Black Artists on Art: The Origins Exhibit

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From the collection of Dr. Samella Lewis featuring works by Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, Dr. Samella Lewis and more

Opening Reception: Friday, January 6th 6-9pm
Curated by: Unity Lewis

Joyce Gordon Gallery presents, “Black Artists on Art: The Origins,” featuring iconic African American fine artists, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, and Dr. Samella Lewis – America’s leading historian of black fine art.

BAOA is based on the Black Artists on Art book series first created by Dr. Samella Lewis and Ruth G. Waddy in 1969, which catalogued over 150 actively-producing black fine artists who were often overlooked by mainstream museums, galleries, and fine art institutions. The revolutionary book series was an instant success, and sold thousands of copies in its first three years before going out of print.

“I wanted to make a chronology of African American artists, and artists of African descent, to document our history. The historians weren’t doing it. I felt it better the artists do it anyway, through pictorial and written information… It was really about the movement.” – Dr. Samella Lewis.

In 2015, Dr. Lewis’s grandson, Unity Lewis, and co-organizer, Trevor Parham, continued her legacy by reviving the book series and organizing the traveling exhibition of the same name, which had its debut at Oakstop Gallery in February 2015. The legacy exhibition united artists from the original Black Artists on Art books with contemporary artists, resulting in an intergenerational display of black fine art. It also served as a campaign launch to recruit over 500 new black artists for upcoming volumes of Black Artists on Art. The exhibit traveled around the bay area, showcasing at the Marin Community Foundation and the Petaluma Arts Center.

This iteration of the BAOA exhibit at the Joyce Gordon Gallery focuses on the art and lives of the legendary artists featured in the original two volumes of the book. These artists brought notoriety to, and gained notoriety out of this series and made BAOA the classic and essential publication that it is considered today.

In addition to Dr Samella Lewis’ collection, several limited edition prints of her creation will be available. This is an exclusive opportunity to invest in this rare classic work. A portion of the proceeds from these prints specifically will go towards the completion and publishing of future volumes of Black Artists on Art.

Joyce Gordon Gallery is a commercial fine art gallery located in the downtown district of Oakland, California. It exhibits art that reflects the social and cultural diversity of the Bay Area and international artists. The aim of the gallery is to respect the creative pursuits of the individual and seeks to make such work accessible to a broad audience.

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