Josh Goldstein's "Millions" on view at The Sol Studio

Josh Goldstein’s “Millions” on view at The Sol Studio

“Motown to Def Jam” is, hands down, the most exciting art exhibition in Harlem this summer! Spanning four of the neighborhood’s most prominent art spaces, the show celebrates the history of Black music through the eyes of 49 visual artists. If you haven’t seen the exhibit or attended one of its many special events, make your way to The Sol Studio, La Maison d’Art, The LeRoy Neiman Art Center and Strivers Gardens Gallery before July 26th. Signing up for the next ArtCrawl Harlem tour, upcoming on Saturday, July 20th, is one fun and easy way to see it all!

Presented by Souleo Enterprises and ArtCrawl Harlem, “Motown to Def Jam” opened in June, in recognition of African-American Music Appreciation Month, launching with a guided trolley tour and reception attended by more than 100 visitors. Each participating gallery is representing one of four iconic record labels: Chess & Stax, Motown, Philadelphia International and Def Jam Records; and, each artist in the exhibit pays tribute to a socially-conscious song from those labels. Artist, Njuzi de Magalhaes, for instance, uses a colorful, mixed media alphabetic language to translate lyrics of Motown and Chess tunes at The Neiman Center and La Maison, respectively. And, Tirtzah Bassel connects with a Philadelphia International song by applying duct tape directly to the Strivers Gardens’ walls to illustrate a life-sized New York Stop and Frisk  scene.  Many artists imaginatively used current events to portray songs from as far back as the 50′s, demonstrating the timelessness of  messages in music created by Muddy Waters, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The O’Jays, Public Enemy and many, many others. By popular demand, ArtCrawl has added a second tour, and a final opportunity to take it all in amid art-enthusiasts, historians and the “Motown to Def Jam” artists in the flesh.

Massive and unprecedented, this project was brainstormed and brought to life by Souleo – Harlem’s most energetic and innovative curator. In addition to teaming up with Jacqueline Orange to connect the galleries via ArtCrawl Harlem tours, he organized separate artist receptions at each venue, brought in DJs Stormin’ Norman and Myke Walker to pump record label sounds at openings, and produced and moderated gallery talks at each location with notable music industry professionals including Jamar Chess, grandson of Chess Records co-founder, Leonard Chess, VIBE mag’s senior editor, Keith Murphy, and many more.  Adding to the exhibition’s long list of inclusive events, ArtCrawl even organized a youth day where up to fifty enthusiastic youngsters enjoyed their own expertly guided tour, culminating in a Motown-inspired workshop led by artist, Jeremiah Kyle Drake at The LeRoy Neiman Art Center. With less than two weeks remaining for this awesome production, you still catch one or all of the following dates:

Wed, July 17 @ 7pmLove Train: Philadelphia International Records, Gallery Talk with music professionals: Jessica Porter, Bobbi Booker and Rodney Whittenberg, Striver’s Gardens Gallery 300 W. 135th St. between Frederick Douglass & St. Nicholas. RSVP:

Sat, July 20 @ 12 noonArtCrawl Harlem Trolley Tour visiting all four galleries, ending with refreshments and gallery talk. Visit for more information.

Sat July 20 @ 3pmFight The Power: Def Jam Reception and Gallery Talk with special guests, Nikki D and Bill Adler. The Sol Studio 2073 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd @ 124th St. RSVP:


- Morningsider is pleased to continue our guest blogger features with Omo Misha who will be writing about the Uptown arts & culture experience!  Misha is a visual artist, curator and arts administrator, currently serving as Program Director for The LeRoy Neiman Art Center. She is the author of “Manifesting Things”, editor of the anthology “9/11: Voices from the Outsider Media” and a contributing writer to Of Note Magazine, which features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. You can follow Omo Misha directly at and on Facebook.

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