THE MELVIN HOLMES COLLECTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART has been produced by Tyler Fine Art and written by Thom Pegg with many thanks to Melvin Holmes’ two daughters
SARANAH WALDEN & KENYA HOLMES for whom we owe much gratitude for allowing us the opportunity to share your father’s collection with the world.
Tyler Fine Art ⚜
407 Jackson Ave. ⚜ University City, MO ⚜
eople used to always ask my dad if my sister, Kenya, and I shared his interest in art. I am sure he would have loved to say “YES!” Unfortunately, we didn’t. He tried to expose us to his passion early on, but I could never understand why we needed to stand in front of a piece of art in a museum for an extended period of time just looking at it. I remember going to auctions, estate sales, museums, lea markets and antique stores galore searching for works of art, but those memories are always tinged with me being hungry and bored.
However, as I got older, I began to appreciate if not the art itself, his love for it. I can recall so many phone calls where my dad would be breathless with excitement over a potential ind or ecstatic because he had secured something he had been wanting for a long time. He would almost always use the refrain, “Now my collection is complete”. . . at least until a new piece became available and then he would be excited all over again at the prospect of adding it to his collection. Whenever my dad acquired a new piece, he would sit it by his bed so that he could just look at it for a while. He would then either send it off for restoration, if needed (lamenting the whole time it was out of his hands), or ind a place for it in the ever-shrinking real estate of his home. Over the years, I helped him create labels to go next to all of the pieces in his collection the way they do in museums. The project helped me bridge the gap between appreciating his love of the art to appreciating the art myself. Learning a bit about the artists and knowing my dad preferred pieces that narrated the black experience in America drew me in. It also made me proud to go to museums with friends and be able to point out artists and say, “my Dad has that artist’s work in his collection.” Many people wonder how he was able to amass such an extensive collection containing over 350 pieces on a city employee’s salary. The secret is that my dad was an amazing detective and a scholar. He loved research, learning and reading. He had a wish list of artists and would set out trying to ind pieces by them any way he could - be it by putting an ad in the artist’s hometown paper, scouring the internet (once the internet came along), talking with his friends in the art world, and reading copious books about various artists. Some might also say he was lucky, but as Pasteur said, “fortune favors the prepared mind.” For example, without having done his research, my dad wouldn’t have been able to recognize Grafton Tyler Brown’s piece in a box at an estate sale priced very low in order to just get rid of it. And, he wouldn’t have known that the “Dox Trash’s” erroneously advertised by a seller were really works by famed artist, Dox Thrash. The collection was a tremendous source of pride for my dad. He enjoyed opening his home to showcase the works and would happily talk to anyone with an interest in art about his collection. The one thing he always wanted but, sadly, didn’t do before he passed, was to create a catalogue of his collection. It was his greatest dream to have a book that would forever memorialize something that he loved almost as much as his children. For that reason, Kenya and I are thrilled that we were able to inally make this dream of his come true.
This is for you, Daddy! Saranah Holmes Walden
INTRODUCTION Long before Melvin Holmes collected art, he collected Black memorabilia; he had an “addiction”, as he described it in an interview, for collecting objects which spoke to him in some way. Regardless of whether it was memorabilia or ine art, he was faced irst with the task of inding interesting items, and then making choices between which objects to buy and keep or which to just pass by. Oftentimes, collectors are not given the proper credit due for this: good collections are both personal, and also necessarily signiicant in a larger context. When you listened to Melvin speak about his collecting methodology, he was truly passionate, but equally, he insinuated a responsibility toward the artist for acknowledging and Melvin moved to San Francisco from San Jose preserving a proper representation of a body of work. in 1967. In 1977, working as a civil servant, Melvin That is also seen in Melvin’s interest in collecting— frequently took his lunch at the Civic Center plaza when possible—“in depth”, as he put it. As a collector in San Francisco. One day he was passing by the of an artist’s work, he attempted to procure a good Capricorn Asunder Gallery and saw an exhibit of representation, and if circumstances allowed for it Sargent Johnson’s work, along with a reading by (availability, cost, time, etc.), he tried to ind additional beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. (September 21examples of any variation of style or subject the artist might have produced over his or her lifetime. One 25, 1977; San Francisco Arts Festival). Johnson’s work may see this in the body of work Melvin collected by impacted him and when he happened across the William “Bill” Walker, a painter and muralist who was artist’s work again at a gallery in 1990, he was moved to buy a sculpture on installment payments. That work, known as the architect of the Wall of Respect, an important public mural (no longer in existence), which titled, The Cat , is still in the collection today. Melvin became a rallying point of artists involved with the began his collection acquiring images of black Civil Rights movement in Chicago in the 1970s. Melvin people executed by artists who were either black owned twenty works by Walker of various mediums or white, but quickly decided to focus on works and subjects, executed in the many different styles done by exclusively black artists. He continued to acquire works by Sargent Johnson, and the collection adopted over the artist’s lifetime. To present any one of these singularly would not adequately represent eventually included 32 examples, in a variety of Walker’s work as a whole. mediums. elvin Holmes was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on July 16, 1944. His father was a Bishop in the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ. When Melvin was two years old, his father had a vision and moved the congregation and his family to Monrovia, California, where, because of their impoverished state, they started out living in a tent city. Melvin was a voracious reader, like his mother, and also a high school athlete. He received a track scholarship to San Jose State College, and ran on the same team as Tommie Smith and John Carlos (well known for their black-gloved, black power salute at the Olympic games in Mexico City, 1968).
At the time of his passing, Melvin had amassed more than 300 artworks, ranging in date from the mid-19th century to contemporary. The goal of this book is to not just present the artwork in the collection, but also offer a glimpse into the mind and passion of the collector. One would be hard-pressed to ind a collector who was more enthusiastic about the works he acquired and curious about the artists who created them. The ability to share in that enthusiasm by learning about the art, the artists, and the collector is what makes this project special.
Melvin bought his second work by Sargent Johnson three years after he acquired The Cat. His love for the sculpture encouraged him to seek additional works by the artist, and simultaneously, he realized that with an equal investment of time, effort, and of course, capital, he could build a signiicant Sargent Johnson collection. He ran ads in newspapers looking for works by Johnson. One response he received came from another artist named Phyllis “Pele” De Lappe, who was living in Petaluma, California. De Lappe (1916-2007) was primarily a labor cartoonist and social activist.
She had known many famous artists in her lifetime, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Sargent Johnson. Melvin became friends with De Lappe, and bought Johnson’s sculpture, Mother and Child from her. De Lappe also aided Melvin in locating another sculpture that had originally been exhibited in 1971, and was now with a family in Chicago. That is how he was able to acquire the bronze, Girl with Braids. Eventually, Melvin expanded his interest to include the many mediums in which Johnson worked—oil painting, enamel, terracotta, bronze, gouache, lithography, and stone. After acquiring The Cat , Melvin located a rare copy of the exhibition catalog of the Sargent Johnson retrospective that was held at the Oakland Museum in 1971. His plan was to attempt to locate donors to the exhibit and see if they were interested in selling their work. That is how he met De Lappe, and eventually, the Poliakoff family in Chicago. The San Francisco Museum held another retrospective of Johnson’s work in 1998, Sargent Johnson, African American Modernist, and many of the works included were on loan from Melvin’s collection. In a short amount of time, but with considerable effort and, relatively speaking, a fair amount of capital, Melvin had indeed built a signiicant Sargent Johnson collection. Initially, Melvin collected only igurative or narrative works by African American artists, and the majority of the collection today is made up of representational art. Melvin saw that type of art as “micro-narratives of the greater African American diaspora.” This is because he believed each piece told the story of the way the artist had lived and how he or she looked at the world during that respective period. To many people, the notion of an artist or especially an art collector, brings to mind visions of a privileged individual, who enjoys the luxury of the creative process or the support of this lofty endeavor. In fact, many of the artists whose work Melvin collected struggled greatly to make a living and as African Americans, for the majority of the time, that struggle was magniied exponentially. Melvin, as a collector, had never lived a “privileged” life and as he put it,
was forced to save and even leverage much of his earnings to acquire his art. He couldn’t simply go to any fancy gallery of his choice and buy whatever was trendy; he had to work for it—had to ind bargains resulting from his hours researching the artists. Eventually, Melvin became less rigid in his collecting parameters, and he began to acquire abstract art for his collection, including Thomas Sills’ Pleasant Hills, Robert Blackburn’s Yellow on Red, James Phillips, Visual Manifestations of Ashe (Life Force), and Daniel LaRue Johnson’s painting from his Emergence Series, as well as works by Sam Gilliam, Frank Wimberley, Hale Woodruff, and several Sargent Johnson enamels of abstract compositions. A large part of Melvin’s “methodology of collecting” as he called it, was the research he did on the artists: You have to know the history of the artist, you have to be able to guess whether or not the work you are contemplating buying has merit and is important, and above everything else you have to be able to determine with reasonable certainty whether or not it is real. Melvin treasured books written on the subject of African American Art (and in 1990, there were considerably fewer than today). The irst book he owned on the subject was Two Centuries of Black American Art, by David Driskell, a catalog which accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976, which he found in a bookstore in Santa Cruz. While reading Two Centuries of Black American Art, he noticed that many of the works included in the exhibition were owned by individuals, not institutions, and that idea inspired him to collect. In fact, Melvin was eventually able to locate and acquire a work by Calvin Burnett, I’ve Been in Some Big Towns, which was actually illustrated in that very book. He then decided it was worthwhile to build a fairly extensive library. Melvin acquired the majority of his collection between the years 1992-1995. He bought Charles White’s Open Gate and Henry O. Tanner’s The Good Shepherd in
1995. He eventually added three more works by White and another painting by Tanner to his collection. Early on, of course, I was aware of Tanner and his importance because the art establishment had accepted him as the premier African American artist of the nineteenth century. I let various dealers know that I was interested in his work, and in 1995 John Garzoli of Garzoli Gallery in San Rafael was chosen to sell about ten Tanners that came from the estate of relatives of Tanner’s wife. I bought one and tried to buy another but couldn’t come up with the money in time. Melvin shied away from works on paper initially because he viewed them as fragile and ephemeral, but as he grew as a collector and his experience broadened, he realized his aversion to them had cost him some valuable opportunities; he regretted having passed by works on paper by artists such as Jacob Lawrence. However, he was able to acquire some important examples by artists such as Nelson Stevens, Sam Gilliam, Minnie Evans, and others whose market had not yet become prohibitive. The legacy of Melvin Holmes and the art he collected teach us about the values of inspiration, perseverance and generosity. Melvin would describe it as a labor of love. Of course he knew how rewarding it was to him personally, but he may never have dreamt how valuable it would become to us all. We learn about people, places and events when we look at narrative art, and we sometimes learn about ourselves and our emotions, both spontaneously and contemplatively when we consider abstract art. Melvin Holmes, the man, and The Melvin Holmes Collection of African American Art—the collector and the collection— contribute equally in this wonderful lesson in life. THOM PEGG
Melvin Holmes’ collection in the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA as a part of the exhibition, Collected: Stories of Acquisition and Reclamation, October 7, 2011- March 4, 2012.
JOHN ABDULJAAMI (1941-2017)
John Abduljaami worked primarily as a sculptor for nearly 50 years in the Oakland, California area. He specialized in carved wood igures, made from local (Berkeley) elm trees downed by Dutch Elm disease. He had been carving and sculpting since he was a kid growing up in nearby Richmond, CA. As a teen, he landed a job cutting wood and learned how to use a chain saw, which became a vital tool in carving his pieces. His subjects included historical igures and animals. Abduljaami worked in an open air studio in West Oakland and was generally considered a folk artist, although he did exhibit alongside Robert Arneson at the Paula Anglim Gallery in the mid -1970s. Thomas Albright, the most inluential art critic of the era wrote admiringly about the artist in the San Francisco Chronicle. His works are included in the collection of the Oakland Art Museum.
The Dancers, 1984; painted wood sculpture, 19 x 22 x 15 inches.
CHARLES ALSTON (1907-1977)
The night life was fabulous. The corner saloons, back rooms jumped, you know, places like Hotcha and Mike's and little places that had back rooms. You'd go into Hotcha and Bobby Henderson was playing the piano, Billie Holliday was singing. You'd go across Lenox Avenue to the little bar across from Harlem Hospital and Art Tatum was playing the piano. Ethel Waters was here. The place just jumped. Dickie Well's place on 133rd Street. God, some of the names escape me. Tillie's Chicken Shack. Gladys Bentley's Place. And you sort of did a tour. In the evening you'd pop from place to place. Charles Alston
Sodium vapor lights soften the edges of the concrete facades, sidewalks, and ire escapes of Harlem. The once bustling streets are empty and the mundane becomes the fanciful. At night, Harlem became Alstonâ€™s stylized image.
with Augusta Savage and Elba Lightfoot, his studio at 306 W. 141st served as a salon for artists, writers, photographers, and musicians. Alston and his cousin, Romare Bearden, were regularly seen at the Savoy Ballroom and in the after hours jazz clubs in Harlem.
Charles Alston grew up in Harlem and knew the streets well. In addition to establishing the Harlem Artists Guild
Harlem at Night, 1948; oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, signed
BENNY ANDREWS (1930-2006) The two works by Benny Andrews included in the Melvin Holmes collection reveal the very distinctive styles in which the artist worked. The collage elements of The Bird carry a folk art sensibility reminiscent of Andrew’s childhood in Plainview, Georgia. Andrews began using collage elements in his work while in his inal year at the Art Institute of Chicago and continued to work in this manner throughout his career. Andrews creates an image of a singular, common pigeon in The Bird, a metaphor for the life of an African American living in the city in the 1960s. Andrew’s bird is isolated although it is naturally a social animal. Looked upon as a nuisance and an eyesore by the city’s other inhabitants, with a clear, unbiased observation, the pigeon is a beautiful animal, with its colorful and iridescent feathers. Here, it is viliied for simply trying to exist in an environment it did not create. Social realism was an important component in Andrew’s work. In 1958, he moved to New York City where he created, exhibited, and dedicated himself to social activism and education. He led art education programs in the community, taught art in prisons, and co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition with Cliff Joseph, in an effort to increase the visibility of African Americans in the art world. In addition to his paintings, he was also a skilled draftsman. “Benny Andrews is a remarkable draftsman whose work is characterized by great economy of means,” Patricia P. Bladon wrote in Folk: The Art of Benny and George Andrews. “He infuses his drawings with the same integrity and passion which characterize his large-scale paintings.” Andrews used less to represent more in his line drawings - in fact they appear as though drawn with one continuous single pencil line. His work, Black is an excellent example. The igure assumes an authoritative stance with hands on hips, taking back control and setting things straight. This man will never waver, never back down. Black, 1971; pencil on paper, 18 x 12 inches, signed and dated, May 22, 1971; inscribed, sketch for Trash. The Bird, 1964; cloth and paint applied to canvas, 26 x 19 inches, signed; annotated verso, Bird Benny Andrews 64.
WILLIAM ARTIS (1914-1977)
Prominent African American sculptor, ceramicist, and educator, William Ellsworth Artis was born in Washington, North Carolina in 1914. In 1926, he moved to Harlem. The sculpture, Head of a Boy, is an excellent example of William Artis’ early work. A pupil of Augusta Savage’s Workshop, Artis exhibited with the Harmon Foundation in 1933, winning the John Hope prize. It was in this period that he created a series of terracotta and stoneware heads of black youths. Artis’ compositions relect his personality. They are not political or social, nor do they express current problems of any kind; rather, they are profound statements of human aspirations. A deep concern for human beings is seen, for example, in his sensitive treatment of form: his sculptures seem to breathe, and the essence of gentle life lows from each base through to the highest point. - Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists. Head of a Boy, c. 1930; terracotta, 11-1/2 inches,
artist’s plaque on base.
ROLAND AYERS (1932-2014)
Roland Ayers was a Philadelphia artist. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Arts (now University of Arts) with a degree in ine art in 1954. His specialties were drawing and watercolor. Ayers was also a poet, and followed the teachings of self-awareness espoused by the Indian writer Jiddu Krishnamurti. He was generally considered a surrealist or magic realist. Ayers exhibited in Blacks: USA: 1973, and in the controversial exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1971, Contemporary Black Artists in America.
I peered around a wall In the deep green night and For the irst time Saw myself in every phase, And I was afraid, For such things I knew not were there â€Ś - from a poem by the artist
Persistent Rumors, 1963; mixed media, colored pencil, pen and ink with wash, 20 x 29 inches, signed; annotated verso, Persistent Rumors/The Door.
HENRY BANNARN (1910-1965)
Henry Bannarn was born in Oklahoma, and studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and at the Art Students League (NYC). He was a regular exhibitor at the Atlanta Annuals - between 1943-1957 he had exhibited sixteen works and won ive purchase awards in oil painting, watercolor, and sculpture.
I rented a space from Mike (Bannarn went by “Mike”) and learned a great deal by just being around him. He had a lot of experience. Having gone through a regular formal art education program in Minnesota, Bannarn knew about printmaking, sculpture, and various other media.
Bannarn was employed by the WPA as a teacher at the Harlem Community Art Center and shared a studio with Charles Alston.
Jacob Lawrence (Lewis, Samella. “Jacob Lawrence.” Black Art: An International Quarterly, 1982.)
L to R: Tourist Car Passenger, 1940; mixed media on paper, 9-1/4 x 7-1/2 inches. Bannarn possibly drew upon his experience working as a dining car attendant for this work. Country Road, Missouri, 1941; watercolor on paper, 9 x 12 inches, signed.
EDWARD BANNISTER (1828-1901)
Edward Bannister is one of the irst African American artists to achieve recognition in the United States during his lifetime. His tonalist paintings relect a considerable inluence from the Barbizon school in subject matter and technique. Bannister painted nature with such reverence that it wouldnâ€™t be inaccurate to state that he may have also been inluenced by the modern Transcendentalist themes of nature and spirituality that were prevalent in the northeastern United States at the time.
a serious artist irmly established. Bannister co-founded the Providence Art Club and continued to paint with considerable community support. He was the only major African-American artist of the late nineteenth century who developed his talents without the beneit of European exposure.
Originally from Canada, Bannister settled in Boston at the age of 20 and studied at the Lowell Institute with William Rimmer. He eventually moved to Providence, Rhode Island with his wife, Christiana Cartreaux, a Narragansett Indian. In 1876, his painting, Under the Oaks won irst prize at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and caused considerable disruption. Bannister emerged with his title upheld and career as
REF: Free within Ourselves: African-American Artists in the Collection of the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art in Association with Pomegranate Art Books, 1992)
In this quintessential example of his work, Bannister uses short impasto strokes to portray a bucolic landscape; a igure sitting peacefully with two grazing cows.
Untitled (Pastoral Landscape), 1881; oil on board, 4-3/4 x
8-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009)
Ernie Barnes began his career as an offensive lineman - playing pro football for six seasons with the San Diego Chargers, the New York Titans, and the Denver Broncos. Eventually, Barnes grew disillusioned with the conlict. In interviews he had been known to say that he hated the violence and physical torment of the sport. He proposed that he take up the position of oficial artist of the American Football League. The owners agreed and with the support of Sonny Werblin, owner of the Jets, Barnesâ€™ work was brought to the attention of art critics who compared his work to that of George Bellows.
taught sculpting, had a remarkable impact on Barnes. First, he taught him about the work of the early 20th century African American artists. Then he taught him how to translate his athleticism on the ield to the canvas. Barnes populated his canvasses with elongated forms full of movement and was inluenced by the Italian Mannerist painters, as well as Thomas Hart Benton and Charles White. His personal style was accessible and resonated soundly with people. Many of his paintings were found in the homes of major ilm and television stars and received national exposure through the television and music industries.
Barnes attended North Carolina College as an art major on full athletic scholarship. Ed Wilson, who
Dance Hall, 1969; oil on board, 24 x 36 inches, signed.
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and raised largely in New York City. His family actively participated in the Harlem Renaissance, which provided the artistic and intellectual foundation for him to emerge as an artist of genuine talent, versatility, and conviction. Bearden studied at New York University, the Art Studentâ€™s League with George Grosz, and
Columbia University. After serving in the Army, he was able to travel to Paris and study at the Sorbonne. When he returned from his travel, his work became more abstract. His early social realist works gradually gave way to cubism in the mid 1940â€™s while he began exploring religious and mythological themes.
Mecklenburg Morning, 1978; mixed media collage on board, 14 x 18 inches, signed.
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988)
Bearden adopted collage in the early 1960s; each work brought together a vast array of materials, patterns, and colors. Bearden's intellectual frame of reference was similarly broad and encompassed everything from popular culture, to religion, to classical myth. In both design and spirit, his work celebrated the diversity of the human community. Bearden used the phrase "prevalence of ritual" to describe his view of continuity across generations and cultures, in which truths speciic to the African-American experience ind expression in their connection to universal themes and imagery.
I had a newspaper article that had a picture of Bearden standing in front of Mecklenburg Morning. The article said that the painting was one of Beardenâ€™s favorites and his favorite in the particular show the article was covering. Bearden introduced and reused images in diferent compositionsâ€”collaging, painting, and drawing them. According to Bearden scholar Ruth Fine, this piece is the culmination of his work with images found in two other compositions. Melvin Holmes, in an interview for the exhibition of his collection at the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco, 2011-2012.
The Old Couple, 1978; mixed media collage on board, 6 x 9 inches, signed.
CLEVELAND BELLOW (1951-2009)
Some have labeled my particular style as social protest, but I beg to difer. If I would label my work at all, it would be called social reality.
Cleveland Bellow studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts (MFA, 1971). He presented his unique graphic style in both prints and hybrid acrylics. Catch a Southern Beauty was included in the exhibition, Impressions/Expressions: Black American Graphics, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 1980. Richard Powell, the guest curator for the show wrote Many Afro-American printmakers have explored the contextural vein, forging process, and persona into the printed image... Encorporating personal/meaningful efects, whether in softground etching, as in the microprints of Jay Moon; xeroxing as seen in Betye Saarâ€™s recent works; or in multiplecollage printing as in Catch a Southern Beauty by Cleveland Bellow, sets these prints apart from sleek impersonal graphics, and into a category of paper fetishes and icons.
Catch a Southern Beauty, c. 1970; photo transfer collage on paper, 23-3/4 x 19-1/2 inches, signed and titled.
Bellowâ€™s work is included in the exhibition, Soul of a Nation : Art in the Age of Black Power (on view at The Broad in Los Angeles).
ROBERT BLACKBURN (1920-2003)
Robert Blackburn was arguably one of the greatest inluencers and advocates of printmaking in the African American art world. The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop on 17th street was a nucleus of activity from the late 1940s. Blackburn studied at the Art Students League in New York, and with Henry Bannarn and Charles Alston in Harlem. He initially opened the studio for his own work, but eventually began letting other artists produce work there as a co-op. Blackburn, as the irst master printer at Universal Limited Art Editions, produced editions for many well-known white
artists, such as Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Grace Hartigan, and Larry Rivers. He taught at Columbia University, The New School for Social Research, and NYU. Blackburn exhibited three prints at the important Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston exhibition in 1970. Yellow on Red, 1962; serigraph, 19 x 24 inches, signed, dated, titled, inscribed Ed/10.
CHARLES BOHANNAH (1910-1985)
Charles Bohannah was born in Brooklyn and studied at the Cooper Union School of Art and the Art Students League. He served in World War II and began experimenting with photography. He began painting again after the war. He held a solo exhibit in 1976 at the Humanities Gallery of Long Island University, and was included in The First Ten; 1968-1978 at The Brooklyn Museum of Art Community Gallery (group exhibition). He exhibited for eleven years at the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibition, winning several awards. Nelson Rockefeller, who had befriended Bohannah in the 1970s, commissioned the artist to paint a copy of Pablo Picassoâ€™s Verres et Fruits (1908), which happened to also be in Rockefellerâ€™s collection. That copy was sold at Sothebys in the auction, A Collecting Legacy: Property from the Collection of Nelson & Happy Rockefeller, on 1/18/2019.
Portrait of a Woman, c. 1950; oil on canvas, 24 x 14 inches, signed.
BENJAMIN BRITT (1923-1996)
Benjamin Britt studied with Samuel Joseph Brown in Philadelphia in the early 1940s and continued his education at the Art Students League in New York City. In New York, he met Salvador Dali, and Surrealism would become a recurring theme in his works thereafter. Brittâ€™s work includes a variety of subject matter, but he was foremost a igurative painter, placing the human igure in drastically different settings from traditional
African motifs to surrealist scenes of fantasy. His work is in the collection of the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, and may be seen in the book, In Search of Missing Masters: The Lewis Tanner Moore Collection of African American Art (2008).
