Compton native David Colbert Jr. is always keen to uplift his city and portray it in a positive light.
That’s why in 2018 he founded Compton Art Walk, a non-profit festival offering local artists the opportunity to showcase their talents and connections by growing within the community. After a hiatus in 2020, Art Walk returns to the Compton apartment complex this Sunday.
From Art Walk, Colbert founded Gallery 90220, a non-profit art space that gets its name from the Compton postcode. He originally aspired to open a gallery in Compton, but eventually settled on Beehive, a creative campus in the historic downtown area of South Los Angeles currently under construction near the city of the same name. Since arriving there during the pandemic in January 2021, the gallery has become the first enterprise on campus to officially open its doors.
“My dream is to have a gallery in Compton,” Colbert said in November. “This is the purpose of my life. I take Compton with me wherever I go. “
The gallery is currently hosting the first major installation – a photo exhibition about an Oscar-winning short film, Two Far Strangers. The film was written and co-directed by Travon Free, who attended high school with Colbert at the famous Dominguez Compton High School. (Other notable alumni include Tyson Chandler, Richard Sherman, MC Ren, and DJ Yella of the NWA.)
“It’s really cool because young creative people who make art … are coming together for this project,” Colbert said. “It is important for me to cooperate with people from my city. This is the moment to celebrate our artistic excellence. “
The exhibition features behind-the-scenes photographs from a 2020 film about a black man trapped in a Groundhog Day-style time loop that inevitably ends up being killed by a police officer.
“We are a community-based gallery, so our operations are a little different,” Colbert said.
“We are breaking some rules about what you think a gallery should be. Art galleries can be very intimidating and the goal is not to create an atmosphere here. One of my mantras: “For culture, from culture.” There are not many of us in the field of fine arts, so I like to communicate with like-minded people. [cities], these will always be centers of creativity: Brooklyn, Bronx, Philadelphia, Harlem, Watts. Places like this create greatness. “
Colbert also hosts a gallery podcast called The Red Dot Series featuring young black artists from across the country working in the fashion, music and visual arts industries. He calls it “weird art.”
“It’s about becoming a creative hub, not just for the community, but for all creatives,” Colbert said. “If you want to discuss art, music or fashion, we can do it here. Or, if you need to connect with other young creative people, this is the place where we can talk about how we can help each other. “
Growing up in the desert of the arts, Colbert set himself the task of creating an informal space in which artists and young creative people from all over the country can communicate and collaborate comfortably. The upcoming exhibition, which opens next year, will be a Verzoo-inspired show featuring New Orleans and Los Angeles photographers fighting in a city versus city rivalry.
“This is to create communication, not competition,” Colbert said. “I want [offer] a space that welcomes everyone in the art community, ”he said. “If you’re a good sneaker artist that’s cool, let’s talk about it. It’s not just about how traditional visual art spaces should look and feel. We need more access and support for artists, and I’m looking forward to it. “