The Greenwood Art Project, an initiative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, will launch public programming on Monday, Jan. 18, with the G.A.P. Van participating in the 42nd Annual Tulsa Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. The parade will start at 11 a.m.
The Greenwood Art Project seeks to raise awareness of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and destruction of its thriving Black community in the historic Greenwood District that included Black Wall Street, one of the most prominent Black-owned business districts in the United States during the early 1900s. The Greenwood Art Project also celebrates the resilience, healing and recovery of the community, with new resonance in today’s challenging times.
In 2019, Tulsa was awarded $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge to launch the Greenwood Art Project. The George Kaiser Family Foundation also has contributed $200,000 to the Greenwood Art Project.
As a component of the Greenwood Art Project, the G.A.P. Van has been commissioned through a grant from PBS for an American Portrait project that will be announced later this month. PBS and local affiliate OETA will be at the parade on Monday to record video for Black History Month and a documentary planned for May 31.
The G.A.P. Van looks like a small transit vehicle. Submissions to the Greenwood Art Project poster competition are displayed on one side of the van, and a photo collage of children, some from Greenwood, is on the other side. Nationally known photographers and activists Bev Grant and Ilka Hartmann have donated photos for the collage.
Residents still may create and submit posters for the project, sharing stories about the massacre and its ongoing meaning for the city and the country. The poster display will be a rotating gallery, to allow many posters to be shown on the G.A.P. Van.
The acronym G.A.P. is a reference to the R&B group GAP BAND. The acronym stands for Greenwood/Archer and Pine, their home and the boundary streets of historic Greenwood. This project is led by Rick Lowe, a 2014 MacArthur Fellow known for reinventing community revitalization as an art form.
After the parade, at 12:30 p.m. the G.A.P. Van will be parked in front of the Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge coffee shop, 10 N. Greenwood Ave. The public may view the van, watch performances and participate in outdoor art activities while socially distanced; personal protective equipment will be provided. The van will be there for the afternoon.
In the coming months, Kode Ransom of the Greenwood Art Project will drive the van to locations around Tulsa and other Oklahoma communities, enabling many residents to participate in the project. Exhibits by the commissioned artists will begin showing in March and April. The Greenwood Art Project Reception is scheduled for May 25.
For further updates on where the G.A.P. Van will travel around the city and other events, check the website and social media of the Greenwood Art Project: at www.greenwoodartproject.org