African Dancers, c. 1970; oil on canvas, 24 x 48 inches, signed.
GRAFTON TYLER BROWN (1841-1918)
Grafton Tyler Brown was a painter, graphic designer, and lithographer who worked in California in the late 19th century. Brown worked in Peter S. Duvalâ€™s print shop in Philadelphia in the 1850s. By 1865, he had founded his own lithography business in San Francisco, designing stock certiicates for a wide variety of companies ranging from ice to mining corporations, as well as admission tickets, maps, sheet music and advertisements. In the 1870s, Brown moved to Victoria, British Columbia to work on a geographical survey for the Canadian government. He held his irst exhibition of paintings in 1883 in Victoria, which included 22 local landscapes.
Brown lived in Portland from 1886-1889 and Wyoming in 1891, before returning to California, all the while painting the local scenery. In 1892, he left the West and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he worked as a draftsman and civil engineer. Brown lived out his remaining 25 years in St. Paul. The four works included in the Melvin Holmes Collection were all featured in the exhibition: Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California; Bridget R. Cooks, Curator, Pasadena Museum of California Art; Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House, Ukiah, CA.
Cascade Clifs, Columbia River, 1885; oil on canvas, 17 x 32 inches, signed and dated. *â€
GRAFTON TYLER BROWN (1841-1918)
Left to right:
The Golden Gate, 1887; oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches, signed. † inches, signed, dated, and titled. *†
Grand Canyon and Falls, 1887; oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches, signed and dated. Right: The artist at work in his studio; Collection of British Columbia Archives and Records Service. * Illustrated in LeFalle-Collins, Lizzetta. Grafton Tyler Brown: Selling the Promise of the West. The International Review of African American Art, 1995. (p.36, 38) † Illustrated in Artful Liaisons: Connecting Painters Carpenter, Espey, and Brown, American Art Review, January-February 2019; p. 43.
Gold Stream Falls, British Columbia, 1883; oil on canvas, 21 x 12-1/2
SELMA BURKE (1900-1995)
A plaster version of this sculpture is illustrated in the book, Challenge of the Modern: African-American Artists 1925-1945, p. 65, from the exhibition of the same name held at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 2003. Monument to the Tuskegee Airmen, 1942; bronze, 9-1/4 x 6 x 6 inches, signed and dated.
SELMA BURKE (1900-1995)
Selma Burke began her education and career as a nurse, employed by an heiress, who then later supported Burke’s artistic endeavors. Burke earned an MFA from Columbia University at the age of 41. She was involved with the Harlem WPA Project and the
Harlem Artist’s Guild, and in 1940, opened the Selma Burke School of Sculpture, just as she was completing her education. Burke’s style is generally considered neoclassical, made up mostly of busts and torsos.
Female Bust, 1973; plaster, 17 x 10 x 10 inches, signed and dated. Female Torso, 1995; bronze, 6-1/4 x 3 x 2 inches, signed, dated, and inscribed.`
EUGENE ALEXANDER BURKES ( B. 1880)
Eugene Burkes studied at the Newark School of Fine and Applied Arts where he was trained as a composer and a painter. He exhibited in 1931 and 1933 with the Harmon Foundation and the Newark Art Club. His work is in the collection of the Oakland Museum of Art. John Brown and Frederick Douglass in Conference, is listed as a known work by the artist in Afro-American Artists, A Bio-Bibliographical Directory, Theresa Dickason Cedarholm, 1973. This work is more of a sentimental, fanciful rendition of an eventual outcome than a historically accurate depiction of an event. While the three subjects of the work: Brown, Douglass and Lincoln were all anti-slavery, they were not in agreement about how to achieve the desired result. Brown was a militant extremist, self-proclaiming his duty to God was to destroy slavery after his friend, Elijah Lovejoy was killed in 1837. Douglass walked the fence of reformer and co-conspirator, playing a role in the Underground Railroad and going as far as delivering funds to Brown immediately before his Harperâ€™s Ferry raid, while falling short of being willing to participate in the violent event. Lincoln was in the midst of campaigning for the newly formed Republican Party and clearly anti-slavery, but his signiicant role would come after Brownâ€™s death. John Brown and Frederick Douglass in Conference, 1931; oil on canvas, 38 x 30 inches, signed and dated.
(continued in Appendix)
CALVIN BURNETT (1921-2007)
In some of Calvin Burnett’s paintings there is an element of hedonism, in sensual delight in the beauties and pleasures of nature and people. In others, however, he makes no attempt to alleviate the menace or brighten the brooding darkness of his subjects. He is basically a moralist, painting images of capitalist corruption. In I’ve Been in Some Big Towns , he seems to have plotted the canvas as an abstraction, later turning it into a igurative expression of the defensiveness of a country boy afraid of being taken by city slickers. David Driskell , Two Centuries of Black American Art. Calvin Burnett was a Boston-based painter and printmaker. He earned degrees from the Massachusetts College of Art and at Boston University (he also eventually taught at the former for 30 years). His early career centered on printmaking and commercial art, but he experimented with nearly all possible mediums, subjects, and styles over the course of his career. Burnett worked on paintings for a considerable time, often on several at once. In 1997 he was forced to quit painting after developing glaucoma. This work was illustrated in Two Centuries of Black American Art, p. 191 from the 1976 exhibition curated by David Driskell and held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
I’ve Been in Some Big Towns, 1942; egg tempera on board, 12-1/2 x 10-
1/4 inches, signed and dated.
CALVIN BURNETT (1921-2007)
A Girl’s Dream, 1947; oil on board, 22 x 26 inches, signed.
Boy With Balloons, 1962; oil on canvas, 30 x 22 inches, signed. Exhibited: Afro American Artists , 1800-1969, produced by the Division of Art Education of the School District of Philadelphia in cooperation with the Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center, 1969 Listed as a “known work” in Afro-American Artists, a BioBibliographical Directory , Theresa Dickason Cedarholm, 1973; Atlanta University Art Annual, 1962.
JOSEPHINE BURNS ( B. 1932)
Josephine Burns is a folk artist known mainly for her quilting. She was a member of the Eatonville (Florida) Quilters and her work was featured in the exhibition, Eatonville Quilters: Celebrating a Community Tradition in 2007 at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts.
Watching God, which tells the story of the townâ€™s founding. Burnsâ€™ work was also included in the exhibition, Rambling on My Mind: Black Folk Art of the Southwest held at the Museum of African American Life and Culture in Dallas, TX, 1987; and most recently, in Above the Fray - Historic Quilts of Eatonville, 2014 at Hillsborough Community College, FL.
It is interesting to note that the town of Eatonville was incorporated in 1887 and was one of the irst self-governing all-black municipalities in the US. It was the subject of two novels by Harlem Renaissance author, and town resident, Zora Neale Hurston: Mules and Men and Their Eyes Were
Untitled (Still Life), c. 1960; oil on canvas, 18 x 36, inches, signed.
MARGARET TAYLOR GOSS BURROUGHS (1917-2010)
In her dedication to educating others and advocating for African American art, Margaret Burroughs became a cultural leader and role model. Born in St. Rose, Louisiana in 1917, Burroughs and her family followed the Great Migration north to Chicago in 1922. She made the most of many valuable opportunities throughout her lifetime, beginning at Englewood High School, where she irst became interested in art, and became the youngest member of George Neal’s Art Crafts Guild. She later studied at the Chicago Normal School.
could showcase and sell their art. Burroughs lived in Mexico for a time, where she studied print making and mural painting with the Taller Editorial de Graica Popular (People’s Graphic Workshop) under Leopoldo Mendez, a prominent printmaker of the Diego Rivera circle. When she returned to the States, she and her husband Charles founded the DuSable Museum of African American History in their living room. It remained there for nearly a decade until it moved to its own building in Chicago’s Washington Park.
At age 22, she founded the South Side Community Art Center, a community organization that continues to serve as a gallery and workshop studio for artists and students. In the early 1950’s, Burroughs started the Lake Meadows Art Fair where African Americans
inches, signed Margaret Taylor, indicating this is an early work.
The Teacher, 1935; watercolor on paper, 14-1/2 x 10-3/4
Mexican Girl, 1953; linocut, 13-3/4 x 8-3/4 inches, signed,
titled, dated, and numbered 5/5.
MYRON CALHOUN (B. 1950â€™S)
Myron Calhoun was known to be active as an artist in the 1980s in Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from Talladega County Training High School in Alabama. In 1990, Calhoun was featured in an exhibition, Myron Calhoun: Recent Collages at Stillman College, an historically black liberal arts college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Calhoun, inspired greatly by the work of Romare
Bearden, in terms of re-inventing classical subject matter as well as his utilization of collage as his medium of choice, incorporated an element of surrealism into his work. After the Fall, c. 1985; collage on paper, 10 x 12 inches, signed.
WILLIAM SYLVESTER CARTER (1909-1996)
William Sylvester Carter was born in St. Louis, MO and moved to Chicago in 1930 to study art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois. In order to earn room and board, Carter worked as a janitor at the Palette and Chisel Club (an all-white club, to which he became an honorary member in 1986). He was among the artists represented in the American Negro Exposition assembled by Alonzo Aden, with the Harmon Foundation and the WPA in Chicago, 1940. Carter was awarded irst prize for a
work in watercolor. The same year, he exhibited at Howard University Gallery of Art. Carter also worked for the WPA in Illinois in 1943, and taught art at the historic South Side Community Art Center. Carter worked in many styles and addressed virtually any subject matter from the traditional portrait to completely non-objective compositions. Still Life With Purple Plum, c. 1950; oil on canvas, 18 x 32 inches, signed.
WILLIAM SYLVESTER CARTER (1909-1996)
Carter’s greeting to a fellow artist was “Have you painted today?” Until his death at eighty-seven years of age, Carter maintained he was "too young to have a painting style.” (REF: The Black Chicago Renaissance, Darlene Clark Hine and John McCluskey, Jr., University of Illinois Press, 2012, p. 188)
Missouri Snow, 1942; oil on paper, 18 x 32 inches, signed. Exhibited in the Atlanta University Art Annual, 1942.
ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915-2012)
I have always wanted my art to service my people â€” to relect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential.
Cabeza Cantando, c.1968; bronze, 9-3/4 inches high, signed with artistâ€™s initials.
ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915-2012)
Elizabeth Catlett was born in Washington D.C. She attended Howard University where she studied design, printmaking and drawing. She continued her graduate work at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, and in 1940 became the irst African American student to receive an M.F.A. in sculpture from the school. Grant Wood instilled in her the idea of working with subjects that she, the artist, knew best. She was inspired to create Mother and Child in 1939 for her thesis. This limestone sculpture won irst prize in its category at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago, 1940. Eager to continue her education, she studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago (1941), lithography at the Art Students League of New York (1942-43), and independently with sculptor Ossip Zadkine in New York (1943). In 1946 Catlett received a Rosenwald Fellowship that allowed her to travel to Mexico City with her husband, Charles White, where she studied wood carving with Jose L. Ruiz and ceramic sculpture with Francisco Zuniga. There, she worked with the Taller de Graica Popular, (Peopleâ€™s Graphic Arts Workshop), a group of printmakers dedicated to using their art to promote social change. The TGP inspired her to reach out to the broadest possible audience, which often meant balancing abstraction with iguration. After settling in Mexico and later becoming a Mexican citizen, she taught sculpture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City until retiring in 1975. El Baile, 1970; color lithograph on paper, 16 x 28-1/2 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 26/30. Lovey Twice, 1976; lithograph on paper, 21 x 15-1/2 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 32/100.
CLAUDE CLARK (1915-2001) Born on a tenant farm in Georgia in 1915, Claude Clark moved to Philadelphia with his family during the Great Migration in search of better economic opportunities. Following graduation from high school, Clark attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art from 1935-1939, as well as receiving training from the Albert Barnes Foundation from 1939-1944. Clarkâ€™s early works were heavily inluenced by French painters - as exempliied by his use of the palette knife to create texture and his use of heavy, dark lines to outline luid shapes; however, his afiliation with Albert Barnes shaped his appreciation of African Art and encouraged him to concentrate on images of African Americans. Rural life in the South and the Caribbean have been recurring themes throughout his career. Top left to right: On Guard, 1938; oil on board, 19-1/4 x 10-1/2 inches, signed.
Work Song, 1938; oil on board, 16 x 21 inches, signed. Bottom: The Entertainer, 1938, oil on board, 22 x 28 inches, signed.
IRENE CLARK (1927-1980)
Painter, designer, and gallery director Irene Clark studied with the Art Institute of Chicagoâ€™s 414 Workshop, as well as at the San Francisco Art Institute. An accomplished realistic painter, Clark adopted an expressionistic, and later, naĂŻve approach to painting, drawing particularly from folklore heard and read as a child.
She was a member of The African-American Historical and Cultural Society and gallery director of the Exhibit Gallery and Studio in Chicago. Her work is found in the collections of the Oakland Museum of Art, CA and Atlanta University. A Mansion at Prairie Avenue, 1955 is in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.
L to R: The Marble, c. 1950; oil on board, 7 x 5 inches, signed. Keeper of Birds, c. 1950; oil on board, 7 x 5 inches, signed.
ELDZIER CORTOR (1916-2015)
Eldzier Cortor was born in Richmond, Virginia and raised in Chicago, Illinois. In 1936, he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later studied at Chicago’s Institute of Design under Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. He worked for the WPA Federal Arts Project in the 1930’s and in 1941, co-founded the South Side Community Art Center. Cortor won 2nd prize in oils at the American Negro Exposition in 1940. His work was also shown in exhibitions at Howard University, Studio Museum in Harlem, Carnegie Institute, and the Metropolitan Museum. In 2014, the San Antonio Museum of Art exhibited a selection of Cortor’s prints in the show, Eldzier Cortor: Master Printmaker. Most recently in 2017, Cortor’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His work may be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Howard University. Stopping Place, 1937; woodcut, 16 x 9-½ inches, signed, titled, numbered 6/10.
Winter Scene From My Window, 1933; oil on board, 15-1/2 x 11 inches, signed and dated.
ALLAN ROHAN CRITE (1910-2007)
Allan Rohan Crite was one of the irst artists to observe and depict average African Americans engaged in their daily activities, primarily in the South End, Cambridge, and Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston. According to Crite, I’ve only done one piece of work in my whole life..I wanted to paint people of color as normal humans. I tell the story of man through the black igure.
such ine detail they appear almost like color photographs. The vast majority of Crite’s artistic output consisted of works on paper, especially watercolors and drawings. He made sketches and designs on a daily basis, and these were in many cases, seen by him as the inal product—not a preliminary work.
L to R: Night Scene From My Window, 1927; watercolor on paper, 6-1/4 x 6 inches, signed, dated, and inscribed 5/12/26, 2 hrs.
Crite rejected the images of artists like Archibald Motley, Jr. and Palmer Hayden because he felt they were inaccurate in their portrayal of African American life--at least, in that those images were universal symbols. He earned the title of “reporterartist”, rendering his subjects and scenery with
Boston Harbor, c. 1925; watercolor on paper, 5-3/4 x
8-1/2 inches, signed.
A devout Episcopalian, his work soon began to exhibit strong religious themes as well, depicting blacks in interpretations of Biblical stories and African American spirituals. Crite also wrote and illustrated several books, created hand-tooled brass panels that once adorned a monastery, and designed and painted vestments and banners for St. Stephenâ€™s Episcopal Church in Cambridge.
L to R: Stations of the Cross, 1947; oil on board, 24 x 18, signed and dated.
Black Nativity, c. 1930; brass, plaster, and bronze relief, 7 x 4 x 1 inches, signed.
ALLAN ROHAN CRITE (1910-2007)
NICHOLAS DAVIS (B. 1937)
Nicholas Davis was born in New York City in 1937 and studied at the Art Students League and at the Mexico City College. He had a one-man show at Gallery 62 in NYC in 1979, was included in the exhibit Harlem Artists 69, and Afro American Artists, 1800-1969), Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center (1969). He was a member of the Long Island Black Artists Association and maintained a studio in Jamaica Queens in the early 1970s. Davis is known for his graphic, colorful imagery of everyday life in the city, associating him with the Pop Art movement. Black artists working in Harlem in the 1950s-70s were very obviously in tune with the trends in art (in New York and elsewhere) such as abstract expressionism and pop art related to famous contemporary artists, yet were rarely included in mainstream exhibits and virtually never part of the conversation. Four Black Cyclists in Harlem, 1971; oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches, signed and dated.
CHARLES DAWSON (1889-1981)
Charles Dawson was born in Georgia, and attended the Tuskegee Institute. In 1907, he went to New York to continue his education at the Art Students Leagueâ€”and then on to Chicago to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. Dawson supported himself as a commercial artist in Chicago during the 1920s and 1930s, creating illustrations for beauty
schools and Valmor Products, a beauty company with products marketed towards African American women headquartered on Chicagoâ€™s South Side. Southern Scene, c. 1940; watercolor on paper, 20-1/2 x 25 inches, signed.
RICHARD DEMPSEY (1909-1987)
Richard Dempsey was born in Ogden, Utah, and spent his youth in Oakland, California where he attended Sacramento Junior College (1929-31) as an art major. He furthered his education at the California College of Arts and Crafts (1932-34) in Oakland, California, the Student Arts Center, and with Sargent Johnson. He later became an instructor himself at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington DC).
Rosenwald Fellowship for a series of paintings of outstanding American Negroes. In 1951, he was awarded a Purchase Award in the Corcoran Galleryâ€™s Tenth Annual Exhibition.
In 1941, he moved to Washington, D.C. to work as an engineering draftsman with the Federal Power Commission, and remained to become an important part of the Washington DC art scene. In 1946, along with Elizabeth Catlett, he was awarded a Julius
L to R: Figures in the Forest, 1935; oil on canvas, 24 x 20
Dempsey was a proliic painter and worked on as many as six canvasses at one time, switching as his moods changed.
Mountains and Fields, Jamaica, c. 1965; oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.
FRANK DILLON (1866-1954)
Frank J. Dillon was born in Mt. Holly, New Jersey in 1866. He studied at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and continued his studies at Oberlin College until 1889. Dillon was a draftsman and designer for the Hirst Smyrna Rug Company in New Jersey and later worked as a stained glass designer for Oesterle Glassworks and Marcus Glassworks in Philadelphia. He was 63 years old when he exhibited at the Harmon Foundation in 1929, receiving an honorable mention, and in 1933, he returned with two still lifes.
135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library,1933; Texas Centennial, 1936; Dillard University, New Orleans, 1938; and the Library of Congress, 1940-41, among others. Most recently, the Indianapolis Museum of Art included one of Dillon's paintings in an exhibit addressing artists who were painting during the Harlem Renaissance (2006). Several of his works are reproduced in Against the Odds: African-Artists and the Harmon Foundation, Gary Reynolds and Beryl Wright; The Newark Museum, 1989. Untitled (Woman Knitting), watercolor on paper,
6-1/2 x 9-1/8 inches, signed.
Dillon continued to show his work at the
AARON DOUGLAS (1899-1979) After studying and teaching in the Midwest, Aaron Douglas moved to New York City where he became a part of Alain Lockeâ€™s New Negro Movement. There, he studied with German/ American portrait artist, Winold Reiss, who encouraged Douglas to introduce African imagery and themes into his paintings. As Douglas developed this individual style, he became the igure to which the Harlem Renaissance aspired to emulate. Aaron Douglas received two Rosenwald Fellowships, one for study in France and the other to tour Haiti and the American South. He was also elected president of the Harlem Artists Guild in 1935 and worked to obtain WPA recognition and support for African-American artists. In 1937, he founded and chaired the Art Department at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he remained involved until 1966. Douglas died in Nashville in 1979. His work may be found in the collections of Fisk University,Nashville, TN; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; and the de Young Museum, San Francisco. Pier at Sausalito,1952; watercolor on paper, 13-1/2 x 19-3/4 inches, signed and dated.
Haitian Street Scene, 1937; oil on canvas, 17 x 19 inches, signed.
JAMES WILSON EDWARDS (1925-1991)
James Wilson Edwards was born in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Art Studentâ€™s League in New York and the Academie Julian in Paris. He settled in Princeton, New Jersey and befriended fellow artists, Rex Gorleigh and Hughie Lee-Smith. Lee-Smith was ten years older than Edwards and was a great inluence on the latterâ€™s surrealist compositions. Like Lee-Smith, Edwards liked to place a solitary igure in a barren, contemplative scene. Edwards exhibited regularly at the Studio on Canal, Princeton, NJ in the early 1970s, and also at the Raymond Duncan Gallery, Paris; University of Wisconsin; the Yardley
Art Association (Edwards was the creative director for Matlin Co., Inc., in Yardley, PA); and the Trenton Museum, NJ. Top L to R: The Tear, 1974; oil on canvas, 10 x 24 inches, signed and dated. The Dancer, 1978; mixed media collage on board, 24 x 9-1/2 inches, signed and dated. Bottom L to R: Untitled (Surrealist Portrait), 1983; oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. Untitled (Surrealist Portrait), 1971; oil on canvas, 20 x 12 inches, signed and dated.
MINNIE EVANS (1892-1987) My whole life has been dreams, [and] sometimes day visions…they would take advantage of me. No one has taught me about drawing. No one could because no one knows what to teach me. No one has taught me to paint; it came to me.
On Good Friday—April 19, 1935—Evans had a vision in which a divine voice told her to “draw or die.” The result was two of her irst drawings illed with “ancient writing,” repeating lines, and distinct visual registers. It was not until ive years later, in 1940, that she rediscovered the drawings while cleaning her home. From that moment on, Evans conscientiously produced her signature chromatic, mythical drawings, sometimes executing as many as seven in one day as a form of religious discipline. Evans’ early work was executed in wax crayon, and incorporated nearly every color available in the medium. From 1948 until her retirement in 1974, Evans worked as the gatekeeper of Airlie, a public garden in Wilmington. The colorful botanical specimens contained in the garden undoubtedly inluenced her loral motifs. Her compositions were symmetrical, and typically featured a human face surrounded by intricate loral patterns. Although Evans refused to interpret her work, there is a repetitive theme of God’s omniscience, and the synchronicity of God, man, and nature. In 1975, her work was featured in an exhibition of ifty-six works at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His Eyes Are Watching You, 1962; crayon on paper, 12 x 9 inches, signed and dated.
TOM FEELINGS (1933-2003)
Tom Feelings, a native of Brooklyn, New York, attended the school of Visual Arts for two years and then joined the Air Force in 1953, working in London as a staff artist for the Graphics Division of the Third Air Force. In 1958, he created a weekly comic strip, Tommy Traveler in the World of Negro History, which ran in The New York Age, a Harlem-based newspaper. Feelings traveled to Ghana and Guyana early in his career, and spent his time in both countries illustrating, teaching, and consulting. When he returned from his irst trip to Africa, he began illustrating books with African and African-American themes. To Be a Slave, a non-iction childrenâ€™s book written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Feelings, was chosen as the 1969 Newberry Honor Book. It was the irst book of its kind
to receive such an award. He illustrated twenty books in his career. The School of Visual Arts recognized Feelings with its Outstanding Achievement Award in 1974. He has received eight Certiicates of Merit from The Society of Illustrators, along with a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant in 1982. Untitled (Two Boys), charcoal, on paper, 16 x 12-1/2 inches, signed.
Untitled (Portrait of a Woman), 1964; mixed media on paper, 7-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches, signed, dated, and inscribed Ghana.
ALLAN FREELON (1895-1960) Alan Freelon was a Philadelphia painter who studied at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University. One of his most inluential teachers was Hugh Breckinridge, an impressionist and colorist. Freelon attended summer classes at Breckinridge’s school in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gloucester was a busy artist colony and much of Freelon’s subject matter is devoted to the harbor, with docked ishing boats and small houses dotting the coastline. Alain Locke labeled Freelon a “traditionalist”, alongside painters such as Laura Wheeler Waring, William Farrow and Edwin Harleston, because they each emphasized painting technique over social content. Freelon accepted that and added, “The American Negro has no more actual knowledge of his ‘tribal background’ and ‘jungle ways’ than the Anglo-American of ancient Druidic Rites.”
Untitled (Harbor Scene), c. 1930; oil on board, 8 x 10 inches, signed.
