02 Sep Simply Iconic
Curated by Gordon W. Bailey
September 2 – October 3, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, September 2nd; 8-11 PM
Some of the most impassioned artwork to emerge in United States during the past 150 years was conceived in our conflicted South. Simply Iconic showcases soul-stirring artworks from the collection of our friend and guest curator, noted scholar, Gordon W. Bailey. The exhibition features works from some of America’s most gifted vernacular artists: Sam Doyle, Purvis Young, Herbert Singleton, Roy Ferdinand, Charlie Lucas, Sulton Rogers and O. L. Samuels. La Luz de Jesus Gallery invites you to bear witness. You will leave inspired!
1906-1985, South Carolina
Following his retirement in the late 1960s, Doyle fully committed to painting the history of his beloved Gullah community and more generally African-American advancement. Over the next decade his museum-like exhibition evolved into the St. Helena Out Door Art Gallery where haints and saints rubbed rusty shoulders and shared the boughs of Spanish moss laden oak trees with other celebrated figures, both famous and infamous. Doyle’s influence is far and wide. The late Neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat once traded some of his own artworks to a gallery owner for a few of Doyle’s and noted contemporary master Ed Ruscha paid posthumous tribute to the artist with his painting “Where Are You Going, Man? (For Sam Doyle) 1985.”
Even though the late Purvis Young’s artwork was exhibited in more than 50 museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran, and Atlanta’s High Museum and collected by numerous members of the fine art cognoscenti, such as Don and Mera Rubell and Lenny Kravitz, the artist never considered leaving his Miami, Florida community, Overtown. For over 40 years Young created art with scavenged plywood, nails, books, cardboard, Masonite board, broken doors and mirrors. Of his own work, Young had this to say: “I want people to know that I wish there would be peace in the world, and I will paint the way I paint until there is. And, then one day, maybe I could just hang up my brush and not paint any more.”
Singleton’s boldly carved and painted cedar panels both skewer and exalt his life and times. He displayed keen insight into the socio-economic limitations imposed upon many in the New Orleans area. He survived a near-fatal shooting, drug addiction, and nearly 14 years in prison, many of them in the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
1951- , Alabama
While recovering from back surgery following a job-related accident, Lucas asked God to help him find something to do that no one else could do. Soon he began fashioning sculpture out of recycled metal. Since his artistic rebirth, he has traveled widely, lectured at Yale University, and spent time as an artist-in-residence in France.
According to the Times-Picayune, Ferdinand was “Known in New Orleans art circles as a sort of ‘Goya of the ghetto.’ Ferdinand has described his work as rap in pictures, while some critics have placed his utterly honest depictions of inner city decay within the social realist tradition of Courbet.”
Born and raised in Oxford, Mississippi, Rogers was originally taught woodcarving as a child by his father, who Rogers claimed could “build anything.” His fantastic wood figures and captivating parings are renowned for their satirical style.
1931- , Florida
“How many times have I escaped death? I think it was 36 times,” said Samuels. “God is keeping me alive for some reason.” He will often work on a piece for months, sometimes setting it aside, and starting another project before finishing it. His commitment to creating art often keeps him busy through the night.
Contact Matt Kennedy, Gallery Director for availability and purchase info: (323) 666-7667