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'Showing Black Life': Stony Island Arts Bank Showcases Artist Adeshola Makinde

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was once a vibrant financial center on Chicago's South Side.

A popular bank built in 1923. But for years, it was vacant and scheduled for the wrecking ball. CBS 2's Jim Williams has more on the building's new purpose: investing in the artistic community and exhibiting the works of Adeshola Makinde.

Visual artist Adeshola Makinde found inspiration from the pages of magazines that were in just about every African American home: Ebony and Jet.

"The advertisements, the stories, it was all so thoughtful in showing Black life," Makinde said.

Using photos, even subscription forms, Makinde has put his stamp on these images of Black life: a joyous Louis Armstrong, a pensive Cicely Tyson, children greeting the ice cream truck.

"I really just wanted to capture that feeling that the ice cream truck - driving through a neighborhood - gives you."

It's fitting that Makinde's exhibition would be at the Stony Island Arts Bank. It houses an enormous and visually striking collection of books donated by the Johnson Publishing, the iconic Chicago company and the longtime home of Ebony and Jet.

"I decided to make this library, instead of a private affair. To house it in the Arts Bank and then make these volumes of Black knowledge and excellence available to the community and the world."

It was a decade ago that artist, entrepreneur, and Rebuild Foundation founder Theaster Gates bought the old bank building at 68th and Stony Island and went to work creating what is now a beacon on the South Side.

"When people drive past now or they walk past or hear music bumping on Sundays, I want them to feel like, 'man, how can I be a part of this? Is this for me? I want to go in,'" Gates said.

It is one of many projects guided by Gates, who wants to make culture accessible to everyone.

"Culture is all around. Sometimes you need a home, a house for culture. I feel like at its most fundamental level we make houses for culture," Gates said.

Now offering a showcase for a young Chicago artist, whose exhibition will be on display at the Stony Island Arts Bank until February 27th.

"It's re-contextualizing something that is often thrown away," Gates added.

Giving new life to pages that captured generations of the Black experience.

"To show my work here is truly a dream, come true," Makinde said.

The exhibit is presented by both the Rebuild Foundation and the Anthony Gallery.


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