Photo: A painting in the “Her Blood Runs Through My Veins” exhibit by Joe Roache.
Photo courtesy: Raina Smith
The story of Dr. Celeste Brickler Hart and the Anderson Brickler Gallery is a full-circle journey that all begins on FAMU’s campus.
Hart was born in Tallahassee, at what is now FAMU’s Foote-Hilyer administration building, once known as the Florida A&M College Hospital.
Just across the street stood her grandfather’s building, where he and her father practiced medicine.
Dr. Hart would later bring her practice to the same building, and the charming red brick structure next to it would become what is today the Anderson Brickler Gallery.
“The FAMU campus was kind of a mecca for a very talented group of faculty members, and I grew up with a lot of their children,” Hart said. “We were particularly nurtured, loved, and well-educated. The group that I grew up with went on to do some pretty amazing things.”
Hart didn’t always aspire to become a doctor. In fact, she graduated with a degree in mathematics. After graduation, she landed a full-time job at IBM, a multinational technology corporation. However, Hart soon realized that her job as a systems engineer did not fulfill her.
She decided to further her education at Howard University’s College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where she also gained her appreciation for art and began her art collection.
During her time in D.C., she was influenced by the bold artistic atmosphere. Not only did she have the Smithsonian Museum just around the corner, but she also found herself in the midst of a thriving arts movement.
“There was the Black arts movement that was very political. There was something called the D.C. Color School that was more abstract expressionism,” she said. “There was just so much going on; I just learned to appreciate [art] from that.”
Hart’s medical path brought her back to Tallahassee, where she began her own practice, specializing in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. Her art collection came with her.
Her goal was to bring a little piece of what she acquired in D.C. back to her hometown for the local community to experience.
“If you live in a big city you have access to this whole world of art that people who live in smaller towns just don’t get to see very often,” Hart said.
In October 2017, the Anderson Brickler Gallery officially opened its doors. The gallery started out in the space below Hart’s practice, but as it evolved, she decided to relocate to the building next door.
The walls of the Anderson Brickler Gallery have become an ever-changing display of arti works and a place for local artists to showcase their work.
Hart successfully manages her gallery with the assistance of chief curator Kabuya Pamela Bowens-Saffo. Bowens-Saffo, an artist specializing in print-making traditions, has been collaborating with Hart even before the gallery’s opening.
“The both of us like to think that our meeting each other was truly a godsend,” Bowens-Saffo said. “What we have accomplished is a place of purpose to be empowered and enjoyed through an uplifting experience in the arts in our everyday local south side community of Tallahassee.”
The gallery’s current exhibit features works by Joseph Pearson, Paul Houzell and Joe Roache. According to Pearson, both Hart and her gallery continue to exceed expectations. “Being in her presence was an immense pleasure,” he said. “In terms of the gallery, [I] think it is a beautifully appointed space.”
The exhibit, titled “Her Blood Runs Through My Veins,” explores the different relationships that African American males encounter with the women in their lives.
“We appreciate the love and nurture that we receive from the women in our family, the women in our lives and in many cases, women in general, ” Pearson said. He hopes that visitors to the exhibit can relate the artwork to their own appreciation for the women in their lives.
Although her practice and her patients remain her primary focus, Hart hopes to continue to bring art to the Tallahassee community. In fact, her next exhibit is in the works and prepped to launch just in time for Black History Month.