In response to gentrification, the Palmetto Rose Project offers a platform for African-American artists

Black culture still matters

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The Palmetto Rose Project kicks off their series of monthly art showcases this Sun. April 28. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Palmetto Rose Project kicks off their series of monthly art showcases this Sun. April 28.
The Palmetto Rose Project, a new North Charleston-based nonprofit seeking 501(c)(3) status, presents its first art showcase this Sun. April 28 from 3-6 p.m. at the TIA Banquet Hall in North Charleston. Founded by Kimberly Bowman and James Sumter, the Palmetto Rose Project wants to celebrate all the great, local African-American artists in the area.

"We want to provide a place and platform for people affected by gentrification to still feel like they matter and they're important," says Bowman. "We want to show off our culture in a positive way."

This Sunday's showcase will feature seven artists creating work of all varieties, from large paintings to sketches to poetry. There will also be live music, a food truck, and chef whipping up special creations. And you can consider your $20 ticket a donation that goes directly back into the nonprofit.



Palmetto Rose Project will use the money to fund monthly art showcases and renovate parts of the Banquet Hall off Reynolds Avenue in southern North Charleston.

"We want people to see this as an active place, it's smack dab in a part of town that's booming," says Bowman. The Palmetto Rose Project plans on painting four words on the side of the building: Black culture still matters.

Bowman says that part of the reason she and Sumter chose the name for the group is the significance of the palmetto rose in Charleston's history. Bowman, who grew up in downtown Charleston, remembers going to the City Market and seeing the "sweetgrass basket ladies." "That's what I remember about Charleston," she says.
Fletcher Williams III is an artist and advocate for Charleston's palmetto rose sellers - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Fletcher Williams III is an artist and advocate for Charleston's palmetto rose sellers
Bowman chatted with Fletcher Williams, a local artist and advocate for palmetto rose sellers, and he shared some of his frustrations with her, with how kids selling palmetto roses are treated, how their art form isn't respected. "A lot of creative people have been cast out and pushed away and tourism has been the main priority," says Bowman.

Now, Bowman says, the Palmetto Rose Project is here to prioritize the people who actually live, work, and create art in Charleston.

"I believe that when you're on this planet, you have a duty to this planet, you have to contribute," she says. "We want to contribute to the history of Charleston and the citizens of Charleston."
"A lot of what I knew to be Charleston is gone," says Bowman of this city's rapid development. "It's disappointing, but life moves on and things have to change."

In the face of all this change, the Palmetto Rose Project wants to offer local African-American artists a platform where they can share their art. They also want to serve as an example to other organizations, maybe even some that haven't been created yet.

"I hope what people can take away [from Palmetto Rose Project] is that instead of being against each other, we can come together and make a difference. I wanna get out here and start hitting the pavement," says Bowman.

"I wanna be able to give something to the people, because gentrification is for everyone else except us. This is for us."

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