The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve Gallery and The Sculpture Center Galleries
On view from Friday, September 20 – Friday, November 16, 2019.
Opening reception Friday, September 20, 6:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public.
This September, The Sculpture Center in partnership with the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, is proud to present seenUNseen, an exhibition which combines work from the Kerry and C. Betty Davis collection of African American Art and a curated response of Northeast Ohio artists.
The story of the Davis Collection begins in Atlanta, where Kerry worked as a postman and his wife as a television producer. Over 30 years, on a modest budget, they amassed a collection of over 300 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which includes some of the nation’s most significant emerging and established African American artists.
This vibrant body of work now covers every inch of the Davis’ suburban residence, transforming the space into an “in home museum” that provides community access to the important, and often “unseen”, legacy of American artists of color. Their collection includes artists such as Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Romare Bearden, Sedrick Huckaby, Richard Mayhew, Sam Gilliam, and Mildred Thompson*. seenUNseen will be the first-time work from the Davis collection has been shown outside of Atlanta.
The exhibition will also showcase 32 Ohio artists in conversation with the Davis Collection. Working closely with Kerry Davis, curators Ann Albano (The Sculpture Center) and Mindy Tousley (Artists Archives of the Western Reserve) selected pieces that “demonstrate the deep commitment to the artistic process and great talent of the African American artists of Northeast Ohio.” Tousley explains, that though the exhibition began “as showing bodies of work by a small group of artists” it transformed into “a large survey show of 67 regional works by 32 artists… which by coincidence is the same number of artists coming to us from the Davis collection.”
“Most of these artists,” Albano, describes, “are focused on themes of relevance to the black American experience such as storytelling and fantastical events, ancestral connections, family and community. 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…” Tousley adds, “Specific works were chosen with the Davis collection in mind so that regional artists could be shown in context. 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. Riddle & Mays have obviously used the tradition of African textiles and African American quilters as a reference in their paintings.”
seenUNseen also features work which frankly addresses inequality and discrimination. “There are darker, angry, and very powerful depictions of the injustices still too prevalent in the lives and history of African Americans,” Albano notes. Paintings such as Bloody Sundays by Louis B. Burroughs Jr. and the sculpture Middle Passage by James Halloway confront these issues head-on and present invaluable, first-hand experience and perspective. “The work of these artists of Northeast Ohio will hold its own with grace and impact in the company of the collection of Kerry and C. Betty Davis.”
Exhibiting Ohio artists include Regina Abernathy, Anna Arnold, Lawrence Baker, Donald Black Jr., Davon Brantley, Malcolm Brown, Louis B. Burroughs Jr., Shyvonne Coleman, Kristi Copez, Dexter Davis, Barbara Freeman Eady, Davin K. Ebanks, Amber N. Ford, Dale Goode, James L. Holloway, Mark Howard, Thomas Hudson, Myrya Johnson, Joyce Morrow Jones, Amanda D. King, Michelangelo Lovelace Sr., Julius M. Lyles, Lauren Mckenzie-Noel, Woodrow Nash, Yvonne Palkowitsh, Jacques Payne, LaSaundra Robinson, Charmaine Spencer, Darius Steward, Bob Walls, Antwoine D. Washington and Tony Williams.
The exhibition is proudly presented by the Cleveland Foundation with help from the Ohio Arts Council, and will be displayed in three galleries on the David E. Davis Arts Campus in University Circle.
The opening reception will feature a tribute to Cleveland artist Malcolm Brown. The Davis Family and many Northeast Ohio artists will also be in attendance and brief talks will take place midway through the reception. The show will continue until November 16.
The Sculpture Center and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve are also pleased to announce a series of related programming. Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis will be held on Saturday, October 12, from 1-3pm (please call 216.721.9020 to register). The Sculpture Center will host a panel discussion, Seeing the Unseen moderated by Charles Peterson, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory, including emerging, mid-career, and established regional African American artists on Saturday, November 2, 1-3pm. Through the help of the Cleveland Foundation, additional collaborations will be held with The Soul of Philanthropy exhibition which is taking place concurrently at the Cleveland History Center (Western Reserve Historical Society) and dynamic programing is being planned with area schools.
This exhibition will also help launch a fund to help artists of color to archive their work within the collection of the Archives. Support for this initiative comes from a Steering Committee formed by Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D., M.S (Senior Associate Dean & Clinical Associate Professor of NEOMED) and made up of community leaders.
Reception, exhibition, and accompanying programs are FREE and open to the public.
*Complete List of Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection Artists exhibited in seenUNseen* Amalia Amaki, Romare Bearden, McArthur Binion, Moe Brooker, Calvin Burnett, William S. Carter, Elizabeth Catlett, Carl Christian, Claude Clark, Kevin Cole, Louis Delsarte, Greg Henry, Richard Hunt, Sedrick Huckaby, Frederick D. Jones, Yashua Klos, Kojo Griffin, Jacob Lawrence, Donald Locke, Lionel Lofton, Ealy Mays, Norma Morgan, Hayward Oubre, James Phillips, Howardena Pindell, John T. Riddle, Henry O. Tanner, William Taylor, Mildred Thompson, Charles White, Charles Edwards Williams, Walter Williams, John Woodrow Wilson, Freddie Styles