In its third year, Art Noire expands to two-day celebration of heritage and culture

Art Noire’s annual exhibition to shine a spotlight on Black artists and other creatives will for the first time be a two-day event that celebrates Black culture and its impact.

“Appreciating other cultures is how we can come together and create community,” says Dorian Hunter, who titles himself chief vibe officer of Art Noire.

The event is meant to be “an outlet to counteract” some of the challenges faced by those who are underrepresented and underserved, he says.

“It does seem like there is a trend to be open-minded, to be creative, to not just accept things the way they are,” Hunter says.

Art Noire is just one way to celebrate Black heritage and culture, and it aims to offer events and experiences “that make you feel good about being Black,” he says.

The event will take place from noon to 8 p.m. Fri. Feb. 2 and 6 to 9 p.m. Sat. Feb. 3. Both days’ activities will be at the Springfield Museum of Art, 107 Cliff Park Road, and will feature creatives from Springfield, throughout the Miami Valley, and across the nation.

This year’s theme, “Love Black,” is not only a nod to the event’s proximity to Valentine’s Day but also a statement to those within and outside the Black community, Hunter says. Many enjoy the music, movies, and other forms of culture, but some become “standoffish” when it comes to events that encompass Black expression more fully.

“Black culture is a lot of times celebrated up to a certain extent, and then it goes more to toleration,” he says.

Events on Fri. Feb. 2 include the unveiling of a curated gallery featuring Black artists from throughout the U.S., along with spaces curated by other organizations from Dayton and Cincinnati. Lunch and merchandise vendors also will be available.

The afternoon will include two panel discussions – a 3 p.m. session on “The Intersection of Identity and Career: Balancing Professional Growth and Personal Integrity” and another at 4:30 p.m. about “Innovation and Influence: Black Voices Transforming Creative Industries.”

Several performances will wrap up the evening, including Rafeke, D. Knight, Feyth, Harry Green, and headliner SFE Tav. Free tickets can be reserved in advance.

The Saturday evening dress-to-impress grand celebration runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase, and the evening includes hors d’oeuvres and performances by Ray Makale, E.Sea, (CA)^2, Yvnn and the headliner Urban Art Orchestra. The art galleries unveiled during Friday’s event also will be available to view, and drinks will be available for purchase. 

Urban Art Orchestra headlines the Saturday event.Now in its third year, Art Noire originally began as an alternative way to celebrate Black History Month, Hunter says. February, along with January’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, are prime times for sit-down dinners and speakers, and those events fill a niche. Art Noire, he says, is another way to celebrate Black history and the future.

Alexis Henry, the founder of Society Peach Marketing will be a panelist in the Friday discussion about Black voices transforming creative industries.

Henry, who has worked in fashion and as a plus-size model, last year returned to her native Springfield after living and working in New York City. She says she will be candid about her personal experiences and the realities she faced.

“I think sometimes people have illusions about what it’s going to be like,” says Henry, who also is Hunter’s sister-in-law.

Providing a safe space for creatives is important, Henry says. Making money in a creative field is difficult enough, she says, and it is even harder for those who are Black.

In 2022, the first year for the event, upwards of 100 people attended Art Noire, Hunter says. The event has expanded through word of mouth and a growing participation by those outside of Springfield, and this year the goal is to attract 500 on the first day and another 350 on the second.

Hosting the Saturday night event.Hunter had an eye on the sustainability of Art Noire even when the first event took place two years ago, and he sees more opportunities for the future. The popularity of social media combined with the support Hunter has seen for Art Noire both locally and nationally means that it could be a brand that “flourishes” digitally, he says. 

Hunter, a Springfield native who has two young daughters with his wife, Erika, works for Elliott Insurance Agency, and he has seen how art can be used to express oneself. He noticed growing up that some of the most creative people he knew were from families that made it safe to express themselves, through drawing, painting, or another way.

“That’s the type of environment I want to create for the next generation,” he says.

Art Noire is a one-of-a-kind experience in Springfield, and having an outlet and opportunity to celebrate the culture in an accepting environment fulfills a desire in the community, Hunter says. 

Hunter hopes that those who attend Art Noire find their own constructive outlets and inspiration to create.

“It would be fantastic if everyone leaving the doors had a deeper feeling of love and appreciation for Black culture,” he says.

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Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

Diane Erwin is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Springfield News-Sun. A graduate of Ohio State University, her articles have appeared in a number of publications in Springfield and Dayton. In addition to her journalism background, she has worked in marketing and written copy for businesses throughout the country. In her spare time, she likes to read, dream about Schuler’s donuts, and travel near and far with her husband and two children.