Maya Angelou Frank Frazier Keith Mallett
LaShun Beal Paul Goodnight Elliott Miller
Romare Bearden Verna Hart Lavarne Ross
Arthello Beck Joseph Holston Katherine Roundtree
Charles Bibbs Bernard Stanley Hoyes John Toms
Larry Poncho Brown Ray Isaac Ernest E. Varner
Leroy Campbell Merryl Jaye WAK
Jimi Claybrooks Brenda Joysmith William Warner
Laurie Cooper Melvin Martin King Ernest Watson
Ted Ellis Jacob Lawrence Ruth Russell Williams
Albert Fennell Annie Frances Lee Donald Zolan
Albert Fernnell

Diversity is 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.

Fennell's artwork 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."

Annie Lee

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."

Arthello Beck, Jr.

"I have 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."

Arthello Beck, 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.

"In this 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."

Beck's work 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.

Over time, 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.

The artist's work has been featured in numerous solos and group shows internationally.

Things Graphics 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 OF PAGE.

Bernard Stanley Hoyes

Bernard Stanley 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.

Hoyes first 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.

Hoyes received 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.

Hoyes was 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.

During the 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 this time.

In November 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 Advocacy.

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.

The picture 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.

Hoyes mural 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 OF PAGE.

Brenda Joysmith

"To work 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 and challenges."

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.

Determined 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 1980.

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.

Charles Bibbs

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!

"My most important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements, that are ethnically rooted and at the same time arouse spiritual emotions within us," said Bibbs.

Besides being 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.

Throughout 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 OF PAGE.

Donald Zolan

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.

Donald Zolan 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 work before.

Zolan says 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."

About "Grandma's 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.

Zolan began 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.

He apprenticed 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 campaigns.

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 OF PAGE.

Elliott Miller

"My biggest 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. "

Miller, the father of three children aged 5 to 15, created "Father's Love" to highlight the human side of men.

"I wanted 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," says Miller.

Miller believes that peace and prosperity in the black community can result only from a role model with a message that is not racially based.

The artist, 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.

Miller's approach has not varied from that first self-portrait. He is a realist who strives for accuracy and clarity in his work.

After high 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.

Miller's exhibitions 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 OF PAGE.

Ernest E. Varner II


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 entitled "i."

Varner attended 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 University.

Joining the 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.

Varner has 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.

Varner's works 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 OF PAGE.

Ernest Watson

"I try to interrelate through art. Most people who see my work are reminded of things they have experienced. I try to paint things that are familiar."

"My earliest 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."

This anecdote 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, for instance.

"Monday 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."

Speaking of 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."

Ernest Watson captures a feeling in his works that draws people and turns them into collectors. TOP OF PAGE.

Frank Frazier

"I'm concerned 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."

Frank Frazier 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.

The subject 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 war.

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.

Originally 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 creativity.

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 tribe.

His company is called Visions in Black Gallery, run by his wife, Judy.

Frank Frazier's 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.

Jacob Lawrence

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.

Lawrence was 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.

Shortly after 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 Harlem scenes.

Lawrence enjoyed 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 OF PAGE.

Jimi Claybrooks

First annual 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, CO.


Atlanta Review, 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.


LISTING TV 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 OF PAGE.

John Toms

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.

John began 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.

John's work 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!

Everyone should 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.

Joseph Holston

Joseph Holston's 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.

Mr. Holston 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.

Katherine Roundtree

'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 art."

Katherine Roundtree's "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 paintings.

The artist 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.

Rountree has 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.

Katherine Rountree 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.

Keith Mallett

Keith Mallett 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.

Keith Mallett 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 OF PAGE.

Larry Poncho Brown

Larry Poncho 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."

Admirers often 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 PAGE.

LaShun Beal

LaShun Beal, 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.

LaShun felt 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 OF PAGE.

Laurie Cooper

Laurie Cooper 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.


1984-88 University of Pennsylvania-BA in fine arts
1990-93 University of the Arts- BA in fine arts


1989 Gallery 500, Washington
1989 The Mocha Gallery, Philadelphia
1991 The Lucien Crump Art Gallery, Philadelphia
1994 Collectible Art Gallery, Philadelphia

Permanent collectors 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 OF PAGE.

Lavarne Ross

"I have 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."

Lavarne Ross 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 in anatomy.

"The world 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.

"Because 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 said.

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.

Leroy Campbell

'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 experience."

Leroy Campbell's 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 dream deferred."

The artist's 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.

A self-taught 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.

Campbell's "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 OF PAGE.

Maya Angelou Marshall Sudderth

Award-winning 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.

Through poems, 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.

Capping her 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.

Melvin Martin King

Melvin King, 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.

King studied 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.

The artist's 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.

Merryl Jaye

"The response I've been getting from my art has been phenomenal ... not just from the Black audience. It crosses over. "

Merryl Jaye has been painting all her life, but she seriously pursued it at age 40 after ending a long music and songwriting career.

"When 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.

Seven years 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.

"I am 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."

Jaye finds 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.

When filmmaker 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 OF PAGE.

Paul Goodnight

Paul Goodnight 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 Brazil.

Goodnight was 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.

Goodnight says he is always working, motivated by "knowing that I'm passing something on that was passed on to me." TOP OF PAGE.

Ray Isaac

I tend to draw from what I see all around me: As things happen, I try to reflect them.

Originally 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.

"Kwanzaa" (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 motherland, Africa.

Isaac's religious images extend to a baptism piece and historical Christmas works that depict the African landscape.

"Lady 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 PAGE.

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden, 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

Because he 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.

"I think 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 New York.

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.

Though Mr. 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.

"It would 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 all mankind."

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 a doctor.

During the 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.

His determination 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.

Without being 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.

Behind his 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.

Mr. Bearden 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.

Nanette Rohan 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.

In partnership 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.

As President, 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 OF PAGE.

Ruth Russell Williams

"I try 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."

Ruth Russell 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 there.'

Townsville 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.

Williams began 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.

"I didn't 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 of me."'

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.

"When 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.

Since then, 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.

In February 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 OF PAGE.

Ted Ellis

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 seascapes."

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.

Drawing and 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 on canvas.

"Such 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."

"To be 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 OF PAGE.

Verna Hart

"Like 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!"

Verna Hart 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." TOP OF PAGE.


If pictures 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 shift.

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 OF PAGE.

William Warner

Bill Warner 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.

Bill subsequently 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.

This experience gave him an invaluable insight into the artistic process i.e., "the act of creating" and a greater appreciation for his own artistic talent.

Throughout 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 me."

While Bill 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.

Bill's work 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 definition.

Bill currently works exclusively with oil and he is also interested in printmaking. TOP OF PAGE.




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