Wednesday, March 18, 2009
“My Downtown Wilmington”
@ Wabi Sabi Warehouse Photographs by Carlton Wilkinson Asst. Professor of Art / Gallery Director Dept. of Art and Art History, UNCW
Exhibition dates: March 27-May 1 Opening reception: Friday, March 27, 7-10pm
My Downtown Wilmington
Since my arriving in Wilmington in January 2007 I have had a real roller coaster ride of emotions concerning my living downtown. I soon learned that I joined a beautiful, historic area that has a true dark side. The dark side was a historic separation of race and class.
The housing boom was had just begun to cool off in 2007. I made its final assault in 2008 which put on hold the ‘gentrification’ process that the city encouraged as a renewal of a vital downtown.
There is mixed blessing about the revitalization process as many historic residents were faced with relocation as the area became more expensive to reside in. Property values and taxes have effectively, burdened the low-income residents. The downtown region was marketed as the new, hip neighborhood with the amenities of having central access to the riverfront businesses and landmarks. The poor, black residents were marginally included in this transformation. Additionally, drug and gang activity nag the peaceful existence of young professionals and affluent retirees who decided to nurture the charm of living downtown.
Over the past two years I have photographed some of the nuances that makes Downtown living a great asset, such as, the city festivals, restaurants and access to art performances. But I also photographed the social ills of neglect, poverty, drugs, gangs and crime. The latter is a culture that did not fit in the ‘New Downtown’ historic and revival neighborhood structure. Some might say that these social ills do not fit anywhere else.
I am sharing my experiences with both light and heavy heart. It is a place I now describe as my home – Downtown Wilmington. -Carlton Wilkinson