Exhibition Title: Hallelujah Hats!

Artist: Bruce Nelson

Mixed Media: Historic photos, vintage: Jewelry, purses, gloves, shoes, fur collared wool coats, photographs and film.

Hallelujah Hats! Is a celebration of the churches of Washington Park, the once thriving segregated African American community in Mesa, Arizona, through the jewelry, hats, and fashion worn by women church members. The exhibition focuses around five churches: North Center Street Baptist, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal, Voice of Pentecost, Holy Temple Church of Christ, and Mt. Baptist Calvary Church.

The exhibit includes vintage hats (63), purses (32), gloves (50 pairs), costume jewelry (70 pieces), shoes (20 pairs), dresses (15), and (2) fur-lined, collared wool coats typically worn by the church members. It also includes historic photographs of ceremonial baptisms in the local canal (30 images).

Also, with the Hallelujah Hats!   Exhibition you may screen the award winning documentary short film Gospel Radio Man as a special screening and part of the exhibition.

Gospel Radio Man Synopsis

Ninety two year old Larkins is the oldest living active African American DJ announcer in the USA, and still going strong. For forty-five years Bro Fred Larkins Slow Train Radio Gospel Musical Review has made an indelible impact on the Black community in the Greater Phoenix Area, Los Angeles, and in the state of Arizona. His radio gospel music review show has provided inspiration during difficult times; as well as a format for African American business owners to advertise, network and inform the community about current political and social events.

About the Curator - Bruce Nelson

In 2013 Bruce Nelson was accepted onto the Arizona State University’s Museum Studies program. In 2014 he completed an internship at Mesa Historical Museum. After completing his internship Nelson has become the volunteer curator for Escobedo Heritage Room located in the once segregated Washington-Escobedo Heritage Neighborhood in Mesa, AZ.  

His first exhibition was a small installation at the Escobedo Heritage Room, entitled remembering North Town. His second exhibition Veterans of Washington-Escobedo was staged at the Mesa Public Library in 2015-16 celebrating Black History Month. His third exhibit Games & Toys of was Washington-Escobedo Community was a small installation at the i.d.e.a Museum 2018 as part their Artful Play! Games & Toys Exhibition.   

Bruce’s Black Dolls: Beautiful or Grotesque? Exhibit was installed and on display for six weeks at the historical Carver Cultural Center in Phoenix, AZ. 

Nelson loaned several pieces for the church section of The Arizona Heritage Center Museum’s “A Place For All People”Exhibition which was staged January 2019 through December 2019. His two documentary films North Town and Gospel Radio Man were part of the exhibition and screened daily.

In 2020 Bruce was guest curator at the Mesa Historical Museum where he installed his Hallelujah Hats Exhibition which was tagged as one of the Best Black History events to attend in Phoenix by Channel 15 news in Phoenix.

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