Untitled (Landscape), c. 1930; oil on board, 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches
RAMON GABRIEL (1911-1960)
Ramon Gabriel was a Chicago artist active in the 1930s-40s. He exhibited at Howard University, Washington D.C., 1941; Southside Community Art Center, Chicago, 1941, 1945; and McMillin Inc. Galleries, NY, 1941. A painting titled, Pool Room, 1937, by Gabriel was included in the exhibition, New York/Chicago WPA and the Black Artist, the Studio Museum in Harlem, 1978. His work is also included in the collection of Larry and Brenda Thompson, and is pictured in the book, Tradition Redeined, The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of American Art, 2009. Gabriel worked in both watercolor and oil, but in either case, developed cubist compositions including African Americans igures involved in everyday activities. On South Parkway, 1941; watercolor on paper, 23-Âź x 18 inches, signed and titled.
ALICE TAYLOR GAFFORD (1886-1981)
I love to paint. It nourishes my soul as food nourishes the body. If I create something beautiful to enrich the lives of others, then my art fulills a dual purpose. Alice Taylor Gafford began her art career at the age of 49, after a long career as a nurse. Gafford received critical attention for her work in 1935 when she won second prize in a juried show at Stendahl Art Gallery in Los Angeles. In 1968, she was among 79 artists selected to exhibit in the Sixth Annual Southern California Exhibition by New York critic Clement Greenburg. Gafford attended Otis Art Institute (1937) and UCLA - where she received her teaching credentials. She was instrumental in developing the Los Angeles Negro Art Association, the Val Verde Art and Hobby Show, and the Eleven Associated Artists, Inc. The latter organization established an interracial gallery in Los Angeles in 1950. Gafford’s artistic output remained traditional throughout her career, consisting of still lifes, lorals, and landscapes. She received more than 25 awards and citations and was known as the “dean of Black artists in Los Angeles.” Her work is found in the collections of the Long Beach Museum of Art, CA; Howard University, Washington D.C.; Atwater Kent Gallery, NY; Tuskegee Institute, AL; and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, CA. Top to bottom:
Untitled (Still Life of Shoe and Clown), c. 1955; oil on board, 12 x 16 inches, signed.
Still Life With Bottle of Wine, Pitcher, Glass and Lemon, c. 1955; oil on board, 15 x 19 inches, signed.
HERBERT GENTRY (1919-2003)
Let experience be a part of you as a human being…Even though we’re black and we’ve been hurt by many people, we still have to give of ourselves. We sort of have to be universal. Nor do we lose blackness by being universal.
Gentry was born in Pittsburgh, but was raised in Harlem before WWII, where he had some exposure to art under the programs of the WPA. He served in the war, irst in North Africa and then in Germany. He returned to Europe in the latter 1940s and attended the Ecoles des Beaux Arts and the Academie de la Grande in Paris. Gentry loved Paris and believed there were many similarities between Harlem and Paris—they were both “world cities”, with many languages and cultures—and all embraced enthusiastically. Gentry was more drawn to the European Cobra Group of painters, who practiced a bold, gestural, igurative form of expressionism, over the abstract expressionists who were gathering great popularity in the United States in the mid20th century. Eventually, he took up residence in Sweden, and divided his time between there and the U.S. Untitled (Abstracted Landscape), c. 1960; oil
on board, 21-1/2 x 16-1/4 inches, signed.
SAM GILLIAM (B. 1933) Since the 1960’s, Sam Gilliam has consistently worked in the abstract, exploring color, texture, and form with new and innovative techniques and media. He initially rose to prominence when he removed his richly pigmented canvases from their stretchers, draping them on walls or suspending them from the ceilings. Gilliam represented the United States at the 1972 Venice Biennale (the irst African American to do so), and had a major installation of drape paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1973. By the late seventies, Gilliam drew inluence from jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He started producing dynamic geometric collages, which he called Black Paintings. In the 1980’s, Gilliam’s style changed dramatically to quilted paintings reminiscent of African patchwork quilts from his childhood. Gilliam discovered his technique of folding the base material (canvas) was successful in works on paper and even multiples as well.
Top to Bottom: Untitled (Abstract), 1971; watercolor on paper, 22-½ x 18 inches, signed.
Untitled, 1971; lithograph on paper, 21 x 26 inches, signed and dated.
REX GORELEIGH (1902-1986)
Painter, printmaker, and educator, Rex Goreleigh was born in Penllyn, Pennsylvania in 1902. At the age of eighteen, he moved to New York City where he began taking drawing classes while waiting tables to make ends meet. During one of his shifts, he happened to meet Diego Rivera, who invited him to watch him work on a mural he was painting at Rockefeller Center. After this, Goreleigh, who had previously been focused
on a career in theater, decided to work in the visual arts. He received art instruction from the Art Students League in New York City, and in Paris, at L’Académie André L’Hote. (continued in Appendix)
The Mourners, c. 1940; oil on canvas, 27 x 32 inches.
JOSEPH E. GREY II (B. 1927)
As a ine artist, he specialized in colorful, severely cubist compositions. Most recently, the Musekegon Museum of Art, MI held an exhibition of his work entitled, Ad Man: Joseph Grey II (2018-2019). His work is illustrated in the book, American Negro Art, Cedric Dover, 1960, plate 88.
Joseph Grey II was born in 1927 and raised in Plain City, a rural community in Ohio. He initially studied music at Ohio State University. Eventually, he chose to pursue visual art and enrolled in the commercial art department at the Columbus College of Art and Design, 1948. He worked for an advertising agency in Columbus and then moved to New York City, doing freelance work before moving on to full time work at Hockaday and McCann Erickson. He developed advertisements and graphic design for RCA, Elizabeth Arden, Noxema, Esso, General Motors, and Cover Girl.
Untitled (Self Portrait), 1954; oil on canvas, 22 x 27 inches, signed and dated.
Untitled (Houses), c. 1954; oil on canvas, 22 x 27 inches, signed.
OLIVER HARRINGTON (1912-1995)
Harrington was raised in the Bronx and moved to Harlem in 1929. He studied at the National Academy of Design and earned a BFA from Yale University in 1940.
eventually left the country in 1951 and moved to Paris, joining Richard Wright and Chester Himes. In 1961, he moved to East Berlin, Germany, where he died at the age of 84.
Langston Hughes called Harrington “America’s greatest Black cartoonist”. Harrington used visual satire to relentlessly ight racial injustice. His character, “Bootsie”, which he created in 1935, portrayed the Harlem everyman, and became a regular addition to black newspapers, including The New York Amsterdam News and the Pittsburgh Courier.
An example of his work was included in the exhibition, Black New York Artists of the 20th Century: Selections from the Schomburg Center Collections (1998), and is illustrated in the accompanying catalog, p. 32.
Harrington was such an outspoken critic of the government’s lack of progress on civil rights, he became an FBI target during the McCarthy era. He
Let’s Go Grant!, c. 1940; reproduction technique with hand retouching, 15-3/4 x 12-1/4 inches, signed.
Statue of “Liberty”,1942; pencil and crayon on paper, 13 x 19-1/2 inches, signed.
PALMER HAYDEN (1890-1973)
Born in Virginia in 1890, Palmer Hayden moved to Washington D.C. as a teen, working odd jobs and eventually joining the Ringling Bros. Circus. He made his irst foray into art, drawing portraits of the performers for promotions. After an eight year stint in the Army, he moved to New York City and was able to study with Victor Perard, an instructor at the Cooper Union School of Art. During the summers of 1926 and 1927 he traveled to Maine to study at the Commonwealth Art Colony. The many landscapes and marine studies he painted here were shown in his irst exhibition at the Civic Club in New York, and in 1926, he won the irst Harmon Foundation gold medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Visual Arts for a painting of Boothbay Harbor titled, The Schooners. The prize money was used towards a trip to France where he resided for the next ive years. Hayden exhibited at Galerie BernheimJeune in 1927 and was included in the Salon des Tuileries in 1930, as well as the American Legion Exhibition in 1931. He continued to paint seascapes during his stay, but also began to develop his igurative painting and signature style, which remains controversial to this day. Mt. Vernon Woman, 1950; watercolor on paper, 16-½ x 13-½ inches, signed and titled.
When he returned to New York, his work evolved into an unpretentious representation of the black American scene in which he used a “consciously naïve” style to represent African-American folklore and contemporary scenes of Harlem. Hayden continued to live and work in New York until his death in 1973.
JAMES HERRING (1887-1969)
James Herring was a very important igure in the development of both the academic and commercial aspects of African American art in the irst part of the twentieth century. Herring founded the Howard University Art Department in 1922 and served as a mentor to artists/educators David Driskell and James Porter. Along with Alonzo Aden, he opened the Barnett Aden Gallery in 1943, one of the few institutions dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of African American art. Museum Interior is an excellent example of Herringâ€™s traditional style of painting, and the subject is a nod to his deep involvement in the scholarly side of the art world. Museum Interior, oil on board, 12 x 10 inches, signed.
LEON HICKS (B. 1933)
An acclaimed engraver and draughtsman, Leon Hicks is known for his portraits and exploration of everyday life. Since the sixties, Mr. Hicks has distinguished himself as an artist and educator. He emerged during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, producing powerful images rooted in selfdiscovery and social consciousness. By the late 1970s, he was preoccupied with autonomous form and giving his full attention to investigating the language of engraving. Throughout his career, Mr. Hicks has remained a committed student of art history, learning and mastering engraving techniques pioneered by giants like Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijin (1606-1669), and Mauricio Lasansky (b.1914), with whom he studied at the State University of Iowa. His prints have been included in many exhibitions, including, Impressions Expressions: Black American Graphics held at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Howard University in 1980. An edition of the work, Black Boy, was featured in the exhibition titled, Leon Hicks: The Ingenious Line, organized by Fisk University in 2012. Black Boy, 1961; etching, 18” x 10”, signed, dated, titled, and inscribed Studio Proof.
GEOFFREY HOLDER (1930-2014)
Geoffrey Holder was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1930 and moved to New York City in 1952 after being invited to teach choreography at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance. He exhibited from 1955-1969 at the Barone Gallery and in 1957 had his irst successful one-man show there. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 1957. His artwork has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Museum of the City of New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University; and the Barbados Museum. Holder was best-known for his work as an actor and dancer by the general public. He played the role of Punjab in the 1982 ilm version of the musical Annie and was the spokesperson for 7-Up, as the UnCola Man. He won a Tony award for costume design for The Wiz (1975). His most famous role was as the villian Baron Samedi in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die (1973), Roger Moore’s irst turn as 007. The St. James Guide to Black Artists (editor Thomas Riggs, 1997) points out that the majority of Holder’s known works are executed in a large format, as is Man and Woman. Man and Woman, c. 1970; oil on canvas, 51” x 31”. Exhibited: Frederick Weisman Gallery, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, 2001.
ALVIN C. HOLLINGSWORTH (1928-2000)
Hollingsworth was born in Harlem to Barbadain immigrants. While still a teen, he worked after school as an artist assistant at Holyoke Publishing Company for Catman Comics. Hollingsworth continued with his own syndicated comics in the early 1950’s while attending the College of the City of New York. He decided later to concentrate on ine art and began painting in an abstract expressionist style.
paintings, drawings, and collages both abstract and representational in style. Among Hollingsworth’s series were Cry City (1963-65), The Prophet Series (1970), and the Subconscious Series. He was a member of Spiral, along with other notable African American artists like Romare Beardon, Charles Alston, Earl Miller, Norman Lewis and Hale Woodruff.
Hollingsworth tended to work in themes - working out his ideas in a variety of media. One of his themes was The Women. “I take my hat off doubly to the Black woman,” he was quoted in an interview published in Black Art, An International Quarterly (Fall 1977). “I wanted people to recognize the pride of women, the spiritual quality of women, the sacriices of women.” Hollingsworth’s irst one man show, Exodus, was held at the Ward Eggleston Gallery, NY in 1961. He produced
Throughout his long and varied career, Hollingsworth also created and hosted the television show, You’re Part of Art on NBC in 1970, was an instructor at the Art Student’s League, and a professor at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College of the City University of New York.
Untitled (Woman), c. 1965; mixed media on board, 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches, signed.
RAYMOND HOWELL (1927-2002)
Raymond Howell’s paintings are based in realism, with eclectic inluences of surrealism and impressionism. In recent years he has experimented with collage, mural painting and print-making and has created series of works on such subject matter as jazz musicians who were innovators in their art form. An artist whose work focuses on African Americans, Howell describes himself as a role model for artists who have traditionally been reluctant to paint African American subjects. Howell has been a longtime ixture in the Bay Area art scene. In the mid 1960’s he opened Art Associates West, a gallery and art school in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, which operated for nearly a
decade. Howell’s 1965 painting The Brown Family was shown at the opening of the Oakland Museum, and was later purchased for the museum collection. His work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States, and in 1999 Stanford University presented a 40 year retrospective of his paintings. Many of Howell’s works are street scenes with numerous igures in a dynamic setting. The artist depicts the igures leaning, as if into a strong wind, which gives the impression of motion.
Untitled (San Francisco Street Scene), c. 1978; oil on masonite, 44” x 24”, signed.
EARLIE HUDNALL JR. (B. 1946)
I chose to use the camera as a tool to document diferent aspects of lifeâ€”who we are, what we do, how we live, what our communities look like. These various patterns are all interwoven like a quilt into important patterns of history. Earlie Hudnall was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His sense of community within his family and that of the African-American culture is what helped shape his work as an artist. Hudnall began photography while serving as a Marine in the Vietnam War in the 1960â€™s. In 1968, he relocated to Houston to attend Texas Southern University and received his BA in Art Education. There he found the encouragement to continue photographing his subject matter of the everyday for AfricanAmericans in the South. Hudnall made Houston his permanent home and has been working as the university photographer at Texas Southern University since 1990. Hudnall is a board member for the Houston Center for Photography and an Executive Board member in the Texas Photographic Society. His work has been inluential in the portrayal of the African-American community and culture. The director of Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 2017, Moonlight, mentioned Hudnall as visual inspiration on how the ilm should depict African-Americans both aesthetically and symbolically.
Hip Hop Galveston, 1993; silver gelatin print, 18-1/2 x 15
While Hudnall was teaching photography at the Galveston Art Center in 1993, he would journey through the Cedar Terrace housing project taking photographs. The subject of this photo asked him to take his picture thus becoming immortalized as Hip Hop Galveston.
GEORGE HUNT (B. 1940) George Hunt was born in rural Louisiana, near Lake Charles. He spent his childhood in Texas and Hot Springs, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. He did graduate studies at University of Memphis and New York University. Hunt spent 30 years teaching at George Washington Carver High School in Memphis before dedicating all his time to painting. He was honored for his painting America Cares/Little Rock Nine. Originally commissioned for Central High School Museum, the painting hung in the White House for ive years during the Clinton Administration. Hillary Clinton wrote Hunt saying, “we are grateful that our visitors and staff had such a powerful image of hope and freedom to greet, inspire, and inform them.”
I Am A Man, No. 2, 2006; serigraph, 50” x 24”, signed and dated; edition 185.
Ernest Withers (b. 1922), Sanitation worker’s strike, Memphis Tennessee, gelatin silver print, 1968.
CLEMENTINE HUNTER (1886-1988)
It is believed that Hunterâ€™s irst painting was done in 1940, when she was 55 years old and already a grandmother. She used paints left by a guest at the Melrose Plantation where she worked, and a window shade as her canvas. In her lifetime she saw the value of her art rise from a quarter to thousands of dollars. Her entire body of work revolves around daily life on a Louisiana plantation. These works are very typical: Cotton Pickers depicts the daily chores for African American women, and Baptism underscores the importance of the black church in the rural south.
Cotton Pickers, c. 1955; oil on board, 14 x 14 inches, signed.
Baptism, c. 1950; oil on board, 15-1/2 x 19-1/2 inches, signed. The artist
ARNOLD HURLEY (B. 1944)
Hurley earned a MFA from Tufts University. He received a Ford Foundation grant in 1964 to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A native of Boston, Mr. Hurley taught painting for 12 years at several area colleges and museums including Emerson College and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Fitchburg Art Museum, Lowell University, Milton Academy, Boston Public Schools and Wesleyan
University in Connecticut. He currently teaches art at Crossland High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Mr. Hurley’s approach to painting involves a realistic or representational style and his works vary from still life drawings to portraiture. Broken Cup, 1982; oil on canvas, 20” x 24, signed and dated.
BILL HUTSON (B. 1936)
Bill Hutson was born September 6, 1936 in San Marcos, Texas. He studied at the University of New Mexico, Los Angeles City College, and the San Francisco Academy of Art, although for the most part, Hutson dismisses his education and claims (somewhat bitterly) he is self-taught. His work is in the collections of several public collections including The Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture, The Brandywine Graphic Workshop,The Arco Collection, The Columbus Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The James E. Lewis Museum, The Newark Museum, The Boysmana-Van Beuningen Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The National Museum of Southern Australia. Hutson has received awards including the Cassandra Foundation Award and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. This is an early example of the artistâ€™s work, before he transitioned into a more hardedge precise abstraction. Untitled (Abstract Figure), 1959; oil on
canvas, 23 x 17-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
GERALD JACKSON (B. 1936)
Gerald Jackson was born on the south side of Chicago. His father was from Louisiana and his mother from Georgia. His father and uncles were into numbers running, so Gerald grew up amidst crime and guns. Gerald worked at the post ofice and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at night for a year. He did a stint in the Army and then returned to Chicago. Jackson moved to New York about 1963 and received a work scholarship to attend the Brooklyn Museum School. He met Ellsworth Ausby and started hanging out with him and through him he met Bob Thompson at Thompson’s opening at Martha Jackson Gallery. He also met Joe Overstreet and Emilio Cruz in that group. Girl Holding Moon, 1969, oil
on canvas, 50-¼ x 50-¼ inches, signed and dated.
DANIEL LARUE JOHNSON (B. 1938)
Born in Los Angeles in 1938, Daniel LaRue Johnson studied at the Chouinard Art School and the California Institute of Arts (L.A.). He moved to New York, where he befriended Willem de Kooning, and with the latterâ€™s help, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, where he studied in Paris with sculptor, Alberto Giacometti. He is closely associated with Los Angeles's African American artist movement of the mid-20th century, which developed as a response to the country's social, political, and economic changes. His varied body of work includes assemblages, expressionist and hard-edge abstract paintings, and colorful, minimalist sculptures. His work is included in the collections of Pasadena Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
Johnson was included in the show, The Search of Freedom, African American Abstract Painting 19451975, Kenkeleba Gallery; also: Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, Hammer Museum, 2011; Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,1970; and Witness, Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, Brooklyn Museum, 2014. His work may be seen in The Afro-American Artist:A Search for Identity, Elsa Honig Fine, 1982.
Abstract (From Emergence Series), 1963; oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, signed and dated. The artist and his work.
MALVIN GRAY JOHNSON (1896-1934)
The work of Malvin Gray Johnson, known simply as â€œGrayâ€? to those who knew him, is little known, because he died at such an early age. The year 1928, in which Over the Harlem Rooftops was believed to be executed, was the irst year Johnson exhibited at the Harmon Foundation; the next year, his painting, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, won the $250 Otto H. Kahn Prize. Johnson was criticized by some people for his tendency toward cubism and abstraction. Building structures and windows have been simpliied into geometric shapes, interrupted only by natural elements: a patch of trees, leaves, and what appears to be clothes hanging on a line, depicted in an impressionistic manner, perhaps a more effective vehicle to communicate a naturalistic force at work. The use of sgrafito, visibly pronounced in Over the Harlem Rooftops, is present in other works by Johnson. Over the Harlem Rooftops is listed in the Harmon Foundation Catalog, 1928,and as a known work by the artist in Afro-American Artists, A Biobibliographical Directory, Theresa Dickason Cederholm, 1973. Over the Harlem Rooftops, 1928; oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated.
MARIE JOHNSON (1920-2018)
Francisco City College, Triton Museum in Santa Clara, and the African American Cultural Center in San Francisco.
As a black woman artist, I wished to look beneath the misconceptions with which history had covered my people and me. The one connecting thread through all of my work is my perception of my own world (which, too, has been an odd mix), and my continuous efort to interpret it in a personal way. Born in Maryland, Marie Johnson Calloway received degrees from Coppin Teachers College, Baltimore; Morgan State University, Baltimore; and San Jose State University, California, before settling down to teach. She was the irst African-American public school teacher in San Jose. In 1969, she became an assistant professor at both the California College of Arts & Crafts and San Jose State University. Solo exhibitions include: Oakland Museum, California College of Arts & Crafts, Howard University, San
Her work has been included in the San Francisco Museum of Art (Marie Johnson and Betye Saar; Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of African American Art,Los Angeles; and Bennett College, North Carolina. Johnson participated in the landmark exhibit, Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980 originating at the Hammer Museum, University of California, 2012-2013 which chronicled the vital legacy of the cityâ€™s African American artists. Abstract Figure, c. 1980; oil on canvas, 20 x 40 inches, signed.
Sargent Johnson was best known as a modernist sculptor, inluenced by the cultures of Mexico, Latin America, and West Africa. Born in 1888 to a father of Swedish descent and a mother of Cherokee and African American heritage, Johnson and his siblings could have passed for white, but he remained irmly aligned with his African American heritage. In fact, the aim of his art was, according to him, to show African Americans how beautiful they were to themselves.
Johnson was orphaned at an early age and sent to live with an uncle, whose wife, May Howard Jackson, happened to be a well-known sculptor of African American portrait busts. He received his irst formal art training at the Worcester Art School in Boston, later relocating to the West Coast in 1915, where he studied at the A.W. Best School of Art and the California The Cat, c. 1945; terracotta, 5-3/4 x 16 x 4-1/2 inches.
SARGENT JOHNSON (1888-1967)
SARGENT JOHNSON (1888-1967)
School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He studied with Ralph Stackpole, as well as Benjamin Bufano, whose work inluenced his artistic output greatly in the 1920’s. At this time, Johnson’s work consisted of small scale ceramic heads, primarily of children. He became a regular exhibitor in the Harmon Foundation exhibitions between 1926 to 1935. Johnson’s creative output increased dramatically in the 1930’s as he began experimenting with a variety of material including terracotta, wood, beaten copper, marble, terrazzo, porcelain. He also produced prints and enamel paintings on metal. He was employed by the California WPA, eventually
becoming a supervisor, where his work took on a monumental scale. He created public sculptures such as a carved redwood organ screen for the California School of the Blind, and exterior low relief friezes and mosaic decorations for the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Johnson also created sculptures for the Golden Gate International Exposition held in 1939 on Treasure Island.
Teapot, 1941, ceramic, 4 x 2-1/2 x 4 inches , signed and dated; Sargent Johnson: African American Modernist, Cat. Number 28.
In 1944 and 1949 he traveled to Mexico using funds from the Abraham Rosenberg Scholarship, where he studied the culture, ceramics, and sculpture of the region. While still incorporating the geometric shapes and motifs of indigenous peoples, his work became increasingly more abstract until his death in 1967. In 1970, the Oakland Museum organized the irst retrospective of his work, and in 1998, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art held the exhibition, Sargent Johnson: African American Modernist. His
work may be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. An additional, separate work will be published in conjuction with this book about the works of Sargent Johnson in Melvin Holmesâ€™ collection. The Knot and the Noose, 1948; terracotta, 9 x 17 x 3 inches, signed; Sargent Johnson: African American Modernist, Cat. Number 39.
SARGENT JOHNSON (1888-1967)
FREDERICK D. JONES JR. (1913-1996) A modernist igure painter, Fred Jones’ work often revealed the inluence of Eldzier Cortor, a mentor of his at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jones’s canvasses often held tall, languid African American women in other-wordly surroundings. Indeed, Jones’s work is a remarkable synthesis of elements and inluences that he was exposed to throughout his life, as well as an innate sense of design and sensitivity to his subjects. His indelible style was shaped irst at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, Hale Woodruff took him under his wing, along with fellow artist Wilmer Jennings. Jones was one of the lucky students who was given the opportunity to assist him with murals that were later installed at Talladega University. Jones went on to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, with the inancial help of a generous patron, Harrison Jones, an executive at Coca Cola. He studied painting with Louis Ritman, an American Impressionist with Paris connections. Jones’s work was featured in the Chicago and Vicinity Exhibitions from 1946-1951. He focused on the technical aspects of color, applying it to his art - the telling of the story of Black struggle. In an interview, Jones was quoted as saying that Cortor “taught him that he could make the struggle beautiful.” Jones was also involved with the South Side Community Art Center, serving as assistant director in 1947 - Rex Goreleigh was the director. The Girl in the Yellow Dress, c. 1950; oil on board, 30 x 8 inches, signed.
