Appleton Museum of Art features distinguished collection of African American art
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Appleton Museum of Art features distinguished collection of African American art
Installation view of Memories & Inspiration, on view at the Appleton Museum of Art through April 4, 2021. Photograph by The Culture Curators.



OCALA, FLA.- The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, is presenting “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art,” celebrating the passion of a couple who spent more than 35 years as devoted connoisseurs, building a collection of vivid artworks that are both resonant and remarkably personal. “Memories & Inspiration” is on view at the Appleton now through April 4, 2021.

Being shown for the first time in Florida, “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” presents 62 selected works from a body of art amassed over 35 years. Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, gladly gave up many ordinary comforts in order to live with extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries. Their collection includes works by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Los Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White, but Kerry and Betty do not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focus on the more meaningful task of gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image, in order to console the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self.

The result is an eclectic gathering of pieces crossing different mediums, subjects and styles by a group of artists of the African Diaspora who - in terms of training, experience, and expression - are strikingly diverse but unified in their use of cultural and historical narratives. As their collection has grown, so has the Davises' storehouse of memories of discovering new works of art, building friendships with artists, and conversing with museum professionals and other collectors in their home. “Memories & Inspiration” brings together an awe-inspiring selection of works, but it is their personal resonance - their connection to the Davises’ hopes, passions, and everyday lives - that gives the collection its unique power.

Kerry Davis, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a former sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, a retired carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, and an ordained deacon. He began collecting in the mid-1980s in partnership with his wife, Betty, who shared his passion for art. Begun originally with the modest aim of enhancing the interior decor of their mid-century split-level home in suburban Atlanta, the Davises’ collection has grown to over 300 works by some of the most distinguished African American artists of the 20th century.

Inspired by previous generations of African American art collectors, who understood the importance of preserving cultural expression, memory, and imagery, Davis has sought to contribute to this legacy and be a source of inspiration for others in the community. The Davis residence - dubbed an “in-home museum” by visiting neighbors, parishioners, and friends - serves as a meeting place and cultural hub for artists, collectors and art enthusiasts. Kerry and Betty have two children and one granddaughter.

“Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” was organized and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.










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