the key to Albert Fennell. He is as proficient in oil as he is in
pastel or ink, creating depth, dimension and illusions of exemplary
quality. Born in San Diego, California, Fennell's talent came at
the early age of five when he started drawing in-depth pictures
of cartoon characters. As a young man in the 6th grade at Ocean
View Elementary School, his landscape done in tempera paint was
selected in a district-wide competition and was exhibited in the
San Diego Museum of Art. He studied fine arts at San Diego Mesa
College, commercial drawing at San Diego City College, and refined
his skills at Alexander's School of Drawing, Printing, and Design.
has been seen on the television series, "Generations",
and he has received commission from Rosa Parks, Anita Baker, Jesse
Jackson, and Father Clement. Fennell states, "Through my work,
I try to create a communication level between all people dealing
with truth, pride, and compassion. I thank God for the talent He
has given me and the opportunity to present it to you."
As an adult,
one Monday morning at five o'clock as Annie tried to get it together,
she came up with "Blue Monday." She wondered if anybody
else felt as bad as she did having to go out on that cold winter
morning to catch the bus to work. Annie Lee is a humorist and a
realist and her style has been referred to as "Black Americana."
She will tell you her secret to success is her faith in God and
a willingness to help others. God did this through me. You have
to have faith. I never thought I would leave the railroad, but it
was the best thing I ever did. It was hard to leave the security,
but you have to take a leap of faith."
learned that art documents and records facts about a society in
order that the people of that society will know where they have
been. It also allows them to know where they are going. This is
why it is extremely important that Black families, churches, institutions
--- teachers on all levels --- push, motivate, and inspire all Black
children to acquire a firm foundation and knowledge of who they
are and where they come from."
Jr., born July 17, 1941, in Dallas, has been drawing and sketching
since he was 6 years old. His commitment to art and portraying his
culture is total.
society, some of our Black people have no appreciation for the value
of our cultural heritage," says Beck. "This is all due
to a lacking of sufficient knowledge of our history... only when
[a person] sees himself positively reflected can he begin to appreciate
the value of his own story."
has changed with the times in which he lives. In the 1960s, much
of his painting dealt with civil rights and the accompanying protests.
He also dabbled with Caribbean and African subject matter.
In August 1973,
Beck reports he opened the first Black owned and operated gallery
in Dallas, carrying work by local and nationally known artists.
The gallery and his painting are still the artist's full-time livelihood.
As a member of National Conference of Artists, Beck continues to
expand his professional development.
he has become focused on subjects in everyday life: children, religion,
hairstyles, and places he's been. "I want to bring out the
beauty in things," says Beck.
work has been featured in numerous solos and group shows internationally.
and Fine Art is pleased to present "Cotton Fields," 'Gathering
at the River," "Grace,"
"Piano Lesson," "Water Bearers," and "Tent
Revival" by this talented artist. TOP
Hoyes' professional artist career began at the early age of nine
in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica. Bernard's mother sold his
woodcarvings and watercolors to visitors at the Jamaica Tourist
Board to help maintain the household and support his creative efforts.
exposure to professional art education was at the institute of Jamaica,
Junior Art Center. At age 15 He moved to New York to live with his
father, attend school and continue his art endeavors. He attended
evening classes at the Art Students League, excelling quickly. Hoyes
matured as a painter and a sculptor under the apprenticeship of
established artists such as Norman Lewis, Huie Lee Smith and John
Torres. A Ford Foundation Scholarship was received which allowed
him to study with professional artists in a Summer Arts program
at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont.
a scholarship to finish his academic studies at Vermont Academy
for the next two years; where his work was featured in Vermont Life,
Stage IV and Vermont 70 Magazines. He was instrumental in the development
of a formal Art Department there and at graduation was given a solo
exhibition at the Shepardson Center Gallery on Campus. Upon graduation
Hoyes received the Frederick Stanley Art Award.
invited by and given a Board of Trustee Grant at the College of
Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California. He participated in the Graduate
art show and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in painting
and design. He set up a studio across the bay in San Francisco and
became a full time artist. In 1975 he was participant in the "
Black Expo," and assemblage of nationwide Afro-American artists.
At the end
of 1975 he moved to Los Angeles to work as a designer for the California
Museum of Science and Industry. He later resigned in 1978 returning
to his studio to work as a full time artist. He became a member
and active participant in many art organizations: LACE, Artist for
Economic Action, Artists Equity Association, California Confederation
of the Arts, Studio Z, the Graphic Arts Guild and self-help Graphics.
period of the late 70's, Hoyes worked intensively on his "RAG
SERIES," encompassing over 150 pieces. He formed Caribbean
Cultural Institute and Caribbean Arts, Inc. to further expose Caribbean
culture to America. The Institute provided classes, workshops and
a space for cultural events centered around an Afro-centric theme.
Caribbean Arts, Inc., a publication company for graphic arts was
formed which led to the creation of the "CARIBBEAN COLLECTION
SERIES" and the "WALLPAPER SERIES' where old wallpaper
prints were used as a source for developing new aesthetics. Hoye's
elegant "KWANZAA HOLIDAY" card series celebrates this
African American holiday with functional art was created around
1979 Hoyes had a solo exhibition of the "RAG SERIES" at
the William Grant Stills Art Center, a division of the LA Municipal
Arts Department and a commemorative poster of "RAG NOUVEAU"
was published. It has become a signature piece for the artist.
Hoyes has worked
with the Los Angeles Citywide Murals Programs. Some of the murals
created were "BLACK FOLK ART IN AMERICA," commissioned
by the Craft & Folk Museum (painted with the help of the children
from Wilshire Crest and Carthay Elementary Schools). Other mural
were created with the assistance of children from the following
schools: Sven Lokrantz School for Special Children, McAlister High
Tri-C Program and 49th Street School for the 1984 Olympics. Hoyes
continues to execute Murals in the Los Angeles Community. The most
recently acclaimed, "IN THE SPIRIT OF CONTRIBUTION" commissioned
by First A.M.E. Church, located on LaSalle Street in the Historic
West Adams District. This mural is dedicated to both African American
and Hispanic people who have made note worthy contributions to the
building of America. Particularly in the area of Arts and Social/Political
In 1982 Hoyes
returned to Jamaica and became a lecturer and assessor for the Jamaica
School of Art under the direction of Cecil Cooper. He has a solo
exhibition at the leading gallery, the BOLIVAR; which received critical
acclaim for the exhibition featuring the "Rag Series."
The exhibition comprised of over 50 pieces included an oil painting
of Jamaican hero Marcus Garvey, which now hangs in the Government
House of Jamaica's Commission. The work was selected by editor Robert
A Hill and the University of California Press for the cover of Hill's
10 volume work on Garvey, THE MARCUS GARVEY & U.N.I.A. PAPERS
(1983). The original has traveled with the Garvey Centennial Exhibition
sponsored by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
to Museums across the country.
By this time,
Hoyes had developed into a master of colorful and rhythmical compositions.
On the spiritual significance of his visually engrossing powerfully
expressive works, Hoyes explains that he paints "from an intuitive
point of view," that during the process the "spirits take
possession" and the ritual theme becomes dominant. These insights,
his Jamaican heritage and the membership of his paternal family
in "revival cults" (an Afro-Christian sect with strong
African retention roots) provide cues as to why these paintings
are perceived as authentic revelations of altered states of reality.
plane is developed from an intuitive point of view. Very little
perspective is coupled with repetition and exaggeration to incorporate
elements of African retention's. Field of colors are infused with
primaries in harmony. These works are intuitively inspired with
no preliminary sketches. Each completed painting suggest the composition
and content for the next. Color becomes personified as symbolic
as various combinations are used to express national as well as
spiritual connotations. The movement of the dancers is captured
with posing, profiling and the preservation of facial and body expression
and full figured framed against each other in dramatic crescendo.