HENRY BOZEMAN JONES (1889-1973)
Henry Bozeman Jones was a Philadelphia painter, author, and illustrator. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1908-1910 with Thomas Anschutz and Hugh Breckenridge. The latterâ€™s inluence is shown in the sun dappled light of the woodland in the work, Autumn.
shown at the Print Club, Sketch Club, and Y.W.C.A. of Philadelphia. In 1933, the 135th branch of the New York Public Library held a solo exhibition of his work. L to R:
Autumn, c. 1930; oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches, signed.
Jones exhibited frequently with the Harmon Foundation (1929-1931 and 1933). His work was also
Slim, 1930; oil on board, 10 x 7, signed.
LOIS MAILOU JONES (1905-1998)
Lois Mailou Jones’ career spanned seven decades, and her paintings represented a variety of artistic techniques and themes as her style evolved. Her work remained consistent in her thoughtful use of color and strong sense of design, both of which were instilled in her through her extensive education at institutions such as the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, the Boston Normal Art School, and the Designer’s Art School of Boston. At the beginning of her career, Jones submitted textile designs through a white classmate that were used by major textile irms. She went to work at Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, helping to establish an art department. Professor James Herring was so impressed with her work, that he asked her to join the faculty at Howard University. Jones held a position here for the next 47 years. A number of her students went on to have extremely successful careers in art, including Elizabeth Catlett and David Driskell. In 1937, Jones went to Paris for a years sabbatical. She attended the Academie Julian and began painting plein air. She would continue to return to
Paris throughout her life; like other African American artists of the time, she felt a freedom there that was profound. Jones found another spiritual home in Haiti. In 1954, she was invited to visit and paint the country’s landscape and the people. The works she produced in this period are her most widely known works. Haiti Voudou IV relects her distinctly personal style with vivid colors and Post Cubist, Post Expressionist elements. Lois Mailou Jones was equally at home painting French landscapes and igure studies. L to R: The Gossips, 1940; ink, watercolor, and wash on paper, 13 x 10 inches, signed and dated.
Haiti Voudou IV, 1968; watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches, signed, dated, and inscribed Haiti. Exhibited: Lois Mailou Jones Retrospective Exhibition, Forty Years of Painting, 1932-1972. Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1972, catalog number 87.
ROBERT EDMUND LEE JONES (B.1913)
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Robert Edmond Jones was an African-American painter and sculptor active in Chicago where he studied at Hull House and the Art Institute. He was a founding member of the National Conference of Artists along with Chicagobased artists Bernard Goss, Marion Perkins,and the distinguished artist and educator, Dr. Margaret Burroughs. Inaugurated as the National Conference of Negro Artists, the group later became the National Conference of Artists. It is likely that Jones knew Burroughs in Chicago.
Bill Walker and the artists of Africobra. His intentionally straightforward composition incorporating text as a decorative element was found to be effective in conveying the message in public art.
Stylistically, Jones worked in a style not unlike muralist
Free, 1957; oil on board, 24 x 30 inches.
Jonesâ€™s work is found in the collections of the Negro History Hall of Fame and the Chicago Coliseum.
L to R:
John Brown, 1935; painted plaster relief, 8 x 8 x 4-1/2 inches.
JOSEPH KERSEY (1908-1982)
Ellen Jane, 1940; poured stone, 9-3/8 x 7 x 7 inches. Illustrated: Modern Negro Art; The Negro in Art.
Received an Honorable Mention in Sculpture at the American Negro Exposition, 1940 (illustrated, listed as Anna.) Ellen Jane was also included in the 44th Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1940.
Top R: Ellen Jane, the artistâ€™s niece and the subject of the sculpture. Bottom R: Ellen Jane, Joseph Kersey, and a family friend, July 1948. (Courtesy Anita Mauro)
JOSEPH KERSEY (1908-1982) Kersey’s middle name has been incorrectly communicated over the years as “Artur”. Joseph Arthur Kersey—Joe--lived in the same three-lat buildings as my mother and her family in Chicago, irst in the area now known as Prairie Shores and then in the Woodlawn area. He never married or had children of his own. Ellen Jane (a.k.a. Anna) and Head of a Young Girl were both made in my mother’s image; Ellen Jane was named after my mother. Known primarily as a sculptor, Uncle Joe was a member of George Neal’s Arts Craft Guild and one of the founding artists of the South Side Community Art Center. He taught there as well as Hull House, the Abraham Lincoln Center, the Good Will Center, South Side Settlement, University of Chicago Settlement and the Chicago Park District. Kersey served in the United States Army during WWII. I was barely 9 years old when Uncle Joe passed away, but surely I inherited my interest in, and love of, art from him.
Ellen Jane and The Spiritual Singer are both listed in Afro-American Artists, a Bio-Bibliographical Dictionary , Theresa Dickason Cedarholm, 1973 as known works by the artist. Kersey exhibited with the Federal Arts Project, 1939; American Negro Exposition, 1940 (Honorable Mention); Atlanta University, 1942; Howard University, 1941; Library of Congress, 1940; South Side Community Art Center, 1941; and McMillen Inc. Galleries (NY), 1941.
Top to bottom R: The Spiritual Singer (Marian Anderson), c. 1950; plaster, 10-3/4 x 7-3/4 x 6-3/4 inches. Bronzeville, c. 1950; watercolor on paper, 13-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches, signed and titled.
Provided by the artist’s grand-niece, Anita Mauro.
ANDRE RICHARDSON KING (B. 1931)
Andre Richardson King was a part of the irst generation of African American designers in Chicago. After serving in the United States Air Force from 1951-1955, he attended Chicago Technology College, the University of Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago. While attending the Art Institute, he became acquainted with Margaret Burroughs through the South Side Community Art Center.
eventually had a hand in starting the new signage department at Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, one of Chicagoâ€™s leading architectural irms. He was the recipient of two design awards from the Art Institute in 1959 and 1982. Today, he owns his own design irm, Andre Richardson King Designers, Inc.
King found that architecture was something Still Life With Strawberries, c. 1959; oil on board, 12 x 16 inches, signed. for which he had passion and talent. He
HAYWARD ELLIS KING (1928-1990)
Hayward Ellis King was a painter, printmaker and the irst African American to hold the position of Director and Curator of a major art facility, namely, The Richmond Art Center (1966-1970). King studied with famous Bay Area artists such as David Parks, Richard Diebenkorn, and Elmer Bischoff. He also studied on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Sorbonne, in Paris in 1955. King was a founding member of the multi-media â€œ6 Galleryâ€?, where artists Joan Brown and Manuel Neri had their irst shows. He worked primarily with an idiosyncratic collage, inked and drawn cutouts incorporating xerography, paste up and clippings. He was also known for abstract oils. Untitled (Abstract), 1966, silkscreen, 22 x 15 inches, signed and annotated, For Mike and Pat 10/3/66.
COLUMBUS KNOX (1923-1999)
Columbus Knox was born in Philadelphia in 1923. He attended Central High School, and was awarded a scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Arts (now the University of the Arts in Philadelphia). One of his irst paintings Charging Warriors was listed in Who’s Who in Black Art. Knox worked primarily in acrylics, oil and watercolor.
Dancing Watusi and Black Madonna. Knox worked as an art director for the Philadelphia based U.S. Naval Supply Depot, and was a graphic designer and illustrator for other government agencies. In the 1980s, he retired as a visual media specialist for the Federal Ofice of Mining and Safety.
His use of light within his extraordinary circular, vertical and horizontal line movement gave his igures strength, power and life. Due to Knox’s concentrated use of vibrant colors and masterful brush strokes, igures in his paintings evoked an ethereal sense of the divine. Gallery owner and curator, Keith Scriven Knox was commissioned to do paintings for collectors and corporations, including one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for a Philadelphia high school. His other awardwinning pieces include Pebbles, Inez’s Communion,
Knox was a beloved presence at the annual Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in Philadelphia and was represented in major exhibitions like AfroAmerican Artists, 1800-1969, Philadelphia School District and the Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center; Philadelphia Collects: Works on Paper, Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, 2008; and In Search of Missing Masters: The Lewis Tanner Moore Collection of African American Art, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia. Praying Worker, c. 1990; acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 inches, signed.
ARBON LANE (1932-2005)
Folk artist Arbon Lane was born in Reidsville, North Carolina in 1932. He did not start making art exclusively until he was in his sixties. Using simple house paint, Lane created scenes that relected the people, places, and events of his life. After his death, his work was featured in the solo exhibition, A Black Man Speaks, held at the Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina.
Untitled (Farm Scene), c. 1998; oil on plywood, 21-1/4 x 29-1/4 inches, signed.
HUGHIE LEE SMITH (1915-1999)
In Boy in Landscape With Balloons , a lone igure stands with his back to the viewer, gazing out at a group of buildings set among gently rolling hills; a group of balloons loat lazily in the sky above. The buildings represent prosperity and progress. The balloons may have broken free from a groundbreaking ceremony. Upon closer inspection, the peaceful innocence of the scene becomes conlicted: a ramshackle plank fence separates the igure from the rest of the scene. The viewer shares the linear perspective with the igure in the composition, and by extension, the sense of separation. Drawing on life as a black American, Lee-Smith has found an aesthetic way of expressing his own experiences in a broad statement about the promise of American life and the shallowness of its realities. It is a statement that many Americans, regardless of their race or social status, share to some degree. A History of African American Artists: From 1792 to the Present, Bearden, Romare and Harry Henderson, 1993; p. 328
Throughout his career, Lee-Smith was an educator at the Karamu House, Cleveland, OH and the Art Student’s League, NY. He served as Artist-inResidence at Howard University, where he supervised the creation of a series of murals that recognized the scientiic and artistic achievements of African Americans. In 1967, he was inducted into the National Academy of Design. Lee-Smith’s irst major retrospective was held in 1988 at the New Jersey State Museum. Boy in Landscape With Balloons, 1956; oil on board, 7-¼ x 17 inches, signed and dated.
ULYSSES MARSHALL (B. 1946)
Ulysses Marshall is known for his expressionist paintings which often incorporate collage, similar to Romare Bearden. Marshall was born in Georgia and attended Albany State College and the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has served as artist-in-residence at Williams College, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Battle Creek Art Center, and Bowie State University. Marshallâ€™s work has been featured in many exhibitions, including In Search of Missing Masters: The Lewis Tanner Moore Collection of African American Art, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia and the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art. Lemonade on Sunday, 2002; acrylic on canvas, 28 x 22 inches, signed and dated.
RICHARD MAYHEW (B.1924)
West Wind perfectly represents the style for which Richard Mayhew became known. His oeuvre consisted of large scale paintings resplendent with colors bleeding into and out of each other, creating a hazy and indistinct image. Mayhew was born in 1924 to parents of African American and Native American descent. He was educated at the Art Students League, NY; Brooklyn Museum Art School; and Pratt University, as well
as receiving a degree in art history at Columbia University, NY. During this time, he studied under Edwin Dickinson, Reuben Tam, Hans Hofmann, and Max Beckmann. . Mayhew was one of the founding members of the group Spiral which was formed in 1963 by Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and Hale Woodruff and worked to address issues of civil rights and racial inequality through art. West Wind, 1954; oil on canvas, 54 x 74 inches, signed.
YVONNE COLE MEO (B.1929)
Iâ€™m African American and these are my experiences. I paint about my people.
Yvonne Meo was born in Seattle, Washington, and studied at UCLA and California State College. Meo was primarily a sculptor and printmaker. She exhibited at the Oakland Museum (a work by her is included in their permanent collection), and had a solo exhibition at Fisk University. She taught in the Los Angeles Public School System and at Fisk. Meo was encouraged by Charles White to show her work in galleries in Los Angeles during the 1960s. An example of her work may be seen in Black Artists on Art by Samella Lewis and Ruth Waddy (vol I). Cotton Workers, c. 1950, lithograph on paper, 10-3/4 x 7-3/4 inches, signed, titled, and annotated, Proof.
ARCHIBALD MOTLEY (1891-1981)
Baseball in the Schoolyard, c. 1934; oil on canvas, 17-3/4 x 21-3/8 inches, signed.
ARCHIBALD MOTLEY (1891-1981)
I think this is an important painting. Its particularly American iconographies - the symbols of baseball, the flag - give it a particular resonance for me. In the 1991 exhibition catalogue, The Art of Archibald Motley, Jr., it is listed as “whereabouts unknown.” This alone- that I found a work assumed to be lost- makes it that much more important to me. Melvin Holmes
The artist, c. 1929; Archibald Motley Jazz Age Modernist, 152.
In Baseball in the Schoolyard , Motley cleverly addresses serious issues such as integration through a depiction of children playing America’s favorite pastime. The artist had returned from Paris in the early 1930s and began a series of works depicting the Black experience in Chicago. Motley had gained a position with the P.W.A. in 1933, and in a handwritten notebook of the artist’s in the collection of the Chicago History Museum, he titled, Paintings Done for the P.W.A., he lists entries #4 and #5 as Playground (collection of Dr. Harmon and Harriet Kelly) and Baseball in the Schoolyard (collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art). It is signiicant to note that works done for the P.W.A. were returned to the artists, which differed from other W.P.A. projects, in which the United States government retained ownership of the artwork. The two works appear the following year in a checklist from the Barnett-Aden Collection as Playground I and Playground II, which further supports that the artwork was returned to the artists.
GUS NALL (1919-1995) Gus Nall studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in Paris. Nall studied with Eldzier Cortor and was also inluenced by fellow Chicagoan, Archibald Motley, Jr. His subjects were elongated human igures executed in a surrealist or cubist manner. In turn, Nall inluenced the work of young writer and painter, Clarence Major, who met Nall at the Art Institute and gave Major lessons in his studio/apartment. Nall exhibited regularly during the 1950’s-60’s in popular art fairs around the city, much like many of the local painters, including fellow South Side painter, Gertrude Abercrombie. Margaret Burroughs praised Nall’s work in Art Gallery Magazine (April,1968) when she was asked to report on the Chicago African American art scene. Nall was also mentioned in Black Power in the Arts (Carol Myers, Cornell University, 1970). His most well-known work, Lincoln Speaks to Freedmen on the Steps of the Capitol at Richmond (1963) was commissioned by the State of Illinois to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. This work is on permanent exhibit at the Du Sable Museum of African American History in Chicago. Untitled (Abstract), c. 1960; oil on board, 55-½ x 60 inches, signed.
GEORGE NEAL (1906-1938)
George Neal was revered as an art educator, and though his life was short, his inluence was carried on by such students as Charles White, Eldzier Cortor, Margaret Burroughs, and Charles Davis at the South Side Community Art Center. Neal worked as a sign painter and illustrator and taught classes at the South Side Settlement House while inishing his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1932, he gathered his most promising young students into a group called the Art Crafts Guild. He was known for taking his students out of the classroom and into the streets of Bronzeville to paint the people and the places. After his death in 1938, he was hailed by the Chicago Defender as â€œthe foremost Race art instructor in the city.â€? His work has been featured in the American Negro Exposition, as well as exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Artists Group Galleries, Baltimore Museum of Art, Howard University, and the South Side Community Art Center.
Portrait of a Girl, 1936; mixed media on
paper, 9 x 7-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
HAYWARD LOUIS OUBRE JR. (1916-2006)
student union building. A highlight of his experience at Tuskegee was meeting George Washington Carver. Oubre was drafted into the army and served as a master sergeant from 1941-1943. He wed Juanita Bernice Hurel in 1945, a girl he had met at Dillard. The couple decided to pursue graduate studies at the University of Iowa, and Oubre was the second student to achieve an M.F.A. (1948) after Elizabeth Catlett. Oubre regularly exhibited both paintings and sculpture at the Atlanta (University) Annuals; he was also included in exhibitions at Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO; Baltimore Museum of Art; High Museum of Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; University of Iowa, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Dorchester, MA. Oubre was also a dedicated life-long educator, holding positions at Florida A & M University, followed by Alabama State College and inally WinstonSalem State University in North Carolina, retiring in 1981. Perhaps it was what Oubre didn’t do—what he refused to do—that was his greatest contribution. He didn’t automatically accept the standard: he developed a concise study of color mixing and color relationships that challenged the long-standing “color triangle” developed by Johann Wolfgang Goethe; he rejected the popular trends and the entries submitted for art exhibitions, calling for a higher standard and more innovative and challenging approach—and devised a technique of making sculptures from twisting common coat hangers without the use of welds or solder. Regarded as the “master of stabile”, his work was often compared to Alexander Calder.
Hayward Oubre graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans as the school’s irst ine art major in 1939; he continued his studies with Hale Woodruff and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet at Atlanta University. It was at Woodruff’s urging that Oubre went to the Tuskegee Institute in 1941 to assist with projects for the new
He was a founding member of the National Conference of Arts (originally the National Conference of Art Teachers in Negro Colleges). Pensive Family 1949; oil on canvas, 38 x 23-½ inches, signed and dated. Exhibited in the Atlanta University Art Annual in 1949 and received an Honorable Mention.
JOE OVERSTREET (B. 1934)
Joe Overstreet began his studies in art at Contra Costa College in Richmond, CA in 1951. He continued at the California School of Fine Arts (1953-54), under Sargent Johnson and Raymond Howell. He became part of the beat scene in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, exhibiting at teahouses and jazz clubs, along with James Weeks, Nathan Olivera, and Richard Diebenkorn. Overstreet moved to New York in 1958, where he became attracted to the work of the abstract expressionists. His work of the 1960’s combines geometric and stylistic elements of African art with modernist abstraction. In 1974,
Overstreet, Corrine Jennings and writer Samuel Floyd founded Kenkeleba House, a space devoted to the exhibition and promotion of visual art, performance art, dance, and literature produced by people of color. This work, while two dimensional, illustrates the artist’s fondness for the use of rope and grommets (in his sculptural work); his strong outlined forms presenting exaggerated gestural forms. Untitled, 1969; mixed media on paper, 25 x 18 inches, signed and dated.
WILLIAM PAJAUD (1925-2015) William Pajaud was born in New Orleans and lived there until he inished the ninth grade. Even though he was young, his experiences in that city shaped his subject matter as a painter later in his life. Pajaud moved with his mother to Chattanooga for a year, and there he experienced a racially motivated beating. A year later, his mother landed a teaching job at Texas College, so they moved, once again, to Tyler, TX. Just a teenager, he was subjected to another racially motivated act of violence. Later he commented that his art was a reaction to how a person copes with these kinds of challenges experienced throughout his life. Pajaud earned a BFA from Xavier University in New Orleans. Eventually he moved to Los Angeles in 1948, and enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute. He exhibited in the 1950s-60s, he exhibited at Heritage Gallery, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Esther Robles Gallery. He also participated in a co-op group known as Eleven Associated. The artists, including Beulah Woodard, Alice Gafford, and Curtis Tann who rented a space on South Hill Street in an attempt to gain more visibility for their work. The group, while historically signiicant, did not last long. Pajaud was appointed as an art director for Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1957, the largest African American-owned business in Los Angeles. Golden State was known for supporting African American artists, and Pajaud also convinced them to build an impressive collection of African American art. Pajaud exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Pasadena Art Museum; deYoung Art Museum, San Francisco; Atlanta University; University of Iowa. Jazz Ensemble, 1950; tempera on board, 43 x 21 inches, signed.
GORDON PARKS (1912-2006)
Gordon Parks bought his irst camera at the age of 25. He was working as a dining car waiter for a railroad company, and was taken by the photos in magazines left by passengers—especially images taken by Roy Stryker’s team documenting poverty in America for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Parks’ irst photography show was at Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center. His efforts won him a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. In 1944, he made portraits of famous African Americans, such as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson and Richard Wright for Edwin Embree’s book, Thirteen Against the Odds. In 1948, Parks’ photo documentary on the life of a Harlem gang member for LIFE Magazine landed him a position as photographer and writer —the irst such position held by an African American . As his prestige grew, so did his control over the editorial content that accompanied the pictures. In 1962, Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammed led a rally of Muslims in Chicago,
and the following year, Parks produced the photo documentary, The White Man’s Day is Almost Over . The result was a nuanced and inely textured photo essay that challenged conventional wisdom about the group. [The images] portray a religious community that is far diferent from the dangerous collection of fanatics that television and the press usually depicted. They emphasize the importance of family, faith and disciplined, peaceful protest. Many of the images show Malcolm X, who was Parks’ guide through the world of the Black Muslims, in a variety of roles—spokesman, prayer leader, amateur photographer. How Gordon Parks’ Photographs Implored White America to See Black Humanity, John Edwin Mason, TIME, 2016 Muslim Women in Chicago, 1970; silver gelatin print, 20 x 29 inches, signed and dated.
MARION PERKINS (1908-1961)
Marion Perkins was born in 1908 near Marche, Arkansas. When his parents died in 1916, he was sent to live with an aunt in Chicago. He attended Wendell Phillips High School in the Bronzeville area. Perkins quit school just before his senior year, married and started a family. His wife, Eva, was his muse and model for many of the feminine sculptures he created. Perkins owned a newspaper stand for many years and had aspirations to become a playwright for a short time. Sculpting was something he chose as a hobby in early days, and he was largely self-taught. His work
caught the eye of Margaret Burroughs, who was in his circle of friends, as well as Peter Pollack, gallery owner and administrator for the Illinois Art Project. The latter eventually became a patron and was instrumental in introducing him to Si Gordon. Gordon was an Illinois Art Project sculptor and teacher who gave Perkins his irst formal training in sculpting at the black YMCA at 38th and Wabash. Perkins showed his work there for the irst time in 1938 as a part of a student show. (continued in Appendix) Mother and Child, c. 1940; stone, 15 x 19 inches, signed.
JAMES PHILLIPS (B. 1945) James Phillips graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art and was associated with the AfriCobra and Weusi groups in the late 1960s. In New York, he became acquainted with several popular jazz musicians, who inspired him to mimic the rhythms and moods within the music in his own art. Taliza Fleming writes of a work by Phillips: As evidenced in his 1966 painting The Dealer, Phillips began to incorporate jarring color combinations, sporadic zigzagging forms, and writhing compositions that alter the perception of reality. In similar fashion to the musical free jazz style of John Coltrane—an artist with whom Phillips was acquainted—The Dealer displays striking features of improvisation, layered rhythmic patterning, and violent bursts of colorful forms and accent. Narratives of African American Art and Identity, The David C. Driskell Collection, p. 130 Phillips was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (1971-72). He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; Howard University; American Center, Tokyo; and The Children’s Museum, New York as a solo artist; and in group shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Kenkeleba House, NYC; and the Selma Burke Center, Pittsburgh. His work is included in the collections of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State ofice, NY; Hall of Justice, San Francisco, Fisk University Museum; Howard University; and the Schomburg Center, NY. It was in the late 1970s and early 1980s that Phillips’ paintings became architectonic and grid based. In these hard-edged geometric compositions, his African signs and symbols remain intact, and his painting style and technique are more calculated. The grids on the painting are obvious. At irst glance shapes and patterns that are arranged asymmetrically appear to be random and nonrepeating, but further examination reveals a deliberate, conscious, and well-balanced coniguration. Regina Holden Jennings, St. James Guide to Black Artists Visual Manifestions of Ashe (Life Force), c. 1980; oil on canvas, 96 x 48 inches, signed.
ROBERT PIOUS (1908-1983)
laundress. After six years, they moved to Chicago. Pious attended the Art Institute of Chicago for two years, leaving to work full time as a commercial artist and painting portraits of Chicago’s elite until, in 1929, his portrait of world famous African American tenor Roland Hayes won the Harmon Foundation’s Springarn Prize. He received a 4 year scholarship to the National Academy of Design in New York City where he attended from 1931 to 1935. While living in New York City, he spent time at the Harlem Artist’s Guild and became acquainted with other African American artists of the time like Augusta Savage, Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, Norman Lewis, and Joseph Delaney. He also met Charles Seifert, a noted African American historian and scholar, who converted the basement of his school into an artist’s studio. Pious created paintings for Seifert to display in his school, which was converted to a library in 1939. Pious continued to exhibit through the 1930’s with the Harmon Foundation and worked as a muralist for the WPA, as well as teaching at the Harlem YMCA during the depression. In 1936, his work was included in the Exhibition of Fine Art Productions by American Negroes at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. His poster design for the American Negro Exposition (1940) took irst prize and remains a notable example of his work.
