Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #54

Contents

GAITHER DELIVERS LUSH TALK ON ROXBURY ART

AN ACTOR ADAPTS TO THE STAGE

PARKER DIRECTS A TOO SHORT RUN OF “THE LIFE”

SEND YOURSELF ROSES – book review

LISA MACK – THE PROFESSIONAL WOMAN

THE GIBSON GIRL

“ROAD TRIP” HAS FUN FAMILY VALUES

UP-COMING EVENTS


GAITHER DELIVERS LUSH TALK ON ROXBURY ART

by Kay Bourne

(Interior of Cunard Street apartment “Mirror” watercolor by Richard Yarde)

2dda673771db22d600a52ed82ae9c134.86.124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54Some pictures are worth more than a thousand words, as superbly demonstrated by art historian E. Barry Gaither recently at the Dudley Square branch of the Boston Public Library.

His engrossing, hour- long talk, lushly illustrated with color slides, celebrated the painters and sculptors of Roxbury who have flourished here over the past 100 years. The Monday evening lecture at 75 Warren Street by the executive director of the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists was a joint project by the Friends of the Library and the Discover Roxbury trolley tours.

Gaither came to Boston in 1969 at 25-years-old as curator for the Museum of the NCAAA at the invitation of NCAAA founder and artistic director, Elma Lewis. And in the ensuing years he has staged well over a hundred exhibitions at the museum and, as well, curated large exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that advanced the reputations of Roxbury-based artists. He has so deeply familiarized himself with their work, he is often called upon to write introductions to catalogs and essays for books which reference painters and sculptors associated with Roxbury.

On February 25, he first commented on the African American artists here who came into their own in the early years of the 20th century whose careers have been a source of encouragement and pride to the many younger artists to follow. One of the important early figures Gaither talked about was Allan Rohan Crite (1910 – 2007) who grew up in Lower Roxbury at 2 Dilworth Street and lived there much of his life until relocating a few blocks away to the South End where that townhouse at 410 Columbus Avenue house serves as a museum of his art. He was forever on the streets, sketchbook and pencil in hand drawing the people and places he loved. Elma Lewis once remarked that as a child she would see Mr. Crite here and there in the neighborhood which sparked her imagination that she too could be an artist. There is currently a retrospective of Allan Rohan Crite‘s work from his teen years onward at the Museum of the NCAAA, 300 Walnut Avenue in Roxbury.

Other artists of that generation and the next Gaither visited were sculptor John Wilson whose bronze “Big Head” sits on the lawn of the Museum of the NCAAA which commissioned the work and Calvin Burnett (1921 – 2007), whose work that is owned by the Museum is on exhibit there through July 27. Burnett was the first art teacher for the Elma Lewis School, starting those classes in 1950, and played a leading role in establishing the Boston Negro Artists Association (later renamed the Boston Black Artists Association) which presents the annual Art in The Park outdoor exhibit among other activities.

Another of these seminal artists is Richard Yarde, who grew up in an apartment on the part of Cunard Street in Lower Roxbury that was demolished by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in the 60′s. Critically acclaimed as one of America’s foremost water colorists, Yarde‘s life size installation series in 1982, The Savoy Ballroom, (sponsored by the Studio Museum in Harlem) is credited with the historic dancehall home to the great swing bands garnering the renewed interest that has protected it from the demolition ball.

Among the artists Gaither discussed who emerged in the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s were Dana Chandler and James Rueben Reed, who co-directed the African American Artists in Residency Program at Northeastern University, which this November will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The talk concluded with a survey of some dozen or more artists who reside in Roxbury today.

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