Implied lines everywhere work magic in utilizing minimum surface,
textures. with much care are there to suggest/state roundness of
forms, stress distances or accentuate perspective. Passionately
consumed over the years with this work, a highly personal symbolism
is projected that signals the arrival of a mature style. Example:
"At The Table Of Zion": this painting embraces the ritual
in a spectacle of spastic bodies caught in spirit possession, around
a "prepared table." As a domestic altar, this one has
a "steps feature" at the head which is unique to these
cults, representing steps to heaven or steps for the gods to descend
to do the bidding of mortals. From this early highlight work, a
major painting with all its detailed contents is done from a bird's
eye view to give the sense of majesty and mysticism in the air.
In 1992 this
prepared table comes to life in an installation for the exhibition
"Massive" at the Museum of African-American Art, Los Angeles
and again at Cal State Dominguez Hills Art Gallery. These tables
or altars connect and mediate between the terrestrial and celestial,
the material and the spiritual, the personal and communal aspect
of everyday life. As the work grows from painting to installation,
He was able to secure nontraditional installation spaces such as
in "Casualties of Contemporary Life" installed in a burnt
out building in downtown Kingston, JA. (A casualty itself from the
1977 insurrection). Also done in 1992, it calls attention to the
suffering and state of the downtown and its residents, socially
and physically. Ironically, Hoyes came back to Los Angeles that
same week in the middle of its own insurrection. In response he
immediately mount "Apparition of Healing Spirits" at several
fire-bombed sites around Los Angeles to help the healing process.
Allure, surrender, and love are represented by "Lures"
formed from chicken meshes. These transparent figures are accompanied
with ceremonial platters, fresh flowers and fruit to create a healing
presence in the otherwise bleak and desolate locations of the aftermath
of destruction and violence.
works and other special projects demonstrate his commitment to the
public good. He worked with First A.M.E. Church's "In The Spirit
Of Contribution," which employed community youth, including
African-American and Latino gang members, to get together to recognizee
each other's contributions to the spiritual and peaceful unity of
Los Angeles, California and the U.S. he developed a student art
completion with the Jamaica Awareness Association and the California
Afro-American Museum; founded the First Annual Jamaican Art Seminar
& Gallery Tour sponsored by California Afro-American Museum;
founded the Caribbean Cultural Institute and Caribbean Arts, Inc.
a publishing and distribution company in 1982.
The City of
Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department presented an exhibition
at The Watts Towers Arts Center in conjunction with the Caribbean
Cultural Institute, Division of Caribbean Arts. An exhibition honoring
the 25th year of his individual artistic vision, the 25th anniversary
of the Watts Tower Arts Center, the 30th year of the anniversary
of Kwanzaa, and the 15th year anniversary of Caribbean Arts. Titled:
"Journey Through The Spirit: 25 Years of Magical Realism,"
in December 1995.
For the Galerie
Lakaye exhibition "Vodou Reflections." presented in conjunction
with UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History exhibition "Sacred
Arts Of Haitian Vodou." A ceremonial table was installed by
Hoyes entitled: "Burnt Offering," it cumulated offerings
over a three month period, transforming a domestic altar-into one
of personal symbolism. TOP
creatively and sell my work as a successful artist is the fulfillment
of a life long ambition. Now, the wonderful reception and demand
for my work is a new stage, with an exciting complement of rewards
A native of
Memphis, Tennessee, Brenda Joysmith in 1968 began her formal training
at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, then continued at
the University of Chicago where in 1974 she received a BA degree
in Fine Arts.
to achieve a professional artist's career, Ms. Joysmith came to
the San Francisco Bay Area where she began exhibiting in local art
shows and working as a portrait artist. She studied independently
and at local colleges, traveled, and worked constantly at her easel
as her creative skilled improved. Gradually expanding her list of
patrons and exhibitions, Ms. Joysmith opened her first studio in
Her work has
received national exposure on the sets of such popular television
show as, The Cosby Show, A Different World, Amen, Family Matters,
and Sinbad. TOP OF PAGE.
A fine art
artist, publisher and distributor - owns two galleries as well as
a publishing and distribution business. Bibbs is also the owner
of Art 2000, nationwide, non-profit visual arts association that
informs and inspires artists and art patrons alike. B Graphics,
the name given to his business, Images Magazine-which he founded
as a business guide to ethnic art!
important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements, that are
ethnically rooted and at the same time arouse spiritual emotions
within us," said Bibbs.
one of the country's most popular and prolific artists, Bibbs is
also committed to developing and empowering entrepreneurs in the
community and especially is dedicated to hosting workshops and showcasing
art of young artists. Bibbs creates powerful statements with his
larger-than-life figurative images, depicting urban street scenes,
sensitive expressions of generational love, and majestic African-Indian
images. Influenced by the work of Charles White, R. C. Gorman, Frank
Howell and John Biggers, his signature technique fuses acrylic paint
and ink coupled with contemporary themes.
The world of
Charles A. Bibbs reflects spirituality, consciousness, strong ethnic
pride, texture, movement and energy; characteristics that are recognized
as hallmarks of fine art. These characteristics describe the zenith
of fulfillment sought by all artists; they are comfortably embodied
as the nucleus that forms the soul of Charles Bibbs.
A native of
the Los Angeles Bay area and second child of a family of ten, Charles
grew up with a host of love and a desire to succeed. Charles' father,
Arthur, recognized his son's gift in early elementary school. He
encouraged his gifted son to display and perfect his talents while
exploring numerous ways of expressing his artist ability. His talent
was further fueled by the works of Charles White, R.C. Gorman, Frank
Howell, Earnie Barnes and Nathaniel Bustion, just a few of our most
celebrated contemporary masters. Bibbs expanded his intrinsic ability
by attending Long Beach City College, California State University,
and Los Angeles Harbor College.
his career, Bibbs has persisted in exploring new avenues of expression.
His range of versatility extends from mixed media drawings and painting
to clay vessels and masks. His bold and powerful visual statements
and his unusual style of fusing acrylic paint and ink move most
of us. This style coupled with African and contemporary African
American themes creates stimulating and sensitive spectacles, all
flowing, rhythmically and interweaving. Positive and sensitive imagery
best describes a consistent overall feeling. Nobility and strength
in the rendering of his figures is characteristically and recognizably
the Bibbs trademark.
His mix of
realism, fantasy and ethnicity has been nationally and internationally
celebrated. Charles has been featured in numerous newspaper and
magazine articles, radio shows and television appearances. He has
received countless citations and awards.
With each contact
he bridges all forms of the arts to form a common spirit within
us. As Bibbs states, "my most important goal is to make profound
aesthetic statements, that are ethnically rooted and simultaneously
arouse spiritual emotions within each of us." TOP
Like all of
Donald Zolan's works on early childhood, "Grandma's Mirror"
and "Squeaky Clean" capture moments that could belong
to any child --- the thrill of the little girl looking at herself
in a mirror in her pretty dress ... the pleasure small children
can take in something as simple as having a bath.
is a sought-after artist who has concentrated on painting children
since his 1978 collectible plate release of "Erik and Dandelion,"
portraying the artist's young son playing with dandelions. His publisher,
Pemberton & Oakes, in Santa Barbara, California, reproduces
his paintings as collectibles and has licensed Things Graphics and
Fine Art to reproduce "Grandma's Mirror" and "Squeaky
Clean" as open editions. So now, these two pictures are reaching
a whole new audience --- people who haven't necessarily seen his
of "Squeaky Clean," "I remember painting that picture
and thinking just how much fun that baby was having in the warm
water and how neat that he was still small enough to fit in the
sink. Babies grow so fast that by the time he's had six more baths,
he won't fit in there anymore."