Robert Savon Pious achieved a celebrity status among African Americans for his lively illustrations which appeared in magazines and books nationwide, but he was also an accomplished painter whose portraits garnered him prestigious awards and accolades. Pious was born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1908. Like most artists of his caliber, he showed talent at an early age. He and his family moved to St. Louis in 1915 where they lived at 2246 Washington Avenue. His stepfather worked as a furnace ireman at a local manufacturing plant, while his mother worked as a
During the war, Pious worked as an illustrator for the Ofice of War Information, and continued his freelance illustrative work throughout the rest of his life with work appearing in literary editions, comic books, newspapers, and pulp magazines like Sports Fiction, Super Sports and Sports Winners. Pious exhibited with the Urban League, 1932; Atlanta University, 1942; Harlem Art Community, 1935; Augusta Savage Studios, 1939, and the City College of NY,1967. His portrait of Harriet Tubman is found in the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Poster for the American Negro Exposition, 1940; serigraph, 21 x 30 inches, signed.
ROSE PIPER (1917-2005)
Rose Piper was born in New York in 1917, and spent nearly the entirety of her long and varied career there, beginning with her education at Hunter College (she was awarded a four year scholarship at Pratt Institute but her father believed Pratt was not really a college), and then at the Art Student’s League, studying under Vaclav Vytacil and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Piper was the recipient of two prestigious Rosenwald Fellowships (1946 and 1948) which allowed her to travel to Paris for further study, and the southern United States. Her irst solo exhibition at the Roko Gallery (New York) featured the results of this travel, 14 paintings based on Negro folk songs and blues songs that she had researched. The success of this show led her to be included in the 7th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Negro Art sponsored by Atlantic University in 1948. Her painting, Grievin’ Hearted took irst place and a cash prize of $300. She also exhibited at the ACA Gallery, and ran in the circle of artists which included Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, Norman Lewis, and a young Jacob Lawrence. Her later exhibitions include: New Images, Hudson Guild Art Gallery,1988; Contemporary African-American Artists, National Arts Club, New York, 1994; and The Fine Art of Textile Design, Cinque Gallery, New York, 1995; Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, 1993,1995. An example of her work from the 1980s, Go Down Death, Easy (1988), appears in St James Guide to Black Artists, Thomas Riggs, 1997; (p. 424).
Blues Singer, 1989; mixed media on paper, 24-1/2 x 19 inches, signed, dated, and titled; Rose Piper and When you talk in your sleep make sho’ I ain’t awake are inscribed.
RAMON PRICE (1930-2000)
Ramon Price was an accomplished artist, educator, and ambassador of African American art, whose efforts as chief curator of the DuSable Museum of African American History propelled the work of African Americans to an international level. He was also the youngest brother of former Chicago mayor Harold Washington. Born in 1930 on Chicagoâ€™s South Side, Price attended DuSable High School. After graduating, he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a Master of Arts from Indiana University. His dedication to art education and history was inspired by Margaret Burroughs, his art teacher and lifelong friend.
Price returned to DuSable High School from 19601973 to teach art and later served as art department chairman. A painter and a sculptor, his works are found in numerous collections. A bronze called Monument to Black Pride is part of the DuSable Museumâ€™s permanent collection. Price also taught art history at Indiana University and introduced a course in African and African-American art history at George Williams College in Downers Grove, IL. Tacking Against the Wind, serigraph, 8 x 10 inches, signed.
NELSON PRIMUS (1842-1916)
Nelson Primus was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. At age 15, he was apprenticed to portrait painter George Francis before studying with Elizabeth Gilbert Jerome. After moving to Boston in 1864, he established himself as a portrait and carriage painter before making his way to California in 1895 via the Isthmus of Panama.
A highly spiritual man, he was a close friend and conidant of Mammy Pleasant. Many of his works were lost in the disastrous earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1906, in the aftermath of which several ires were ignited. Primusâ€™s extant works are extremely scarce.
Primus settled in San Francisco, where he was one of the few black artists active in 19th century California.
Landscape With Horse, 1884; oil on board, 18 x 24 inches, signed and dated.
WILLIAM RHODES (B. 1967)
William Rhodes is a contemporary multi-media artist living in San Francisco. This work was included in the exhibition, The Exodus, the Migration, and the Stand (2012) at the 3.9 Art Collective, that focused on the dwindling population of African Americans in San Francisco due to gentriication. Rhodes grew up in Baltimore and studied at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the 1980s with, among other teachers, AfriCOBRA artist James Phillips. He concentrated on woodworking and graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a degree in design; he later earned a MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He has exhibited at Harvard University, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, and Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
Falsehood, The Last Patron Saint of the Bayview, mixed media
assemblage, 22-1/2 x 18 x 6-1/2 inches, signed and titled.
GREGORY RIDLEY, JR.(1925-2004)
Gregory Ridley was born in Smyrna, Georgia. In 1936, his family moved to Nashville. After a stint in the Navy, he enrolled at Fisk University, where he studied under Aaron Douglas, and the two became lifelong friends. Ridley also earned an undergraduate degree from Tennessee State University and a MFA from the University of Louisville. Ridley accepted a teaching position at Alabama State University the same year he received his master’s degree (1951). Before retiring, he had taught at several southern universities as well as at City University New York. Several works from Ridley’s Ngere Mask Series are displayed in the library at Fisk University. Adhering to the philosophy of Alain Locke, by exploring African heritage and designs in contemporary African American art, Ridley executed both paintings and metal repoussé sculptures in this aesthetic.
Six Heads, 1972; pen and ink on paper, 15 x 10 inches, signed and dated.
J.H.D. ROBINSON (1895-1970)
J.H.D. Robinson studied at the Brooklyn Art School and the Art Students League in the 1920s, with Boardman Robinson and Thomas Hart Benton. Robinson was an early member of the Harlem Artist Guild (1935-41) and exhibited at the Harmon Foundationâ€™s all-Negro art exhibit of 1931. He was one of a few African American artists appointed to the federal governmentâ€™s Public Works Art Project. Robinson painted igurative works and still lifes,
and also exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists, the 135th Branch of the New York Public Library,1928-29 and the Roerich Museum, 1934. In the late 1940s, Robinson became a chiropractor and focused less on art as a profession, although he continued to paint his entire life. Central Park, 1948; oil on canvas, 11-1/2 x 19-1/2 inches, signed, dated, and inscribed, To Alice.
CHARLES SALLEE, JR.(1913-2006)
Painter and graphic artist Charles Sallee was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1913. He studied at Western Reserve University, John Huntington Polytechnic Institute, and the Cleveland Museum School of Art. He was the irst African American to be admitted to the Cleveland Museum School of Art in 1934. Sallee taught at the Karamu House in Cleveland as well as Kennard Junior High School. His works have been exhibited at Howard University,1937; International Watercolor Show; Annual May Show, Cleveland, 1937-39; American Negro Exposition, 1940; Atlanta University, 1942; and the South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL, 1941. In 2011, his work was featured in the exhibition, Hardship to Hope: African American Art from the Karamu Workshop held at Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. His work is found in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The Reading Lesson, 1971; oil on canvasboard, 19-1/2 x 15-1/2 inches, signed.
AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892-1962)
she met a potter and acquired 25 pounds of clay. Her sculpture received much local attention, and through a series of events and support of teachers, Savage traveled to New York City in her quest to become a professional sculptor. She was admitted to the Cooper Union School, which was tuition-free, and inished her 4 year program in 3 years. She traveled abroad to France on scholarship and joined a group of black artists and intellectuals, including Hale Woodruff, Henry Tanner, and Countee Cullen. By the early 1930s, Savage was living in Harlem and had created a school, Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts. In 1933, she founded The Vanguard , a group of Harlem intellectuals who met in her studio to discuss politics, art, and the condition of the African American. In 1938, Savage was commissioned to do a sculpture for the New York Worldâ€™s Fair, occurring the following year. Inspired by a song writer by Rosamund and James Weldon Johnson, she produced the 16 foot painted plaster Lift Every Voice and Sing near the Contemporary Art Museum. Funds to have the work cast in bronze never materialized, and the sculpture was bulldozed at the closing of the fair. Only the small metal maquettes remain.
Augusta Savage was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida. She had a knack for sculpting even as a small child, making mud ducks and selling them at the local fair. She married at the age of 15, but her husband died the following year, after having a child together. In 1915, her family moved to West Palm Beach, where
The kneeling youth displaying a bar of musical notes and his offering have been symbolic of both the musical gifts of African Americans and the African background of African American music. The choir procession came forth from the hand of the Creator. Lift Every Voice and Sing, 1939; silver oxide,
11 x 9-1/2 x 4 inches, signed on base.
THOMAS SILLS (1914-2000)
African American abstract expressionist artist Thomas Sills was born in Castalia, North Carolina in 1914 and began painting in 1952 at the age of 38. In 1957 he won the prestigious William and Noma Copley Foundation Award and held solo exhibitions at the Betty Parsons Gallery, NY; Paul Kantor Gallery, CA; and Bodley Gallery, NY. His work was also included in many group exhibitions including the Fourth Annual Artists Annual at
Stable Gallery, NY. The Stable Gallery was the center of Abstract Expressionism in New York City in the 1950â€™s and home to artists Robert Indiana, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, Willem deKooning, Andy Warhol, and Lee Krasner.
Pleasant Hills, c. 1966; oil on canvas, 42 x 49 inches, signed.
LORNA SIMPSON (B. 1960)
Lorna Simpson works as a photographer, and is best known for her photo-text installations, photo collages, and ilms. She attended the School of Visual Arts, NY and the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been shown at Just Above Midtown, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Walker Art Center, MN; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Studio Museum in Harlem as well as numerous others. Her work may be found in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; and the High Museum of Art, GA.
Untitled, 1982; silver gelatin print, 14 x 10 inches, signed and dated.
ALBERT ALEXANDER SMITH (1896-1940) Albert Alexander Smith was a painter and printmaker whose style varied from straight forward portraits and European scenes, to lively depictions of the African American community and examinations of social injustice.
While attending school, Smith was the recipient of numerous awards and had his irst illustration published in The Crisis. Upon his return to the academy, after serving in WWI, he received the John Armstrong Chaloner Paris Foundation irst prize for painting from life as well as a irst prize for etching.
Top L to R:
Portrait of Marian Anderson, c. 1920; watercolor on paper, 15 x 11 inches, signed and titled.
Portrait of Paul Robeson, c. 1920; 15 x 11 inches, signed and titled. Bottom L to R:
Portrait of Dr. W.E. DuBois, c. 1920; watercolor on paper, 11 x 8 inches, signed and titled. Portrait of Booker T. Washington, c. 1920; 11 x 8 inches, signed and titled.
Smith was born in 1896 in New York City, the only child of immigrants from Bermuda. After graduating from traditional high school, he began studying art with Irene Weir in 1913 at the Arts High School of the Ethical Culture School. He was the irst African American to receive the Wolfe scholarship for his studies. In 1915, Smith became the irst African American student admitted to the National Academy of Art and Design where he studied painting with Douglas Volk, mural painting with Kenyon Cox, and printmaking with William Auerbach-Levy. Smith was probably the irst African American to use the etching press.
ALBERT ALEXANDER SMITH (1896-1940)
In 1920, Smith moved to Europe, where he remained for the rest of his life, supporting his artistic endeavors by working as a cabaret musician at night. His work was continually shown in both the United States and Europe, and many of his illustrations appeared in The Crisis and Opportunity. Smith worked closely with Arthur Schomburg of the New York Public Library, executing a series of etchings of great Black leaders which were shown at the library, as well as inding rare books on Black culture he found in Europe for Schomburg to include in his collection. His drawing, Plantation Melodies earned a gold medal at the Tanner Art League in Washington D.C. in 1922. Between 1928 and 1933, the Harmon Foundation in New York showed two dozen of his works and awarded him a bronze medal in 1929. Smith continued to exhibit every year of the American Artists Professional League in Paris between 1935 and 1938. In 1939, his work was included in the Contemporary Negro Art Exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. His work is found in the collections of the Harmon Foundation, the New York Public Library, the Schomburg Collection, and the National Archives. Self Portrait, c. 1920; watercolor on paper, 12 x 9 inches, signed
VINCENT SMITH (1929-2004)
Brooklyn native Vincent Smith documented some of the most compelling events in 20th century America, from the jazz clubs of the New York avant garde music scene, to the burgeoning civil rights movement, and the Black Arts Movement. After a tumultuous youth, Smith found new direction in art, a vocation he completely immersed himself in, both as a student and as a working artist. He took classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School and the Art Students League, NY. He traveled to Maine to study on scholarship at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Smith drew inspiration from African-American artist Jacob Lawrence and was mentored by Lawrence and Romare Bearden. His irst solo show was held at the Brooklyn Museum Art School Gallery in 1955. He participated in numerous prestigious exhibits throughout his career, including at Roko Gallery (NYC), 1955; Market Place Gallery, Harlem, 1956-58; CORE (NYC), 1966; National Academy of Design, 1967; Studio Museum in Harlem, 1969 (one-man); Fisk University, 1970; Pratt Graphics
Center, 1972-73; Brooklyn College, 1969; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1970; Illinois State University, 1971; Whitney Museum, 1971. Smith curated the show, Unbroken Circle: Exhibition of African-American Artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s, held at Kenkeleba House, NY in 1986 - of which a majority of the artists make up Melvin Holmes’s collection. His work can be found in many private and public collections such as The Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA New York, The National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Yale University, New Haven. L to R:
Mississippi Incident, etching, 9 x 8 inches, signed, titled, and inscribed AP.
Amnesty, etching, 7” x 9”, signed, titled, and inscribed AP.
WILLIAM E. SMITH (1913-1997)
As a young boy in Chattanooga, TN, William E. Smith realized that he wanted to pursue the life of an artist. By 1932, he left home and became involved with the Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio. The Karamu House had been established in 1915 by Russell and Rowena Jelliffe as a place for all races, creeds, and religions to ind common ground in the arts. It quickly became a magnet for some of the best African American artists, as well as actors, dancers, and writers. Smith won a ive year Gilpin Scholarship and used it to study at the John Huntington Polytechnical Institute. During the 30’s and 40’s, he exhibited extensively at the Cleveland Museum of Art and with Karamu Artists, Inc. After serving in WWII as a photographer, he studied illustration and advertising, later opening his own graphic arts studio and serving as art director of an advertising agency. In 1949, he relocated to Los
Angeles, California where he painted signs by night for Lockheed Aircraft; by day, Smith painted portraits, made prints, and taught printmaking. As a part of the group Eleven Associated Artists, Inc., he co-founded the irst African American art gallery in Los Angeles. Throughout his career, Smith was known primarily for his printmaking, mainly because it was an inexpensive way to produce art. He was able to make prints from simple objects such as linoleum and an umbrella stave. Smith was known for his remarkable ability to show complex human emotion with brevity of line. Langston Hughes, his peer at the Karamu House, described Smith’s work as, “The humor and pathos of Negro life captured in line and color.” In 1976 the Karamu House paid tribute to Smith with a retrospective of his work entitled, From Umbrella Staves to Brush and Easel.
L to R: War Fatigue (American),1940; linocut, 9 x 8 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 7/10. Pay Day, 1938; linocut, 8 x 6 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 13/20. Poverty and Fatigue, 1968; linocut, 10-3/4 x 8-7/8 inches, signed, titled, dated, and annotated, Lino-cut. Exhibited in the Atlanta University Art Annual, 1968.
CARROLL SOCKWELL (1943-1992)
Carroll Sockwell grew up in Washington DC, and studied at the Corcoran School of Art. He was tied to the Washington Color School, but gravitated to a later offshoot of the group that was more concerned with abstraction and direct painting. He frequently executed works on paper. Sockwell’s work was included in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. A solo exhibition of his work was held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., in 1974. Sockwell also worked as a curator for the Barnett-Aden Gallery, the nation’s irst museum of African American art.
Sockwell committed suicide in 1992 by jumping from the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge in Foggy Bottom . He lived in humiliating poverty the last year of his life, sleeping on a mattress in a friend’s framing business. It is believed that severe alcoholism contributed to his suicide.
St 11 73, 1973; watercolor on paper, 21-1/2 x 29-1/2 inches, signed and titled.
F.L. DOC SPELLMON (1925-2008)
Doc Spellmon executed many hundreds of works, and epitomized the label of folk artist. He served as an Air Force writer and illustrator from 1956-1976, and took up painting in earnest after his retirement. He worked in San Antonio, Texas as an outsider artist, painting biblical and slavery scenes, rural scenes of East Texas, African village life and historical igures. He used profuse color layering and busy compositions to communicate his subjects. His paintings are energetic and positive, based on themes of family
and community, as well as his religious upbringing. REF: F.L. â€œDocâ€? Spellmon; The Life and Works of an African American Artist, Robert Banks and Andrea Marshall.
Do You Come Here Often?, 1990; oil and mixed media on
canvas, 18-1/2 x 24-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
CHARLES W. STALLINGS (B. 1919)
Charles Stallings was born in Gary, Indiana. He is listed as a painter, sculptor, and educator in Afro-American Artists, a Bio-Bibliographical Dictionary, Theresa Dickason Cedarholm, 1973. He taught at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland, and a work by him is also in their collection. He exhibited at the Atlanta Annuals (Atlanta University) in 1951. There is an image of the artist pictured in American Negro Art, Cedric Dover, 1960, but no work is pictured. Dover discusses briely that Stallings was a muralist.
This is a somewhat rare depiction (for an African American artist) of the conlict between industry and the environment, reminiscent of the works of artist/ activist, Alexandre Hogue in Texas, who painted scenes of the ravaged landscape brought about by the dustbowl.
Red Clay, Dry Weather Houses, c. 1930; oil on board, 13 x 19-3/4 inches, signed and titled.
NELSON STEVENS (B. 1938)
Steven’s career has spanned over 5 decades and a multitude of media and style, yet has remained consistently grounded in the black experience and his exuberant celebration of color. One of the highlights of his career was getting involved with the Black Art Movement in Chicago in the 1960’s. He had recently completed his M.F.A. at Kent State University. He recalled during this period he had to convince his teachers and fellow classmates that Black art existed as its own entity. Prior to the movement, there was no literature to back up Black art as an absolute genre. Murals like the Wall of Respect, painted in 1967 by Stevens and other members of the Organization of Black American Culture helped change that. Stevens was also one of the founding members of AFRICOBRA, along with Wadsworth Jarrell and others, and exhibited widely with them.
When artist Nelson Stevens looks at a person he sees a broad palette of colors. That vision illuminates his portraits with a multi-hued, mosaic-like style. “I look at people and see the image in them,” said the professor emeritus of art and Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst . “My art is anthems in praise of people.”
Stevens’ work may be found in many private and public collections, including the Smithsonian, Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City , and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is now being shown in the exhibition, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, which originated at Tate Modern in London, UK. He currently lives and works in Maryland. Spirit Brother (Jimi Hendrix), c. 1960’s; colored pencil on paper, 27 x 22 inches, signed.
THELMA JOHNSON STREAT (1912-1959)
Thelma Johnson Streat was a multitalented painter and dancer who focused her career on promoting ideas of multi-culturalism and raising the social awareness of inequalities among the lines of gender and race. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Streat worked with the WPA executing murals in San Francisco. She worked closely with Diego Rivera on the Art in Action mural in 1940. She continued to use the genre of murals to address social inequality toward African Americans in the early 1940s, after she arrived in Chicago. By the mid-1940s, her style became increasingly abstract, taking on a neo-primitivist feel, appropriating symbolism from many diverse cultures in an effort to communicate more universally. This turn in style has caused her work to be associated (in retrospect) with the Abstract Expressionists of the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1946, Streat added another dimension to her work: dance. Her multi-dimensional performances and exhibits were the irst of their kind, with Streat performing modern dance movements in front of paintings she had done that were thematically associated. Boy With Bird, c. 1950; oil on board, 21 x 15 inches, signed.
HENRY OSSAWA TANNER (1859-1937) Henry Ossawa Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1859 to a prominent middle class family. His father was a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and despite his initial misgivings, he supported his sonâ€™s education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Tanner found an early mentor in Thomas Eakins, whose inluence is seen in Tannerâ€™s work throughout his career. Upon graduation, Tanner eked out a living by opening a photography studio and teaching at Clark College. In 1891, Tanner left to study and teach in Paris. He attended Academie Julian and studied under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. Early in his career, he painted genre scenes of African American life which portrayed the dignity of his subjects despite poverty and prejudice. Despite the rise of modernism, he remained painting in a irmly academic manner and focused entirely on religious subjects for the rest of his career. A trip to North Africa and the Holy Land brought about a mystical quality in his work that furthered his personal style while remaining true to his unwavering academicism. His paintings were shown regularly in the salons in Paris - his painting Resurrection of Lazarus won the Third Class Medal at the Salons des Artistes, Francais, 1897. Tanner became the mentor for early 20th century African American artists who made pilgrimages to France to study and paint. In 1927, he was inducted into the National Academy of Design. His work is found in the collections of Atlanta High Museum of Art, GA; Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Collection; Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; and the White House Collection. The Good Shepherd (Sunset), 1910; oil on canvas, 9-1/2 x 7-1/4, inches, signed.
The Good Shepherd, c. 1910; oil on canvas, 14-1/2 x 17-1/2, inches, signed.
ULYSSES S. GRANT TAYES (1885-1972)
Ulysses Tayes was an artist and educator born in St. Louis and active in the area of Jefferson City, Missouri, known as the “Foot.” This area was located below Lincoln University at the foot of Lafayette Street, which served as the historic heart of the African American community during the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. This neighborhood inspired his artwork for many years to come. Tayes graduated from Lincoln University in 1936 with a B.S. in education. For a number of years, he was a reporter for the St. Louis Argus, an African American newspaper founded in 1912. He was also a pianist and a barber. Tayes exhibited at the Harmon Foundation, 1930, 1933, 1935; Atlanta University, 1944; St. Louis Public Library, 1929-33; St. Louis Artist’s Guild; Art League; Urban League; and Lincoln University, Jefferson City.
Barber Shop, 1947; watercolor and gouache on board, 20 x 21 inches, signed and dated.
BOB THOMPSON (1912-1959)
himself in the music, artists, and writers of the Beat Generation. He was quickly accepted into the milieu of the New York art world; his irst exhibition was held at the Delancey Street Museum and a two-person person show followed at Zabriskie Gallery. In 1961, Thompson received a grant from the Walter Gutman Foundation. Now married, he and his wife moved to Paris where he sketched daily at the Louvre. In 1962, he received a grant from the Whitney Opportunity Fellowship and the two moved to Ibiza, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. The mild climate and low cost of living presented an enjoyable change of pace from the cramped and chilly quarters they shared in Paris. In 1963, he returned to New York City. From 1963-1965 his work was exhibited in solo shows at Martha Jackson Gallery, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago; and Paula Cooper Gallery. His work was included in Seven Young Painters held at Yale University. By this point, Thompson was working and producing work at a furious pace. He died at the age of 29 in 1966 after undergoing emergency gall bladder surgery in Rome. Bob Thompson was born in 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky. His childhood was marked by the loss of his father to a car accident and a life threatening illness which left him in a coma for three days. Despite these setbacks, Thompson attended academically rigorous schools and was expected to continue to further his education. Thompson initially attended Boston University to study medicine, later transferring to the University of Louisville art program. Here, he was exposed to German Expressionism. As Thompson developed as an artist, this inluence as well as those of Old Master paintings and “Gauguin-esque Symbolism” coalesced into his iconic abstract style. Thompson moved to New York City and immersed
Thompson’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions since his death. In 1998, the Whitney Museum of American Art organized a major traveling retrospective exhibition, featuring over one hundred of Thompson’s paintings. His work may be seen in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power which originated at Tate Modern, London, UK and has traveled to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; and the Broad, Los Angeles, CA. Ibiza, 1963; oil on canvas, 5-½ x 5 inches, signed, titled, and dated verso.
