The Long Way Home: Okeeba Jubalo's Return to Charleston, South Carolina
Imagine Atlanta’s Black business and Art scene...you will see action-packed creativity, a rhythmic movement between Black entrepreneurs providing services and products for their clients, while Black artists of various disciplines continue to work to elevate the monetization of their crafts and exposure. The wizard behind the curtains: Okeeba Jubalo. As an Arts industry leader, branding guru and multi-hyphenated businessman, Jubalo has transcended beyond the title “Renaissance Man.”
Jubalo has become a heavy hitter within the Atlanta fine arts and business space. A clear-minded visionary, Jubalo had his sights set on elevating his career and sharpening his artistic blade as a teenager. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, he packed his belongings to live in Atlanta in 1993 to attended the reputable, The Art Institute of Atlanta to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Visual Design and Marketing. He also attained his bachelor’s degree in Pan-African Studies from the University of Louisville.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, he effortlessly moves from mixed-media art to being a guitar strumming-harmonica-blowing Spoken Word Poetry performer. Fashion designer, photographer, curator, gallerist, videographer, music producer, recording engineer, podcast producer, author, husband and full-time father…listing all his accomplishments borders on the absurd. Clearly he understands the difference between doing a number of things and doing a number of things at a very high level. Witnessing his expertise is like watching 10 different virtuosos dominating within their proven industries. There is very little that he has not mastered in the Arts since his childhood days of growing up in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jubalo became intentional in shifting the narrative of not being another "starving artist" but a thriving one. His selflessness led him to found NobleSol Art Group (NSAG) in 1997 after graduating from The Art Institute of Atlanta with the intent of helping other Black artists and young Black entrepreneurs identify and strategically monetize their natural gifts and talents. Additionally, Jubalo provided the community of Atlanta with premium access to his business savvy approach, creative abilities, and elite problem-solving methods. As a result, the NSAG clientele consists of many budding entrepreneurs to a number of the biggest brands across the United States, including The City of Atlanta, The National Black Arts Festival, The Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), The National Morehouse Alumni Association and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
"Working with Okeeba has truly augmented my approach and ability within all spaces of entrepreneurship. Every conversation or interaction with him no matter how long or how short is packed from wall-to-wall with nuggets and gems," said Johnny Clarkson, Executive Digital Director of NobleSol Art Group and Young Black Entrepreneur Magazine, praising Jubalo on his top-tier leadership skills. "My favorite quote by Okeeba, which has become my mantra is "You eat what you kill." The quote means that no one's going to feed us and no one's going to offer us a portion of their plate. That one quote and the layers upon layers that you can pull back from it has been my key ingredient to my success for the past 14 years."
Many people have praised Jubalo for his thought leadership and his ability to resurrect organizations like the Atlanta-based National Black Arts Festival (NBAF). In 2018 Jubalo spearheaded the undertaking of revitalizing the once highly respected festival which became muted due to a lack of ethical leadership and credibility amongst Atlanta’s elite Black artists. “Vikki Morrow, CEO of NBAF approached me after she realized that she had a major problem on her hands. The organization was a train wreck and the artists in Atlanta did not trust them because of their questionable business dealings. They needed someone who knew the business of Art, while being heavily respected and trusted by other artists in the community. My relationships, skills and credibility within Atlanta’s Arts community brought NBAF back to life. The artists within Atlanta trusted me to keep things stable and ethical within NBAF.” said Jubalo during our interview.
Okeeba Jubalo at work with Maynard Eaton (8-Time Emmy Award winning Journalist), Vikki Morrow (NBAF CEO) & Dr. Rashad Richey (Radio host)
Okeeba Jubalo at work with Maynard Eaton (8-Time Emmy Award winning Journalist)
& Vikki Morrow (NBAF CEO)
Jubalo's business ethics, blunt honesty and efforts are unrivaled. Thoughtful and direct, you can always see that he means exactly what he says. He has a tactical approach to every mission and executes his tasks with precision. His colleagues and team members can attest to his high character level. Although he has worked with numerous leaders in Atlanta, his dissatisfaction with how the executives were consistently blind to the opportunities to better the overall experience for the residents and earning potential for the artists who have enriched Atlanta’s culture for decades shifted his gaze to his hometown.