Mirror," Zolan says, "This little girl is as pretty as
a princess and she knows it. I really love the sparkle in her eyes.
She's all girl, and here she is in a beautiful red-and-white dress
with polka dots and a big bow. She's really enjoying seeing herself
in the mirror and it's fun for us to see her too."
Zolan was born
in Brookfield, Illinois, on August 11, 1937. He is a fifth-generation
artist. His great-uncles and great-grandfathers on both sides of
the family were painters, sculptors, and engravers. His great-great-grandfather
designed church altars in Germany.
to draw when he was three years old. He considers his first finished
"work" a pencil drawing of Donald Duck that he copied
from the cover of a Walt Disney comic book at age five and then
executed as his first painting.
By the age
of eight, Zolan was working in oils. He spent all his free time
creating works of art and entering local and state art contests,
which he usually won. When he was 13, he won a scholarship to a
summer session at the Art Institute of Chicago. He won another summer
scholarship when he was 16, this time to study at the American Academy
of Art in Chicago, where he continued his studies after high school
graduation, completing the four-year curriculum in two years.
with three diferent artists in succession, painting at night and
selling his originals at art shows and fairs on the weekends. He
joined a Chicago publishing company and worked as a keyliner, designer,
and picture editor for 12 years. During his tenure, he won 15--20
national and international graphic art awards for various advertising
In time, sales
of his artwork began to earn him enough to pursue art on a full-time
basis. Donald Zolan now resides with his wife, Jennifer, in Hershey,
Pennsylvania, where his work focuses on painting children. TOP
inspiration is trying to make a strong statement about black men
and their role as fathers and leaders in all areas of American business
to heros to role models. "
father of three children aged 5 to 15, created "Father's Love"
to highlight the human side of men.
to say, 'Black men are strong and sensitive. They love a lot. They
care a lot.' That's the positive message I wanted to deliver,"
that peace and prosperity in the black community can result only
from a role model with a message that is not racially based.
who now lives with his children and wife, Ann, in Anaheim, CA, grew
up in St. Louis, MO, with his four brothers and one sister. At the
age of 5, he asked his mother for paper and pencil to draw with.
He drew his reflection in the mirror, creating a self-portrait as
his first work. His mother was impressed with his accuracy and encouraged
him to develop his skill.
has not varied from that first self-portrait. He is a realist who
strives for accuracy and clarity in his work.
school, Miller joined the U.S. Army, where he continued to draw
and paint, creating commissioned portraits of soldiers and their
families and friends. When his twoyear hitch was up, Miller returned
to St. Louis to attend Forest Park Community College to study drawing.
One year later, he enrolled at Roosevelt University in Chicago,
where he received a degree in fine arts. Upon graduation, he made
the commitment to become a professional artist.
of oil paintings and pastels have won him awards and commissions
from private individuals as well as community organizations. He
has done work for the Woodshop Gallery, Malcolm X College, and The
DuSable Museum. Collectors of his work include the late Mayor Harold
Washington, singer Nancy Wilson, and Constance Seaway, vice president
of Seaway National Bank. TOP
E. Varner II
COLONEL, U.S. ARMY RETIRED
Ernest E. Varner,
II began his formal study of art in high school. There, he benefited
from a strong art program that included portraiture classes in soft
pastels, watercolor, and oils. He also studied painting and drawing
at Hunter Art Gallery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He participated
in his first art show at Hunter and sold his first piece of artwork
the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a major in art.
Although he had been drawing and painting since his childhood, becoming
a professional artist wasn't a serious option for African-Americans
at that time. The war in Vietnam and the draft also played an important
role in his decision to join the Reserve Officers' Training Corps
and change his major to psychology. In 1972 he graduated with a
major in psychology and a minor in art. He then joined the Army
as a Medical Service Corps Officer. Lieutenant Colonel Varner retired
in 1994 while serving as Troop Commander at Blanchfield Army Community
Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was awarded the Legion of
Merit for approximately twenty-two years of dedicated service to
his country. While on active duty, Varner completed several graduate
level courses in counseling with Boston University, and he also
earned a Masters Degree in General Administration from Central Michigan
military gave Varner an opportunity to pursue his passion for painting
and drawing wherever his career took him. He took great pleasure
in making his classrooms the galleries and museums throughout the
world. When he could not find teachers, he would purchase videos
and books on the "old masters" and well known contemporary
artist. He would compare what they taught to works by the masters
in museums throughout the world from the Smithsonian in Washington,
D.C., to the Louvre in Paris, France.
been fortunate to have studied with several renowned artists. While
assigned to Fort McClellan, Alabama, he remembered one of his teachers
showing him a magazine, 'American Artist", which featured an
outstanding portrait artist named Ken Marlow on the cover. Varner
later tracked down Marlow, who was teaching a portrait class at
the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Varner signed
up for that class, however, later, he persuaded Marlow to accept
him as a private student. Varner has also studied with Daniel Greene,
Jim Schell, Richard Whitney, and Mark Chatov.
of art can be found in public and private collections throughout
the U.S. and abroad. While stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky
he was commissioned, along with three other artists, by the local
newspaper, "The Leaf-Chronicle", to do a watercolor painting
to celebrate Fort Campbell's 50th Anniversary. Each painting was
featured as a cover page in the newspaper. The originals are on
display at the Don F. Pratt Museum at Fort Campbell. Varner also
served on the Board of Trustees for the Clarksville-Montgomery County
Museum while at Fort Campbell. In 1994 he completed a portrait of
the nation's first Poet Laureate, Robert Penn Warren. The portrait
was commissioned by a Nashville Philanthropist, Thomas M. Hudson,
for a local Robert Penn Warren Center. Varner's first self published
print, "The Longest Mile", which features a Buffalo Soldier
and Gen. Colin Powell, is currently on the secondary market and
will be included in a National Black Art Directory soon to be published.
Varner is currently
an art instructor at a local university and teaches portrait drawing
and painting class at three art establishments throughout greater
Atlanta. Varner was once quoted as saying that "We are at out
best when we are being creative. It is at this point when we are
most like our Creator." TOP
to interrelate through art. Most people who see my work are reminded
of things they have experienced. I try to paint things that are
influence was my first grade teacher --- she encouraged my progress
as an artist," says Ernest Watson. "For some reason, my
ponies were better than those in the rest of the class."
exemplifies how Watson's elementary teacher's praise and encouragement
gave him the self confidence he needed at an early age. "I
don't even know if my work was better than the other children's,
but I believed I had a gift. I always thought of myself as an artist."
After his graduation
from Central Piedmont College in Charlotte, North Carolina, with
a degree in commercial art, Watson worked as an illustrator and
draftsman for 3 years. "I had toyed with the idea of becoming
a fine artist, but I went into the commercial end of it basically
for monetary reasons," he says.
In 1981, at
the age of 28, Watson became a professional artist. "Most of
my work is of a social nature," Watson says. He trys to capture
people interacting in certain situations: in nightclubs and in churches,
Morning on Commerce Street" depicts downtown Charlotte during
the mid1970s, when it was thriving metropolis of black businesses.
