Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Remembering the Magic: Douglass-Riverview Pictures on Display at Kingsport City Hall

Douglass alumni and Riverview residents are being honored in photography during Black History Month.

A few months ago, the Arts Council and the architects renovating the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex asked your Douglass website to locate vintage photographs and pictures from the school and the neighborhood.

It took a weekend of searching through Douglass annuals and photographs that folks had sent in over the years, but we found several picture that represent the spirit, the family and the life of the Douglass and Riverview community.

"In the lobby of the Kingsport City Hall this month, we have enlarged the photographs that you sent on behalf of the Douglass Alumni Association," says Bonnie Macdonald, the cultural arts administrator for the city of Kingsport. "The exhibit is titled 'Riverview Community - Remembered and Renewing.'"

"I can tell you there is a tremendous amount of interest in those photographs," she says. "People are always interested in learning more about how things looked in the past, how people looked. We have people coming through on city business, paying their water bill, getting their car tag and title stuff, and they pass by the exhibit and are just fascinated by it. Many of them have never been to an art gallery, and the city hall front lobby is a great place to place artwork and generate questions about photographs like that."

Mrs. Macdonald says, the photographs will be displayed for the entire Black History Month.

"Thank you so much for finding them," Mrs. Macdonald continued. "We consider them a bridge from the past to the future."

That future, we found out, will be a permanent home in the renovated V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

"After Black History Month, most of the photos will be matted and placed behind glass," she says, "then, they'll be placed on permanent display in the Douglass Community Room, and the hallways of the complex. A special committee made up of arts people, Riverview residents, Douglass alumni and city administrators will select the pictures they like the best, and those will grace the walls of the old Douglass School. We'll try to use as many of them as we can, just because of the interest they're all generating."

"What we are also finding," says Mrs. Macdonald, "is that the questions people are asking, we don't have answers for, and that's where more information comes in. We're considering separate mats with explanation of the pictures, who is in them, what they're doing, where it was taken, the general context of the picture, under what circumstances was the picture taken, things like that. When we frame them, the explanation will tell a more complete story for the Douglass Room."

She says, the pictures will help set off the room.

"When you have a room like that, the historical significance and everything," she says, "historic pictures prompt questions. People are just naturally interested, and if we provide the answers, they'll learn about history."