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Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit Staff Pick

When: Feb. 11-March 28 2015
Dr. Samella Lewis is a prolific painter, art historian, critic, and art collector who helped define the way the Black Arts movement is perceived when she wrote the first volume of Black Artists on Art in 1969. The groundbreaking book profiled the era’s black artists, including iconic painters such as Jacob Lawrence and Elizabeth Catlett, as well as others lesser known at the time. But the series never made it past the third volume. Now, her grandson, Unity Lewis, is teaming up with Oakstop founder and director Trevor Parham to lead an initiative to continue the series. Their goal is to recruit five hundred contemporary artists to be profiled, and contextualize them within the legacy of the artists that Lewis wrote about. Eventually, all of the info will be put into an online database that curators can use to connect with artists. Beyond the book, the goal is to bring people together to create both community and opportunity. To launch the project, Oakstop (1721 Broadway, Oakland) is hosting an expansive exhibit featuring more than forty black artists in a range of media and styles. The show features original work by legendary artists like Lawrence, Catlett, and George Clinton (yes, he paints!) along with a diverse range of work by local established and emerging artists. Plus, in March it will be reconfigured to focus solely on black female artists for Women’s History Month. Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit offers a gorgeous and powerful glimpse into the depth of the project, and is only the beginning of the impact it will likely bring to Oakland’s art community and beyond.
— Sarah Burke


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