Although he worked in a variety of media, Dox Thrash is best remembered as a print maker. Thrash was born in a former slave cabin in Grifin, Georgia in 1892. He studied art through correspondence school until 1909 when he moved to Chicago. There, he began taking part time classes at the Art Institute and also studied privately with William E. Scott. He resumed full time studies after serving in World War I. Thrash lived an itinerant lifestyle in Boston, Connecticut, and New York, working odd jobs and painting. Eventually, in 1926, he settled in Philadelphia where he studied at the Philadelphia Sketch Club with Earl Hortor. Thrash began experimenting with the aquatint process in the early 1930’s and is credited with later inventing the process of carborundum printing, known as cartograph, with fellow students Hugh Mesibov and Michael Gallagher. He made his debut as an artist in 1931 at the Catherine Street YWCA in Philadelphia, which featured an exhibition of his oil and watercolor paintings. In 1933, his irst exhibition of prints was held at the same location.
Top L to R: Back Stage, c. 1942; carborundum mezzotint, 7-1/2 x 9-3/4 inches, signed and titled. Life, c. 193839; carborundum mezzotint, 11” x 8-3/4”, signed. Bottom R: Yacom, c. 1937; carborundum mezzotint, 7-1/2 x 5-5/8 inches, signed and titled.
DOX THRASH (1893-1965)
DOX THRASH (1893-1965)
In 1937, Dox Thrash joined the Federal Arts Project as a printmaker and worked for Philadelphiaâ€™s Fine Print Workshop Division producing portraits and urban and rural scenes related to African-American life. During World War II, he created a series of prints with a patriotic focus. He remained a prominent artist in Philadelphia until his death in 1965. In 2002, the Pennsylvania Art Museum presented a retrospective of his work entitled, Dox Thrash: An African-American Master Printmaker Rediscovered. It featured over 100 of his drawings, watercolors, and prints. Top L to R: Cabin Days, c. 1938-39; carborundum mezzotint, 4-3/8 x 4-1/2 inches, signed.
Charlotte, c.1939-40; carborundum mezzotint, 9 x 7 inches, signed and titled. Bottom: Intermission, carborundum mezzotint, 9 x 6 inches, signed.
JAMES VAN DER ZEE (1886-1983) James Van Der Zee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts and demonstrated an early gift for music, initially aspiring to a career as a professional violinist. His other interest was photography. At the age of fourteen he received his irst camera and took hundreds of photographs of his family and the town of Lenox. As one of the irst people in the town to own a camera he was able to provide a rich early documentation of community life in small town New England. Van Der Zee moved to New York City in 1906 to work with his father and brother as waiters and elevator operators. By now a skilled pianist and aspiring professional violinist, he was also the primary creator and one of the ive performers in a group known as the Harlem Orchestra. In 1915 Van Der Zee moved to Newark, New Jersey where he was employed as a darkroom assistant and later as a photographer in a portrait studio. He returned to New York in 1916 and moved to Harlem just as large numbers of black migrants and immigrants were arriving in that section of the city. He set up his irst portrait studio in his sister’s music conservatory and two years later, with his second wife, Gaynella Greenlee, established the Guarantee Photo Studio in Harlem. Quickly, Van Der Zee became the most successful photographer in Harlem. Early 20th century black activist Marcus Garvey, black entertainer/ dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and renowned black poet Countee Cullen were among his more prominent subjects. By the early 1930s Van Der Zee’s income from his photography work declined partly because of the strained economic circumstances of many of his customers and partly because the growing popularity of personal cameras reduced the need for professional photography. Van Der Zee responded by shooting passport photos, doing photo restorations, and taking other miscellaneous photography jobs, an approach he would employ for over two decades. In 1967 James Van Der Zee’s work was rediscovered by photographers and photo-historians and he then received attention far beyond his Harlem community. Van Der Zee came out of retirement to photograph celebrities who in turn promoted his work in exhibits around the nation. His images were also the subject of books and documentaries. In 1993, the National Portrait Gallery exhibited his work as a posthumous tribute to his remarkable genius. Portrait of a Girl, 1936; cyanotype, 6-1/2” x 4-1/2”, signed, dated, and inscribed NYC.
Harlem, c. 1920; silver gelatin print, 8-1/2 x 6 inches.
RUTH WADDY (1909-2003)
Ruth Waddy was living in Chicago in the 1940s, but after being denied a job as a solderer because of her race, she left the Midwest and moved to Los Angeles. She worked odd jobs, including that of a riveter for Douglas Aircraft Corp. and an intake clerk at LA County Hospital (coincidentally with Noah Purifoy).
considered herself and advocate and organizer of art made by African Americans. She founded the group Art West Associated in 1962 to press mainstream arts institutions in Southern California for greater African American representation. In 2011, her work was included in the exhibition, Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
She took a ceramics class that sparked her interest and then took classes at Otis Institute and LA City College. She quickly became an adept printmaker, with the linocut being her medium of choice. She exhibited widely in the U.S., and traveled as part of a delegation of eight artists to the Soviet Union in 1966, carrying her prints as well as 20 prints created by other black California artists (this was on the advice from Charles White). Waddy achieved a great deal of success with her own work, but above all, she
L to R: Untitled Series B, 1969; linocut, 20” x 16”, signed dated, titled, inscribed Lino, and numbered 8/25.
The Fence, 1969; linocut on newspaper, 16-1/2” x 14”, signed, dated, titled, and numbered 18/25.
STEVE WALKER (B. 1945)
Steve Walker worked in Chicago and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a popular artist at the South Side Community Art Center. His work was inluenced by Norman Rockwell. Walker worked as a commercial graphic artist for Walgreenâ€™s (which is headquartered in the north suburbs of Chicago) until his retirement. His work is in the collection of Johnson Publishing Company. Seated Woman on Park Bench, 1983; color silkscreen, 11-1/2 x 9 inches, signed and dated, numbered 39/55.
BILL WALKER (1927-2011)
In August of 1967, on the southeast corner of 43rd and Langley Streets, Chicago, Illinois, a group of African American artists came together to paint the landmark mural that sparked a people’s art movement. William “Bill” Walker was instrumental in the creation of the Wall of Respect. The purpose of the project was to “honor our Black heroes and to beautify our community.” It soon became, in the words of fellow artist Jeff Donaldson, An instantaneous shrine to Black creativity, a rallying point for revolutionary rhetoric and calls to action, and a national symbol of the heroic Black struggle for liberation in America. Cities across American followed suit with murals of their own. Bill Walker continued to paint murals in the city of Chicago, as he had painted them before 1967, solidifying his role as father of the community mural The El, c. 1955; tempera on board, 20-1/4” x 34”, signed.
movement - capturing the “human side of street life in the city.” Bill Walker was born in 1927 in Birmingham, Alabama. An only child, he was initially raised by his grandmother in a desperately poor ghetto of “bleak little shacks” with outhouses known as Alley B. In 1938, he was sent north to Chicago to join his mother who worked as a seamstress and hairdresser. They lived in a variety of places in the Washington Park area and he eventually attended Englewood High School. Walker was drafted in WWII and re-enlisted to receive college tuition under the GI Bill. He was a mail clerk, then an MP with the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the all black command under which the Tuskegee Airmen fought. In 1947, he painted his irst murals while in the military. While stationed in Columbus, Ohio he became friends with Samella Lewis. He often stayed
BILL WALKER (1927-2011)
with her family and assisted her on a few commissions. In 1949 he enrolled in the Columbus Gallery School of Arts. He began studying commercial art and later switched to a concentration in ine art. Walker won the school’s 47th Annual Group Exhibition “Best of Show” award in 1952. He was the irst African-American to do so. Walker credits Joseph Canzani with encouraging his interest in mural painting. At school he studied the early Renaissance fresco painters. It wasn’t until after his graduation that he learned about the Mexican muralists - Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco. He was particularly impressed with the way they incorporated structural elements in to their compositions. Walker also cited Jacob
Lawrence, Charles White, and William McBride as important inluences. After graduation, Walker headed to Nashville and Memphis where he painted murals for a Baptist church, a local Elks club, and the Flamingo Club, a nightclub near Beale Street. While researching and preparing to complete another mural of a plantation scene, he had an important epiphany. He realized he needed to create art that spoke for those who had been marginalized. Walker returned to Chicago and worked as a decorative painter for a variety of northside interior designer irms.
Top L to R: Praying, 1959; tempera, crayon, and sgraitto on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. Faces, c. 1955; oil on board, 19 x 47 inches, signed.
Bottom L to R: Alley C, 1955; oil on board, 11-1/2 x 11-3/4 inches. Luck of the Draw, 1955; oil on board, 24-1/8 x 22 inches, signed and dated.
BILL WALKER (1927-2011)
Top L to R: Untitled (Parent and Child), c. 1955; tempera, crayon, and sgrafito on board, 46-1/2 x 12 inches, signed.
Untitled (Portrait of a Woman), c. 1955; oil with
turpentine and oil glazes on board, 11-1/2 x 10-3/4 inches, signed.
Tennessee Page Hall, 1955; oil on board, 21-1/2 x 23-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
Bottom: Faces (We Are One), c. 1955; tempera and sand with oil glazes on board, 18 x 15-1/4 inches, signed.
By the mid 1960s, Walker was formulating an idea for a mural in the area near 43rd and Langley which never came to fruition. However in May of 1967, the Organization of Black American Culture was formed and the opportunity again arose. OBAC was cofounded by artist Jeff Donaldson, sociologist Gerald McWorter, and Hoyt Fuller, editor of Negro Digest, and was dedicated to visual art, music, writing, dance, and theater. Walker loated the idea of a mural at the location. The group couldnâ€™t just simply paint a mural and leave it at that. Walker knew the neighborhood well and secured permission from business owners, community leaders, and street gangs.
The residents were a big part of the process as well. Jeff Donaldson and Eliot Hunter, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Hogu-Jones, Caroline Lawrence, Norman Parish, Edward Christmas, Myrna Weaver and many others contributed sections to the wall. Walker was responsible for the section on religious leaders. Walker had originally painted the portraits of Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad, Nat Turner, and Wyatt Walker, a New York minister and civil rights activist, but when threatened with a lawsuit by Muhammad, who did not want to be pictured on the same wall as Malcolm X, he erased the section and replaced it with a composition of Nat Turner.
BILL WALKER (1927-2011)
The members of the OBAC eventually drifted apartsome, Donaldson, Jarrell, Jones, and Lawrence formed AfriCobra- and Walker, who remained in the neighborhood, came to be the “guardian of the wall.” As a result of the impact the Wall of Respect had in Chicago, similar walls were created in cities across the country. Walker worked on the Wall of Dignity in Detroit and the Wall of Truth, which was located across the street from the Wall of Respect. He co-founded the Chicago Mural Group (now known as the Chicago Public Art Group) with John Pitman Weber and Eugene Eda and completed more than 30 murals over the next four decades in working-class Chicago neighborhoods. In 1975, he formed his own mural group known as International Walls, Inc.
Walker turned increasingly to studio art in the late 70’s. Chicago State University held the exhibition, Images of Conscience: The Art of Bill Walker in 1984. The exhibit consisted of 44 paintings and drawings in three series: For Blacks Only; Red, White, and Blue, I Love You; and Reaganomics. The show was not without controversy as the images presented were not pretty, but dark representations of urban black neighborhoods. The exhibition traveled to the Vaughn Cultural Center, St. Louis and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, Pennsylvania State University. Most recently, Walker’s work was presented in the exhibition Bill Walker: Urban Griot, held at the Hyde Park Art Center, 2017-18.
L to R: Faces, c. 1955; tempera on board, 24 x 36 inches, signed. Three Deacons, c. 1955; oil on canvas, 27-3/4 x 18 inches, signed. Alley Cat Club, c. 1950; oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches, signed and dated.
MASOOD ALI WARREN (1907-1995)
Born in 1907, Masood Ali Wilbert Warren was a highly accomplished painter and sculptor known primarily for his many bronze busts of high-proile entertainers, celebrities and politicians. He attended the Art Students League in New York in the 1930s and participated in the WPA artists program. Warren earned a Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1939 and a Master of Fine Arts from Temple University in 1961.
University Annuals in 1944. Masood Ali Warren died in 1995 leaving an unparalleled legacy of artwork encompassing the daily scenes and people of New York City. He is listed in the 2003 Artist's Bluebook and the 1999 Who Was Who in American Art. While serving as a sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army, he executed many sketches of African American soldiers in the (then) segregated armed services. His works were recently featured in an exhibit at the George Bruce Library, 125th St., NYC, Feb, 2018.
Warren has exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the American Watercolor Society, and the National Arts Club, and several of his works are in the Richard Allen Collection at St. Luke's Church in New York City. He exhibited at the Atlanta
Stops, Drugs, Liquor, 1948; watercolor on paper, 18 x 25 inches, signed and dated
CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979)
CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979) White graduated high school in 1937 and went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was subsequently hired by the Illinois Art Project in the easel division, but transferred to the mural division, where he worked with Edward Millman and Mitchell Siporin. His irst major mural, Five Great American Negroes, was completed in 1940. His work was also exhibited at the American Negro Exposition, winning several awards.
Born in 1918 in Chicago, Charles White was initially an introverted child, preferring to retreat into a world of reading and drawing. As he grew older, he became more outspoken, inluenced by Alain Locke’s The New Negro. As a student at Englewood High School, alongside other future notables such as Margaret Burroughs, Eldzier Cortor, and Charles Sebree, he often clashed with his teachers over their whitewashing of historical subjects. He joined George Neal’s Art Crafts Guild and gathered at the studio of Morris Topchevsky, where he was able to further explore his views of art, politics, and the role of the African American in society.
White married Elizabeth Catlett in 1941 after meeting her at the South Side Community Art Center, and the pair moved to New Orleans where they both taught at Dillard University. Two consecutive Rosenwald scholarships allowed him to study lithography at the Art Student’s League of New York with Harry Sternberg, as well as travel the Southern United States. He used this opportunity to observe and paint black farmers and laborers for his mural, The Contribution of the Negro to the Democracy of America. L to R: Fulillment, 1966; oil on canvas, 61 x 18 inches, signed and dated. Love Letter I, 1971; color lithograph, 30” x 22”, signed, dated, and numbered 9/25.
CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979)
In New York in the 1940s and early 1950s, White showed his work at the progressive ACA Gallery and was a prominent member of African American and leftist artist communities. White moved to Southern California in 1956, and his career lourished as he embraced drawing and printmaking more fully, pushing at the boundaries of his media while continuing to engage with civil rights and equality. Despite his rejection of the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism and ongoing use of an expressive iguration, he found critical acclaim in the United States and abroad.
Sound of Silence, 1978; lithograph, 25â€? x 35-1/4â€?, signed, titled, dated, and inscribed, PPII.
White was the second African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Art and Design in 1975. Charles White: A Retrospective was held at the Art Institute of Chicago (2018). This exhibition traveled to the Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019).
Catlett and White relocated to Mexico where they both became involved with the Taller Graica de Popular. After their divorce, White returned to New York City. His work retained a igurative style which stood in stark contrast to the burgeoning abstract movement occurring at the time. He used drawings, linocuts, and woodcuts to celebrate the historical igures who resisted slavery, as well as ordinary African Americans struggling amid great social injustice in a postslavery America. Despite their small size, these works conveyed the power of a mural.
ALFREDUS WILLIAMS (1875-1967)
Alfredus Williams was a self-taught painter who specialized in scenes from the Caribbean, the landscapes and people of the Dominican Republic and Bermuda, although he also painted some North African subjects. He exhibited in the outdoor fair, Art on the Square (Washington Square, New York City, 1956) and is listed in Theresa Dickason Cedarholmâ€™s Afro-American Artists, A Bio-bibliographical Dictionary. Cedric Dover, in American Negro Art, mentioned that Williams took up painting in 1940 at the age of 65, and exhibited at the Jo Marino Galleries in 1958 (the Fourth Annual Exhibition of Negro Art). His work was exhibited at Ross Galleries , NYC, 1996, Visionary Landscapes: Work by Three Self-taught Painters. The exhibit featured the work of Williams, Minnie Evans, and Louis Monza.
Top L to R: A Beauty from the Anamawa Province Nawaw (Africa), c. 1960; oil on canvasboard, 20 x 16 inches, signed and titled.
Soufriere Dominica BMI, 1959; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed and dated twice; titled.
All Tho You Have Eyes, The Eyes Have You, 1959; oil on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated verso.
WALTER WILLIAMS (1920-1998)
Painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Walter Williams studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School under Ben Shahn, Reuben Tam, and Gregoria Prestopino. He also spent a summer studying art at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In 1955, Williams won a Whitney Fellowship that permitted him to work and travel in Mexico. He also won a National Arts and Letters Grant in 1960 and the Silvermine Award in 1963. Williams moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in the 1960â€™s to escape the discrimination of the United States, While he was in Copenhagen, he created a series of colorful woodcuts of black children playing in ields of lowers. He returned to the United States to serve as artist-in-residence at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Here, he completed a body of work informed by the experiences of being an African American living in the South. Walter H. Williams died in Copenhagen in June 1998.
Top L: Summer, 1974; woodcut on cotton batting, 17-1/2 x 17-1/2 inches, signed, titled, dated, numbered 3/10, inscribed Imp.
Top to Bottom R: Sunlowers, c. 1974; oil on board, 12 x 14 inches, signed. Dusk, 1963; oil on board, 9-5/8 x 12 inches,
ELLIS WILSON (1899-1977)
Ellis Wilson was born in Mayield, Kentucky in 1899. After inishing high school, he left his hometown for Chicago to study commercial art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He joined the Chicago Art League in 1925 - members which included, Richmond Barthé, Charles Dawson and William McKnight Farrow. Wilson’s earliest works were largely academic in nature - still lifes and landscapes that revealed little about the artist. Shy and quiet, Wilson refrained from taking any political stance throughout his career as an artist, however, he did become motivated by Alain Locke’s speech at The Negro in Art exhibition in Chicago in
1927 to begin creating works that were representative of African American life. Wilson moved to Harlem and then settled in Greenwich Village. He continued to work full time while painting and studied portraiture with Xavier J. Barile on the weekends. His work was featured, most notably, at the Harmon Foundation’s 1930 and 1933 exhibitions as well as Augusta Savage’s Salon of Contemporary Art (1934) and the American Negro Exposition (1940). He was also a member of the Harlem Artists Guild. In 1935, he was employed by the Federal Arts Project mapping division, creating highly detailed geographical dioramas of New York City. (Continued in Appendix)
L to R: Relections, 1936; oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, signed, titled, and dated. Voodoo Harlequin, c. 1950; oil on board, 24 x 17-1/2 inches, signed; The Art of Ellis Wilson, no. 28, p. 52.
FRED WILSON (1932-2012)
The basis for my designs comes from abstract to reality with patience as the key; patience being a measure of time, to be attained through love and understanding of persons and oneâ€™s self. Fred Wilson was born in Chicago, and studied at Fresno State College and Los Angeles State College. He was a printmaker and sculptor. He received a Certiicate of Merit for sculpture at Los Angeles Design West Show (1962); he also exhibited at the Ankrum Gallery (Contemporary Artist of Los Angeles), 1965; Muddy Wheel Exhibit #1, #2, 1969; and the Destination 90 Forum, Northridge (1969). This example is very similar to his work illustrated in Black Artists on Art, Volume 2; Woman of the World, 1967, clay. Singing Lovers, 1952; terracotta, 20 x 12-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches.
JOHN WILSON (B. 1922)
Wilson was a Boston painter, sculptor and printmaker. He was inluenced by the Mexican muralists, in terms of both style and subject matter, and addressed issues of racism and oppression of African American people in his art. He grew up in Roxbury and took art classes at Roxbury Memorial High School before continuing his education at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). He also studied in Paris with Fernand Leger. Upon his return to the U.S., he married Julie Kowitch, a teacher, and traveled to Mexico. He later taught at Pratt University in New York, and Boston University. Wilsonâ€™s bronze sculpture of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is on permanent display at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington , D.C. This image, Mother and Child, is reproduced in American Negro Art, by Cedric Dover on page 23. It was exhibited in the Atlanta University Art Annual in 1952.
Mother and Child, 1952; lithograph, 22-
1/2 x 18-1/2 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 38/50.
FRANK WIMBERLEY (B. 1926)
Abstract expressionist Frank Wimberley was born in Pleasantville, New Jersey in 1926. He currently resides in New York City and Sag Harbor, where he exhibits and creates his beautiful compositions of color, depth and texture. In 1998, Wimberley was awarded the PollockKrasner Grant. While a student at Howard University, he played jazz, which led to his friendship with musician Miles Davis. Wimberley has stated that painting for him is very much like creating the controlled accident. Wimberley is a part of numerous public collections, galleries, and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Art Gallery. His work has been shown in exhibitions at the June Kelly Gallery, NY; Cinque Gallery, NY; Acts of Art Gallery, NY; Opalka Gallery, NY; Kenkeleba Gallery, NY; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY.
Untitled (Abstract Composition), 1980; watercolor and pastel on paper, 29 x 22 inches, signed and dated.
HALE WOODRUFF (1900-1980) Hale Woodruff began his career studying at the John Herron Institute in Indianapolis. He had enjoyed some degree of success and exhibited frequently in Indianapolis and in Chicago by the time he won a Harmon Foundation prize in 1926. This award inanced a trip to Paris. Woodruff was deeply inluenced by the European modernists, especially Cézanne. He spent a great deal of time with the poet Countee Cullen and painter Palmer Hayden while in Paris. Cullen was there on a Guggenheim Fellowship and Hayden, a Harmon Foundation gold medal prize he won the year previously. Woodruff was encouraged to start a collection of African art by Alain Locke, who accompanied him to the Paris lea markets. In 1931, Woodruff returned to the United States and began teaching art at Atlanta University. It was Woodruff who was responsible for that department’s frequent designation as the École des Beaux Arts of the black South in later years. As he excelled as chairman of the art department at Atlanta University, his reputation also grew as one of the most talented African-American artists of the Depression era. Woodruff moved to New York in 1946, where he taught in the art department at New York University from 1947 until his retirement in 1968. During the mid-1960s Woodruff and fellow artist Romare Bearden were instrumental in starting Spiral, a collaboration of African-American artists working in New York. Woodruff’s New York works were greatly inluenced by abstract expressionism and the painters of the New York School who were active during the late 1940s and 1950s. Among his associates were Adolf Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. Following a long and distinguished career that took him from Paris to New York via the Deep South, Woodruff died in New York in 1980. Untitled (Abstract), c. 1960; oil on canvas, 30” x 18”, signed. Still Life (Flowers in a Vase), c. 1940; oil on board, 20 x 16 inches, signed.
JOHN ABDULJAAMI (1941-2017) Sculptor and folk artist 1. The artist in his open air studio, West Oakland, CA.
CHARLES ALSTON (1907-1977) Painter, sculptor, graphic artist, illustrator, and educator
2. Charles Alston, (back row, white shirt), with members of the 306 group, mid 1930’s. (Romare Bearden: His Life and Art, 79)
Charles Alston was a painter, sculptor, illustrator, muralist, and educator . After his father’s death, his mother remarried Henry Pierce Bearden (Romare Bearden’s uncle) and the family moved from North Carolina to Harlem. Alston painted and sculpted at an early age and received formal instruction at Columbia University. While attending college, he taught art at the Utopia House and served as a mentor to a young Jacob Lawrence. In 1934, he co-founded the Harlem Arts Workshop, which eventually came to be known as 306. During the early years of the group, Alston focused on mastering portraiture. In 1938, he received a Rosenwald Fellowship which enabled him to travel to the South. His travel with Giles Hubert, an inspector for the Farm Security Administration, gave him access to unique situations and aspects of rural life which he documented in his “family series” from the 1940’s. Alston’s style grew more abstract by the 1950’s, but he never completely abandoned igurative studies. His igures characteristically maintain a sculptural quality inluenced by African sculpture.
His subjects were derived mainly from his own life experiences. Alston states, As an artist . . . I am intensely interested in probing, exploring the problems of color, space and form, which challenge all contemporary painters. However, as a black American . . . I cannot but be sensitive and responsive in my painting to the injustice, the indignity, and the hypocrisy sufered by black citizens. Recent exhibitions that have included his work are A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, 2009; On Higher Ground: Selections from the Walter O. Evans Collection, 2001; and Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, 1998. His work may be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and the Clark Atlanta University Art Gallery, GA.
BENNY ANDREWS (1930-2006) Painter, collagist, printmaker, illustrator, and educator 3. The artist; St. James Guide to Black Artists, 14 4. Composition (Study for Trash), 1971; oil and collage on canvas, 50 x 92 inches. (Black Refractions, Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem, p. 51)
WILLIAM ARTIS (1914-1977) Sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, illustrator, and educator 5. The artist; American Negro Art, Dover.
