Exhibits open at Gadsden Arts Center

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By Alice Du Pont

Three exhibits in one drew people from all walks of life to the Gadsden Arts Center last Friday night. Phil Gleason's sculptures dominated the Sara May Love Gallery, the works of the Gadsden Arts Center Artists Guild were on display in the Zoe Golloway Exhibition Hall and the black and white photographs from “Journey Toward Freedom” were shown in the Bates Community Gallery.

“Journey Toward Freedom” is an exhibition of black and white photographs which focuses on the journey that changed the course of history.

Defying their circumstances, young and old, black and white Americans stood together to change the course of history during the Civil Rights era.

From the snarling dogs to the faces of college students at a lunch counter attempting to get service, the photos chart much of the time that defined one of the toughest parts of modern American history.

The exhibit begins with the late James Ray Miller, an Albany, Ga. native who had a love of history and a thirst for knowledge of the slave trade. Mliller's work was nationally recognized as a civil rights exhibition that was sponsored by the Adolph Coors Company, Proctor and Gamble and Target Stores.

Miller's wife, Quincy native Willie Dawkins Miller, brought the exhibit to the art center. Miller took the exhibit one step further by naming six Gadsden County residents and two Tallahassee residents as 2009 "trailblazers."

Those honored were John Dorsey Due, civil rights attorney and activist; Patricia Stephens Due, civil rights activist; Sheriff Morris Young, first African-American sheriff of Gadsden County; Nichlolas Thomas, first African-American Clerk of Courts in Gadsden County; Dr. Robert Bryant, first African-American Superintendent of Schools elected in a primary in the state of Florida; Shirley Green Knight, first African-American and female Supervisor of Elections; Fred Flowers, first African-American baseball player at Florida State University; and Doby Lee Flowers, first African-American homecoming queen at Florida State University.

The exhibition displays the victories, defeats and the ultimate triumph of civil rights in America that have left an imprint on the nation and the world.

"This is great. I love it," said Alan Brown of Tallahassee, who brought his family, including 5-year-old son Jordan, to see the exhibits.

Phil Gleason's first solo show also opened Friday night.

"What I've tried to create is a bunch of illusions designed to train the eye to see illusions and understand. Since I was a child, I've liked magic and puzzles," Gleason said.

The show will run through March 1.