"It has since moved," says the artist. "That was
a very important part of my life."
another of his poster images, Watson says: "'Nightlife at the
Studio' is a particular place that a brother of mine ran for a couple
of years in Shelby [North Carolina] called Studio 52."
captures a feeling in his works that draws people and turns them
into collectors. TOP OF PAGE.
about the future of the Black artist,, the lasting effect of our
work on our own children. It's important that we, as artists, make
some statements to affect change."
is largely a self-taught artist whose concerns revolve around the
movement of Black art galleries and Black art in America. His work
is influenced greatly by world events. For instance, he began a
piece called "War Another Time" two days after the war
in the Persian Gulf started. A collage and watercolor, it projects
Frazier's questioning of a U.S. military role in the Middle East
during the Gulf War versus what he feels is United States' ambivalence
toward apartheid in South Africa.
of war is familiar to the artist, who served in Vietnam. In fact,
his first professional art exhibit, in 1971 at Hunter College in
New York, featured oil paintings detailing his experiences in the
His new series
of monotypes, a medium he has been exploring for the last 5 years,
reflects the crisis in the U.S., namely the impact of drugs and
teenage pregnancy on our society. In addition, he will be producing
a series on Africa at Hands-On Graphics in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
from Harlem, New York, Frazier left home when he was 16 years old
to become an artist. Courses at the New York Art Students League,
Nassau Community College, and Hofstra University helped shape his
In 1980, he
moved to Dallas where he began exploring the silkscreen medium.
Frazier's publication of prints has made his work more affordable
to more people, an important goal for him to achieve.
He has been
working with collage on and off for about 7 years, incorporating
"pieces I pick up from my trips to Africa," Frazier says.
He uses swatches of vibrantly colored Kente cloth and figurines
from countries such as Ghana and Upper Volta and from the Ashanti
is called Visions in Black Gallery, run by his wife, Judy.
work has been featured in books, film, and television, in Waiting
to Exhale, Coming to America, Frank's Place, and Bustin'Loose. Exhibitions
of his art include shows at the African American Museum, Hempstead,
New York; Armour J. Blackburn Gallery, Howard University, Washington,
D.C.; Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Dallas; and the Brooklyn
Museum. TOP OF PAGE.
The most widely
acclaimed African-American artist of this century, and one of only
several whose works are included in standard survey books on American
art, Jacob Lawrence has enjoyed a successful career for more than
fifty years. Lawrence's paintings portray the lives and struggles
of African Americans, and have found wide audiences due to their
abstract, colorful style and universality of subject matter. By
the time he was thirty years old, Lawrence had been labeled as the
"foremost Negro artist," and since that time his career
has been a series of extraordinary accomplishments. Moreover, Lawrence
is one of the few painters of his generation who grew up in a black
community, was taught primarily by black artists, and was influenced
by black people.
born on September 17, 1917, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was
the eldest child of Jacob and Rosa Lee Lawrence. The senior Lawrence
worked as a railroad cook and in 1919 moved his family to Easton,
Pennsylvania, where he sought work as a coal miner. Lawrence's parents
separated when he was seven, and in 1924 his mother moved her children
first to Philadelphia and then to Harlem when Jacob was twelve years
old. He enrolled in Public School 89 located at 135th Street and
Lenox Avenue, and at the Utopia Children's Center, a settlement
house that provided an after-school program in arts and crafts for
Harlem children. The center was operated at that time by painter
Charles Alston who immediately recognized young Lawrence's talents.
he began attending classes at Utopia Children's Center, Lawrence
developed an interest in drawing simple geometric patterns and making
diorama-type paintings from corrugated cardboard boxes. Following
his graduation from P.S. 89, Lawrence enrolled in Commerce High
School on West 65th Street and painted intermittently on his own.
As the Depression became more acute, Lawrence's mother lost her
job and the family had to go on welfare. Lawrence dropped out of
high school before his junior year to find odd jobs to help support
his family. He enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps; New
Deal jobs program, and was sent to upstate New York. There he planted
trees, drained swamps, and built dams. When Lawrence returned to
Harlem he became associated with the Harlem Community Art Center
directed by sculptor Augusta Savage, and began painting his earliest
playing pool at the Harlem Y.M.C.A., where he met "Professor"
Seifert, a black, self-styled lecturer and historian who had collected
a large library of African and African-American literature. Seifert
encouraged Lawrence to visit the Schomburg Library in Harlem to
read everything he could about African and African-American culture.
He also invited Lawrence to use his personal library, and to visit
the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition of African art in 1935. TOP
National Black Art Festival, Soho, NewYork, February 1997. February,
10 to 26, 1997, received the first Dr. Alain Locke Award for Achievement)
in the Arts, on February 11, 1997 San Jose' City College, featured
artist San Jose', CA. March, 1997 Post Street Gallery, San Jose',
California. May 1, 1997 Featured Artist for the Atlanta Tribune's
1Oth anniversary Atlanta, Georgia. May 4 through May 31, 1997 The
Galleria Specialty Mail, Atlanta, Georgia. 1996 14th Annual Black
History Month Salute to Black History Celebration, Los Angeles,
CA. Black History Month Celebration 1996 Featured Artist Moreno
Valley, CA. April, 1996, Featured Artist at The Passage Gallery,
Atlanta, GA. June, 1996, National Black Arts festival, Atlanta,
GA. September, 1996, The National Bar Association, Chicago, IL.
September 1996, The National Black Fire Fighters' Convention, Chicago,
IL. December 1996 featured artist Expansions Art Gallery, Peoria,
IL. 1995 ABC Galleria - New York, trade exhibit 1995 ABC Dallas,
TX. 1995 ABC Atlanta, GA Black History Month Celebrations of February,
1995 Los Angeles, CA. Carson, CA, Moreno Valley, CA, University
of California, Carson, CA San Bernadino, CA. June, 1995 Festival
at the Lake, Oakland, CA, June, 1995, Monterey Bay Blues Festival,
Monterey, CA. September, 1995 Denver Black Arts Festival, Denver,
PUBLICATIONS AND REVIEWS:
Atlanta, GA Montgomery Times Montgomery, AL. Los Angeles Times,
Los Angeles, CA, The Herald, Coast Weekly, Monterey, CA, San Jose
Mercury News, San Jose, CA. The Marina Guide, Marino, CA. The Sentinel,
Monterey, CA West Magazine, San Jose, CA. Huntsville Times, Huntsville,
AL. Art Business News, Decor Magazine, Art Trends Magazine, Images
Magazine, The Defender, Chicago, IL.
Series, 'E.R.', 'Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, 'Woman In
The House', 'Courage Under Fire', with Denzel Washington, 'Jackie
Brown', with Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson, Dunlop Tire Corporation,
Minnie Riperton Estate, Miles Davis Estate, Lena Home, Reginald
Vel Johnson, Baby Face, Verilux Corporation, National Society of
Black Engineers, Oprah Winfrey, TV Talk Host. TOP
John Toms was
born October 21, 1957 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His family moved to Denver,
Colorado the next year. By the age of two, John was drawing and
tracing pictures of his family and precious life experiences. He
continued developing his artistic skill through high school, and
furthered his education at the Colorado Institute of Art and the
European Institute of Fine Art and Commercial Arts.
displaying his works publicly in 1979. He's participated in numerous
one man & group shows, auctions and sales nationwide. The recent
release of prints of several of his works, and a couple CD covers
have gained him international recognition (John formed his own publishing
company, Black Market Ink, in March of 1993). John's works are featured
in the collections of several notable collectors, and one of the
originals from his "Jazz" series was purchased by the
DuSable Museum in Chicago. John's current work is taking his career
to new heights. John's work is being sold in every major city in
the U.S., and a couple of foreign countries. His recent group showings
have included the company of such notable fellow artists as, Charles
Bibbs, Annie Lee, Joseph Hoiston, Paul Goodnight, Verna Hart, Larry
"Poncho" Brown, Gilbert Young, Bernard Hoyes, Tim Hinton,
& Ariene Case to name a few.
is characterized by strong compositions of dramatic images flowing
with vivid colors. Utilizing oils, acrylics, water colors, luma
dyes, pastels, inks, colored pencils and Charcoals, John approaches
his craft with a sincere passion. His selection of subject matter
has proven to be even more diversified than his media. Most of his
work has been primarily focused on capturing the life spirit of
the 'Black American experience'. John's themes range from the spirited
church in the country to the lively streets of the ghetto with lots
of other uncharted territory between. The ideas for his works come
from the many corridors of his dreams, and observations. They include
glimpses from the past, a unique perspective of the present, visions
of the future as well as glances at the romantic inside him.
