Thursday, April 26, 2012

Barbara Bullock

Collage and Acrylic Constructs
Healing Feeling, 1998
    Barbara Bullock is a “maker of art”, creating works in the abstract, some of which lie between paintings and sculptures. Her media include painted paper constructions, various acrylic materials, mixed media, and water color paper. The images in Bullock’s art are fabulous inventions of life forms and figures, set in a vibrant relationship to richly patterned backgrounds. She creates a personal form of story telling drawn from African American culture and spirit. The final work and the process of making art weigh equal in importance. Her very contemporary creations, centered on black identity, reconcile ancestral aesthetics and Western ideals, bringing the two together, showing that they can live in harmony.     
 Barbara Bullock’s career as an artist, teacher and administrator spans more than forty years. She is a recipient of a 1997 Pew Fellowship in the Arts; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Visual Arts Residency Grant; and a  Leeway Bessie Berman Grant, Philadelphia, PA. Included among her honors are a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship and a city of Philadelphia One Percent for Art commission at the Philadelphia International Airport. Barbara Bullock was named a NJSCA Distinguished Teaching Artist in 1997 and 2001.
Her work is part of the permanent collection of  the Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa; Lafayette College, Easton, Pa; Philadelphia International Airport; Jane Voorhees Zimmer Art Museum, NJ; Rutgers State University, NJ; Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa; the African American Museum in Philadelphia; and the Lewis Tanner Moore Collection, Philadelphia, Pa. Bullock has exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; The Philadelphia Foundation, Philadelphia, PA; Philadelphia Art Alliance Philadelphia, PA; The Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio; The Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ; the African American Museum,  Philadelphia, PA; Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia, PA;  and ACA Gallery, New York, NY.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Phoebe Beasley Daybreak in Alabama
Phoebe Beasley completed a collaboration with Dr. Maya Angelou in which she created several striking collage-like color silkscreen prints from poems by Langston Hughes for a limited edition portfolio and book. Dr. Angelou selected the poems and titled the masterful compilation, Sunrise is Coming After While.
The beauty of Beasley's work, lies in its truth. Her paintings tell stories about the lives of real people: the frailty of old age, the plight of the underclass, moments of intimacy, love, humor. Her work was described as "a visual facet of humanism," quoted in the Chicago Defender. "You have to subordinate emotion to good composition," Beasley described her approach to the Atlanta Constitution. "You try to put history in it but you need the composition, too."
Beasley's work is known worldwide and was showcased at the Holler Museum in Bonn, West Germany. Her work also appeared at the Eva Dorong Gallery in West Hollywood, California, the Phoenix Arts Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, Howard University Museum of African-American Art, Artis Lane Gallery, American Telephone and Telegraph Exhibit and the Gallery/Tanner In addition, she has an impressive list of celebrity collectors, including Maya Angelou, Bill Russell, Oprah Winfrey, Ron and Charlayne Hunter Gault, Gordon Parks, and Marla Gibbs.
Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Beasley is the only artist to receive two Presidential Seals on her artwork, one from President Bush in 1989, and from President Clinton in 1993.  She was also honored by the State Department for her participation in the Arts in Embassies Program, and has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions in the United States, including a show mounted by the Smithsonian Institution entitled, In The Spirit of Martin, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Langston Hughes, more than any other black poet or writer, recorded faithfully the nuances of black life and its frustrations. Although Hughes had trouble with both black and white critics, he was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures. Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people. A reviewer for Black World noted in 1970: "Those whose prerogative it is to determine the rank of writers have never rated him highly, but if the weight of public response is any gauge then Langston Hughes stands at the apex of literary relevance among Black people. The poet occupies such a position in the memory of his people precisely because he recognized that 'we possess within ourselves a great reservoir of physical and spiritual strength,' and because he used his artistry to reflect this back to the people. He used his poetry and prose to illustrate that 'there is no lack within the Negro people of beauty, strength and power,' and he chose to do so on their own level, on their own terms." 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Romare Bearden The Painter Oct. 29 to Dec. 3 An Exhibition Of Watercolor and Oil Paintings

Two But Not Two, Watercolor, 1987

Bearden is primarily recognized for his collages, although he is a master water colorist as well. In fact, his exhibition of watercolor work at the prestigious Samuel Kootz Gallery in New York, in the 1940's, was highly lauded and secured his reputation in the art world. His cubist style works rendered planes of jewel-toned watercolor articulated with dynamic, linear detailing in India ink. The black line and intense color call to mind the French artist Georges Rouault (1871-1958). The Harlem Renaissance patron, Carl Van Vechten, did declare Bearden to be "The Negro Rouault". Bearden's paintings that are mainly in watercolor, have received disconcerting muted attention. To a degree this is due to the fact that in the hierarchy of the fine arts establishment, watercolors lack the prestige of oils or collages. However, during the final years of his life, Bearden returned to using watercolors as a prime medium. The works on paper in this exhibition explore several themes employing southern roots, conjure people, jazz musicians, and rural and lush Caribbean landscapes. Romy was modern artist contributing to the contemporary canon and its development, and his work was an expression of his personal journey as an African American.

