More than a year after Riches Art Gallery, the only Black-owned art gallery in Austin, opened its doors, residents of all races have continued to find community in the various events the gallery organizes.
As a precursor for Hip Hop Recognition Month in August, gallery owner, Rich Samuel, saw a perfect opportunity for a show honoring two artists that have helped motivate him throughout his entire life.
Focusing on the intersectionality of hip hop and art, the Good Kid, M.A.D.D City, Cole World Art Fest featured pieces inspired by the music of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, as well as a live graffiti battle between artists BOPHO and Erik Ross.
With hip hop playing in the background courtesy of Manolo Black, whiteboards and paint spray cans were provided so guests could also unleash their graffiti genius.
“Kendrick and J. Cole are two of my favorite artists,” Samuel said. “They have done everything to inspire me from art to playing football, to having the motivation to just be better.”
Ross’ live graffiti showcase featured J. Cole, while BOPHO’s piece centered on Kendrick Lamar. Both artists said the music of the two artists has greatly impacted their lives.
It’s nice to be able to have a scene for our community, the art community
“Jay Cole is one of my favorite rappers,” Ross said. “Back in the day when Born Sinner came out, that album shook me up.”
Growing up on albums like Fugees’ The Score, and Tupac’s All Eyez on Me, Ross, who won the graffiti battle with 144 votes, feels hip hop is not represented enough in Austin.
“So many times you go to bars and just never hear any of the hip hop we grew up on,” Ross said. “It’s nice to be able to have a scene for our community, the art community especially, and everyone else involved to be able to come out and see all this.”
Riches Art Gallery owner, Riches Samuel, left, with a guest at the Good Kid, M.A.D.D City, Cole World Art Fest on July 20, 2022.
Erik Ross, the winner of the live graffiti battle, puts finishing touches on his piece. Photo by Jacob Gonzalez.
Natali Zarate, one of the showcasing artists at Riches Art Gallery, works on a communal graffiti board at the event.
BOPHO, who moved to Austin three months ago, said this was her second time in a live art show, and her first gallery appearance. Photo by Jacob Gonzalez.
Last year, Congress officially designated August 11, 2021, as “Hip Hop Celebration Day”, August 2021 as “Hip Hop Recognition Month”, and November 2021 as “Hip Hop History Month”.
How Much Does a Dollar Cost from Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album, To Pimp a Butterfly, was the inspiration for BOPHO’s piece.
“Near the end of the song there’s like a very, very low snippet of Tears of a Clown, that part has always stood out to me,” she said. “Once this was assigned to me, it was the first thing that really came to mind.”
BOPHO said a dollar really has no value, other than what we assign it. With this piece, she tried to communicate that we are mostly following along blindly because we really have no choice.
Located on East Sixth Street, all of the events, from comedy shows, art classes, and art history lessons at Riches Art Gallery throughout the month of August, will be focused on hip hop. Other events like car shows and fashion shows will also be available.
All art pieces, including BOPHO’s and Ross’ graffiti art, are on sale at the gallery until August 27. 10% of all proceeds will go to the Riches Art Gallery Young Creators Art Scholarship established to educate 20 young aspiring artists in addition to highlighting their work at the Young Creators Art Show in September. The gallery is also receiving donations and hopes to raise $50,000.
The diversity of the crowd is one of the things Ross, who is half Hispanic and half white, loves about events at the gallery.
“It’s great seeing everybody coming together,” he said. “No matter what you are, or what you do, everybody’s just out here supporting.”Riches’ is located on E. 6th St and is open at noon Monday – Saturday or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.