by Taki S. Raton
“Vision, Voices, Viewpoints and Victories of African American Artists” is the theme highlighting the exhibit reception to be held Friday, January 21 at the Peltz Gallery, 1119 East Knapp Street beginning at 6 p.m.
Curated by nationally and internationally known local artist Della Wells, this prominently anticipated gallery night opening features the outstanding work of 31 African American artists, 21 of which are from Wisconsin. Eminent local artists selected for this exhibition include Evelyn Patricia Terry, Reginald Baylor, Brad Bernard, Portia Cobb, George McCormick, Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Darlene LaMar and Wells to cite a few.
“Peltz Gallery had an extremely well received African American artist show in 2007. We thought it was time for a new show and we are so happy that Della Wells was willing and able to be our guest curator,” says gallery owner and director Cissie Peltz.
She adds that some of the artists from 2007 have been invited back with new works for this exhibit and that “Della has introduced us to many artists in Milwaukee and around the country to fill the gallery with colorful and exciting work.”
Exhibitors include artists who are self taught such as Wells along with those who are professionally trained and university visual art professors. Widely acclaimed local artist Brad Bernard will present canvasses from his latest series, “Blues Route”:
“The development of this body of work serves as a visual documentation of hill country, delta blues and gospel musicians that I have seen perform over the course of seven years while living in Mississippi,” says the Mount Mary College art professor.
The imagery of road maps and quilts are used in Bernard’s series to represent the travel of leaving and eventually returning home.
“Although many blues musicians have been known and performed internationally, they often choose to remain or reside close to their place of birth, never forgetting where they came from and always returning home from where they have been,” he adds.
After moving to Milwaukee 11 years ago, Beloit College Art Professor George Williams, Jr. exhibits in his second show, “Current Tendencies: Ten Artists from Wisconsin” at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum in 2009. Williams would additionally earn the distinction of becoming the first African American professor to receive tenure at Beloit College.
Reflecting a commendable broad range of national invitational showings numbering a biographical notation of 21 exhibitions from such venues as the San Diego Art Institute in 1996 to Beloit’s Wright Museum of Art in 2007, Williams canvases will be included in the Peltz “Vision, Voices” selection along with the works of University of Wisconsin – Parkside Associate Professor of Art Trenton Baylor, the famed silhouetted renditions of renown artists Kara Walker, the fabric creations of Sonji Hunt and the quilt designs of Trish Williams.
Walker, Trish Williams, George Williams, and Chrys Carroll, Willie Cole, Jamea Edwards, Zeph Farmby, Sam Gilliam, Alison Saar, and Kehinde Wiley list the exhibitors in the Peltz showing who are nationally received artists from locals other than Wisconsin.
“In bringing all the artists for ‘Visions, Voices, Viewpoints and Victories of African American Artists,’ my goal was to give the viewer a glimpse into what African American artists are producing particularly here in Wisconsin,” says curator Wells.
She adds that the art chosen for this exhibition was not selected simply because the artists were African American, “but because each of the artists has a definite vision, voice and viewpoint. And like many artists in our western culture, African American artists fight for victories to have their artistic visions seen and understood.”
Wells is the founder of ABEA – African American Artist Beginning to Educate Americans About African American Art.”
An art advocacy group comprised of artists and art supporters dedicated to contributing to cultural enrichment by educating communities about African American art and artists, ABEA since its 2001 inception strives to provide art related services and create opportunities for all artists to work together for prosperity and growth.
For any additional information on this most exciting African American Peltz opening, please contact the gallery at (414) 223-4228.