About the Exhibit

This exhibit was developed while considering "Decades and Generations" as the theme of the season for Downing-Gross. The process of establishing the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center mirrors the creative process of art. During the process, those initial building blocks develop into a completely transformed space.

Success is only achieved after we evaluate where we started and evolve into something better - establishing a dialogue that we choose to nurture. This exhibit displays the evolution of a piece of art from the first brushstrokes to the final multi-layered and colorful work of art. Take your time and take in each painting, noticing the depth and truly seeing the process for what it is - an evolution of an initial impact. 


featured artists

Jessica Phelps

Humans are in constant competition for space in their environment, forcing the inhabitants of that environment to coexist. Adaptation often occurs going unnoticed.  My work depicts figures and environment, or environment and animal engaged in symbiotic relationships, coexisting in close quarters that may not be natural.

   After completing my Degree in 2006 from Moore College of Art and Design, I reconsidered what was valuable to me. I value my education, but hold experience in higher regard. For me, there is no greater gratification than to be continually educated as a result of self-guided exploration. My work as an artist continually evolves, as does the world around us. It's important to tend to your roots before growing the future.

Vernon Akili

Vernon Akili is a mixed media artist and art educator based in Houston, TX. Originally from small town New Jersey, Vernon received his Bachelor’s of Fine Art from Fairleigh Dickinson University Teaneck, NJ. His art is about celebrating the natural beauty of African-Americans, with a particular focus on natural hair; and about seeing the power, beauty, and grace in distressed imagery.

His work has been on display at The Houston Museum of African-American Culture and in Texas Southern University’s Art Museum as part of the City Wide African- American Exhibition. Some of the portraits displayed in this exhibit are a part of Vernon’s “Women of the Wheat” Series.

Chris Green

Christopher Green was born in Queens, NY. As a young child he began drawing. During high school, he realized art was his passion and wished to pursue it as a career. After earning his diploma, Chris attended the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore where his craft evolved and unique artistic skills developed. After graduating with a BS in Fine Arts, Chris relocated to Norfolk, Virginia where he currently resides today. Chris has been featured in a number of local art shows and has various paintings displayed in businesses throughout Hampton Roads. 

Chris’s main focus is portraits of extraordinary people expressed with bright colors. To capture the raw emotion in a portrait, Chris's technique of combining contrasting colors and saturated colors using acrylic paint on canvas brings everything to life. This inspiration comes from life and emotions. It has been heavily influenced by artists such as Rembrandt, Ernie Barnes, Brionya James and Basquiat.