Local Artist Elonte Davis Hosts Art Exhibit at Eastside Liquor Store, Promoting Art in the Community

(PHOTO: Photographer Elonte Davis and team pose for a picture at the “Love, Appreciation, and Celebration show.)

Have you ever imagined an art exhibition taking place within the confines of a liquor store? Or envisioned a Detroit artist challenging artistic norms while authentically representing the essence of their community? On Detroit’s Eastside, amidst the hustle and bustle of Gratiot Avenue, lies a remarkable fusion of art and community that challenges conventions and ignites the spirit of appreciation and celebration. Photographer and artist Elonte Davis has seamlessly intertwined two worlds through his unique perspective on life, capturing the raw beauty and narratives of Black Detroiters in his latest exhibit, “Love, Appreciation, and Celebration,” hosted at Liquor Basket Gratiot.

Davis, a visionary with a keen eye for capturing the authentic essence of everyday life in Detroit, has curated a transformative exhibit that transcends traditional boundaries, both in its setting and its impact. “Love, Appreciation, and Celebration” is not just a title for Davis’ latest exhibit; it’s a mantra that encapsulates his mission and vision for the city he calls home. From the streets of Detroit to the walls of Liquor Basket Gratiot, Davis’s photographs tell stories of resilience, joy, and connection – narratives that often go untold in mainstream art circles.

“I’ve been in galleries but the people in the hood don’t come to my shows, and they never get a chance to see themselves on walls,” said Davis. The project took flight last summer, as Davis seized the vibrant atmosphere and camaraderie of the 4th of July festivities to start capturing images of patrons at Liquor Basket. Recounting the experience, Davis expressed, “When I started photographing customers inside the store, their reactions were crazy electric. To see themselves on the walls and on the flyers was like I was giving them a voice and helping them be seen.”

Beyond the beauty in the photographs of the exhibit, a huge piece of the show is its unconventional venue – a Black-owned and operated liquor store, where patrons can browse aisles of spirits while immersing themselves in a gallery of photographs that speak to the soul of Detroit. Davis’s decision to host the exhibit in such a space was intentional, aiming to break down barriers and make art accessible to all.

Individuals in low-income or minority households often report limited access to arts and cultural activities compared to their higher-income or white counterparts. The Arts Education Data Project reveals that declines in arts education disproportionately affect Black and Brown students, with a reduction of 49% and 40%, respectively, since the 1980s, while white students have experienced minimal reductions.

“I wanted to bring art directly to the community,” Davis explains. “I wanted people to feel celebrated in their own neighborhood. That’s why I chose Liquor Basket Gratiot – it’s a place where everyone feels welcome.”

And welcomed they were. From art collectors to families to local residents, visitors from all walks of life flocked to the exhibit, drawn by the vibrant energy and authenticity emanating from Davis’s photographs. The exhibit became more than just a display of art; it became a gathering place, a hub for connection and community. “I felt like I was walking into a scene from a movie,” recalled fellow artist and attendee Oshun Williams. “Everyone was just enjoying themselves, celebrating life and each other. It was beautiful to see.”

Photographer Elonte Davis stands alongside an attendee of the exhibit, proudly displaying a sold photograph at the “Love, Appreciation, and Celebration” show.

The most captivating aspect of the event wasn’t just the introduction of art to an urban area typically devoid of such representation but also the way it drew art collectors, some journeying from as far as New York, and art enthusiasts accustomed to galleries and studios, into the vibrant tapestry of life and culture depicted in the photographs. It exemplified the expansive reach of art and the transformative power of representation. For Davis, merging these two worlds was a fulfilling endeavor, as it highlighted the beauty found at the intersection of different realities.

As Davis reflected, he reminisced about his journey into the world of photography, which began in 2013 during his college years. As he shared his story, it became evident that his passion for capturing life and feelings runs deep. “I feel like I’m capturing the moments and emotions of my people,” he explained. “It’s about appreciation, celebration, and letting them walk through everyday moments.”

Photographer Elonte Davis admires a cooler display inside Liquor Basket Gratiot.

For Davis, the exhibit is about more than just showcasing his photography; it’s about giving back to the community that has shaped him as an artist and as a person. By bringing art to the “hood,” he hopes to inspire others to embrace their creativity and express themselves authentically. “It’s about bridging worlds and making a difference,” Davis says. “I want people to know that their stories matter, that they are seen and valued. That’s what love, appreciation, and celebration are all about.”

As the exhibit draws to a close, its impact continues to reverberate throughout the community, inspiring hope and unity in its wake. Through his lens, Davis has captured the beauty and resilience of Detroit, leaving an indelible mark on the soul of the city. As we reflect on this journey of love, appreciation, and celebration, one thing is clear – art has the power to transcend barriers and bring people together in ways we never thought possible. And in Detroit, where creativity thrives amidst adversity, that power is more evident than ever.

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