In 2018, David Colbert Jr. created the Compton Art Walk, the first event of its kind in Compton. “I was inspired by the LA art walk,” Colbert says. “I wanted to create an event that was similar but with a Compton flair.”
The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk is a series of local art galleries and artist studios and also includes craft stalls and food vendors, all on an easily walkable route. The Compton Art Walk incorporates those elements along with live music and a distinctly Compton flavor. “I never dreamed that the CAW would get so big,” Colbert shares. “But when it did, my next goal was to establish an art gallery that would pay homage to my city.”
Building an Artistic Legacy
The CAW highlights the creativity and accomplishments of the Black community. While the popular festival hasn’t been held over the past year, Colbert has plans to start it back up. “The Art Walk is a chance for participants of our programs to volunteer, participate and assist in every aspect of the festival,” says Colbert. “They help with planning, marketing, all the way to execution.”
“I am a third generation product of Compton,” Colbert says, “and I say that with pride. The Art Walk has been a way to gather the community and to offer local individuals a chance to volunteer, showcase their work, and network. It’s a vital ingredient to the local art scene.”
That’s why his dream was to open a Compton art gallery. But when he was unable to find just the right piece of real estate in Compton, he was drawn to the Beehive in SOLA.
A “Hive” of Artistic Energy
In June 2020, stepped into an empty brick warehouse in the historic Goodyear Tire district of South Los Angeles. The campus, designated the Beehive, is a 92,000 square foot commercial district developed for the revitalization of SOLA. When Colbert first saw it, it was decrepit, abandoned – but his artistic eyes took in more than the physical surroundings.
Through a collaboration with the prestigious Gensler architecture firm, Colbert oversaw the transformation of the abandoned warehouse into the sleek and stylish contemporary Gallery 90220.
Gallery 90220 is a contemporary Black-owned art gallery dedicated to uplifting and showcasing emerging Black and Brown artists. Colbert is the owner, founder, and executive director as well as one of the gallery’s curators. In 2018 he established the Compton Art Walk, a series of monthly festivals designed to unite local artists and businesses to collaborate, network and showcase their talents and hard work while driving economic support to Compton.
Gallery 90220 started with an empty warehouse – plain brick walls, a dirt floor, darkness. But it also started with a dream. From that dirt floor has risen a gallery unlike any other, a place where both established and emerging artists of color can show the world what they can do.
Now the building is a work of art in and of itself, chic and functional at the same time, a crown jewel in the illustrious portfolio of Kevin Sherrod, a designer at Gensler Los Angeles and an avid supporter of the Compton Art Walk. Together, Colbert and Sherrod created a clean, stylistic space with clever art storage options, gorgeous natural lighting, office areas, and, most importantly, an overall sense of building up a community of Black and Brown artists.
A Variety of Artistic Platforms
Colbert’s vision was to create a safe space for creative members of the Black community, and that is what Gallery 90220 has become. The gallery has featured the art of Egypt Hagan, who creates stylistic portraits fused with murals, as well as abstract artist Gianni Lee and mixed-media artist Malcolm-Emilio.
Colbert truly believes in creating a variety of different artistic platforms so that there is something to fit every style of art and every different type of artist. So with the success of the CAW and Gallery 90220, he also founded the Red Dot MRKT, a community outdoor flea market located in South Central LA. The market features art (of course), food trucks and other vendors, and live music.
“We feature all kinds of artists and vendors at the MRKT,” Colbert shares. “Whether it’s handmade jewelry, blown glass, woodworking, painting and prints, we welcome it all.” The MRKT also welcomes food trucks; food, after all, is just another form of artistic expression.
Colbert is currently developing an interactive artistic website designed for artists of color to build a community, sell their art, and share ideas. This is yet another exciting platform that will be joining the Red Dot family.
“Digital art allows endless possibilities for artists to be seen and heard,” he says. “Even now these moments set the tone for the future. Online platforms will allow patrons, sponsors, and fans to buy art, and will allow artists to sell and promote their work.”
About David Colbert Jr.
David Colbert Jr. is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Compton Art Walk Inc., established in 2018. He is the owner and one of the curators of Gallery 90220, which opened in 2021. Colbert studied sociology at California State University and has been recognized as one of LA’s top art curators.
Colbert is a devoted advocate for the arts, keen on fostering culture in his community. He has been recognized as a leading creative mind in Compton.
Colbert is also the Executive Producer of the Red Dot Series podcast, which features top young creatives from around the country. The podcast has enjoyed many notable guests, including Grammy award-winning artist Jairus Mozee. The series has also been featured on Vh1’s hit television series Black Ink.
Colbert has been interviewed by Harvard University to document his impact on the art scene in Compton, and his gallery was featured in the Los Angeles Times for providing a unique for reviving art culture and history in Compton and is recognized as a Black-owned business as part of Forbes Green Book Guide.Colbert is currently designing a new line of art supplies that will cater specifically to artists of color. “We’re underrepresented in the world of art supplies,” Colbert reveals. “I’m designing a line of supplies that meet our needs.”
Gallery 90220 just wrapped up its edgy photography exhibit “Parallel Kin”. The two photographers featured in the exhibit hail from Los Angeles and New Orleans respectively and their work combines to create a fresh new fusion of separate cultures and styles.
“This exhibit was all about Black expression,” Colbert says. “These photographs are intensely vulnerable and carry a unique perspective.” The newest exhibit is Brandon Brown’s “Twice as Nice” starting June 18 2022.
“Brandon is a multi-faceted artist,” says the gallery’s executive director, David Colbert. “He’s a fine artist and a top-tier actor. It’s a very unique exhibit and we’re very excited about it.”
Gallery 90220 is a contemporary art gallery located in an industrial stretch of Historic South-Central Los Angeles, California, and promotes Black art, culture, and Black-owned business. The new exhibit “Twice as Nice” by Brandon Brown opens June 18.