As Troy Staton gets ready for his next customer, he is surrounded by art. New Beginnings Barber Shop, is also a gallery where he displays pieces from his impressive collection of African-American art, as well as new installations by artists both local and national. He is bringing fine art to a community that would otherwise not have access to it.
Andre William has known Troy his entire life. He comes in regularly for a shave and haircut, and supports his longtime friend in his venture. For some of the customers, the art is just another part of the fellowship and community that they experience when they come, but for others it's a vital part of the conversation.
Even as Kathy Eccles goes about the regular business of getting a haircut, she and other customers are always surrounded by fine art. The work of Ernest Shaw and Anthony McKissic is on display during a recent installation.
From left: Troy Staton, Ernest Shaw and Anthony McKissic, plan out the installation as they prepare for McKissic and Shaw's joint exhibition. Troy has combined fine art with the art of barbering at his shop in Southwest Baltimore. Artists who exhibit at his shop hang their own work, and participate in the opening and closing receptions, as well as artist talks, and some even come and get their hair cut.
From left: Troy Staton, Anthony McKissic and Ernest Shaw plan out the installation as they prepare for McKissic and Shaw's joint exhibition. Troy's barber shop is also a gallery where he displays pieces from his impressive collection of African-American art, as well as new installations by artists both local and national.
Troy Staton and Anthony McKissic hang some of McKissic's pieces as they install an exhibition. McKissic is a versatile artist, working in many mediums, from photography to printmaking
Like most barber shops in the black community, Troy's shop serves as a hub for social and business life in the neighborhood. As Troy gives Tyree Nickerson a haircut, Quentin Rouse tries to sell his wares.
Troy Staton has a conversation with a friend from the community who stopped in for a moment. The two spoke quietly and privately for a few minutes, and as she left, Troy pressed a few bills into her hand. His involvement in the community is sincere and heartfelt. Bringing fine art into the neighborhood comes from that wellspring of compassion and empathy.
Seated beneath the work of Ernest Shaw, Frank Wilson, left, who helps out at the shop by running errands and sweeping up, and Will Thomas, 42, who's been getting his hair cut by Troy since he was 10, argue about the NFL. Thomas drives all the way in from York, PA every Friday for a cut and some camaraderie. Conversation in the shop ranges from sports to art to politics and the news. It's a vibrant place.
As Dorian Walker, 15, a student at Independence High School, sits down for his haircut, he asks, "Mr. Troy, where did you get this painting from?" "That's Ernest Shaw," he answers. "It's a picture of Art Blakey. You know who that is? He was a great jazz drummer." Troy is very passionate about the educational component of hanging art in his shop. He takes special pride when young people engage and learn not only about art, but about African-American culture and history, and empower themselves with knowledge.
Frank Wilson, 51, watches the neighborhood from his familiar seat. Frank helps out at the shop by sweeping, running errands, basically whatever he wants to do, and Troy pays him at the end of the week. He's a big help to Troy though, and he generally keeps the mood light as he jumps in and out of conversations. Troy euphemistically refers to him as his "floor tech".
Troy Staton, center, Anthony McKissic, left, and Ernest Shaw, right, remove a piece from Troy's collection in preparation for the next show. McKissic and Shaw had arrived after regular shop hours to hang work for their joint exhibition which is up through March. Troy has several shows a year, ensuring that there is always new art, new faces and new conversation in the shop
Troy Staton hosts the opening reception for artists, Ernest Shaw and Anthony McKissic. Over the years Troy has built a strong following and a reputation as a good host, which ensures good attendance at his events.
Kevin Brown, left, a restaurateur, and Tracy Stevens, an artist and painter, attend the opening reception for painter, Ernest Shaw and photographer, Anthony McKissic at New Beginnings Barber Shop. The receptions and the fine art that are always on display at the shop bring people from all over the city to this unlikely venue for fine art.
Troy Staton works on longtime customer, Antwaun (cq) Boyd towards the end of the day. Passersby can see the art displayed through the window and many people do come in just to view the work.