After 20 years in Northern California, Joysmith Studio moved to Memphis,
Tennessee in October 1999 and opened as Joysmith Gallery & Studio January 2000
in Memphis' South Main Art District. The move to Memphis, a return to Brenda's
home, was largely precipitated by an intent to move back East after her
recovery from an orange-sized brain tumor. Several Eastern and Southern cities
had been considered but ultimately it was the opportunity to return home near
family combined with the developing downtown art district that determined in
favor of Memphis.
After declining one and missing out on a second building in the South Main Art
District, a standalone two-story building a half block off South Main was
acquired. With renovations, the 3200 square foot second floor became Brenda and
husband Robert's residence and the first floor was divided equally into
storage/parking garage in the rear and Joysmith Gallery in the front.
Originally, the gallery was intended as a showroom for Joysmith original
pastels and limited- and open-edition prints whereby for the first year, the
gallery exclusive showed Brenda Joysmith works.
In February 2001 however, the gallery featured a Black History Month exhibition
of the personal collection of native Memphian and NBA player Elliot Perry. The
exceptional collection of Perry's included works by American Masters Bennie
Andrews, Ernie Barnes, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, Jacob
Lawrence, Norman Lewis, William Tolliver, Charles White, and many others.
The exhibit, well received by the Memphis community, perhaps most impacted
Brenda and Robert as the gallery owners who got to live with the collection for
a month; during which they came to realize how many of these and like artists
that they knew and could exhibit and sell their works. So began Joysmith
Gallery as a fine art venue representing works by nationally and
internationally acclaimed artists.
In addition to showing fine art, the gallery has been the meeting place for NIA
(a Memphis artist group), has hosted book signings, and social events for
groups such as Jack & Jill, Memphis Challenge, Black MBA Association, City
Council Woman Barbara Swearengen Holt, County Assessor Rita Clark, and The
International Children's Heart Foundation, among others.
Joysmith Gallery's time in Memphis has evidenced both the revolution of being a
being a single artist showroom to the continued evolution of being a fine art
gallery attempting to provide (as we put it) both cause and caliber in its
presentation of works by established and emerging Black artists from Africa and
Posted high up on the gallery's rear wall visitors are offered the following
Upon leaving the gallery, above the doors, the following citation is offered:
Between these statements lie the monthly exhibitions of Joysmith Gallery. For
2005, the gallery is looking at exhibitions that revisit ongoing gallery themes
of literacy and cultural awareness. In January 2005, Joysmith Gallery will
salute the 401st year of Cervantes' Don Quixote. February 2005 will find the
gallery back at the National Black Fine Art Show in New York City showing a mix
of contemporary works by Blacks from Africa and the Diaspora. During the year,
the gallery looks, in addition to Black American artists, to produce two shows
focused on African works: African Royal Art and Fabrics of Africa; along with
shows featuring Native-America, the Caribbean, and Latin-America.