Carneal Building, Water Avenue and Church Street
Friday, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday, 11:00 – 4:00 pm
ArtsRevive is pleased to present the Spider Martin Retrospective: Exploring the Role of Photojournalism in Influencing History from February 7 – March 28, 2015. This special exhibition of Spider Martin’s work had a Grand Opening on Saturday, February 7 with an introduction by Frye Gaillard Laura Anderson, Archivist for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and introducing Tracy Martin, Spider Martin’s daughter. There is also a local exhibit honoring Roswell Falkenberry and his work at the Selma Times-Journal presented by the Selma Times-Journal and Boone Publishing.
The Spider Martin Retrospective and Lecture Series is funded in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts; the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Selma Times Journal and contributors to ArtsRevive.
James “Spider” Martin (April 1, 1939 – April 8, 2003) was an American photographer known for his work documenting the American Civil Rights Movement in 1965, specifically Bloody Sunday (1965) and the Selma to Montgomery March. A native Alabaman, born in Fairfield and raised in Hueytown, he was the youngest freelance photographer from The Birmingham News when he was sent to cover the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
Under the leadership of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a march from Selma to Montgomery was planned to protest Jackson’s death and the larger issue of voting rights for African-Americans throughout the South. As protest organizers began planning their historic march, Spider Martin began his own journey both professional and personal, during which he compiled what is likely the largest single photographic collection of the Civil Rights era.
Over the next several weeks Spider remained in the area, chronicling the day-to-day events of the Selma campaign, from church rallies and strategy sessions to the marches themselves. He was best known for his civil rights photography, including the March 1965 beating of marchers in Selma, Alabama. That event, known as “Bloody Sunday,” influenced LBJ’s signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which added thousands of Southern blacks to the voting rolls.
Hubert Grisson, Jr. said, “Often the target of violence himself, Spider stayed on the scene when he could have asked for relief. In fact, he argued with the editors at The Birmingham News who wanted to pull him out of Selma. Beyond the job itself, something happened to this young photographer who once had solemn chills when he heard “Dixie” played before a football game. Those same chills were transferred to a real battle field for human rights, and there arose in Spider a rage for the atrocities committed by his fellow Alabamians against his fellow Alabamians.
Spider fought back with his cameras, and photographs that didn’t lie. They appeared in national and international publications and were seen around the world. Dr. King himself credited them with playing a major role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His perseverance earned him the respect and admiration of local and national civil rights leaders. John Lewis, in particular, became and remained a close friend.”
In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his gratitude, “Spider, we could have marched, we could have protested forever, but if it weren’t for guys like you, it would have been for nothing. The whole world saw your pictures. That’s why the Voting Rights Act passed.”
You will want to come to Selma during the 50th anniversary to view Spider Martin’s work and take a walk through history through his perceptive eyes. The Spider Martin Retrospective will be at the Carneal Building, 3 Church Street, Selma, AL from February 7 until March 28.
ArtsRevive purchased the former auto service building after the business closed in 2008 and has worked to convert the 1920’s structure into a unique setting for its headquarters. Located on the Alabama River, the building and adjacent courtyard will be used as an art gallery and space for workshops, receptions, concerts and outdoor art displays.
For more information, call 334-872-4672 or visit the website at www.artsrevive.com.
The art show is FREE to the public.
The former auto repair shop wears a fresh look with its old style as the new home of ArtsRevive. Signs have gone up on the 1920’s riverbank building, and a major revitalization is evident both inside and out.
Since the non-profit organization purchased the Carneal Building in 2008, its members and other community volunteers have wor
ked to bring its condition up to standard. That included requirements by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to test for oil and petro-chemicals, asbestos and lead paint.
“The city took us under their umbrella, and we were able to get that done. Fortunately, we did not have to remove any oil,” said Ann Thomas, chairman of the Carneal Committee.
However, the group did hire licensed professionals to remove asbestos and lead paint. Work progressed slowly, one grant at a time, but walls are sealed and a caved-in roof removed. Bookshelves, boxes and automotive inventory no longer occupy the space, and new plumbing and electric lighting are installed. A security fence parallels the river, and new funding will finance an automotive sculpture art wall on the street side of the courtyard.
While the building is ready for its first public event, much work remains for future ones. Plans include a courtyard, catering kitchen, offices, storage room, workshops and perhaps space for a small business.
The building opened in 1927 as Selma Electric Battery Company. It was owned by “Poppy” Carneal, and when he retired in the 1940s, his son, Otha Carneal, purchased it and changed the name to Carneal Auto Service. Carneal became renowned for his equal treatment of people and bucked the social system by insisting one water fountain and one restroom for black and white employees. Later, Carneal held to his beliefs despite threats to his family and loss of business and contracts.