The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art in Madison, GA recently opened “Black Heritage and the Brotherhood of Man.” The exhibition is the museum’s annual survey of contemporary African American art in Georgia. The exhibited work celebrates the African American experience, and also provokes thoughtful social and political dialogue.
Thomas was a German immigrant who made his way to Georgia in 1930. He created public sculptures until 1955, when he began creating expressionist pieces true to his own artistic vision.
The museum’s mission is to provide a real life example of creative artistic expression, and inspire all of us to discover and develop our own talents.
Gallery artists Kevin Cole and Jamele Wright (pictured above) are featured in the show, mounted each year in honor of Thomas’s legacy as an advocate of equality and unity.
Thomas’s work and legacy invites us to dive into a deeper understanding of ourselves and, to examine our connection to the environment and other living things.
The exhibition is on view until March 28th, and there will be a panel discussion on Saturday, February 22nd.
Saturday, February 22 | 2 – 4 pmSeveral of the participating artists will take part in a round table discussion of Steffen’s Brotherhood of Man philosophy, his relationships with African Americans during his lifetime as well as racial barriers in our current culture. Audience participation is welcome. This event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art
4200 Bethanny Road
Buckhead in Morgan County, GA 30625
Our Artists Around Town…
ALEXI TORRES AT ART PALM BEACH The idea of using art to explore a deeper understanding of self and the connection between humans and all living things is also apparent in the work of Alexi Torres.
He expresses universal themes through personal storytelling, and visually represents the rich beauty and cultural heritage of the Cuban people.
He uses black and white portraits lit by the sun “to communicate the concept that each individual is both unique and at the same time at one with the whole of humanity.”
“The title “Sun Light” makes the connection between the power of the sun, which is always a strong presence in the Caribbean, and the inner light within each individual.”
We recently exhibited selections from Torres’s Brain Wash and Sun Light series at Art Palm Beach.
Created in 2016 after President Obama’s visit to Cuba, the Sun Light series is intended to draw attention to the political and societal realities of the Cuban people.
____________________________ “The sun shines its rays down on every living thing and every situation in life to reveal the underlying authentic beauty, which exists all around us.” — Alexi Torres
On January 30th, the Swann Auction Galleries presented their collection of African American Art from the Johnson Publishing Company (JPC). JPC was the publisher of the iconic Ebony and Jet magazines. This collection was hung in the landmark Chicago headquarters of JPC, the first African American owned building in the Loop, and the first and only African American designed building. The company’s mission was “to be the curator of the African American experience, past, present, and future.”
Richard Mayhew Departure 2006 Oil on Canvas 48in x 60in
We are very happy to announce that Richard Mayhew’s, piece “Departure” was sold for a record $233,000.
Meditations in light, masterclasses in color, each of Mayhew’s landscapes captures that mysterious and expansive feeling of the spiritual.
As a young artist, Mayhew was particularly taken by the Impressionist’s playfulness with light and color. Coming into his own at a time when Abstract Expressionism was igniting debates on art’s purpose and what is to be considered art, Mayhew’s approach to figurative abstraction places him in the cannon alongside Sam Gilliam, William T. Williams and the other greats. These painters are able to harness the expressive freedom of abstraction through the use of their personal narratives, drawing on the colors and forms that make up their memories.
Born in 1924 to parents who were both of Native American and African American descent, Mayhew has always exercised and expressed a deep and spiritual connection to nature. His “organic veil of mystique” seeps into the canvas and stirs dreamlike memories of idyllic pastimes of in all of us.
Throughout his career, Mayhew has remained dedicated to the pursuit of transcendence through the spirituality of the landscape. Mayhew’s time growing up in Long Island, studying in Italy, and traveling across America – particularly the West – has continued to influence and inform his landscapes. He lives and paints in Santa Cruz California.
Gallery artist Freddie Styles was also included in the auction. His piece
“Neon Fantasy” was sold for $6,500.
Acrylic, watercolor, and ink on paper
23 x 17
This award is presented annually to a living African American artist who has a strong connection to Georgia, and has made significant but often lesser known contributions to the visual arts tradition of the state.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History chose “African Americans and the Vote” as this year’s national theme for Black History Month, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment which franchised African American men, and the 100 year anniversary of women winning the vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Cole uses the motif of the necktie to represent masculine power through fashion, and to symbolize the hundreds of African American males murdered by lynching and other racial violence while attempting to vote. His mixed media work addresses the rich and spontaneous traditions of jazz and blues music. He emphasizes the improvisational nature of these music genres with his use of colorful, painted, mixed media 3-D works.
Cole was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and received a BA in Art Education and Painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983, and an MFA from Northern Illinois University in 1985. He then relocated to Atlanta where he began a 30 year teaching career in the public school system, from which he is now retired. We would also like to congratulate Kevin on two recent acquisitions by The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and the Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, MI.
He will receive the award at the museum’s Black History Month Dinner & Awards Celebration on Feb. 28 and will give a public talk on April 16. For more information, click here.
“While it is rooted in a place of targeted tragedy, the energy that drives its curvilinear twists, knots, and loops is the energy found in the souls of ALL those who toil in triumph everyday against the odds and against the unheralded tragedies of life. -Kevin Cole
Black Politics Act I Closing Reception & Gallery Talk | 2.29 2pm I’m not just a gallery owner—I’m also an advocate for the equity, and awareness of the art acquisition of African American artists. Our goal is to encourage the creation of art, not just an aesthetic medium, but also as a source of cultural preservation, one that perpetuates beauty and creates value.
Saturday February 29th at 2 pm
Please join us for a uniquely immersive artist talk and gallery walk through with guest moderator, Jeremiah Ojo and artist, Frank Schroeder. They’ll be unpacking the nuanced layers of contemporary Black Diasporic culture and politics, as seen in our current exhibition, Black Politics Act I.
Jeremiah is an Art Business Consultant & Founder of Creative Milieu, a close friend of Frank Schroeder and has consulted with the gallery for many years.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 29th 2 PM
“Of course it is possible to live without the arts, but to do so would compromise the very art of living.” -Dr. Johnetta Betche Cole
Collecting & Appreciating: More Than Just a Pretty Picture September Gray Fine Art Gallery
75 Bennett St NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
Art is intensely personal. As long as you are living and passionate about life, this approach will allow for collecting with meaning. We need not allow the outside world of politics or mass marketing of latest trends dictate what has meaning in our decisions of art collecting. Collecting art is about your passion, your feelings, and what connects you to the work or the artist.
As collectors, some of us love the work, appreciate the craftsmanship and medium, and feel it is a good investment personally and publicly. We also like the history behind the work. Some of us connect to it personally or feel it complements our lifestyle and who and what we represent.
However you choose to build the collection that best represents you, it is important to remain informed about the world of art. The best way to do so is to read articles related to art and collecting, attend gallery events, museums and talks.
We are very excited to announce our new Conversations in Art series, “Collecting and Appreciating: More Than Just a Pretty Picture,” as a jumping off point for all those interested in learning more about the process, and art in general!
If you’re interested in attending, please click the following link to send us an email: Sign me up! Tuesday March 17th at 6 pm For those who would like to participate, please note there will be a small fee.
Join us as we celebrate Women’s History Month with a screening of the 2017 NAACP Image Award winning documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice directed by the fabulous DeborahRiley Draper.
Deborah will be joining us for the screening and will sign copies of her new Simon & Schuster book of the same title. There will be copies available for purchase at the event.
This is not only an opportunity to learn more about our history, but also an evening to honor a woman who has given voice to a group, and life to a story, that the rest of America had forgotten…We cannot wait to share this important film with all of you!
In 1936, 18 African American athletes defied Nazi Aryan Supremacy and Jim Crow Racism to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.