"Working with Okeeba Jubalo as Co-curator for his 2020 Atlanta Fine Art Exhibition (AtlantFAE) was a professional experience like none other," said Tisha Smith, Arts Education Coordinator/Curator of Emma Darnell Aviation Museum and Conference Center for Fulton County Arts and Culture. From the start with planning all the way through promoting and the day of the event, Jubalo's attention to details and keen knowledge of the Art industry in Atlanta allowed for an epic experience that is guaranteed to continue to leave a creative and influential impact for years to come."
Okeeba Jubalo at The Atlanta Fine Art Exhibition IV, guests & Tisha Smith
Ultimately, after spending more than 28 years of building his version of the Art scene brick-by-brick in Atlanta, Jubalo decided to take his virtuosity and artistry back to his beloved hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.
"Atlanta has been my home and my team has covered an amazing amount of ground during my tenure. As progressive as we have been, there is the concrete ceiling in Atlanta in regards to the Black arts movement," said Jubalo regarding the instability of Atlanta's business and art culture. "I had to decide on if I was going to keep cracking that ceiling or just take my energy to my homeland. With a beach, highway, and airport, it made way more sense to take my genius back home."
The impact that Jubalo has left upon the Atlanta Art scene is like an Artist who uses his paintbrushes and every piece of his creative abilities to draw an inviting and pleasant mural that will forever leave an imprint upon the hearts of the community members.
"Okeeba Jubalo is passionate about the Arts, entrepreneurs, and his community. His visionary ideas are often ahead of their time and give many difficulties in following. However, if you follow his playbook, success is always on the other side," said Jason Warner, Chief Vision Officer, Own The Vision Academy. "I have had the opportunity to work alongside Okeeba, watch him empower and give young people opportunities, and have had the privilege to be featured as an entrepreneur on his YBE media platform. His artistic talent is nothing less than remarkable. The Atlanta Art and business community will sorely miss his presence here daily."
Jason Warner, Okeeba Jubalo & Johnny Clarkson hosting the The YBE Wolf Den's HBCU $5,000 Entrepreneur's Pitch @ Clark Atlanta University
As one of the leading influencers on the Atlanta Art and business culture, Jubalo will always have a significant presence that can never be unwoven out of the threads of Atlanta's Art scene. He has revived various artists, their crafts, and businesses. Fortunately, NSAG will continue to occupy space in Atlanta while working with clients selectively. As for the Charleston Art market, it is widely untapped, and Jubalo is the perfect person to bring his level of expertise and experience back to his esteemed city.
"I am opening my gallery, The Okeeba Jubalo Fine Art Gallery this winter. It will be the South's premier gallery for Black Art. I am taking everything I have learned over the last 28 years and will present the highest level of my experience," said Jubalo. "In addition to my gallery, we are bringing Young Black Entrepreneur Magazine to Charleston along with NobleSol Art Group. We will highlight the amazing entrepreneurs within Charleston while launching a new racially integrated entrepreneurs magazine in January of 2022. Honestly, I have a laundry list of business and culture swaying plays that we are bringing to Charleston. I will also serve as an Ambassador for Charleston to bring more Arts and entertainment business to the city. Major plays are happening.”
Jubalo is a man who executes every play with clarity and accuracy. Of course, everyone wants to be on the winning team, but for now, the NSAG players are hard at work playing with determination and grit, and the fans are watching eagerly from the sidelines waiting for the next monumental play.
“Okeeba Jubalo is the quintessential Black artist, entrepreneur and curator. He is as good as it gets in each of those arenas. Jubalo's artwork is riveting, revealing and it passionately speaks truth to power. I call Okeeba, an activist artist, who expertly expresses his discontent with political chicanery, deception, racism or discrimination. He fights for fairness and equity for his fellow artists, and is an effective advocate and spokesman for their concerns,” said Maynard Eaton, an eight-time Emmy award-winning journalist and National Communications Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “He also helps others, including this journalist. When he realized I had been mistreated and disrespected by a majority-owned news outlet, Okeeba voluntarily offered to create one for me. That's how The Maynard Report was born several years ago, and I will be forever grateful for his help in resurrecting my career.”