SeenUNseen Focuses on African-American Art Collection

Yvonne Palkowitsh: “Guided”

Fri 9/20 @ 6-8:30PM

Despite a drumbeat of stories about the absurd eight- and nine-figure prices even contemporary works are being sold for, some amazing art collections have been accumulated by some unassuming people who don’t have deep pocketbooks. They’re usually discerning people with a deep love of art, a sense of what’s good and what matters, and an interest in some niche of art that hasn’t been recognized yet.

Such is the case of Atlanta collectors Kerry and C. Betty Davis. Kerry was a postal worker; his wife was a TV producer. And they built a huge collection of African-American art that includes pieces by such now widely recognized artists as Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White, Romere Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. While they display this art in their home and display it in their share community, it’s never been seen outside Atlanta — until now.

Pieces from their collection will go on view this week at the Sculpture Center/Artists Archives of the Western Reserve campus. To supplement the show, the curators — Kerry Davis, Ann Albano on the Sculpture Center and Mindy Tousley of Artists Archives chose 67 works by 32 Ohio regional artists, the same number that will be shown from the Davis collection. They include many who are well-known locally and currently actively working and showing here including Anna Arnold, Donald Black Jr., Dexter Davis, Amber N. Ford, Dale Goode, Mark Howard, Amanda D. King, Michelangelo Lovelace Sr., Julius M. Lyles, Charmaine Spencer and Darius Steward (who currently has a show at Bonfoey Gallery).

“Most of these artists are focused on themes of relevance to the black American experience such as storytelling and fantastical events, ancestral connections, family and community,” said Albano in the event press release. “There is a wonderful freedom in the use of less conventional materials for art making including glass and a profusion of textiles to create exuberant dolls and gorgeous clothing.”

“Specific works were chosen with the Davis collection in mind so that regional artists could be shown in context,” said Tousley. “I was personally impressed by the large number of artists working in a textile medium in some fashion, and the works of NEO artists Myrya Johnson, Regina Abernathy and Tony Williams which pair up very nicely with John T. Riddle and Ealy Mays from the Davis collection.”

The free, public opening reception is Fri 9/20 @ 6-8:30pm; it features a tribute to Cleveland watercolor artist, gallerist and retired educator Malcolm Brown, who is in his late 80s. The show remains on view through Sat 11/16.


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