9 am to 4 pm.