ArtBeat: African American Abstract Masters @ the Opalka Gallery

Joe Overstreet: Carry Back
Joe Overstreet: Carry Back

Opening this Friday, November 5 at the Opalka Gallery on the Sage College campus in Albany is African American Abstract Masters, a group exhibition by 14 artists born between 1914-1937 who have enlisted a variety of approaches and aesthetic influences over the span of six decades.

The show, which travels up from from the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York City where it exhibited this past spring, features Robert Blackburn, Betty Blayton, Frank Bowling, Ed Clark, Herbert Gentry, Bill Hutson, Harlan Jackson, Norman Lewis, Sam Middleton, Joe Overstreet, Thomas Sills, Merton Simpson, Alma Thomas, and Frank Wimberley.

As Anita Shapolsky notes:

The artists in this exhibition are truly masters of Abstraction. The black art movement was helped by the W.P.A., the G. I. Bill (after WWII) and the Civil Rights movement. With all that, most artists had to go to Europe to paint and sell – similar to the jazz musicians of that era. Many of these artists did show in the fifties and early sixties but like all abstract artists, they were eclipsed by the Pop and Minimal movements. Today, many galleries are showing younger artists of all races. This group of first and second generation black artists has fallen through the cracks and should not be forgotten.

An opening reception is slated for Friday (Albany First Friday) from 5-9pm. The exhibit continues through December 12.

In conjunction with the show, the Fahrenheit Jazz Quartet, led by bassist Chris Sullivan, will perform in concert in gallery on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15; $10 students, free for Sage students.

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