You can tell
this man cares, just listen to him ... Hey Eazy! (that's his nick-
name).What do you rare about? "Our kids (he has two sons and
he coaches little league teams)., for they are our future ... I
realize times may be tough, but you've got to be a Big Dreamer.
Yet, way too many people take the little things for granted. I appreciate
the small pleasures and treasures of daily life. I truly appreciate
all the people who've made it possible for me to explore my talents,
especially the women in my life! The music I've been around has
been inspirational and I'd like to thank Jaz (his old dog) for coming
back as Sox (his new cat)! I enjoy Cooking and eating, sports, etc.
Basically I Love Life!
allow themselves a license to dream, and don't be afraid of your
corridors. I feel like my art is what God has given me to give of
myself right now, and I hope it touches some hearts or warms some
moments..." TOP OF PAGE.
cubist abstractionist style has evolved over a fine arts career
spanning twenty-five years. Born in Washington, DC, he studied and
pursued a career in advertising art before committing himself fully
to painting and printmaking. Years of self-study were augmented
by study with renowned artists Macros Blahove and Richard Goetz.
He also attended Howard University and Montgomery College in Maryland.
He enjoyed invaluable advice and encouragement from Harlem Renaissance
artist Lois Mailou Jones and James Wells.
has exhibited at numerous museums and institutions, including the
Butler institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; the Smithsonian
Institution's Anacostia Museum, Philadelphia; the APEX Museum, Atlanta,
Georgia. TOP OF PAGE.
'All of my
work, both secular and religious, is influenced by my strong belief
in the depth and breadth of the spirit (the source of creativity),
as well as by an individual's unlimited capacity to capture the
essence of a thing and magnificently interpret it through visual
"Be Not Afraid" reflects a "magic that certainly
comes from a Source beyond the individual." A commercial and
book illustrator and fine art painter, Roundtree's depictions of
life cover the spectrum from simplistic images to detailed religious
began pursuing art with a purpose after taking a commercial art
course in high school in Ohio. Subsequently, she won a four-year
scholarship to Columbus College of Art & Design. Roundtree won
a second scholarship after her freshman year for exceptional work
performance. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1982.
She spent several
years working as a commercial artist and teaching art at various
institutions, such as the Art Academy of Cincinnati and Antonelli
Institute of Art and Photography. Her commercial clients include
Cincinnati Bell Telephone Company, Standard Publishing Company,
and The David C. Cook Publishing Company.
recently become a full-time artist. She has just illustrated her
first children's book, Wood-hoopoe Willie, by Virginia Kroll and
is at work on another, A Karp for Kimiko.
believes there is no "lid" on the jar: Limitations are
an imposition of the human mind. Her goal is to communicate this
through the detail, kaleidoscope of colors, and imagination of her
work. TOP OF PAGE.
has been creating paintings for the fine art print market for over
fifteen years. A prolific artist, his subject matter ranges from
still life to abstracts. In recent years he has concentrated his
talents on themes that portray the love and strength that exists
within the African American family.
Born in Pennsylvania
in 1948, Keith studied painting at the Art Students League, Hunter
College in New York City, and L.A. Valley College in Los Angeles.
His painting "Harmony" was chosen for the cover of Sisterfire,
a collection of poems by Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Terry McMillan,
among others. He was recently honored with a commission to paint
the only official limited edition print commemorating the 50th Anniversary
of Jackie Robinson's historic breakthrough into major league baseball.
"The Earth Angel Suite", a series of limited edition prints
depicting the four seasons as guardian angels, has been chosen by
the Franklin Mint to be made into collector plates.
stated, "As an African American artist it is my desire, through
my artwork, to depict the positive aspects of the African American
experience. If I can show but one child the strength and beauty
of her past or the bright hope of his future then I feel I will
have done my job." TOP
Brown is a native of Baltimore Maryland. He pursued his art education
at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he received a Bachelor
of Fine Arts degree in 1984. He started his first business at the
age of 17 as a signwriter, and has been a full time artist ever
since. Much of his early sign work was featured on television commercials
and movies including Barry Levinson's "Avalon."
He is the youngest
honorary member of Art 2000, a national multi-cultural visual arts
association. Among his convictions, is educating young artists.
He is the founder of "The African American Youth Art Exhibition"
which has been sponsored in Baltimore annually since 1990."My
goal is to provide and outlet for young artists to express themselves,
as well as enlighten them on the importance of art in our culture."
site rhythm, movement, and unity, as favorite elements in his work.
Poncho's unique style combines past and present art stylization
to create sense of realism, mysticism, and beauty, which gives his
art universal appeal. TOP OF
is a native of Detroit, now residing in the Houston area. As a young
child growing up, he always wanted to create things. He knew that
he wanted to be an artist. Although he has taken a few art classes,
he has had no formal art training As a young man LaShun wanted to
see the world, and the United States Marines gave him an opportunity
to do that. He's traveled to many parts of the world including Europe,
South America, and the Far East. Through his travel, he experienced
other cultures, and his art now reflects these life experiences.
He worked for two years as an illustrator for a printing firm in
his hometown of Detroit. This was his first job in the field that
he truly loved, but his real ambition was to paint fine art images
created from his own mind, and to offer his vision to the world
through his work. He realized that the life of a fine artist could
be hard at times. He had become a student of African-American art
history. He knew that some of the great artist of the past (including
Romare Bearden ) never really made a lot of money from their work
while they were alive. Yet this is what he wanted to do, not to
make a lot of money, but because he wants to create. He has a fond
appreciation of the black artists that have paved the way for this
generation of artists to express themselves and become recognized.
that he needed to apply himself to his trade to be successful. For
several years now he has been able to do just that, supporting a
modest life style with his art. Painting has been his profession
in some form or another for over ten years. He's now starting to
reap the benefits of his labor. There is more demand for his work
on a national scale, with galleries representing his original work
in several geographical regions.
Of course he
has seen the emergence of black art prints in recent years. Although
he has some images available in offset lithographic form, he prefers
original graphic reproductions. He feels offset reproductions can't
capture the true colors or the texture of his pieces, which gives
his work feeling, and life. He's a realist as well as a cubist/impressionist.
His medium of choice is acrylics. Over the last few years he's developed
a character he calls the "Universal Woman". She has features
of many women from around the world. These pieces have drawn interest
from art collectors such as NFL great Warren Moon, former NBA player
and coach, Don Chaney, and many more. TOP
is a Philadelphia based fine artist interested in showing the beauty
of the black race. Her main goal is to show the inner and the outer
beauty. Such as the inherent strength of character, richness of
skin color, and the strong unique facial features that lies in the
black race.Ms. Cooper is able to reveal these aspects in an academic
style of painting, which is why she is one of the inspiring upcoming
artist of today.
of Pennsylvania-BA in fine arts
1990-93 University of the Arts- BA in fine arts
1989 The Mocha Gallery, Philadelphia
1991 The Lucien Crump Art Gallery, Philadelphia
1994 Collectible Art Gallery, Philadelphia
of her work include Dr. Pete Smith, Dr. Samuel F. Quartey, and Dr.