Marcia Kure
Photomontage Portraits
Born in Nigeria, Marcia Kure has had nine one-person shows and over forty exhibitions in Nigeria, Germany, the united States, Spain , the Netherlands, United Arab emirates, Japan, Canada, Austria, and Switzerland. She has exhibited at The New Museum in New York, The Newark Museum, The 7th Sharjah Bienniale, The Spelman College Museum and the 2nd Seville International Biennial curated by Okwui Enwezor. The Dressed Up series is a set of Photomontages of models and hip-hop performers in Victorian dress resulting what the New Yorker Magazine described as "Romare Bearden meets Wangechi Mutu".

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Allen Stringfellow: "Story Board" 1991 to 2003


Allen Stringfellow was born July 9th, 1923 in Champaign, Illinois. The son of a nightclub singer and a jazz guitarist, he was raised by his deeply religious great-grandmother. These musical and religious ties would later factor greatly in his body of work. Inspired by such artists as Romare Bearden, William S. Carter, and Jacob Lawrence, all of whom he met during the Great Depression’s WPA program, Stringfellow primarily focused on collage and watercolors, and occasionally papier mache sculptures. Known for his use of vibrant colors and predilection for red, Stringfellow depicted lively narrative scenes with musical, religious and  ordinary every day themes. Families, musicians and dancers seem to move and are given life through Stringfellow’s undeniably fun execution. His characters are exuberant and at times quite flamboyant, but subjects are all real people set in clubs, block parties, formal balls, homes, picnics, teas and lawns. All of which were drawn from his life of rich personal experiences. His compositions range from the figurative to surrealist abstraction. One major theme explored in Stringfellow’s later career was the black middle class, in which he depicted an elegant accomlished life led by urbane African Americans.  A video oral history of Stringfellow's artistic life was recorded in 2001 by The History Makers in Chicago.  The Krannert Museum in Champaign, the second largest art museum in Illinois,  opened a major exhibit of Allen's work on June 4th, 2004. Allen passed away on June 22nd that same year. His works have been exhibited in  the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Historical Society, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Katzen Museum of American University and The Bank of America Corporate Center. Also, his art is part of the collections of  the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, The College of William and Mary, The Schomburg and the Studio Museum.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Coming Home
by Hale Woodruff
Essie Green Galleries is delighted to announce an exhibition celebrating the month of African American History featuring an edition of linocut block prints by Hale Aspacio Woodruff  one of America's important and influential artists for over fifty years.

Born in 1900 in Cairo, Illinois, Woodruff studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, at Harvard University, the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Académie Moderne and Académie Scandinave in Paris. He spent the summer of 1938 studying mural painting with Diego Rivera in Mexico, an experience that greatly affected Woodruff's evolving style until the early 1940s.
Woodruff began teaching art at Atlanta University in 1931 and was responsible for that department's frequent designation as the École des Beaux Arts" of the black South. As he excelled as chairman of the art department at Atlanta University, his reputation also grew as one of the most talented African-American artists of the Depression era. The figurative style of his murals and block prints of the 1930s was bold and muscular “social realism” bearing witness to lives of deprivation and fear that were experienced by blacks in the deep south at that time. His series of block prints were as impressive as his oils and watercolors.

In 1946 Woodruff moved to New York where he taught in the art department at New York University from 1947 until his retirement in 1968. During the mid-1960s Woodruff and fellow artist Romare Bearden were instrumental in starting the Spiral organization, a collaboration of African-American artists working in New York. Woodruff's New York works were greatly influenced by abstract expressionism and the painters of the New York School who were active during the late 1940s and 1950s. Among his associates were Adolf Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. Following a long and distinguished career that took him from Paris to New York via the Deep South, Woodruff died in New York in 1980.

His works are included in collections of many institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Rt in New York, The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum, The Library of Congress and many more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


by Alexis Peskine

Alexis Peskine was born in France of mixed Afro-Brazilian and Franco-Russian heritage. Much of his work touches on issues of identity, specifically the position of Black people in predominantly white European and American society. The striking powerful image of a black man, hands up against a wall, "...happened to me throughout my youth" Peskine says. This painting .."translates the feeling of a sense of shame when you're in this position."

