Ask local artist John Robert “Trey” Miles what artists inspire him, and he’ll introduce you to great African-Americans like William H. Johnson, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Jacob Lawrence.
“But of course Romare Bearden was my main inspiration,” said Miles, who describes himself primarily as a collage artist, similar to Bearden in his later years.
Miles was one of some 50 artists, art collectors and enthusiasts who recently traveled from Charlotte to Hampton University in Virginia to visit the oldest African-American museum in the country.
The museum tour was the maiden trip organized by Charlotte Artsy Folks, a group of eight regulars in Charlotte’s cultural sector who bonded by their admiration for art, particularly African-American art. It included seasoned collectors Patrick and Judy Diamond as well as Quincy and Christy Lee; John and AJ Foster, owners of Foster’s Framing & Art Gallery; Katrina Pride, Board Member of the Arts and Science Council; Keith Cradle, Board Member of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
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“We were all just art lovers. We all got together and said we had to do something, ”recalls Pride of the band’s early days. They’ve run in similar circles over the years, but it’s only in the last few months that they’ve officially organized themselves and adopted a name.
The conversation started on how to help African Americans who wanted to start a collection. Soon after, they recognized that the artists themselves had to be part of the discussion.
“How do local artists know how to become one of those collectors? Pride hinted that this issue sowed the seed of the trip to Hampton. “We need to bridge the gap and bridge these groups together. “
At the museum, they bathed in the museum’s works highlighting paintings and artefacts. A fine art exhibit on the second floor featured pieces by behemoths like Jacob Lawrence and Elizabeth Catlett, known for their depictions of the black experience.
Guests spent time linger in the space designated as “The Renaissance and Beyond,” paintings and sculptures influenced by the Harlem Renaissance. No photos were allowed, so the artists took out sketchbooks to capture the views.
“We have to learn to appreciate the art of black artists and do all we can to promote them,” said Nancy Stroud, whose art collection spans nearly 30 years and includes around 150 pieces. “We have our art, and it tells about our experience. It is our treasure.
A united front between groups can prove beneficial as Charlotte’s cultural sector seeks to use the arts to discuss social issues. The Arts and Science Council recently hosted “Intersections: Arts + Affordable Housing,” where panelists like image activist Alvin Jacobs Jr. spoke about the responsibility of artists to provide “a perspective, not a performance.” when it comes to using art to highlight community issues. .
Jacobs joined Charlotte Artsy Folks on the trip to Hampton. He said: “Multi-million dollar works of art explained by collectors… I see the responsibility of my profession differently now. “
Katrina Louis is the editor of qcitymetro.com who always finds something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline scammer (and has the shirt to prove it) but when she’s online find her on Instagram and Twitter.