SAINT LOUIS, MO.- Now! Vibrant Traditions with an Unexpected Edge brings together 15 St. Louis African American artists at the Philip Slein Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri. Now! Vibrant Traditions opens December 19, 2014 and will be on view through January 24, 2015. Curated for the gallery by Freida L. Wheaton, the 15 are artists who have not previously shown at the gallery. Fifteen is the largest number of African American artists who have shown at any St. Louis gallery that was not owned by African Americans. The curator is also African American.
Wheaton states Hopefully the days of denied and missed opportunities for Black artists and white-owned art galleries are coming to a close. Gallery co-owners Philip Slein and Tom Bussmann have taken a bold move in presenting this exhibition. The Philip Slein Gallery recently closed the exhibition Other Ways; Other Times: Influences of AfricanAmerican Tradition from St. Louis Collections, which showcased African American artists in private collections; however, very few of those artists were from St. Louis. That exhibition, coupled with the highly successful Hands Up, Dont Shoot: Artists Respond exhibition, also curated by Wheaton, has brought a renewed focus to the collectability of local African American artists.
Artists included in Now! Vibrant Traditions are: Cbabi Bayoc, Ken Calvert, Lenard Hinds, Daniel Jefferson, Melvin Jefferson, Alan Johnson, P31, Edna J. Patterson-Petty, Marilyn L. Robinson, John E. Rozelle, Krystal Sutton, Solomon Thurman, Joy L. Wade, Ambrose Wesley, and Ron Young. Their works reflect a boldness, diversity, and genius that will certainly engage the St. Louis community in new and refreshing conversations. The artists beckon collectors and the public to explore their works from a vantage point of their passionate journey in the art world, building upon American traditions in exciting ways.
While many of the 15 artists have been central to the St. Louis arts community for decades, a few are newer artists. From their late 20s to their early 70s, none of the artists are neophytes. The sophistication, maturity and technical elements of their complex oeurve belie claims to the contrary. However, through Now! Vibrant Traditions all are being introduced in a new light. Audience familiarity with any of the artists may be tempered by the selection of art for this exhibition: unexpected, vibrant and amazing.