TONE: Incubator of Hope for Black Authenticity, Creativity, and Culture

Located in Orange Mound, TONE elevates Black artists creating culture. Check out TONE for their exhibitions, concerts, talks, readings, round-tables, and more. This blog focuses on the latest exhibition - Brick x Brick: A Billion Pounds of Cultivation.

Editor's Notes: TONE (as always) is going all out for Juneteenth this year with a four-day weekend celebration.  This year's  Check out their weekend of events:


Thursday, June 15
The Screening
More details coming soon

Friday, June 16
The Spades Tournament
More details coming soon

Saturday, June 17 | 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
The Gala at the Cadre
The theme of this year's Gala is B.A.P.S. (Black American Princesses’ Slaying). Clothing guide as written by TONE -- "Wear those long elegant white gloves, with a grill in your mouth, have ya nails long, and those corsets tight. It’s giving Black American Princes’ Serving: so wear those Victorian suits, with a durag, have ya sleeves embroidered and ya chains hanging low."
Purchase tickets here

Saturday, June 17 | 9 p.m. - midnight
The After Party at the Cadre
Purchase tickets here

Sunday, June 18 | 3 p.m. - midnight
The Festival at the Orange Mound Tower (free)
Headlined by Project Pat, Duke Deuce and Hitkidd + more performers.
Black vendors. Black food. Black performers. Black games. Black joy. Black experiences in Black spaces.
Reserve your free tickets here


Photo of inside tone showing the brick x brick activation. There is first on the ground with shovels and the outline of a greenhouse in the background
Carmen Monet

What is TONE?

TONE is an incubator of hope; that encourages Black authenticity, creativity, and culture through
communal engagement and exhibitions.

That’s exactly what TONE is; however, more than that it is a feeling to experience. So let’s walk
through what it feels like.

Located in the heart of Orange Mound, at 2234 Lamar Ave, lies the TONE HQ gallery.

Here, instead of dancing to the beat of your own drum, you can dance to the beats created by
local Black producers, under the disco ball, and “juke” as you so please.

While we get to listen to these artists' mix and master their way into our hearts, this moment for
Black producers is exposure: a space for them to showcase their beats, some for the very first

exterior photo of TONE. strip mall look with big red letters on glass windows saying TONE
Carmen Monet

TONE saw the need, and closed the gap.

The opportunity to create art is limitless, but the opportunity to display it is limited, for Black creatives; so TONE provides these creatives with the space to share their art with the community.

Cultivating TONE was not a want, but it was filling a need.

There are moments where we are laughing loudly and creating memories with the people we love, and there are also moments of quiet, where you get to stand in admiration of the artwork in the gallery, created by Black artists.

In these moments, we pose the question, “what was the inspiration behind this piece?” The answer continues to be: the plethora of Black people and their untold stories finally having the space to be heard.

inside TONE. Looks like a corner of an art exhibit. Two black and white photos hang on one wall. An old looking large cloth in black and white hangs on a  separate wall
Carmen Monet

More than a gallery, it’s a community.

As you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the smell of mulch; seen in a pile on the back of a truck to represent the distribution of produce. 

Because in the current interactive exhibition, Brick X Brick: A Thousand Pounds of Cultivation, TONE is focusing on how to restore and heal the community through its relationship with food.

Photo of Curator Kylon Wagner. He is wearing all black with tan shoes shitting in a yellow chair
Kai Celeste Ross

Could you explain your creative process as you were curating this exhibition, Brick X Brick: A Thousand Pounds of Cultivation, for TONE’s participation in the 2023 Tennessee Triennial, under the theme: repair?

“I first asked myself what "repair" looks like to me, and potentially the community around me. I felt like this was a great opportunity to talk about the processes around healing and repair in the Black community, which lead me to food. It's something everyone on this planet more or less has to consume in order to survive. It is literally our fuel. So I asked myself, what does it look like when we take back our relationship with food as a means of repairing self and people around us,” said Kylon Wagner, curator at TONE.

a see through window has hand drawn decorations on it from a tree to colored triangles
Carmen Monet

So here we are, its opening night, and each of us were able to be a part of the exhibition itself. 

As we looked at the wooden framework of the empty greenhouse, we realized that we were a part of its creation.

First, choose the color that you want to paint with and then you begin to fill the empty glass with colors, feelings, and words that inspire you and once finished, they place the newly decorated glass on the wooden framework.

Our attention is called to listen to the words of Mama Sundry, and as we stand together, she speaks of those that came before us to remind us of why we are here today.

photo of a white truck with trees growing out the bed of it.
Carmen Monet

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle. Planting the produce.

Touch the soil, let it slip through your fingers, feel the grains under your nails, grab a pot, choose your seed, plant your produce, and then place your pot into the greenhouse.

Today, we have laid the foundations, today we lay the first brick.

TONE is the space that you can teach and learn, honor and grow; knowing where you have come from to know where you are going.

Walking through the doors of TONE feels like you are walking back home.

And home is not a place, but a feeling of comfort, acceptance, and encouragement.


2234 Lamar Ave. 

About the Author

Hi, Hii. I’m Carmen Monèt and I am a free-lance journalist from Memphis, TN. I’ve always had a love for storytelling and actually I used to say that I was providing a voice for the “voiceless;” but as I’ve grown as a writer I’m learning that we’ve always had a voice, we just didn’t have the platform to express ourselves.

So I listen a lot, but I also get to connect with people so much. My daughter Cabella is the best part of my entire life, and she has pushed me to actually follow my dreams of becoming a real writer. I hope that people are able to really feel the passion and vulnerability that I infuse in my writing, and be teleported into the story.

Build your perfect Memphis meal:

If I could build my version of the “perfect” meal in Memphis, we’d have to take a drive around the city and make a few stops. I’m a certified taco lover, and currently TacosNGanas has been my go-to for some good shrimp tacos. Once we leave there, let's slide over to Slider Inn, and order the “Mix & Match,” granted we’re doing more matching than mixing, because I only ever order their fried Buffalo Chicken sliders with no pickles, ofcourse. Now our next stop has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, but what stood out the most to me was their creamy mac & cheese, I’m a southern girl and I love me some mac & cheese. Last but not least, we’ve got to walk just a couple of doors down to Babalu for some fresh guacamole. I can  assure you that there is absolutely nothing cohesive about this picnic, but none of the flavors will disappoint you. 

Why do you love Memphis:

Memphis is just such a cultural powerhouse. This city that I love has given me so many beautiful memories. Each day I get to experience it from a different view, but in that, I still get to experience the underlying feeling of community. The people here are some of the best people in the world. There are local artists whose eyes will light up when they see you supporting them and singing along with them. There are locally-owned and operated restaurants that care about you actually being satisfied with your meal and their service. One of the things I love and think about the most is how Memphis has been able to “bounce-back” to life and actually living, after so many doors were closed forever due to COVID; but, I can’t say that I’m surprised, our perseverance is unwaivering.

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