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Ephraim Urevbu

Artist and Founder of Art Village Gallery

Ephraim’s Story: If you ask Ephraim Urevbu about his life, he will tell you “I have a very interesting story, it is full of laughter, tears, heartache, and happiness.” The amazing thing is that this statement is actually a humble one. From his impoverished beginnings in Warri, Nigeria, to his home above the Art Village Gallery, his journey has been a long one, often marked with struggle, but never without learning and growing.


Ephraim had a love affair with art from an early age. As a child, his first instinct was to capture the things that he saw in the world around him, from capturing the warm nature of his local culture in Nigeria, to doing caricatures of the classmates that bullied him in his adolescence as a way to blow off steam. Growing up in Nigeria, neither he nor his family had a lot of money. Ephraim spent his days both going to school and working with his mother at her timber shed to help make ends meet. He spent any additional spare time he had doing odd jobs to buy art supplies.


Soon Ephraim’s talents began to blossom and become noticed. He gained entrance to one of Nigeria’s elite High Schools and later went to University. After his graduation Ephraim worked for a national television network, theater, and dappled in graphic design. He soon decided that moving to America was going to be the next step, and enrolled in the Memphis College of Art.


In his case, the struggle did not win. From his humble beginnings, Ephraim has gone on to have a truly remarkable career. With over 20 years as a Memphis artist, he is a true Renaissance man.


The move to America was not an easy one. Ephraim quickly found that the American dream was slightly harder to attain than it was advertised; counter to the “land of the free and home of the brave” motto, he encountered prejudice on an almost daily basis. Frustrated with the things he encountered, he transferred to Memphis State University, where he quickly found his niche, earning both his BA and MBA. He credits this time in his life for helping him find a common human thread: everyone struggles. Ephraim spends his spare time doing volunteer work and serving on the boards of a number of organizations. He has also found newness in giving motivational speeches throughout the world. He talks about living and enjoying a healthy lifestyle through wellness and a product called Agel. He shares his remarkable story across the world through conferences and meetings around the world throughout the year.


If you ask him what the most important thing he does is, however, he will not tell you it is anyone of these things. His mission is to revitalize the city of Memphis as a whole, shaping its future through the arts and deploying his creative energies to change not only how the residents of the city experience their culture, but also visitors. He will say, “This city has so much potential.” Perhaps this is why he was a pioneer in the South Main Arts District.

Ephraim Urevbu
Ephraim Urevbu | Download Portfolio


As the president and founder of the South Main Arts Association, he has worked tirelessly to create a place for the arts in downtown Memphis. Ephraim has watched the community grow up around him to the cultural haven it is today. Constantly striving to bring the arts to Memphis, new galleries, interior design firms, architecture firms, graphic design firms and boutiques now form the core of the cultural center of South Main. To increase awareness of the arts in Memphis, Ephraim and his fellows open their galleries late every last Friday of the month for the Art Trolley Tour. This provides an opportunity for Memphians to explore South Main, take in music, and experience a little culture.