Carey Tucker. Colorworks Gallery in Maryland, and Collectible Art
Gallery in Philadelphia.Ms. Cooper hopes to reveal to all races
the special qualities of the black race. TOP
spent my whole life looking at the world as an artist. The images
of my art are found in the life around me. I was once advised to
'paint what you know,' and I strive to reflect my heritage and vision
through my paintings."
received little formal training in the arts and believes his talent
is "God given." He has made images for as long as he can
remember, as a child using the pages of the newspaper help wanted
advertisementse as his drawing paper.
Born and raised
in Flint, Michigan, where he still resides, Ross frquently spent
his childhood summers at his grandfather's horse farm in Rison,
Arkansas. Watching the horses and mules provided him with e course
of country living was a striking contrast to the city neighborhoods
of Flint which I returned to each fall," Said Ross, "with
the people, factories, movement, and increased problems of a developing
city." Those mentally captured impressions of each place are
transferred on canvas by the artist.
I have lived through a transition of the people and the city from
on time period to another, as an artist and a messenger, I feel
obligated to record these events and changes on canvas," Ross
Through a series
of one-man shows and joint exhibitions, Ross's work has been shown
throughout the country. His paintings are in the collections of
General Motors, Delco Electronics, A.C. Rochester, and the Labor
Museum of Flint. TOP OF PAGE.
'As years go
by, I see my art as a celebration of Black lifestyles. I try to
capture the richness of the culture --- the dance and music. I call
it old spirit art, it represents a past, reflective of the African-American
newest series, "Blackeye Peas," portrays a different view
of Southern life than his previous work. Based on the life of a
sharecropper, it is a painful yet noble study of the quiet strength
and gripping tenacity of farmers in relentless pursuit of "a
work is characterized by his rich use of color and his mixing of
media. Pastel, ink, acrylic, fabric, and charcoal are his favored
materials. He has pursued his artistic vision for 10 years, seriously
dedicating himself to creating art since 1984.
artist, he is influenced by his birthplace, Monk's Corner, South
Carolina. Campbell revisits the rural South in his "Neckbone"
series, inhabited by Joe-Neckbone, JoeNeckbone, Jr., and Grandma
Corrie. His subjects, proud, God-fearing, and self-reliant, are
the backbone of the African-American community.
"Love Dance" and "Moon Glow" sets are inspired
by dance and jazz, respectively. In addition to having his work
shown at Phillip Morris and the Chemical Bank in New York, the Brooklyn,
New York, artist has created commissioned pieces for Bacardi Rum,
Seagrams, and Honey Entertainment Records. TOP
Angelou Marshall Sudderth
graphic designer Marshall Sudderth has created "And Still I
Rise," after writer Maya Angelou's musical tour. The full-color
poster features Angelou's photograph and poem of the same name and
incorporates African sculpture, mythology, and textiles.
autobiographies, plays, screenplays, and television scripts, the
multitalented Angelou's popularity spans races, cultures, and nations.
A respected educator and passionate orator, Angelou is fluent in
French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and West African Fanti.
many achievements, she recently became only the second poet in this
century to read at a presidential inauguration. Angelou currently
serves on the faculty of Wake Forest University where she is the
first Reynolds Professor of American Studies, a lifetime position.
TOP OF PAGE.
a native of Chicago, works in a variety of media: oil, acrylic,
pastel, watercolor, wood, clay, and metal. With support from his
parents and six siblings, he became interested in art at a young
age, especially in clay modeling. At age 12 in 1941, King won a
two-year class in commercial art for one of his drawings. Because
his parents could not afford formal training, the artist used pictures
in books as his models. Drawing and painting became his avenue for
self expression as he stuttered as a child.
sketching at the Art Institute of Chicago for one semester under
the G.I. Bill. His first love was large abstractions, but King drifted
into realism. After years of painting, he discovered his distinctive
vibrant style at age 40.
work is in the collections of actress Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey,
comedian Sinbad, Scottie Pippin of the Chicago Bulls, and the Reverend
Jessie Jackson, Jr., among others. His work has been featured in
group exhibitions around the country, including the Richard R. Love
Gallery, Museum of Science and Industry, DuSable Museum, and Coopers
Gallery. TOP OF PAGE.
I've been getting from my art has been phenomenal ... not just from
the Black audience. It crosses over. "
has been painting all her life, but she seriously pursued it at
age 40 after ending a long music and songwriting career.
I was a child, I was very, very shy," says Jaye. "My mother
was concerned about me. I used to hide away and paint by myself.
She had me take singing lessons to help me to come out of my shell."
Jaye won a
singing contest when she was 14 years old and began to sing light
opera. She toured with a group called the Young Americans. They
sang with Johnny Mathis, among others.
When she married,
she and her husband formed a nightclub act and did some recording.
After the birth of her son, she began writing music. She's been
involved with everything from musical comedy to country and rock.
ago, she returned to her first love, art. When The Color Purple
came out, Jaye painted portraits of Akosua Busia and Margaret Avery,
two of the actresses in the movie, for their personal collections.
Jaye, who is
known for her Cape Cod-style cottages, which have been published
and sold internationally, is now concentrating on Black subjects.
doing something from the heart that I really love doing," says
Jaye. "It's the most important thrust of my work. It's emotional.
People get a peaceful, uplifting feeling from it."
her subjects in her everyday life. The children depicted in "In
a Hurry" and "Babysitting" live in her neighborhood.
The young woman in her newest "Gift of Summer" and "Lace
Umbrella" lives in the San Fernando Valley.
John Singleton met Jaye, he asked her why she painted Black women.
Jaye responded: "Because they're more interesting." The
artist said the filmmaker smiled and gave her a hug. TOP
is known for his somber palette and figural works. His culture is
an important inspiration - "an enlightening thing that I can
pass on." "I am culturally motivated by my own experiences,"
says the Boston-based artist, "Places I've been, Places I'm
going." Goodnight has traveled throughout the Caribbean, to
Central America ("especially Nicaragua"), southern and
western Africa, Japan, Russia, the U.K., throughout the U.S, and
born in Chicago in 1946. His mother and he moved to Connecticut
and then to Boston when he was a boy. "I always drew,"
he said. "I was always able to express myself through drawing."
He says he
started painting "out of necessity, in order to communicate."
Because of the trauma he experienced as a soldier in Vietnam, he
was unable to speak upon his return to the United States. Art helped
him to regain his speech. He first attended a small community art
school in Vesper, Georgia, and eventually graduated with a B.A.
from Massachusetts College of Art in 1974.
he is always working, motivated by "knowing that I'm passing
something on that was passed on to me." TOP
I tend to draw
from what I see all around me: As things happen, I try to reflect
from Grenada, Ray Isaac has lived in the New York City metropolitan
area since he was 9 years old. The full-time artist attended Manhattan's
School of Visual Arts and studied illustration and fine art. His
favored media are oil and alkyd. The latter is similar to oil and
mixes with it but drys faster.
(the first fruits) is a still life that embodies the symbolism of
the African festival inspired holiday, December 26 through January
1. Swahili words explain the seven principles of the seven-day celebration.
The Kinara (candle holder) is placed on the Mkeka (mat, usually
straw). The Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) represent the Nguzo Saba
(seven principles), beginning with Umoja (unity, the black center
candle). Candles are lit each day alternately from left to right.
Three green candles are placed on the left and three red on the
right. Black is for the face of the African people, red is for the
blood people shed, and green is for the hope and the color of the
images extend to a baptism piece and historical Christmas works
that depict the African landscape.
