ST. PETERSBURG – Where is the place to be this Black Friday? At Gallerie 909, of course. After fighting your way through the mad rush of bargain hunters, come spend a relaxing evening enjoying food, live music and the art of Sylvia “Gbaby” Cohen.
Owner Carla Bristol is happy to announce that Gallerie 909, which just opened in April, was recently chosen during the Tampa Bay Business Journal Reader’s Choice Awards as one of Tampa Bay’s top three galleries; the other two award winners were The Dali Museum and Chihuly Collection.
And if you visit Bristol and her gallery, you will see why she is ranked among some of the most tourist destinations in the country. No wonder she has no problems attracting artist from all around the country such as famed watercolorist Marian Howard who will pay a visit to Gallerie 909 next month and Gbaby™ who will make this Friday an evening to remember.
With a powerful individuality all her own, artist Sylvia “Gbaby” Cohen, founder of Gbaby™, uses her art to inspire women of color to discover what makes them unique and embrace it with enthusiastic confidence. From large-scale portraits to her signature Gbaby™ handbags, she paints bold, powerful images of women on any medium she can get her hands on.
Gbaby™ took root in the early 90s when Cohen’s teenage daughter, Giovonnie Samuels, who was an actress on Nickelodeon’s “All That,” was looking for a handbag to wear to an awards ceremony. During their search, the mother-daughter duo discovered a void in the fashion industry; there were no handbags or t-shirts that reflected images of beautiful black women.
Cohen’s creative spirit took hold and in the spring of 1999, she painted her first Gbaby™ handbag. It gained instant popularity with the mothers and kids on set and within no time she was spending all her time as “set mom” painting handbags and shirts.
Finally being able to express themselves with images of women who looked like them, women of color everywhere embraced Gbaby™. She imagined no two women alike, but painted them all in her signature style: powerful, soulful and most of all inspirational.
Cohen has celebrated a career that has taken her around the country to various festivals, including the Essence Music Festival, National Black Arts, Chicago Music and Art, and Pan African Film Festivals.
She was a featured artist alongside the legendary artist Charlie Bibbs, published two calendars with Shades of Color (in 2006 and 2011), and just recently created the logo for the BET’s, “Black Girls Rock.” The message and beauty of her paintings resonate with both men and women, and even a few celebrity clients.
Now living in Atlanta, Cohen plans to spread the Gbaby™ influence around the south to remind women everywhere to be proud of who they are and how they look. She continues to create her art and Gbaby™ handbags in her East Point studio.
So stop by Gallerie 909, located at 909 22nd St. S., from 6 – 11 p.m. to meet Gbaby™ and enjoy the rest of your Black Friday. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for sculptor, painter and collagist Frank Frazier, who will be in town Dec. 7 only. Read more about his work in next week’s edition.