Important early exhibitions for Artis include the following: Whitney Museum of American Art; New York City Art Center, 1933; Art Students League, 1933; Salons of America, 1934; Harlem Art Committee, 1935; Texas Centennial, 1936; National Arts Club, New York City, 1940; American Negro Exposition, Chicago, 1940; Syracuse Museum Fine Arts, 1940, 1947-51; Grace Horne Galleries, Boston, 1942; Atlanta University (Annuals), 1944, 1951; USO Exhibition, New York City, 1944.
Artis served in the U.S. Army in WWII, and after the war, earned a B.F.A and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. He continued to participate in national exhibitions, and taught at Chadron State Teachers College and Mankato State College (Mankato, MN). In 1970, he was named Outstanding Afro-American Educator of America.
ROLAND AYERS (1932-2014) Painter and mixed media artist HENRY BANNARN (1910-1965) Painter, sculptor, and educator 6. Photograph of Bannarn working in his studio. A similar watercolor to Country Road, Missouri, p.7 appears on his wall; American Negro Art, Cedric Dover.
EDWARD BANNISTER (1828-1901) Painter 7. The artist.
Initially, for many collectors of works by African American artists, nineteenth century works were the most sought after because they illuminated the beginning of a ine art tradition among African American artists. Additionally, many of the great works of American art were oils on canvas - portraits and landscapes- so it was natural that collecting these early works signaled an acknowledgement of a ine art tradition that was aligned with an American art canon of the nineteenth century even though most of the literature on Black people overwhelmingly focused on social and political hardships during reconstruction. These paintings suggested another side of the Black population, a cultural heritage that Black professionals sought to celebrate.
ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009) Painter 8. Slam Dunk, c. 1970; acrylic on canvas, 60 x 27 inches, signed.
9. The artist.
Wall label from the exhibition, Collected: Stories of Acquisition and Reclamation, held at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA, October 7, 2011March 4, 2012.
In Slam Dunk, Barnes has captured, not unlike a snapshot, all of the forces at work contained in a splitsecond within the act of dunking a basketball. For to witness this feat in real time does not allow the viewer a real sense of everything that is happening. Barnes successfully uses this athletic act metaphorically to represent the struggle—and potential success of the black man. The rim is 10’ from the ground and the act is contested by not only a white opponent, but a black one as well (perhaps he is suggesting that the black man is, at times, his own most dificult opponent). Success requires the igure to reach his greatest potential to overcome opposing forces. The extreme vertical composition suggests a small window of possible success.
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988) Painter and collagist 10. The artist, 1984; Frank Stewart.
Bearden achieved success in a wide array of media and techniques, including watercolor, gouache, oil, drawing, monotype, and edition prints. He also made designs for record albums, costumes and stage sets, and book illustrations.
His work is included in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2003, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., organized a major retrospective of Bearden’s work that subsequently traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
CLEVELAND BELLOW (1951-2009) Painter, printmaker, photographer 11. The artist with his billboard, Oakland, 1970; Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, 2017-2019, p. 59.
ROBERT BLACKBURN (1920-2003) Painter, graphic artist
12. Charles Bohannah copies Milletâ€™s Haystacks in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; photo by George Rose, Los Angeles Times, Jun 28, 1978, Wed, Main Edition, 8. 13. Standing Man, c. 1950; oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, signed.
14. Seated Woman, c. 1940; oil on canvas, 24 x 14 inches, signed.
CHARLES BOHANNAH (1910-1985) Painter and photographer
Bohannah habitually visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to paint copies of famous works hanging there. He acknowledged a centuries’ old tradition of contemporary artists copying the work of the masters to learn technique: “It seems no one in our generation has been able to properly decipher the techniques of the masters—the mechanics of composition and placement of subject on the canvas and the method of glazing and undercoating.” Bohannah painted dozens of master copies, yet his complete body of work is overwhelmingly deined by his own original compositions.
BENJAMIN BRITT (1923-1996) Painter and printmaker 14a. The artist, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, April 2, 1967
GRAFTON TYLER BROWN (1841-1918) Painter, lithographer, cartographer
SELMA BURKE (1900-1995) Sculptor 15. The artist and her work. 15a. Untitled, bronze, 12-1/4 x 7 x 4 inches, signed.
Burke was one of ten children living in Mooresville, North Carolina in the 1910s. Her mother insisted she learn a practical skill, so she enrolled in Raleigh at the St. Agnes School of Nursing after high school. Upon graduation, she moved to Philadelphia and took a job as a nurse with an heiress to the Otis Elevator business in 1929. She married, but her husband, a mortician, died less than a year later of blood poisoning. Her employer died the following year, and between the two, Burke was left a considerable inheritance. This inancial independence allowed her to pursue her passion in art. She moved to New York and worked as a model at Sarah Lawrence College while sculpting independently. Her efforts won her a scholarship to Columbia University, where in 1941, she was awarded a Master’s of Fine Art degree. During WWII, she drove a truck at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1943, Burke won a national competition to create a portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was provided with images of FDR, but found them unsatisfactory, so she wrote to the President requesting a formal setting—which she was granted in 1944. The inished plaque she created was installed in 1945.
REF: 3 Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox , “Quest for Freedom, Identity and Beauty: New Negro Artists Prophet, Savage and Burke”. Leslie King-Hammond, Catalog and essay accompanying the exhibition at the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, 1996, p 30-31.
She continued to teach, and founded the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh in 1968.
EUGENE ALEXANDER BURKES (B. 1880) Painter, composer, and educator 16. Frederick Douglass 17. John Brown
(Continued from p. 28) In 1847, after speaking at the Free Church, Douglass spent a night speaking with Brown, after which he wrote, “From this night spent with John Brown in Springield, Mass. 1847 while I continued to write and speak against slavery, I became all the same less hopeful for its peaceful abolition. My utterances became more and more tinged by the color of this man’s strong impressions.”
Brown spent a month at Douglass’s home in Rochester in January of 1858, presumably the “setting” of this work. Lincoln, would soon win the candidacy for US Senate (June, 1858). Douglass had met with Brown once again shortly before the raid on Harper’s Ferry at a farm quarry and delivered $10 from abolitionists, Rev. James and Elizabeth Gloucester. Douglass believed Brown’s plan to raid the federal arsenal was doomed to fail and he (Brown) would not make it out alive. Brown tried to convince Douglass to bring support and meet him in Harper’s Ferry, but Douglass refused. Brown was ultimately caught and hung for “treason, murder, and inciting slave insurrection” on December 2, 1859. Correspondences between the two men were coniscated upon Brown’s capture, and subsequently led Douglass to lee to England shortly after the failed raid, fearing he would be accused of conspiring in the raid.
In February of 1860, the year Lincoln would be elected president, he delivered a speech at the Cooper Institute condemning John Brown’s actions and distancing himself and the Republican Party from that sort of action.
This work, executed in the early 1930s, successfully depicts three heroic men, all of whom were vehemently committed to the abolition of slavery; each choosing a different course of action with regards to solving this problem.
CALVIN BURNETT (1921-2007) Painter, graphic artist, and educator 18. Edna, c. 1970; linocut, 6 x 3-1/2 inches, signed and titled; Artistâ€™s Proof.
19. Father and Daughter, 1976; collage and oil on board,
JOSEPHINE BURNS (B. 1932) Folk artist, quilter
14-1/4 x 20 inches, signed and dated.
MARGARET BURROUGHS (1917-2010) Painter, sculptor,graphic artist, illustrator, educator, and curator 20. The artist; South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs, Eric Toller. 21. Man-Child, 1986; lithograph, 14 x 9-3/4 inches, signed, titled, dated, and numbered 8/18.
Throughout her career, Burroughs worked in many mediums, showing special facility in watercolors and linocut printmaking. For many years, she worked with linoleum block prints to create images evocative of African American culture. She is also an accomplished poet and author of children’s books. In 1975 she received the President’s Humanitarian Award, and in 1977 was distinguished as one of Chicago’s Most Inluential Women by the Chicago Defender. February 1, 1986 was proclaimed “Dr. Margaret Burroughs Day” in Chicago by late Mayor Harold Washington. Burroughs passed away on November 21, 2010.
The book South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs by Mary Ann Cain was published in 2018, and provides a closer look at the life of this remarkable woman who continues to inspire generations.
MYRON CALHOUN (B. 1950’S) Collagist
WILLIAM SYLVESTER CARTER (1909-1996) Painter 22. The artist. 23. Fear, c. 1950; pastel on paper, 13 x 10-3/4 inches, signed. 24. Moonlight Sail, c. 1952; oil on canvasboard, 11-1/4 x 151/2 inches, signed.
ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915-2012) Sculptor, painter, printmaker, and educator 25. Two Generations, 1979; lithograph,28 x 21 inches,
signed, titled, dated, and annotated Artist Proof III/XX.
26. Harriet, 1975; linocut, 12-1/2 x 10 inches, signed, dated, and annotated Artist Proof. This work is illustrated in the book, In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., p.38.
CLAUDE CLARK (1915-2001) Painter, draftsman, educator 27. The artist; St. James Guide to Black Artists, Jonathan Eubanks.
IRENE CLARK (1927-1980) Painter, designer, and gallery director 28. Portrait of a Girl, c. 1950; oil on board, 7 x 5 inches, signed.
29. Sunlowers, c. 1950; mixed media on board, 12 x 16
I try to project in my work a universal (embracing or comprehending) feeling or mood. It is really a truly spiritual expression that I hope will be enjoyed by all viewers.
Black Artists on Art, Volume 1; Samella Lewis and Ruth Waddy, Contemporary Crafts, Inc. 1969, p. 10
Why folklore? As a child I was always fascinated by good stories. Having a vivid imagination, I made up fantasies of my own. After reading many stories, I had to try to paint the substance of what I had read. African American Art and Artists, Samella Lewis, U of California Press, 1978, p. 176
ELDZIER CORTOR (1916-2015) Painter and educator
ALLAN ROHAN CRITE (1910-2007) Painter, illustrator, craftsman
30. Marthaâ€™s Vineyard,1927; watercolor on paper, 7 x 9-1/4 inches, signed. 31. Boston Port Scene, watercolor on paper, 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches, signed. 32. The Living Room, 1925; watercolor on paper, 6-1/2 x 7 inches, signed.
33. Still Life, 1925; watercolor on paper, 7 x 7-1/4 inches, signed. 34. Lion House, Franklin Park, 1925; watercolor on paper, 7 x 8-1/2 inches, signed and dated July 13, 1925; titled and inscribed 1 hr. 35. Memory Sketch of Myself, 1927; pencil on paper, signed, titled, dated, and inscribed 10 minutes.
Allan Rohan Crite was born in New Jersey, but spent his entire life in Boston. He graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 1936, and was awarded a BA from Harvard Extension School in 1968. Crite participated in the Public Works of Art Project in 1934 and the Works Progress Administration/ Federal Art Project in 1936, while still a student. He was included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1936, called New Horizons in American Art held under the auspices of the WPA/FAP.
In 1940, Crite was employed as a technical illustrator for the Boston Naval Shipyard, and he worked there until 1971. He had abandoned large-scale oils of neighborhood scenes by the 1940s, and was concentrating on drawings and watercolors. Historian, diligent researcher, theologian, teacher, philosopher, simple believer, Allan Crite is a bit of all these things, but most of all he is an artist whose agile mind and equally agile hands have never tired of creating a world of images simultaneously local and global, divine and secular, poetic yet unsentimental. His art, marked by narrative and documentary characteristics, retains a simple beauty, simply presented.
Edmund Barry Gaither, essay to the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Allan Rohan Crite, ArtistReporter of the African American Community; Frye Art Museum, 2001, 23. Criteâ€™s illustrations were published for many years in the 1970s and 80s as covers for Sunday service lealets. His work may be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Art Institute of Chicago.
NICHOLAS DAVIS (B. 1937) Painter 36.
36. The artist, from the exhibition catalog, Nicholas Davis: Geometric Paintings, Collages and Tincture Sculpture, March 19-April 26, 1979, Gallery 62, NY.
CHARLES DAWSON (1889-1981) Painter, illustrator, commercial artist, illustrator, muralist, and curator 37. Catalogue for The Negro in Art Week, 1927.* 38. The Chicago Art League, c. 1927; Charles Dawson (seated irst row, second from left.) Also William Edouard Scott (top row, center), Ellis Wilson (second row, left), and Richmond Barthé (second row, second from left). *
Dawson was the only black artist to have a substantial role in the 1933–1934 Century of Progress Fair, when he received a commission for a mural illustrating the Great Migration for the National Urban League’s display in the Hall of Social Science. He also designed, produced, and self-published a children’s book titled, ABCs of Great Negroes. The book consists of 26 portraits of African American and African leaders with brief biographies on the facing pages. Dawson served as a curator of the Museum of Negro Art and Culture, and the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee during the 1940s.
He exhibited alongside William Farrow, William Harper, and Archibald Motley, Jr. at the irst Chicago exhibition of work by black artists at the Arts & Letters Society in 1917. Dawson founded the Chicago Art League, an early club for black artists. Dawson’s forté was works painted in watercolor. Two of his watercolors included in the collection of the DuSable Museum of African-American History are reproduced in the book, Against the Odds: AfricanArtists and the Harmon Foundation, Gary Reynolds and Beryl Wright; The Newark Museum, 1989. * “‘White City’ and ‘Black Metropolis’: African American Painters in Chicago, 1893-1945.” Chicago Modern, 1893-1945: Pursuit of the New, by Elizabeth Kennedy et al., Terra Museum of American Art, 2004, pp. 45–46. 38.
RICHARD DEMPSEY (1909-1987) Painter 39.
39. The artist. (American Negro Art, Dover) 39a. Dempsey pictured in the Oakland Tribune, December 2, 1941.
Holmes was drawn to this work because the swirling movement of paint reminded him of the work of artist Beauford Delaney. Although, born in Ogden, Utah, Dempsey worked mainly in the Washington D.C. area. His work was initially igurative; in 1946 he painted the 100 portrait series Outstanding American Negroes, and in 1951 he was invited by the government of Haiti to paint people and scenes. Beginning in the 1960â€™s he experimented with abstraction. Many of his paintings were inspired by trips to countries of the Atlantic Black diaspora, including Columbia, Haiti, and Jamaica. He also traveled to Africa. 39a.
FRANK DILLON (1865-1954) Painter, designer, craftsman 40.
40. The artist
From the exhibition Collected: Stories of Acquisition and Reclamation, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA, 2011-2012.
AARON DOUGLAS (1899-1979) Painter, illustrator, printmaker, muralist, and educator 41. Cover art for the catalog accompanying the 32nd Annual
Festival of Music and Art, Fisk University, 1961; lithograph,
9-1/4 x 12-1/2 inches, signed and dated.
42. Untitled (Still Life), 1951; oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, signed and dated.
Murals and drawings were his primary focus early in his career. He did illustrations for a number of publications, including The Crisis. In 1934, he was commissioned to do a series of murals at the Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library. This was to be Douglasâ€™ most well known mural series. The series consists of four chronological compositions highlighting AfricanAmerican heritage and history. A series of concentric circles expanded from a ixed point, igure elements superimposed on its background. The person, or object, would bear several diffused shades of the same color, lending his work a dreamlike quality. These murals were especially noteworthy for their chromatic complexity and sophisticated design.
JAMES WILSON EDWARDS (1925-1991) Painter, illustrator, commercial artist 43. The Face, 1989; oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, signed and dated. 44. Iman, 1990; collage on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated.
Edwardâ€™s work is seen in In Search of Missing Masters: The Lewis Tanner Moore Collection of African American Art, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, 2008, p. 54. Several works are also listed in Afro-American Artists, A Bio-Bibliographical Directory; Theresa Dickason Cederholm , 1973.
MINNIE EVANS (1892-1987) Folk artist
TOM FEELINGS (1933-2003) Painter, illustrator, graphic artist 45. Untitled (OB Clinic), charcoal on paper, 9 x 8 inches, signed.
46. Untitled (Bar Scene), c. 1950; ink wash on paper 9-1/2 x 11 inches, signed.
Feelings produced primarily drawings or understated watercolors of igurative subjects. While in Africa, he worked for Africa Review, established in 1971 as a journal discussing African politics, development and international affairs. When in the United States, Feelings exhibited at the Brooklyn Fulton Art Fair; Atlanta University; Morgan State College; Park Village Gallery, (solo); and the Market Place Gallery, NYC.
47. Untitled (Seated Woman), charcoal on paper, 11 x 141/2 inches, signed.
ALAN FREELON (1895-1960) Painter, printmaker, and educator 48. Untitled (Sheep Grazing), c. 1930; oil on board, 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches.
Freelon became the irst African American in the nation to lead a public school systemâ€™s art program. He exhibited at the Harmon Foundation from 19281931. By 1930, Freelon had shifted to a vibrant palette and broken brushwork more typically associated with the post-impressionists. The Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia held a retrospective exhibition of his work in 2004.
RAMON GABRIEL (1911-1960) Painter 48.
ALICE TAYLOR GAFFORD (1886-1981) Painter
HERB GENTRY (1919-2003) Painter 49.
49. The artist; Photo by Frank Stewart
SAM GILLIAM (B. 1933) Painter and educator 50. Untitled, 1970; pen and ink/paper, 14” x 20”, signed and dated, inscribed 1-1.
Gilliam remains an exciting and innovative contemporary painter. His work is found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of African American Art, Washington D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; and Museum of Modern Art, NY, as well as many others
REX GORELEIGH (1902-1986) Painter, printmaker, and educator
Under the auspices of the WPA, Goreleigh worked with Ben Shahn and taught at the Harlem Community Art Center - Jacob Lawrence and Robert Blackburn were among his students. He also established an artists community in Greensboro, North Carolina with Norman Lewis. In 1940, he and his wife re-located to Chicago where he served as director of the South Side Community Art Center. When his term ended, Goreleigh moved to New Jersey, becoming the director of the Princeton Group Arts from 1947 to 1953, and establishing a studio in a restored mill where he worked and taught classes.
Goreleigh’s work has been featured in the American Negro Exposition, 1940 as well as in exhibitions at the Harmon Foundation, NY, 1936; Pyramid Club, PA;, 1942; National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston,1973; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, 1973, among others.
51. The Red Barn, 1945; oil on canvas, 18 x 22 inches, signed.
JOSEPH E. GREY II (B. 1927) Painter and commercial artist 52. Untitled (Still Life), 1954; oil on canvas,17 x 16 inches, signed and dated.
OLIVER HARRINGTON (1912-1995) Painter, cartoonist, illustrator 52.
PALMER HAYDEN (1941-2017) Painter 53. Hayden and fellow artist, Beauford Delaney at a Washington Square Outdoor Show in the early 1930â€™s.
JAMES HERRING (1887-1969) Painter and educator 54. Professor James V. Herring working with students in life painting class at Howard University, 1953. (Gallery of Art Archives, Howard University, Photo Credit Andre Richardson)
Examples of Herringâ€™s work may be seen in Narratives of African American Art and Identity, David Driskell, 1998: Newport Scene (p. 73) and Campus Landscape (p.103).
LEON HICKS (B. 1933) Printmaker and educator GEOFFREY HOLDER (1930-2014) Painter, dancer, choreographer, actor 54.
ALVIN C. HOLLINGSWORTH (1928-2000) Painter, illustrator, educator, art director 55. The artist; Black Artists on Art v. 2, Lewis/Waddy, 89.
RAYMOND HOWELL (1927-2002) Painter
EARLIE HUDNALL, JR. (B. 1946) Photographer
GEORGE HUNT (B. 1940) Painter
56. The artist; Black Artists on Art v. 1, Lewis/Waddy, 11.
CLEMENTINE HUNTER (1886-1988) Folk artist 57. Burial, c. 1955; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed.
ARNOLD HURLEY (B. 1944) 57.
BILL HUTSON (B. 1936)
GERALD JACKSON (B. 1936) Painter and electric light artist 58. Untitled, 1969; oil on canvas, 36 x 40-1/2 inches, signed, titled, and dated.
59. The Genius, 1970; oil on canvas, 41-1/2 x 60 inches, signed, titled, and dated. 60. The artist, 2013
Jackson had an exhibition at Strike Gallery (Ed Clark and Willem de Kooning had shown there). In 1968, he landed a show at Allan Stone Gallery. He also exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (AfroAmerican Artists, New York and Boston, 1970) and the Newark Museum (Black Artists: Two Generations, 1971). 59.
Jacksonâ€™s art changed over time stylistically, but he identiied as an expressionist in the late 1960s.
DANIEL LARUE JOHNSON (B. 1938) Painter and sculptor
MALVIN GRAY JOHNSON (1896-1934) Painter and commercial artist 60.
61. The artist; Jules Bucher, Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington D.C.
Johnson’s short, but brilliant career began with his studies at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1916. His studies were interrupted by a stint in WWI, but he returned to the NAD in the 1920s. In a biographical statement in 1933, Johnson declared, “My aim is to paint, and paint well, using Negro subject matter mostly.” (Harmon Foundation papers via To Conserve a Legacy; American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities , Jacqueline Francis (on Johnson), 1999; p. 202). He exhibited at the Harmon Foundation in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Johnson died suddenly of heart failure in 1934. A memorial exhibit was held at the Harmon Foundation in 1935, which included thirty-ive oils and eighteen watercolors.
MARIE JOHNSON (1920-2018) Painter, mixed media artist, educator 62.
62. The artist; Gumbo YaYa: Anthology of Contemporary African American Women Art, 123.
SARGENT JOHNSON (1888-1967) Sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and painter 63. The artist 64. Study for San Francisco Housing Authority Mural, c. 1950; mixed media on paper, 11 x 8 inches, signed.
65. Sailing I, c. 1950; enamel on steel with elements of sgraitto, 13-1/2 x 16-1/2 inches, signed. 66. The Lovers, 1945; terracotta, 5-1/4 x 6-3/8 x 2-1/2 inches. 67. Teacups, 1941; ceramic, 2-1/2 x 4-1/4 x 2-1/2 inches, signed and dated. 68. Untitled (Abstract Composition), c. 1950; enamel on copper, 9 x 12 inches, signed.
69. Cruciixion, mixed media assemblage, 26 x 19 x 1 inches. 70. Mother and Child, c. 1950; terracotta, 7-1/2 x 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches, signed. 71. Mother and Child, c. 1950; terracotta, 9-3/4 x 3-3/4 x 1-3/8 inches, signed. 72. Singing Saints, 1940; lithograph, 12 x 9-1/2 inches, signed and titled. 73. Untitled, 1950; ceramic, 2-1/4 x 3 x 2 inches, signed. 74. Sailing II, c. 1950; enamel on steel with elements of sgraitto, 11 x 13-1/2 inches, signed.
75. Untitled (Girl With Braids), 1945; bronze, 12-7/8 x 4-1/2 x 2 inches.
SARGENT JOHNSON (1888-1967) Sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and painter 76. Girl with Braids, c. 1950; terracotta, 8-1/2 x 2 x 2 inches, signed. 77. Untitled (Abstract Figure), terracotta, 8-3/4 x 2-3/8 x 3 inches, signed. 78. Untitled (Rural Landscape with Plow Horses), c. 1940; oil on board, 23 x 17-1/2 inches, signed.
79. Untitled (Figure), 1950; bronze, 9 x 2 x 2 inches. 80. Misery, c. 1940; terracotta, 7 x 5 x 2-3/4 inches. 81. Singing Saints, 1967; tempera on enamel, 31-1/2 x 25 inches, signed and dated. 82. Seated Woman, c. 1930; carved wood, 4 x 2-1/2 x 4 inches.
83. Untitled (Standing Figure), 1950; bronze, 9 x 2 x 2 inches. 84. Untitled (Abstract Composition), c. 1950; enamel on steel, 11 x 12-1/2 inches, signed. 85. Seduction, c. 1950; enamel on steel, 11-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches, signed. 86. Untitled (Female Egyptian Head), c. 1930; terracotta, 4 x 2-1/2 x 4 inches, signed.
87. Jesus Raising Lazurus From the Dead, 1963; terracotta bas relief, 4-1/2 x 4-1/4 x 2 inches, inscribed, To Paul and Irma Desch, From Sargent Johnson 1963. 88. Untitled, 1955; carved stone, 8-1/4 x 9 x 6 inches.
89. Breakfast, 1945; oil on board, 16 x 11-1/2 inches.
FREDERICK D. JONES, JR (1913-1996) Painter, printmaker 90. The artist; Two Black Artists of the FDR Era: Marion Perkins and Frederick D. Jones, DuSable Museum of African American History, 1990: 7.
