Melvin Van Peebles will be 81 years old in just about 2 weeks, and in celebration (amongst other things), the renaissance man will be making his visual art debut, when a program titled eMerge 2.0: Melvin Van Peebles & Artists on the Cusp, opens at Harlem’s Strivers Gardens Gallery (300 West 135th Street), on September 19, running through November 7.

Is there any artistic medium to which he hasn’t contributed? Film, music, theater, literature, etc, and now this.

Van Peebles’ contribution to the exhibit – a mixed media installation – will be the Centerpiece of eMerge 2.0.

The exhibition is free! 

Full details from the press release follow…

The showcase series, now in its second year, will feature Peebles’ “Ex-Voto Monochrome (A Ghetto Mother’s Prayer)” – described as a mixed media meditation exploring the intersection between violence, economic disenfranchisement, womanhood and faith – and also boast noteworthy pieces from Van Peebles’ private collection, including two rarely-seen paintings by George Helton, deceased husband of Isabel Taylor Helton, designer of Van Peebles’ museum-like Manhattan apartment, which is home to the paintings, illustrations, and sculptures he’s completed over the years.

eMerge celebrates the future of contemporary art with some of today’s most exciting young and evolving visual artists. Dynamic creations from 11 early-career art makers, produced by re-imagining such everyday objects as thumbtacks, clothing buttons and vinyl records, will display alongside the items from the revered “master of artistic reinvention.”

My life and career is defined by the constant pursuit of new forms of culture and self-expression,” said Van Peebles. “I am excited to finally share publicly another passion of mine, visual art, while lending support to the advancement of some really amazing new talent.

We are very excited to once again produce this platform for emerging artists to gain access to new audiences and greater opportunities,” said Souleo, founder and president of Souleo Enterprises, LLC. “With Melvin Van Peebles as this year’s keystone we are honoring his spirit of reinvention, from the continual transformation of one’s life to the re-purposing of everyday materials into cultural, political and social statements.

eMerge debuted last year, anchored by visual artist Daniel DannySimmons, Jr., whose work explores the connection between art and the human spirit. eMerge 2.0 examines a nexus between contemporary and popular culture. 

Lisa D. Hayes, manager of Strivers Gardens Gallery said, “Because of its liberal use of found objects, I consider this a ‘green’ visual arts exhibition.

The exhibition is free, and the public is also invited to attend the eMerge 2.0 opening night reception on Thursday, September 19 at 6 pm;  the “Melvin Van Peebles Q&A” on Sunday, October 6 at 3 pm, and the “Artist Gallery Talk” on Sunday October 27 at 3 pm

All events are at Strivers Gardens Gallery. 

For further details visit: or