Oftentimes, when our community thinks about wealth, most of us think about finances, property, and different forms of investments. Art is one of those investments that are sometimes left off of the list. We see art for its beauty but we don't always understand its true value. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Onaje Henderson at an event I attended at Zucot Gallery located in Atlanta's Castleberry Hill neighborhood. I had no idea, at the time, that he along with a few other gentlemen owned this establishment that was filled with people and art that looked like me and reflected things I was familiar with. I also had no idea the amount of knowledge I would gain by meeting him years later along with his father Aaron Henderson who is also one of the featured artists and brother of Omari Henderson who along with Troy Taylor are partners in the gallery.
Started in 2008, Troy Taylor saw a void in our community and opened Zucot Gallery as a way to begin filling it. In 2011, Taylor decided to partner with the Henderson brothers who had already been successful in the art industry. With this new collaboration, the goal was to focus on creating an atmosphere that would be inviting, not intimidating, and allow art lovers to understand what they are buying while creating an experience that is bound to enlighten.
Zucot began to focus on exhibiting the work of Black and Latino artists while educating the artists on their product. They also believed in educating the patrons to become collectors while providing outreach within the community. Over the years, Zucot, one of 65 Black-owned art galleries in the United States became the largest art gallery in the southeastern region, boasting over 3,500 square feet of art from the world's most talented artists of color. Galleries such as Zucot have become an instrumental part of an artist's journey. They help to develop artists, exposing them to collectors which in turn increases their value. Zucot Gallery has curated many great events such as their Art Tastings, which not only introduce the collection of artists to the people but also teach you how to collect, why to collect and what to collect. These events have allowed them to not only continue to engage with the local community but expand their reach to a broad community of international art lovers.
True art collectors have begun to see gaps in their collections as most realized they have little to no art from African American artists. They are now starting to purchase the work at a devalued price and trading it within their circles of wealth, eventually heading to auctions on the secondary market where the value has now increased. Unfortunately, there aren't any Black-owned auction houses, nor are we involved in those types of conversations but with proper education that is bound to change. Zucot Gallery aims to work with living artists so that younger people and African Americans in general understand that they can be apart of buying these works of art. This allows us to control the narrative and be involved in the process of increasing our value on the secondary market.
"Art can have intrinsic value and financial value. The Intrinsic value is how it makes you feel. When you see art, it evokes emotion and it will speak to you some kind of way. We actually tell people that when something speaks to them it means it's for you. Buying things from a wealth perspective in the art world is a harder journey. To really know how things will appreciate over time is a full-time job. We encourage people to do from a wealth standpoint #1 is to like what you're buying and a close second would be understanding where you are buying it from. Who is the artist? Do you get the paperwork? We provide all of our buyers with a provenance which is like a birth certificate of a painting. It is what allows the painting to hold it's value. It has information on what you paid for it, when it was created and who the artist is." - Omari Henderson.
"We don't need anyone to validate our things for us. We are more than enough. The idea of being unapologetically black in all spaces and owning that piece is what we are here to do. The idea of giving people permission to be themselves is a huge responsibility but to be in a space where you can see yourself and images of yourself that are positive. It's important to be steadfast in who we are, what we represent to all people in our true form, which is unapologetically Black with a story to tell and we can back up everything we say. If we can continue that and get more people to that space, we can change a lot from this one location." - Onaje Henderson
Over the last few years Onaje, Omari, Troy, and Aaron, the men of Zucot Gallery have been dubbed " Custodian of Culture". They are truly men who aim to protect integrity while increasing the value of art in communities f color. Aaron Henderson is currently completing Fight On, a coffee table book collection visual expression of the story of the African American spirituals tradition through 59 paintings from Mr. Henderson.
One thing I want to leave you with is the Henderson/Taylor Family is a group of Black entrepreneurs who are running a Black business working with Black people and are very successful. Join this elite group of art lovers and collectors.
To learn more or to schedule a viewing, visit Zucot Gallery Online.