While the world remembers Jesse Owens, this film shows how all 18 are a seminal precursor to the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Simmons explains his creative journey as such: “At one point I called my art Neo African abstract expressionism but as accurate as that is in describing what the art may look like, it falls short of its spiritual intent.
Throughout my art career I faced a few conceptual struggles. My biggest was to represent African identity and spirituality while releasing the figure and moving towards abstraction. The abstract marks and flow of paint found in my artwork best reflects my connection to seeking and finding spirit.
Now it seems I want to let go of staying within the imaginary line in my head, and even if my paintings look freeform to some, it’s been controlled to appear that way.
Much like aboriginal artists and shaman from different cultures around the world make objects we call art, to house and direct that spiritual essence. Modern artists can do the same thing with intent. I create works with the intent to house and reflect spirit.
I feel finding your unique artistic voice is that vehicle. Throughout my career I’ve been looking to capture the spiritual essence of making art or the power of spirit within the lines and markings I put on canvas and paper.
I honestly believe artists can be conduits of a universal spiritual force.”
— Danny Simmons
Daniel Simmons, Jr. is an artist, author, activist, philanthropist, 21st century Renaissance man, and all around creative spirit.
A RECKONING “is the culmination of two years of exploring the theme of spirituality in my art work, through references of European abstraction, and African body painting, textiles, and cultural representations.”
Master African American Abstract
who have defined
May 9th. September Gray Fine Art Gallery
The African American artistic contributions that have defined the field of Abstract Art can be attributed to the creative genius of these four artists. Their experimentation and innovations with their chosen mediums have distinguished them as modern masters. During a time when abstract art was considered to be irrelevant to Black Life, and the racially charged environment of the 1950s and 60s, their unapologetic commitment to abstraction was more than just an aesthetic proposition: it was a way of defining art’s role in a society undergoing dramatic change.
All four share an approach to art making that is process-driven, connecting them to their white abstract, minimalist, color field contemporaries. Where their work becomes truly groundbreaking is in the autobiographical context of their forms, and the incorporation of shapes and materials that reflect the cultural heritage of African Americans. The dark histories of enslavement and Jim Crow, the improvisational and expressive qualities of Jazz, the comfort of a quilt: this was the bridge that transported these artists, and the Black Experience, into the major institutions, disrupting the white male dominated New York art scene. See the drape paintings of Gilliam, or Edwards’ “Lynch Fragment” series, Hunt’s public sculptures, or Williams’ early career homage to quilting and it is clear: their work was embedded in a politics of struggle. Their mere presence and practice of art making was an assertion of identities misrepresented by or excluded from American culture, and defied the convention that black abstract artists were on the sidelines of social change.
The title “The Four Horsemen” symbolizes a force of conquest and transformation. In the Bible, four is a number associated with creation. This exhibition presents a selection of works created with the use of various printmaking techniques and processes, and is organized by Curlee Raven Holton, master printer and founding director of Raven Editions Press.
Holton has worked with many artists of renown including, Gilliam, Williams and Edwards who are included in this exhibition. Richard Hunt is represented by his collaboration with master printer, Thom Lucas of Hummingbird Press Editions. We are honored to present theses unique works by such artists of acclaim in association with Raven Fine Art Editions, opening Saturday, May 9th 2020.
Pictured above: Print by Richard Hunt, “Transcendence” by Mel Edwards
William T. Williams with Curlee Holton, Thom Lucas and Richard Hunt.
I would like to introduce Rachel Simon, Gallery Manager, to all of you. Rachel is from Birmingham, AL, and received her B.A in Art History and Religion from Duke University.
She is in the Gallery from Tuesday to Friday, from 11 am until 6 pm, and until 4 pm on Saturdays. Please come in and visit!
Jamele Wright, Rachel Simon, and September Gray at the Black Heritage and the Brotherhood of Man opening reception.