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The Harlem Renaissance by Make It Cincy

Updated: Jun 7

Written by Rebecca S. Armstrong

This weekend was the Opening Reception for O'Neal and Camnitzer at the Contemporary Arts Center. If you caught our live interview earlier this spring with Toilynn O'Neal Turner, who is the founder of the ROMAC Center (Robert O'Neal Multicultural Arts Center) and daughter of late trailblazing artist Robert O'Neal, then you may have gotten familiar with how impactful her father's artistry was in the Tri- State area.

(Image above: Local boutique owners of Chi Chi Lux chatting with a friend)

Upon arrival, I felt like I was transported to an art crawl in New York City. Entering the room, the atmosphere was inviting with a live jazz band going, a DJ ready to curate in between sets, and a large backdrop creating a photoshoot area with one of O'Neal's original works. The flow was so welcoming to the guests all the more with the tasty hors d'oeuvres. On the second floor, more live music was provided as you walked through the viewing of the artist's featured paintings, drawings and photographs. Emceed by Turner's husband (Artist's son -in law) Treigg Turner, the evening was filled with moving spoken word performed by poetic powerhouses native to the city. The night was electric.

(Image above: One of the family's youngest family members admiring his artwork)

Guests were dressed up in fun, eclectic attire while enjoying the timeless works of the profound artist. It was a joy to meet and interact with some of the family members and artists who knew him personally from the Arts Consortium from many years ago, whose focus was amplifying Black Artists in the Queen City. The Arts Consortium birthed the movement to showcase critically acclaimed African American artists who were from Cincinnati. His daughter, Toilynn O'Neal Turner major goal is to reestablish that same momentum through the creation and opening of the ROMAC Center.

(Image above: Artist Cynthia Lockhart wearing another local artist's work - trench coat was hand painted)

As stated by the Contemporary Arts Center event detailed release, " - O'Neal's works were produced between the 1960s-2010s, along with a collection of archival materials, this long overdue retrospective examines O’Neal’s critical contributions to the city of Cincinnati.''

(Image above: Two Cincinnati creatives, one was one of the photographers for the evening, enjoying the artwork)

Attending the opening reception bought about the conversation that there is a pivotal need to support the Black Arts in city. O'Neal left such a phenomenal legacy. The exhibition will be on display until October 8, 2023. It is a must see showing.

To support/donate to the ROMAC Center click here: Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center (

Featured Poets: Michael Divine, Elissa Yancy, "Lady J" Janine Nash, Annie Ruth, Gifted Johnson- Wilkinson, Brent Billingsley, Desirae Hosley, Cortez True, Livia Stinson, Naquia Futel, Flo Floetic Malone, Carla Thomason, Anthony Watkin

Featured Musicians: Anita Graef-Cellist, Taft Museum 2023 Artist in Residence; Bruce Menefield (saxophone), Alpha Frierson (saxophone)

Images taken by contributing writer, Rebecca S. Armstrong

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