He's excited because his group is having its first show.
Since 1997, the American Jazz Museum's Changing Gallery has shown work by black artists and work reflecting the black experience -- gems like a Smithsonian exhibit of photography and abstract expressionist paintings by Frederick J. Brown. But never before has it displayed work by local artists. "African-American artists who have not heretofore risen to the occasion are saying, 'I'm not taking a backseat to anyone in the country,'" Powell insists. "This community needs to wake up and embrace what it has."
The show, called First Light, includes a wide variety of work, ranging from politically charged quilts to bold paintings to intricate wood carvings. Some artists -- like printmaker Janine Carter -- are just starting out; others -- like painter Dean Mitchell -- have developed their skills more fully. Members of the collective buy supplies together and meet once a month to critique one another's work, providing a forum to discuss creative challenges.
People who venture over to the American Jazz Museum between now and March can see the results: photorealistic watercolors by Henry Dixon, who captures beautiful details such as the corner of a tablecloth bathed in sunlight; "The Fall," Terry Beavers' 5-by-9-foot canvas with tassels attached to the top and bottom as though it were a giant rug; "Booker T.," a detailed etching by Ed Hogan.
"Before I saw the show, I could already visualize all of this together," Powell says. "But to actually see it this morning -- my preconceived notion was correct, but I didn't know it was this correct."