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Local talent the focus at August Wilson Center for African American Culture
Bill Wade, October 2011. Sculptor Thad Mosley, with his work in his Manchester studio, has been making art for over 55 years. Mosley was photographed by Harris in about 1961 with his art at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. © 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- The August Wilson Center for African American Culture announces two major exhibitions.

The first, “Teenie Memories: New Photographs by Rebecca Droke and Bill Wade," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographers, coincides with "Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story" at the Carnegie Museum of Art, which opened Oct. 29. Cecile Shellman, Artistic Director of Visual Arts and Exhibition Initiatives at the Center says, “The timing is ideal for devotees of Mr. Harris’ work and we hope that each will complement the other.” The exhibit opened Nov. 1 and runs through Feb. 16, 2012.

August Wilson Center CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess announced at the start of the new season that Affrilachia (af-ruh-LAY-shuh), a term describing African Americans living in Appalachia, was the theme for the Center’s 2011-12 Continuum, a series of programs tied to a specific theme. “Common Ground: Affrilachia! Where I’m From,” opens on Friday, Nov. 18 and is presented as part of the Continuum. The exhibition runs through Mar. 17, 2012.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographers Bill Wade and Rebecca Droke follow in the big footprints of African American photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris with their present-day portraits and video interviews of people that Harris photographed.

Harris (1908–­1998) extensively photographed in Pittsburgh from the 1930s to the 1970s. He captured both the common man and some of the extraordinary people who shaped the 20th century that came to Pittsburgh, such as entertainer Lena Horne, baseball star Jackie Robinson, and leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The new color photographs by Droke and Wade displayed in this collection depict 20 local subjects that include Marilyn Ware Parker, Alma Speed Fox, Sala Udin, George Barbour, Chuck Austin, Gene and Marva Harris, Regis Bobonis, Adah Lavelle, Lillian Allen, Thad Mosley and Charlene Foggie-Barnett. A smaller photograph of the person as captured by Harris is exhibited with the modern-day portrait.

A closing reception, including a screening of video interviews of people Teenie and the Post-Gazette photographers photographed, will be held at the August Wilson Center on February 16, 2012.

“Common Ground: Affrilachia! Where I’m From” features nearly 50 works of art from Western Pennsylvania and beyond. The exhibition is a collaboration between the August Wilson Center for African American Culture and the Affrilachian Visual Art Project, headed by Marie Cochran, independent art curator and professor working in North Carolina and Georgia. The Affrilachian Visual Art Project explores what it means to be an African American in the Appalachian region.

“Our goal is to showcase our local artists among regional artists, emerging and established, whose works typify the themes and sensibilities that spring from rural and urban life in the Appalachian region,” explains Shellman. “Bally Exhibit has skillfully captured the works of art in the context of the Affrilachian theme,” Shellman adds.

Marie Cochran, who is the exhibition’s guest curator, is noted for her presentations and exhibitions around the country, including Austin’s Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library & Museum, Howard University Art Gallery and Center for African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, DC, Studio Museum of Harlem, and High Museum of Art, in Atlanta.

The juried portion of the exhibition, a first at the August Wilson Center, was co-adjudicated by Dr. Sharif Bey, professor of art from Syracuse University, a familiar and beloved artist from the Pittsburgh region, along with August Wilson Center’s Shellman.The curated works in the show exemplify the contemporary aesthetic of artists from North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Bing Davis, Ed Hamilton, Tina Brewer, Vanessa German and Errol Reynolds are among the painters, sculptors, fiber artists and limners featured in this show.

The “Common Ground: Affrilachia! Where I’m From” exhibition not only richly blends the work of local and regional artists, but also simultaneously supports their artistry and the Center. Much of the artwork will be for sale with proceeds benefitting the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Sales information will be noted in the exhibition catalogue and will be available with paid admission.

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