A notable aspect of his work is his use of nails that resemble the way Roy Lichtenstein used Ben-Day dots but used to create shading within a silhouette ala Kara Walker. “I use Photoshop to translate an image (that I generally stage and shoot) into halftone pattern dots and then I recreate this image painting it on wood and using nails with different size of heads to replace the dots.” The nails "..represent the transcendence through struggle of Black people", Peskine remarks. "They have an aesthetically useful dual nature. They can be painful, spikes, but they they can also be used  to build things."

Alexis received his Master's of Fine Arts Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount Royal School of Art (Baltimore, MD) in 2005 and his Bachelors of Fine Arts, Painting and Photography (Summa Cum Laude) Howard University (Washington, DC) in 2003.

Bouquet for Loving
by Nanette Carter  

In excerpts from an essay by Nanette Carter published in the magazine, Black Renaissance Noire(Volume9 Issue 2-3 Fall 2009/Winter 2010), Carter writes: "Through Al Loving I was introduced to a group of black painters that were all abstractionists living and working in New York City. The group included Bill Hutson, Jack Whitten, Howardena Pindell, William T. Williams, Peter Bradley and Ed Clark. Having just finished undergraduate school at Oberlin College, I was comforted by the cadre of like-minded visionaries. I call us visionaries for the mere fact that we all had invented new worlds and systems using some of the most unlikely tools. Ed Clark used a long industrial broom to paint with; Howardena's small circles, made from a hole puncher, were clustered and glued together in the thousands, creating a lush fantasy scape. Big Al Loving was a sight sitting behind an industrial sewing machine, piecing together his collaged canvas paintings.

In my series Bouquet for Loving, I am paying homage to my mentor. For the first time I am using plants and flowers as my catalyst. These are not run of the mill creations but rather a creation from my minds eye. The drama of nature has been the catalyst in my creative output for over 30 years....,I have encountered a kaleidoscope of exquisite scapes and foliage, ever changing, ever moving. Afterwards I deconstruct these images, only to reinvent a new construct. Since 1997 I started working on frosted Mylar exclusively, using oil sticks and oil paint, hoping to achieve the maximum luminosity, density and transparency. Expressionistic lines, painting, printmaking and collage are a part of my process.

If Al could see some of the younger artists who are achieving recognition for their visionary work, such as Shinique Smith, Odili Donald Odita and Julie Mehretu, I know he would be proud.

In the Bouquet for Loving series I wish to thank, honor and have a conversation with my dear friend. I just needed to pay homage to my mentor and my comrade in the fight to invent new realities.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Memorial Exhibition: Geraldine McCullough, Painter and Sculptor

Geraldine McCullough
Painter and Sculptor

May 23rd, 2009-June 27th, 2009
Opening Reception, Saturday Afternoon May 23rd, 3-6 pm
Essie Green Galleries

Press Release

Essie Green Galleries exhibits the works of acclaimed Chicago sculptor and painter, Geraldine McCullough.

This memorial exhibition honors the life and work of Geraldine McCullough. Born in 1917, McCullough graduated with a masters from the Art Institute of Chicago.
She was encouraged to turn to welded sculpture by master sculptors Richard Hunt and Rudolpho Seno.

McCullough exhibited in national galleries winning many awards in painting, including a first prize in 1961 at the annual Art Exhibit of Atlanta University. In 1964 she entered the 159th annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, without an invitation, and won the George D. Widener Memorial Gold Medal. This honor brought her national recognition. She was featured in Time, Ebony, and Chicago magazines, and appeared in radio and television interviews, including “To Tell the Truth,” “The Artist and Psychology,” “Our people,” and “The Voice of America.” As a distinguished guest artist of the Russian government in 1966, she visited Moscow, Leningrad, Azerbaidzhan, and Prague.

McCullough’s commitment to convey the universal human struggle, triumph and perfection through struggle is manifested in the combination of figuration and abstraction, which produces visual contradictions and tensions. Her paintings and sculpture possess a metaphorical essence, commenting on femininity, transformation and collective memory. Culling imagery from several artistic traditions, McCullough discovered an eloquent visual language to testify to her unique feminine and African-American personal experience.

McCullough’s imagery is impactful in its power, strength and poignancy. Her highly stylized compositions demand one’s attention. References to African ritual and spiritual iconography invite the viewer to participate in a solemn ceremony. The fluidity of her figures and abstractions mimics the movement of religious processionals. McCullough, like her art, was a commanding presence, who fused her sense of art with her sense of being.

Geraldine McCullough passed away as a renowned sculptor and painter on December 15, 2008 at the age of 91. She continued through the end of her life to work with both painting and sculpture. Her work has been exhibited in many notable collections throughout the U.S., including 'Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors' at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the National Women's Museum in Washington, DC.

Image: Geraldine McCullough, Oba-Behold the Business AKA Beware the Business, 1993, Metal Wall Hanging