Day and Pops," an image of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday,
is an example of Isaac's striving to portray inspiring, positive
people. "In light of all the negativity in this world, I'd
like to believe that every individual's positive contribution to
the world, however large or small, does make a difference,"
said Isaac. "In that sense, we're all employees of a higher
power, and we've all got a job to do. If you're doing your job,
you know it. The ultimate reward for me is not just about money
or fame. It has been and hopefully will continue to be a peace of
mind and soul." TOP OF
75, whose striking collages of urban and rural black life earned
him renown as one of the foremost contemporary American artists,
died of cancer Saturday in New York
was highly successful early in his career, he became a symbol in
the black art world and often used his personal influence to help
younger black artists. His works are in the collections of virtually
every major museum in the country. Last year, President Reagan awarded
him the National Medal of Arts.
certainly that he's one of the great masters of the 20th century,
especially over the last 40 years," said Lowery Sims, associate
curator of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
Though he began
his 50-year artistic career as a painter, he was best known for
his collages: tapestries of black life fashioned from scraps of
photographs, cloth, colored paper and paint. For images, he frequently
turned to women, birds, factories, jazz musicians and trains, as
well as certain religious themes, such as baptism.
Bearden chose as his favorite subject matter the black world he
knew, he resisted from early in his career the notion that there
was such a thing as "black art and "white"art.
be highly artificial for the Negro artist to attempt a resurrection
of African culture in America ... culture is not a biologically
inherited phenomenon," he wrote in 1946. "The critic asks
that the Negro stay away from the white man's art. But the true
artist feels that there is only one art, and that it belongs to
Born in Charlotte,
NC, of middle class parents, he moved to New York City when he was
a child and grew up in Harlem and Pittsburgh. He majored in mathematics
at New York University and, at his mother's insistence, had planned
to go to medical school. Not until he did cartooning for a college
magazine did he grow interested in art and drop his plans to become
Depression, he studied with the satiric German master George Grosz
at the Art Students League in New York. He became associated with
the 306 Group, an informal organization of Harlem artists, the best
known of whom was Jacob Lawrence.
His first exhibited
paintings were mostly simple, stylized statements that drew from
his childhood memories in the South and were well received. But
World War II, during which he served in the all-black 372d Infantry
Regiment, interrupted his career.
After the war,
he studied cubism and early abstract expressionism and held three
solo exhibitions in 1945 alone. Feeling the need for more formal
study, he went to Paris in the early 1950s, meeting Picasso, Braque
and other artists of the time.
to learn from the masters gave him a formal strength that set him
apart from some of his contemporaries. His inspirations came from
sources as diverse as the Iliad and the Odyssey to Chinese line
drawings and Matisse.
With the growth
of the civil rights movement, Mr. Bearden began refocusing more
on his experiences as a black man in America. Black artists who
called themselves the Spiral Group began meeting at his studio,
discussing their problems as black artists and struggle for social,
as well as artistic, equality.
overtly political or sentimental, Mr. Bearden began portraying more
intensely the disjointed rhythms of life in Harlem tenements and
the communal rhythms of' black families he recalled from his' childhood
days in the South.
art, there seemed always to be a story begging to be told. Pulitzer
Prize-winning playwright August Wilson was so inspired by a Bearden
painting titled Mill Hand's Lunch Bucket that he wrote a play about
it called Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
was also a songwriter who composed the music for the hit song "Sea
Breeze" and about 20 other songs in the 1950s. As a youth,
he pitched for the Boston Tigers, an all black baseball team. He
also illustrated covers for magazines in the 1960s and '70s, including
TV Guide, and designed sets for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company based
in Harlem.A large man whose modest, easy going manner made him as
appealing personally as he was artistically, he lived part-time
in New York City and part-time in St. Martin in the Caribbean. His
wife, Nanette, who past on in 1996. Is from St. Martin.
Bearden. Was born in 1927 on Staten Island, New York. She was the
founder and artistic director of the Nanette Bearden Contemporary
Dance Theater, Was president of the Romare Howard Bearden Foundation,
and owner/director of the Nanette Bearden Fine Arts Gallery in St.
Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.
with her husband, the internationally acclaimed twentieth-century
artist Romare Bearden, she was a promoter of the visual and performing
arts in the United States and the French West Indies. When Romare
Bearden died in 1988, Ms. Bearden honored his legacy by continuing
the support and promotion of young artist through the Romare Howard
Bearden Foundation established in 1990.
Nanette Bearden built a foundation that has as its primary goal
to encourage and enable talented art students to pursue their training
in educational institutions, and to enhance the awareness of the
fine arts through exhibitions of works of art.
In 1996 she
was honored with The James VanDer Zee Award for her contributions
to the advancement of young artist in the fine arts field.
Upon the sudden
death of Nanette Rohan Bearden on August 10, 1996, the Rohan family
has assumed responsibility for the continuation of a family tradition
of arts patronage. The foundation will continue to further the legacy
of service that reflects the lifelong commitments of Romare and
Nanette Rohan Bearden. TOP
to paint things that everyone can relate to --- children at school,
walking to church, family reunions, baptisms, doing chores on the
farm, picking cotton --- it gives people time to find themselves
in the painting. I try to bring them into the painting."
Williams was born 60 years ago in a little place called Townsville,
North Carolina. 'It's out in the country,' says Williams. "It's
probably not even on the map because there's only about 500 people
and her adopted home in nearby Henderson, North Carolina, are the
source for much of the folk artist's scenes. For instance, a nearby
100 year old tworoom schoolhouse serves as subject material in some
of her anecdotal school paintings.
painting almost 20 years ago after three of her children had gone
to college and her youngest was in high school. "I had a lot
of time on my hands," Williams says. "I went into a room
and started doing a little something."
She was teaching
a ceramics course at the nearby community college, but painting
ceramics made from molds was not creative enough for her. So she
got into an art class and tried painting landscapes immediately.
see anything that I could relate to," says Williams. The instructor
said Williams would never become a painter unless Williams learned
realism and abstraction. "I decided to show her. I said, 'I'm
going to paint the landscapes and the type of art that I have inside
While on a
trip to New York City with her husband, Williams purchased art supplies
and books by well-known artists like van Gogh and Matisse. She went
home and studied them and began to paint in acrylics and oils.
I started painting, I was trying to paint like every other artist.
I didn't know about folk art, about Grandma Moses." The seeds
of her "child-like style" were in all her early work,
but she rejected this element until members of the local Watercolor
Club encouraged her to exhibit in Henderson's Color Fest.
she has studied perspective, color, and shading with Nell Chatwick
in Raleigh, North Carolina, and, as part of group of 50 international
artists, with Foster Caddell in Voluntown, Connecticut. In Caddell's
live location painting workshop, Williams was the only untaught
artist. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me,"
Williams says. Caddell was so pleased with her work that he used
one of her paintings in a later course.
1993 (Black History Month), Russell Williams's "Baptism' was
featured on the cover of Associate magazine, published by the Smithsonian
Institution for its Resident Associates program. TOP
Ted T. Ellis
is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up in the city of
New Orleans, one known for its style and artistic exuberance, has
inspired him to capture the essence of his subjects in all the glory
of its rich cultural heritage. With an extreme dedication to his
craft, his style stems, in part from a childhood that exerted an
enormous influence on all his paintings. "I prefer to paint
subjects that are representative of many facets of American life.
Among my many favorites to paint are portraits, landscapes, and
As a self-taught
artist, Ted's style is a blend of realism and impressionism. His
artwork is nostalgic and uplifting. From an outdoor baptism, an
afternoon tea with friends, or a lawyer arguing his case before
a jury, his art celebrates the traditional values of his culture.
painting has been a lifelong fascination for Ted. After receiving
his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Dillard University,
he could not escape his creative desire to paint and express himself
great artists as Edward Bannister, Henry 0. Tanner, Jacob Lawrence,
Romare Bearden, Anna Torregano, Arthello Beck, Frank Frazier, Claude
Monet, John S. Sargent, and Albert Shaw are but a few whose work
I admire and respect, and by which I am deeply moved. Each of these
artists, in the way they represent life on the canvas, has contributed
to the African American culture. This, too, is my goal."
excellent, to dare to be great at what I love to do, and to make
a substantial contribution to the lives, of people who are touched
by my art is my dream. I take pride and pleasure in capturing the
essence of a particular subject and manifesting it on canvas, knowing
that it will last as an eternal memory." TOP
the jazz musician, I seek to say something personal and spontaneous.
