Works at CAC Celebrate Black History Month
Recent works by local artist M. Gail Jones and art on loan from the Hammonds House Museum are on display at the Douglasville/Douglas County Cultural Arts Center. The reception will be on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 6 until 9 p.m.
The Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville and Douglas County, Inc., presents “The Janet Carter Collection” and recent works by M. Gail Jones during January and February in celebration of Black History Month. The two exhibits feature 33 prints, paintings and drawings by African and African American artists from the Janet Carter Collection on loan from Hammonds House Museum and 26 recent works by local artist M. Gail Jones. The shows will be on view through Feb. 28at the Cultural Arts Center. Hosted by the Douglas County Connection, the reception will be on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 6 until 9 p.m. The Count M’Butu Jazz Trio will perform with vocalist Graciela Lopez during the reception. Gallery admission and the reception are free and open to the general public.
During January and February, the Cultural Arts Council displays works from the permanent collection of the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta. Hammonds House Museum and Resource Center of African American Art is a fine arts venue with a mission to preserve, exhibit and increase public awareness about the contribution of visual artists of African descent to world culture. The pieces in the current exhibit were donated to Hammonds House Museum from the family of Janet Carter after her death in May 2000. Carter, the wife of renowned jazz bassist Ron Carter, was a champion of African and African-American fine arts. Mrs. Carter also played a role in the formation of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Children’s Art Carnival, an arts education organization. She also owned a gallery on the Upper West Side in Manhattan that specialized in works by Africans and African-Americans.
Many artists in her collection are from Senegal, a former French colony located in West Africa. Ousmane Faye, son of the artist M’Bor Faye, studied art at the National School of Arts in Senegal, the National Manufacture of Tapestry at Thies, and in Aubusson, France. Faye’s four works in the exhibit utilize the human figure and bold colors. Another Senegalese artist in the show is Papa Ibra Taal. Born in 1935, Papa Ibra Taal was the director of the National Manufacture of Tapestry at Thies. One of Taal’s tapestries hangs on display at the United Nations in New York City. His two drawings, “Avatar Pharanique” and “Herant Du Printemps Precoce” represent his later work created after he left his position as director in December, 1975. These graphite drawings show his mastery of design, using tightly spaced contour lines to create movement and add depth to his compositions: when the viewer observes closely, the figurative images appear.
Amadou Seck, the founder and president of an organization of Senegalese artists in Dakar and the representative to the Association of African Artists (UNESCO), is also featured in the exhibit. Seck’s piece, “Sama Diabar,” one of the largest works in the show, was made using oil and sand on board. Another Senegalese artist, Iba N’Diaye, later made Paris, France, his home. As a professor at l’Ecole National des Arts de Dakar, N’Diaye exhibited worldwide including Germany, Senegal, France and the United States. His piece, “E.A.,” is a powerful lithograph, depicting two figures and a saxophone, and expressing his interest in jazz music.
Of the works from the Janet Carter Collection, more than half are by the artist El Loko. Born is Pedakondji, Togo, in 1950 and trained as a textile designer in Ghana, El Loko later moved to Germany to study sculpture, painting and graphic art at the National Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf under Josef Beuys, Rolf Crummenauer and Erwin Heerich. All of his pieces in the Douglasville show are linocut prints. Linocut is a type of relief print where the artist cuts a design into a piece of linoleum, then coats the surfaces with ink, which is then pressed onto the surface of paper or fabric, producing a mirror-image print.
The best known artist in the exhibition is Robert Blackburn, who is represented by another linocut print, “Blue Things.” Blackburn was a seminal figure in African American art and printmaking. Born in 1920, Blackburn was recognized for his early work as a Works Progress Administration artist in the Harlem arts community in New York. He was the first master printer for the Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) press, a fine arts print atelier founded by Tatyana Grosman in Long Island, where he worked alongside artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Grace Hartigan and Jasper Johns in the 1960s “graphic boom.” Blackburn was also famous for his Printmaking Workshop that influenced printmakers all over the world. In 2003, he worked with the Library of Congress to deposit over 2,000 artworks there which included pieces by Emma Amos, Will Barnet, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold and many of his own works.
In addition to the works on display from Hammonds House, local artist M. Gail Jones will be exhibiting in celebration of Black History Month. Now a Douglasville resident, M. Gail Jones spent 20 years as a senior illustrator and graphic designer for the City of Detroit, eight years as the Senate photographer and art director of public relations in the Michigan State Legislature. Jones also owned and operated an art gallery “The Moonlight Studio,” in Detroit. She earned her Bachelor in Fine Arts from Wayne State University and also studied painting in Florence, Italy, on a scholarship from the Detroit Institute of Art. Jones’ work encompasses photography, assemblages, watercolors, pastel and pencil drawings, and mixed media works.
“My art is narrative,” Jones stated, “I have a story to tell, an environment to create and time and space to record.” Jones exhibited at the Cultural Arts Center in the 2011 National Juried Art Show and the 2012 National Open Visual Art Show.