Benny Andrews, 75, Dies; Painted Life in the South

Benny Andrews

Benny Andrews, a figural expressionistic painter and teacher whose paintings, prints, drawings and collages drew on his African-American roots in Georgia, died on Friday, Nivember 10, 2006 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 75. The cause was cancer, said Nene Humphrey, his wife.

Mr. Andrews was a vivid storyteller, using memories of his childhood in the segregated South to create narrative-based works that addressed human suffering and injustice. Over his lifetime, his social concerns ranged from the civil rights struggle and the antiwar movement to the Holocaust, poverty and the forced relocation of American Indians.
His paintings and drawings do not fit easily into one art historical tradition. They sometimes resemble the anti-Modernist American Scene paintings, though with a lyrical, almost decorative stylization that draws upon Surrealism and Southern folk art. Some works border on caricature, but the formal narrative quality of his images also suggest his identification with Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence.

Even in an era dominated by abstract art, he continuously exhibited his work in galleries and was the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a John Hay Whitney Fellowship in 1965 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974. His paintings, prints and collages are in the collections of more than 30 museums, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans holds a major body of his work, and his archives of material about black artists in the 1960s and ’70s was given to the Studio Museum.
Benny Andrews was born in Plainview, a farming community three miles from Madison, Ga., on Nov. 13, 1930, the son of sharecroppers. He was one of 10 children, who all worked in the cotton fields to help support the family, attending school only sporadically. In 1948 he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.
From 1950 to 1953, he served in the United States Air Force, and used the G.I. Bill to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was one of very few black students there. He was trained as an abstract expressionist, but at night went to jazz clubs to draw. He also earned fees illustrating Polish polka record covers.

In 1958, Mr. Andrews moved to New York, where his friends included the artists Red Grooms, Bob Thompson, Lester Johnson, Mimi Gross and Raphael Soyer. His first New York solo exhibition, at Forum Gallery in 1962, was reviewed favorably in The New York Times. It was during this period that he began to produce collages, which some critics consider his strongest work.
Mr. Andrews was active in teaching, social causes and arts administration. From 1968 to 1997, he taught art at Queens College, a branch of the City University of New York. He established an art program in the state’s prison system, which later served as a national model, and from 1982 to 1984 was the director of the visual arts program for the National Endowment for the Arts. Earlier this year he traveled to the Gulf Coast to work on an art project with children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children from an earlier marriage, Julia, Christopher and Thomas; and four grandchildren.

The Greatest Black Photographer Dies at 93

Gordon Parks although failing in health attended his final retrospective, 44 of photographs were
being exhibited at the Howard Greenberg Gallery on 57th Street in New York. This collection of
photographs spanned more than 60 years. With his failing health Mr. Parks arrived in a
wheelchair, although he stood up and walked through the exhibition space on his own.

"Moments Without Proper Names", was the name of the exhibit which opened on January 27,
2006; Parks 93 died on March 8, 2006 three days before the exhibit closed. Some of the
'Moments' are silver-toned dramas revealing ineffable beauty. Some are fashion or celebrity
shoots transmuted to evocative, artistic studies or deep mood indigos. Some photographs
starkly reveal the deprivations of poverty. While others like the famous 1963 image of
Malcolm X with hand upraised, are powerful icons of the freedom struggle. The eye of the
genius is revealed throughout.

Reginald Gammon dies at 84

We are saddened to let you know that Reginald Gammon passed away on November 4, 2005. He was 84 years old. Reginald is survived by his wife Jonni Gammon. We will miss him very much. His good will and zest for life touched us all!

We mourn the death of Reginald Gammon, an exceptional nationally known artist. He died November 4th at the Heart Hospital in Albuquerque. He was 84 years old. We will miss him very much. His good will and zest for life touched us all!

Born in Philadelphia, PA, he received his education at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Tyler School of Fine Art, Temple University. He moved to New York where he became a member of “Spiral”, a group of artists that included Romare Bearden and Richard Mayhew. From New York he moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where he taught as a professor of Fine Arts and Humanities at Western Michigan University. Following retirement as full Professor Emeritus in 1991, he and his wife Jonni moved to Albuquerque, NM. He continued his career as a painter and resumed his involvement in printmaking. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards and his work has been exhibited internationally. His work is in numerous public collections such as the Smithsonian Institution, Albuquerque Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Hampton University Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Dayton Art Institute, Woodmere Art Museum, Dallas African American Museum, National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio, Western Michigan University Fine Arts Collection, Battle Creek Fine Arts Collection, and Kalamazoo College Fine Art Collection. He is survived by his wife Jonni Gammon, daughter Regina Lee and son, Patrick King, his sisters, Russe Jackson, Ruth Graham and three grandchildren.


Artist Ernest Crichlow dies at 91

Fixture of Harlem Renaissance had a political edge

NEW YORK - Ernest Crichlow, an artist of the Harlem Renaissance who spent several decades painting and drawing black America, died Thursday at a New York hospital. He was 91.
The cause was heart failure, said a longtime friend, playwright William Branch..
Crichlow was part of a community of artists who came of age in 1930s Harlem and honed their craft at an uptown workshop established by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project during the Great Depression.

Working at a time when many of the country’s great black artists went unrecognized, Crichlow exhibited his work at galleries mostly in the Northeast in the 1940s and 1950s, but by the end of his career he had been honored at the White House by President Jimmy Carter and seen his paintings and lithographs exhibited at some of the nation’s top museums.

Though Crichlow was best known for portraits that explored a balance of strength and fragility, some of his most striking work had a political edge.

His 1938 lithograph “Lovers,” for example, depicts a black woman trapped in her bedroom resisting a sexual assault by a hooded Ku Klux Klansman. His 1967 “White Fence” shows a young white girl separated from five black children by an iron fence.


Abstract Painter Al Loving, 69, Dies

KERHONKSON, N.Y.- Abstract painter and collage artist Al Loving, 69, died.  In 1969 the Whitney Museum of American Art presented a solo exhibition of Al Loving. He was born Alvin Demar Loving Jr. in Detroit on September 19, 1935. Most black artists avoided abstract art, but Al Loving focused on it early on. His mother and grandmother were quilters. His father was a part-time sign painter. He studied fine arts at the University of Illinois. He got his master’s in fine arts at the University of Michigan in 1965. Works by Al Loving are part of the collections of the the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney.