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Culture Couch is WYSO's occasional series exploring the arts and culture scene in our community. It’s stories about creativity – told through creative audio storytelling.

Black Palette Gallery: A new space for artistic expression

 Photo of James and Shola
BPAG Facebook page
James Pate, with Shola Odumade, showcases his artwork at the Black Palette Gallery, a new space for artistic expression, located on West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio.

Many artists have an apprentice or students they guide. It is less common that an artist opens a gallery next to their mentor. Here is the story of James Pate's new gallery, Black Palette, two doors down from longtime Dayton artist Bing Davis, on West Third Street. Mary Evans has this story for Culture Couch.

Mary Evans: When the ribbon was cut at the new black pallet gallery, Bing Davis told a story about a young artist, James Pate.

Bing Davis: When James Pate was in junior high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, I got a letter and an article with a photograph of the little kid. My name is James Pate and Dan Soul, who was the first African American art supervisor for public school. And we were working together at the time. And he sent me a photograph and an article and said, "If you ever have a chance to see this young man or a chance to work with him, please do so. He's very, very special." This is seventh grade. And he was as good creatively in the seventh grade as he is now.

Mary Evans: I sat down with James Pate and his artistic life partner Shola Odumade to talk about their hopes for this space.

James Pate: I want to exhibit other artists as well as myself, you know, being a curator is going out and seeking and finding artists and then we think as a curator would be interesting to the public. And being close to being is just an added benefit.

Mary Evans: The first show was only the artwork of James Pate. And it was unbelievable, I first noticed a portrait of NBA player Shaquille O'Neal, it almost looked as if it was drawn digitally. James and Shola explained the technique that he used to create this piece.

Shola Odumade: James also has a signature style that he conceived — a technique that I call techno Cubism. And it consists of just 100% line work. So a lot of freehand lines that are very, very straight for the freehand. It sort of amazes people when they discover that the work wasn't produced by a computer program, or by some straight edge, you know, device. So yeah, techno Cubism, the name black palette brings up a lot of images. And this is what Pate and his partner wanted.

 Artwork: Turn of Endearment by James Pate
The Citizens Newspaper Group
"ames Pate's artwork 'Turn of Enderment' is on display at the Black Palette Gallery. The piece showcases Pate's signature Techno Cubism style.

James Pate: The name (Black Palette) is more about the business term "black," you know, as opposed to being in the red. So we see it as sort of opposition to starving artists, you know, so we, so we just want to have this gallery to be economically in the black got it, that'll be what we'll be striving for. But it also points to how African Americans since we've entered into this country, as enslaved people have put businesses in this country into black. So there's like many, many, many examples of how when African Americans participated, how it caused these companies to get richer and richer and get in a black instead of black. And one of the examples is when this movie aired.

So now, you know, when Nike was in their situation and income, here comes Michael Jordan, and the rest is history. That's an example of how when we put companies in the black, it is the detriment to our own companies and entities. So, so yeah, so we're about recognizing that as well as celebrating it, you know, we just want to acknowledge how we as a people have aided and, and, you know, the riches of this country, even though we haven't shared it, like College Art Gallery, we want to be producers as well as, you know, the beneficiaries of our efforts.

Shola Odumade: And as we said, just promoting the artists, you know, being a springboard for careers or, you know, further launching careers that are already developed and in progress. And so, you know, knowing that passion and profit can coexist, and you can be this artist who it is your passion that you create, but you don't have to be a starving one. And that can be a flourishing, thriving business, from art.

Mary Evans: Shola Odumade and James Pate look forward to pop up art exhibits, yoga workshops, and so much more. Make sure to check out The Black Palette art gallery located at 1139 W. Third St. in Dayton.

Support for Culture Couch comes from WYSO Leaders Frank Scenna and Heather Bailey, who are proud to support storytelling that sparks curiosity, highlights creativity and builds community and Ohio Arts Council.

Culture Couch is created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Mary Evans is a Dayton, Ohio-based activist, abolitionist, and journalist. She holds a BA in the Business of Interdisciplinary Media Arts from Antioch College. In 2022 she was awarded the Bob and Norma Ross Outstanding Leadership Award at the 71st Dayton NAACP Hall of Freedom Awards. She has been a Community Voices producer at WYSO since 2018. Her projects include: Re Entry Stories, a series giving space to system-impacted individuals and West Dayton Stories, a community-based story-telling project centered on the people and places of Dayton’s vibrant West Side. Mary is also the co-founder of the Journalism Lab and helps folks in the Miami Valley that are interested in freelance journalism reach some of their reporting goals.