HENRY BOZEMAN JONES (1889-1973) Painter, graphic designer, author 91. The artist; Perry Jones, Against the Odds: African American Artists and the Harmon Foundation, 223
LOIS MAILOU JONES (1905-1998) Painter, designer, illustrator, educator
92. The artist
ROBERT EDMUND LEE JONES (B. 1913) Painter, sculptor, printmaker
JOSEPH KERSEY (1908-1982) Sculptor, painter, educator 93. Bronzeville #1, 1941; watercolor on paper, 13 x 9 inches, signed, titled, and dated. 94. Bronzeville #2, c. 1950; watercolor on paper, 13-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches, signed and titled.
The family of Joseph Kersey has conirmed they have both oil paintings and watercolors in their collection.
Kersey participated in the W.P.A. Federal Art Project in 1939, and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago (194042), Library of Congress (1940), Howard University (1941), and Atlanta University (1942). His work is included in the collections of the Johnson Publishing Company (Chicago), Howard University, and the Smithsonian University. Kersey worked as a clerk in the Special Projects Department of the Illinois Department of Public Aid from 1953-1982.
HAYWARD ELLIS KING (1928-1990) Painter, printmaker, educator
ANDRE KING (B. 1931) Painter and graphic designer
COLUMBUS KNOX (1923-1999) Painter
ARBON LANE (1932-2005) Folk artist 95.
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915-1999) Painter and educator 95. Portrait of a Girl, c. 1950; oil on board, 10 x 8 inches, signed. 96. Portrait of a Woman, 1960; watercolor on paper, 14-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches, signed.
Although being mostly known for his surrealist scenes depicting a haunting sense of loneliness and alienation, Lee-Smith, an accomplished igure painter, commonly executed portraits. Although the fact is not well-known, Lee-Smith has painted portraits throughout his career and regards portraiture as one of his specialties. Most of his portraits have been private commissions. A History of African American Artists: From 1792 to the Present, Bearden, Romare and Harry Henderson, 1993; p. 333
ULYSSES MARSHALL (B.1946 ) Painter and collagist 97. The artist
RICHARD MAYHEW (B. 1924) Painter 98. The artist, ca 1979; The Art of Richard Mayhew, Museum of the African Diaspora, 2009.
Mayhew’s irst solo exhibition was held at the Brooklyn Museum in 1955 with a second solo exhibition held in 1957 at Morris Gallery, NY, both of which met with much critical success. His work has also been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Butler Institute of American Art, OH; High Museum of Art GA; and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2009, a retrospective of his work including paintings from the 1950’s through the 1970’s was held at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA.
YVONNE COLE MEO (B. 1929) Sculptor, printmaker 99.
99. The artist; Gumbo Ya Ya: Anthology of Contemporary African-American Women Artists, 170.
His work is found in the collections of Albion College, Michigan; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Evansville Museum, IN; Midtown Galleries, NY; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
ARCHIBALD MOTLEY, JR. (1891-1981) Painter 100. Motleyâ€™s personal notebook documenting works he had completed for the PWA; Collection of the Chicago History Museum.
100. 101. Woodall, Elaine D. Archibald Motley, Jr.: American Artist of the Afro-American People, 1891-1928. Thesis. Pennsylvania State University, 1977. Print. 102. Playground (Recess), c. 1940; oil on masonite, 25-1/4 x 29-1/4 inches, inscribed. Collection of Dr. Harmon and Harriet Kelley; The Art of Archibald J. Motley, Jr., 121.
GUS NALL (1919-2005) Painter
GEORGE NEAL (1906-1938) Painter
HAYWARD LOUIS OUBRE, JR. (1916-2006) Painter, sculptor, printmaker, and educator 103. Self Portrait ,1948; etching, 16 x 10-1/4 inches, signed, dated, titled, and numbered 2/50. 104. The artist
Exhibited: Remembering the Atlanta University Art Annuals, Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries, 2003;Atlanta University Art Annuals: Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture and Prints by Negro Artists, 1948, Purchase Prize Winner; The Magniicent Seven, Hayward Oubre’s Students: Works from the Paul R. Jones Collection, 2003, p. 14; A New Direction in Intaglio: the Work of Maurico Lasansky and His Students, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1949.
After acquiring Pensive Family, I subsequently wrote to Hayward Oubre to ind out more about the work and to tell him that I owned it. He responded, telling me that this was the irst painting he made while he taught at Florida A & M, and that, while the painting is not a family portrait, it was inluenced by the birth of his daughter and ’the lowing connection of the father, mother, and daughter.’ He ended by thanking me for liking his work enough to buy it. I still get emotional reading it, because his response certainly conirmed that what I was doing was of enormous importance and that I was headed in the right direction.
Illustrated: Tracing the Rise of Afro-American Art in North Carolina (N.E. Pendergraft); American Negro Art, Cedric Dover, p. 55.
JOE OVERSTREET (B. 1934) Painter .
105. The artist, The Afro American Artist: A Search for Identity, Fine, 261.
WILLIAM PAJAUD (B. 1925) Painter, printmaker
106. The artist in his Los Angeles studio, 1970, Now DIg This! Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, Jones, 118.
GORDON PARKS (1912-2006) Photographer 107 The artist
MARION PERKINS (1908-1961) Sculptor 108. Marion and Eva Perkins outside their home, Chicago, 1951; Marion Perkins: A Chicago Sculptor Rediscovered; Daniel Schulman, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, v. 24, no. 2, African Americans in Art: Selections From the Art Institute of Chicago, 1999, 237.
In the 1940â€™s, Perkins grew rapidly as an artist, and by the end of the decade, his work demonstrated a clear personal aesthetic. His technique was conservative by many criticâ€™s standards as abstraction was coming into vogue. Perkins process involved direct carving in stone or wood, a process that was favored by European
Modernists like Constantin Brancusi, André Derain, and Modigliani. His politics also informed his work. Perkins was a committed Marxian activist and intellectual and “believed art could convey ideas effectively only through recognizable imagery.” Abstraction, in his views, was biased toward the elite, whereas igurative sculpture applied to all.
Perkins gleaned much of the marble and sandstone he used for his sculptures from homes being wrecked in the Chicago area and worked in his backyard. In 1940, two of his sculptures were chosen to appear in the American Negro Exposition. His work appeared regularly in shows at the Art Institute of Chicago throughout the 1940’s and 50’s. In 1947 he received a Rosenwald Grant, and in 1948, he won 2nd prize at the 52nd Annual Chicago and Vicinity Exhibition held at the Art Institute of Chicago for his work, Ethiopia Awakening. He taught classes at the South Side Community Art Center and took a ceramics course at Hull House.
JAMES PHILLIPS (B. 1945) Painter 109. The artist
ROBERT PIOUS (1908-1983) Painter, commercial artist 110.
110. The artist
ROSE PIPER (1917-2005) Painter, textile designer, illustrator 111. Mexican Girl and Boy with Dog, c. 1950; mixed media with watercolor and crayon on paper, 12 x 9 inches, signed.
Piper experienced tremendous internal pressure due to the conlict between maintaining a “proper” home and raising her child and her creative drive and longing to work as an artist. Piper’s awareness that she had internalized the pressure to stay home, together with her refusal to give in to that pressure, was mirrored in her work by her refusal to maintain the proper degree of feminine middle-class distance from erotic subject matter. The expressive realism of the images in her irst solo show…were based not only on veiled resistance to white economic domination chronicled in the lyrics of Negro work songs, but also on the taboo topic of female eroticism, which was made explicit in the tradition of women blues singers like Bessie Smith’s, I’m Wild About That Thing and Empty Bed Blues.
Gibson, Ann Eden. Abstract Expressionism: Other Politics. Yale University Press, 1999. Piper was forced to cut short her career as a painter to focus on providing a stable income for her family. She became a successful textile designer and owned a greeting card company until her retirement in 1980 when she returned to painting. Throughout her career, her work has ranged stylistically from abstract expressionist to representational.
RAMON PRICE (1930-2000) Mixed media artist 111a. The artist.
NELSON PRIMUS (1842-1916) Painter .
WILLIAM RHODES (B. 1967) 112. The artist
GREGORY RIDLEY, JR. (1925-2004) Sculptor, painter, educator .
113. The artist
CHARLES SALLEE, JR. (1913-2006) Painter, graphic artist
114. The artist at Karamu House, 1930â€™s, Western Reserve Historical Society, Yet We Still Rise: African American Art in Cleveland 1920-1970, 25.
J.H.D. ROBINSON (1895-1970) Painter
AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892-1962) Sculptor, educator 115. The artist
THOMAS SILLS (1914-2000) Painter .
116. The artist
LORNA SIMPSON (B. 1960) Photographer, multi-media artist 117.
117. The artist
ALBERT ALEXANDER SMITH (1896-1940) Painter, illustrator, printmaker,and musician. 118. Portrait of Frederick Douglass, 1922; etching, 9-5/8 x 7-7/8 inches, annotated in image, Albert Alex Smith 22 and Frederich Douglas 1817-1895.
119. Portrait of Toussaint L’Ouverture,1922; etching, 9-3/4 x 8-1/8 inches, signed and titled in plate. 120. Self Portrait, 1928; lithograph, 15 x 11 inches, signed and dated, numbered 27/50.
Smith took on his series of great Black leaders while he was in Paris. His plan with Schomburg to create this series of etchings was to irst of all provide Schomburg images for his library collection (Schomburg was an avid print collector), and secondly because Schomburg believed there was a market for inexpensive portraits. It’s likely that Smith made watercolors and sketches of these from reproductions Schomburg sent to him. Schomburg also encouraged him to research them in the Bibliotheque Nationale. 120.
Frederick Douglass and Haitian military leader, Toussaint L’ Ouverture were included in this series.
WILLIAM E. SMITH (1913-1997) Painter, graphic artist .
121. The artist, The Printmaker: From Umbrella Stave to Brush and Easel, Marjorie Witt Johnson and William E. Smith.
VINCENT SMITH (1929-2004) Painter, printmaker
CARROLL SOCKWELL (1943-1992) Painter and curator. 122. St. 1177 , 1977; watercolor on paper, 12 x 14 inches, titled verso. 123. St. II, 1978; oil on board, 12-1/2 x 15-1/4 inches, signed, titled, dated and dedicated, To Noel Markwell.
The work of Carroll Sockwell, a former student of Lois Mailou Jones and of the Corcoran School of Art was more congenial to the then dominant school of color ield painting. He had briely become curator of the Barnett-Aden Gallery in 1965-66. By the late sixties, Sockwell was showing prominently in the city. He organized shows with Walter Hopps and Gregory Battcock and was later included by Hopps in major traveling shows of “Art in Washington”. (REF: Art in Washington and Its Afro-American Presence: 19401970, Keith Morrison, Washington Project for the Arts, 2004, p. 60; catalog accompanying the exhibition).
Sockwell was included in the exhibit, Washington Art, held at the Columbia Museum in 1971, along with contemporaries Gilliam, Krebs, and McGowin.
F.L. “DOC” SPELLMON (1925-2008) Painter and illustrator CHARLES W. STALLINGS (B. 1919) Painter, printmaker, sculptor and educator 124. The artist; American Negro Art, Dover.
NELSON STEVENS (B. 1938) Painter, graphic artist, educator 125. The artist, seated middle front row with the members of Africobra, 1970.
THELMA JOHNSON STREAT (1912-1959) Painter, muralist, and dancer. 126. The artist. 127. Girl With Flower, c. 1950; oil on board, 20-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches. 128. Two African Kings, 1935; oil on paper, 14 x 10-1/2 inches, signed and dated. This work is currently showing in the exhibition, California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960 at the Pasadena Museum of History.
Streat worked as an assistant to Diego Rivera in the early 1940s, and Rivera wrote a letter to Los Angelesbased dealer and collector, Galka Shayer, saying, â€œThe work of Thelma Johnson Streat is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting manifestations in this country at the present. It is extremely evolved and sophisticated enough to reconquer the grace and purity of African and American art.â€?
Thelma Johnson Streat was born in Yakima, Washington in 1912, and spent he childhood in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from high school in 1932, and that same year sold four of her artworks to the famous African American singer, Roland Hayes, who was living in Los Angeles. She also exhibited two works at the New York Public Library in a show sponsored by the Harmon Foundation that year. She exhibited at the American Negro Exposition (1940) in Chicago, and along with Sargent Johnson, was listed as one of two African American artists working in California.
In 1942, Streat became the irst African American woman to have a work purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, and the painting, Rabbit Man, was exhibited later that year at the museum. Judy Bullington, in her essay, Thelma Johnson Streat and Cultural Synthesis on the West Coast (American Art, vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 2005—the magazine for the Smithsonian American Art Museum), wrote: Streat’s images were distinctive in their insistent childlike playfulness and graphic resolution. Her mode of expressionism is historically signiicant as a counterpoint to Jackson Pollock’s Jungiasn-informed ideals of the collective conscious, Robert Motherwell’s need to capture ‘felt experience’, and Mark Rothko’s symbolically charged and myth-laden paintings. 127.
In 1943, Streat received death threats from the Ku Klux Klan for exhibiting a painting titled, Death of a Black Sailor, at the American Contemporary Gallery in Los Angeles. The same year she held major exhibit at The Little Gallery in Los Angeles, owned by actor Vincent Price, which led to her work being included in the collections of many celebrities. Streat was deeply concerned about equality in labor and education in her efforts to improve the conditions for African Americans. She was the chairman for the Negro Labor Murals Committee (Chicago) and the Children’s Visual Education Project. Streat was dancing with her paintings (1945) before Jackson Pollock’s bodily movements were publicly associated with his process of pouring (1951)…While Pollock’s art has become celebrated as performance, he was ambivalent, to say the least, about going public in this way. Indeed, Streat, in contrast to Pollock, often danced for the public in front of her paintings. Anne Gibson, Abstract Expressionism: Other Politics; 1997, Yale University. Faith in an Ultimate Freedom, Thom Pegg, exhibition catalog, Tyler Fine Art,2014.
HENRY OSSAWA TANNER (1859-1937) Painter, illustrator, photographer, educator 129. The artist, c 1935; Henry Ossawa Tanner, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 10.
BOB THOMPSON (1937-1966) Painter 130.
130. The artist; Bob Thompson, Thelma Golden, 57.
ULYSSES S. GRANT TAYES (1885-1972) Painter, musician, educator
DOX THRASH (1893-1965) Printmaker, painter 131. Still Life #1, 1938; carborundum mezzotint, 5 x 7-1/2 inches, signed. 132. Pier 27, 1937; carborundum mezzotint, 2-3/4 x 5-1/4 inches, signed and titled.
133. Anna Before 1942, c. 1942; carborundum mezzotint, 7-1/2 x 5-5/8 inches, signed and numbered II/X. 134. Nursery Rhyme, 1938; lithograph on paper, 7-1/2 x 5-5/8 inches, signed and titled.
One of the beneits Thrash enjoyed by means of his association with the WPA was that it afforded him (and other artists) the time to improve upon their technical skills as artists as well as experiment with mediums and techniques. In his case, it was the development of the carborundum mezzotint.
[this] process involves abrading the surface of a metal plate with particles of carborundum under the pressure of a hand-rotated weight. The resulting surface becomes uniformly pitted, allowing the entire plate to hold ink. A design is then scraped or burnished into the prepared plate, achieving tonal variations similar to traditional mezzotint. When coarser grains of carborundum are used, the surface is more deeply and coarsely abraded. Hence the artistâ€™s choice of grain sized determines the quality of the groundâ€™s texture. Lines may be etched into the plate to delineate or add to the composition either before or after the surface is ground with carborundum. This process is essentially an improvement over the traditional mezzotint technique, because less time and efort are required to prepare the plate, and because the more durable pitted surface enables larger editions to be made.
Cindy Medley-Buckner, Carborundum Mezzotint and Carborundum Etching, Print Quarterly, Vol. 16, No.1 (March 1999), pp. 34-49.
In carborundum printmaking, the areas of the plate which are to print black are covered with a mixture of carborundum, which is synthetically produced silicon carbide (manufactured as an industrial abrasive), and a binding agent (such as glue). When dry, that area retains ink just as in any other intaglio process. Carborundum printing produces a rich velvety surface and adds light to dark when the paper and plate are run through the printing press. Thrash used a range of ine to coarse carborundum grains to achieve an unusual range of tones in his prints.
JAMES VAN DER ZEE (1886-1983) Photographer 135. The artist in his studio, c. 1922; VanDerZee: Photographer 1886-1983.
RUTH WADDY (1909-2003) Printer, printmaker, editor
STEVE WALKER (B. 1945 Graphic artist
136. The artist; Gumbo YaYa: Anthology of Contemporary African-American Women Artists, 305.
WILLIAM “BILL” WALKER (1927-2011) Painter and muralist 137. The artist 138. Eating Watermelon, c. 1955; gouache and charcoal on artist’s board, 25-1/4 x 10-1/4 inches, signed. 139. Untitled (Faces), c. 1955; tempera and crayon on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed.
140. The Twins, c. 1950; oil on canvas, 19-1/2 x 27-1/2 inches, signed.
141. Three Faces, c. 1955; tempera, crayon, and sgraitto on board, 20-1/2 x 23-3/4 inches, signed. 142. Untitled (Portrait of a Woman), c. 1955; oil with turpentine and oil glazes on board, 11-1/2 x 10-3/4 inches, signed. 143. Boy on Buckboard, c. 1955; crayon and watercolor on board, 19 x 12-7/8 inches, signed. 144. Games We Play, c. 1955; tempera on board, 72 x 5-3/4 inches, signed.
The artist-to-people communication is the kind of relationship that would place the artist and his work in a position of respect, pride, and dignity—all of which he should have. These views are not based on the feelings of an idealist hoping for something that cannot be or believing in something he has never experienced. They are founded on the grounds of experience. Experience of talking with people in a community during the time that the art project is in progress; of discussing the conditions of their problems and the world and trying to realize how art can become more relevant to the people of the world. 140.
Bill Walker, Black Artists on Art, v. 2, Lewis/Waddy, 1971
MASOOD ALI WARREN (1907-1995) Painter and sculptor 145. Self Portrait.
CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979) Painter, graphic artist, and educator
146. The artist
ALFREDUS WILLIAMS (1875-1967) Folk artist 147. The artist, Jet, October 30, 1958, 50. 148. Roseau Valley, Dominica BWI, 1959; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed, dated, and titled.
149. Portrait of a Woman With a Yellow Hat, 1959; 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. 150. Harbor Dominica, 1960; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed and dated. 151. Carp and Flowers, c. 1959; oil on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. 152. Mother and Child, c. 1959; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches.
153. Girl With a Nose Ring, c. 1960; oil on canvasboard, 20 x 16 inches. 154. Par La Ville Gardens, Bermuda, c. 1960; 16 x 20 inches, signed and titled. 155. Fruit Vendor, 1959; 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. 156. Harbor #2, 1959; oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20 inches, signed and dated. 157. Fruit Vendor #3, 1959; 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated.
158. Still Life, 1959; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed and dated. 159. Soufriere Dominica BWI, c. 1959; oil on board, 19 x 23 inches, signed and titled. 160. Creation, c. 1960; oil on board, 33 inches in the round, signed and titled.
161. Par La Ville Gardens, Bermuda, 1959; oil on canvasboard, 12 x 20 inches, signed, dated, and titled.
162. View of Vigil Show Military Hospital and Barracks, c. 1960; oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, signed and titled. 163. Turbaned Mogabile, 1956; oil on board, 16 x 12, signed and dated. 164. Sponge Workers, Bridge of Soufriere, 1960; oil on board, 12 x 16 inches, signed and dated.
165. Portrait of a Man With Hat and Cape, c. 1956; oil on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed. 166. Untitled (Garden Workers), c. 1960; oil on board, 12 x 16 inches. 167. The Arab, 1956; oil on board, 16 x 12 inches, signed and dated. 168. Fruit Vendor 2, 1959; oil on board, 16 x 12 inches signed.
Par-la-Ville Park (or Garden) is located in Hamilton, the capitol of Bermuda. It was once the garden of William Perot, the irst postmaster of Bermuda. His house is now the Bermuda Historical Society and National Library. Soufriere, Dominica is a village on the southwest coast of Dominica, and is the home of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mark. Roseau is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Dominica. Dominica is in the West Indies, the northernmost of the Windward Islands.
WALTER WILLIAMS (1920-1998) Painter, printmaker, and sculptor 169. Summer Evening, 1974; woodcut on cotton batting, 22â€? x 22â€? (full sheet), signed, dated, titled, numbered 3/10, and inscribed, Imp.
170. Summer #2, 1974; woodcut on cotton batting, 17-1/2 x 17-1/2 (full sheet), signed, dated, titled, numbered 3/10, and inscribed Imp. 171. Fighting Cock #3, 1964; woodcut on cotton batting, 24 x 29, signed, dated, titled, and numbered 81/200. 172. Untitled, c. 1955; oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, signed on stretcher.
Walter explained that in paintings such as Southern Landscape, a composition he revisited from time to time, and Midsummerâ€™s Day, the upturned tree trunks represented, in part, the disconnect African Americans had experienced while being torn away from their native homes in Africa in the period of slavery. The birds in light and the butterlies in his compositions symbolized the freedom that African Americans desired to have to move about freely undisturbed. The sunlower symbolized hope of a brighter day ahead as did the beautiful pink and orange sky so often seen in many of the artistâ€™s works.
David C. Driskell, The Artwork of Walter Williams, essay written for the catalog which accompanied the exhibition at the M. Hanks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; January 19-March 26, 2005, 3. 172.
ELLIS WILSON (1899-1977) Painter 173. Portrait of Everett Hart, 1949; oil on board, 17-1/4 x 131/4 inches, signed and annotated, Portrait of Everett Hart, artist, San Francisco Bay Area by Ellis Wilson, a black American artist. Painted September, 1949. 174. Charleston, South Carolina, 1947; watercolor on paper, 9-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches, signed.
Wilson began applying for a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1939, so he could fully commit to painting. His personal style was evolving, taking inspiration from contemporaries Jacob Lawrence, Horace Pippin, and Aaron Douglas. When he received his fellowships in 1944 and 1945, he traveled through the American South - Graves County, Kentucky; Georgia; South
(Continued from p. 132)
Carolina; and the sea islands, painting social realist scenes of African Americans and their daily life. Art historian and critic Justus Bier was able to secure Wilson a one man show at the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky based on the merits of these works. His second one man show in 1951 at the Contemporary Arts Gallery featured works from his irst visit to Haiti, where he made subsequent trips to paint. A retrospective of his work was held in 1971 at Fisk University in conjunction with William Artis. His work is found in the collections of Howard University, Studio Museum on Harlem, National Museum of American Art, and the Amsted Research Center.
FRED WILSON (1932-2012) Sculptor and printmaker 175. The artist; Black Artists on Art, v. 2, Lewis/Waddy, 74.
JOHN WILSON (B. 1922) Painter, printmaker, illustrator, and educator 176. The artist; St. James Guide to Black Artists, 581.
FRANK WIMBERLEY (B. 1926) Painter and mixed media arist 177. The artist; Acts of Art and Rebuttal in 1971, Hunter College Art Galleries, 92
HALE WOODRUFF (1900-1980) Painter, printmaker, muralist, and educator 178. The artist, c. 1942, Courtesy Mary Parks Washington personal papers
ANITA MAURO and her mother, the remarkable real life Ellen Jane, for the use of family photos and anecdotes about artist and family member Joseph Kersey. The SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM and the FRIENDS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART for providing a lovely reception for the Melvin Holmes Collection of African American Art at our gallery in Saint Louis. PAT ALBANO and AARON GALLERIES of Glenview, Illinois for their expertise and time, helping evaluate and research the artwork of the MHCAAA. Catalog layout and artist entries: RENÉE YEAGER, Tyler Fine Art Catalog essay and artist entries: THOM PEGG, Tyler Fine Art
Tyler Fine Art ⚜
407 Jackson Ave. ⚜ University City, MO ⚜
Tyler Fine Art ⚜
407 Jackson Ave. ⚜ University City, MO ⚜ 314.727.6249
The complete collection of works by African American artists as collected by Melvin Holmes, San Francisco, California.
Published on Apr 18, 2019
The complete collection of works by African American artists as collected by Melvin Holmes, San Francisco, California.