The energy that's in the music, I expose on canvas. It's important
that you not only see my work, but feel it too... and, like the
music, when it hits you... move!"
has been painting since age 5, melding her artistic ability with
her love of music. "I always wanted to be a musician. I studied
the piano, and I still try to play."
A native New
Yorker, born in Harlem and now a resident of Brooklyn, Hart was
exposed to jazz at an early age. She often takes her sketch pad
to a jazz club to capture the mood live. Because of her persistence,
her work has been acclaimed by the subjects' themselves. Trumpeter
Dizzy Gillespie suggested the title "Dizzy Swinging" for
a piece she created during a session at Symphony Space. Saxophonist
Branford Marsalis has used one of her pieces to illustrate the cover
of his album, "I Heard You Twice the First Time." And
her works are featured in Spike Lee's film, Mo Better Blues.
Hart also is
strongly influenced by other painters, especially Romare Bearden.
She met Bearden when she lived near his studio and would go by to
watch him paint. He gave her encouragement and purchased some of
her work. After his death, Hart created two monoprints to honor
him, "Blues for Bearden I" and II," depicting a jazz
trio outlined in black.
A trained artist
and arts educator, Hart holds two masters degrees that she earned
simultaneously from Pratt Institute (Master of Fine Arts) and Bank
Street College of Education (Master of Science in Education/Visual
Arts.) She has received several art awards, including the Absolut
Vodka Commission, WEGO Jazz Logo Award, and the Romare Bearden Memorial
Scholarship. Say's Hart of her art, "My works are visual evidence
of a painter's deep reflection of the natural rhythms of jazz."
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are worth a thousand words, then self-taught artist Kevin A. Williams
has created enough elements of love, intimacy and passion on canvas
to write a book. The sensual art that he creates is among the most
contemporary African-American art of our time. Williams combines
acrylic and air brush techniques to speak to different generations
of people. He enjoys expressing love, community and the family through
his paint and brushes. Williams, thirty-something , and best known
by his reversed initials, WAK, stays busy creating mixed-medium
pieces inspired by his coming of age during the '70s and '80s (a
time when music inspired major cultural shifts in fashion and art).
While still in high school, he was very much aware of the cultural
Williams' artistic talent was recognized early. At age 15, he realized
that painting was what he would spend the rest of his life doing.
He was truly fasinated by painting, and stayed long hours in his
studio to polish his talent. He then launched his career as a commerical
artist. His talent earned him numerous honors including three National
Scholastic Awards, and a covetd ACT-SO Gold Metal. His debut print,
"Taking Her Back," the first in a five-part series, pays
homage to the beauty of black love with muted, natural tones and
an emotionally charged scene. This piece conveys the respect and
honor that the black man should hold for black women. "We are
powerful people and there are certain messages I try to portray,"
says Williams. "I try to capture the elements of love."
He reminisced about the '70s: The romanticism, music, culture and
black folks making a statement. "I paint my music," he
says, referring to Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire, and Maxwell.
His paintings reflect the process of a relationship (a man meeting
a woman, to magnificent love, to having a family). TOP
is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and has resided in the metro-New
York City area for the last twenty years; currently living five
minutes outside of New York City in Edgewater, New Jersey. He received
a BS degree in Public Administration from the University of Arizona
in Tucson, Arizona. After a brief professional basketball career
playing with the New York Nets and Milwaukee Bucks he enrolled in
graduate school. Bill's basketball career ended prematurely as a
result of a severe knee injury. Forever the optimist, he received
an MBA degree from the University of Arizona. After graduate school
he went to work for IBM, holding numerous management positions over
a fifteen-year career. It was during his tenure at IBM where his
talent and obsession with drawing became apparent. During meetings
and out of boredom he would frequently sketch images, which took
on a consistent and unique style. Colleagues who had visited Africa
would see Bill's drawings, urging him to " do something "
with the images and they were convinced that the images were similar
to art which they had seen in West Africa.
left IBM to form his own entertainment management company, which
specialized in managing singers/songwriters in the music industry.
In this effort, he teamed with the legendary and Hall of Fame songwriters
Brian Holland and Eddie Holland. The Holland's were the Motown "house
writers" who had penned all the major hits for acts, which
included the Supremes, Four Tops, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey
Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, as well as, for the Jackson
Five. This collaboration with the Holland's resulted in one CD and
several singles by a very talented singer/songwriter named Cassandra
Jordan. This collaboration was a critical success, however due to
poor marketing and promotion the project was a commercial failure.
gave him an invaluable insight into the artistic process i.e., "the
act of creating" and a greater appreciation for his own artistic
his involvement in the music industry Bill continued to draw. During
this time-frame, people continued to tell him his work reminded
them of art they had seen in Africa and they continued to insist
that he "do something" with his work. However, it was
not until the untimely death of his friend Nathan Plowden, did he
decide to act on this advice "to do something" with his
drawings. In fact it was Nathan's wife Helen who insisted and persisted
until he actually decided to move forward with his art. Over the
years he had become very curious about the origins of his drawings.
Since he had never gone to Africa, he was especially curious about
why people felt his drawings looked like paintings from Africa.
In an effort to both satisfy his curiosity and to understand the
origins of his work, he contacted Robert Farris Thompson , Dean
of African & African-American Art and History, at Yale University.
He explained to Mr. Thompson that he was a self-taught artist, asking
Mr. Thompson if he would be kind enough to look at his drawings
and help him better understand the origins of his work. Robert Farris
Thompson was gracious enough to respond and he also confirmed what
people had been telling Bill for over twenty years. Mr. Thompson
responded, "Thanks for your drawings. They are alive and remind
me of Oshogobo painting in Nigeria. Thanks for sharing them with
was both enlightened and encouraged by Robert Farris Thompson's
assessment of his drawings, he sought the opinion of noted author
and sometime artist Norman Mailer. He had met Mailer years earlier
at a party for then Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson and knew
he could depend on Mailer to be both opinionated and brutally honest.
Bill sought Mailer out through a mutual friend, asking him to look
at his drawings and to give his opinion. Like Robert Farris Thompson,
Norman Mailer was gracious enough to respond. He responded, "Just
a line to tell you that I looked at your drawings and I can see
how some people like them very much and others don't like them at
all. The same happens with my drawings." Mailer's comments
had a profound effect on Bill and until this very day his comments
resonates in Bill's ears. What Mailer did was to make clear to Bill
that art, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder and meant
different things to different people. As a result of this insight,
Bill is committed to making sure that those people who would derive
pleasure from his paintings have an opportunity to do so.
With this in
mind, his goal is to make sure that his artwork is reasonably priced
so the masses and not just the classes can enjoy it.
is described as abstract/contemporary and strives to create images,
which convey emotion and mood. In short, he wants his images to
have a strong impact on people; either you strongly like the images
or you strongly dislike them. He strives to accomplish this through
the manipulation of light and shadow, color and contrast, and space
and form to achieve works characterized by high detail and clear
works exclusively with oil and he is also interested in printmaking.
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love your products. We have purchased five of your pictures and
had three prints framed by you that we had purchased from a gallery
in Atlanta,GA. The colors you choose, were exactly what I had wanted,
it's as if you had stepped right into our living room and saw the
colors we had in it, amazing. My husband is hard to please; even
he was amazed how you bought out all the beautiful colors in the
prints. You have a GOD gifted talent."