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Meet the artists featured in the first exhibition of the Skylight Gallery’s 2006-2007 season, "Southern Trees Bare Strange Fruit," at a reception on Thursday, Oct. 5. This show is the first in a season of contemporary art exhibitions to be helmed by artists Danny Simmons and Meridith McNeal.

Among the featured African-American artists from Memphis, Tenn. is Vitus Shell whose mixed media on canvas, "Bringing Back," is pictured.

The title of the exhibition - which includes paintings, works on paper, collage and more - is a play on words, says artist frank d. robinson jr., who feels that the show reveals the unique perspective of southern artists.

"All of us represent southern culture, and we’re just trying to forge a new awakening about the South and our point of view," explained robinson.

Inspired by the song, "Strange Fruit" - written by Lewis Allan (aka Abel Meeropol) and made famous by singer Billie Holiday - about the lynching of a black man, the show includes robinson’s mixed media "prayer boxes" which include a tribute to Muddy Waters, "drinking your blues away" and grandmothers.

The artist said that even the letters of his own name are a bit of wordplay, this time inspired by writer bell hooks.

Said robinson, "It’s a statement against capitalism."

"Southern Trees Bare Strange Fruit" is on display at the Skylight Gallery in Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton St. at New York Avenue, third floor) through Nov. 4. The Oct. 5 reception, which takes place from 6 pm to 8 pm, is free and open to the public. For more information, call (718) 636-6976.

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