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February 1st, 2012

African American artists celebrated at Howland

Beacon - The Howland Cultural Center will present its 18th Annual Celebration of African-American History Month with an exhibition of “African-American Artists of the Hudson Valley.” The exhibition will hang February 4th-26th, with an opening reception on Saturday, February 4th from 3-5 PM to which the public is invited to meet the artists.

Ned Moran’s Avalon Archives Museum of Roots, Rock ‘n Roll will add to the month’s celebration with an exhibit on the balcony gallery of photography, posters, and artifacts showing famous African American entertainers of the past and present.

It was in 1976 that the month of February was designated nationally as African American History Month. February was selected due to the birthdays of two prominent men of African American history: President Abraham Lincoln and the great orator and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.

Thirteen artists will be presented in a multi-media exhibit of paintings, drawings, linoleum-cuts, and photography, including: Khalidah Carrington, Helen Douglas, Josephine Green, Waverly Harrington, Robert L Lewis, Richard Outlaw and his young daughter, Samatha, Myles Pinckney, Charles Smith, Jr., Arnold Sobers, Eleanor Thompson, Michael White, Donald Whitely and Jacob William.

• Khalidah Carrington is an 18-year-old, home-schooled senior. She studies art at the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy under the direction of Newburgh artist, Gerardo Castro. “I prefer to work in acrylic, but I also enjoy watercolor and India ink,” says Carrington. “The arts are a very important part of my life, and I’m considering pursuing a career in graphic arts.”

• Helen A. Douglas is a versatile craftsman, working with oils, acrylics, pastels, pen and ink, and various hand-pulled printing processes. Her work ranges from intricate African inspired geometric drawings and lino-cuts to deeply personal and emotionally charged images.

• Josephine Green got involved in the arts at an early age. “I became interested in photography around the age of ten,” says Green. “My dad gave me a Brownie camera, which I still keep for sentimental reasons. I have traveled and photographed extensively in the United States, Canada, and a few of the Caribbean Islands. Although these places are beautiful, none measured up to the beauty of the Hudson Valley. I have been inspired by two great photographers, Gordon Parks and Ansel Adams.”

• Robert Lee Lewis has always gravitated to the arts, saying, “As far back as I can remember, I have breathed and lived art... it is to me a series of treasured memories that is etched and painted on canvas to convey a profound message to the viewer. From the age of four, when I drew horses on the farm, my parents encouraged me to paint and draw and I haven’t stopped since.”

• Richard Outlaw recalls some of his early artistic success: “My first memory of receiving attention for my art work was in the 5th grade. It was a watercolor painting of a tree - green leaves with a black bark, nothing spectacular. However, my teacher thought it was wonderful. Later in life, another teacher, Dr. Phyllis Jackson, chair of  the African-American Studies Department at Adelphi University, asked me to become her “artist in residence.” My social consciousness rapidly developed and all that I encompassed from reading history, politics, and life experiences is reflected in my art work.”

• Myles Pinkney is a nationally-recognized freelance photographer. He, along with his wife, Sandra, is the creator of the NAACP Image Award-winning “Shades of Black”, along with other books “A Rainbow All Around Me”, “Read and Rise”, and “I Am Latino.”

• Charles R. Smith, Jr. is the award-winning author and photographer of over twenty children’s books. Always an avid reader since early childhood,  Smith found a new love while in high school: photography. That, coupled with writing and participating in basketball, led to combining his experiences in these three areas to focus on children’s books.

• Arnold Sobers has travelled the world and observed the diversity of humankind, which clearly reflects in his art. After earning a Masters Degree in Business from Adelphi University, Sobers spent the next twenty years working in the business field and traveling throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 1991, while living in Senegal, West Africa, he changed careers and decided to pursue his first love, art. His portraits capture the essence of the subject’s personality, mannerisms, and expression which speak directly from the canvas.

• Donald Whitely began his love of photography when he was a youngster, but really blossomed when he took his first photo class eight years ago at the Westchester Art Workshop in White Plains. “I enjoy photographing people, particularly our youth, who simply love being in front of the camera,” says Whitely. “I have also traveled extensively in South Korea, Ghana, and South Africa and found these countries ideal locations for my photography.”

• Jacob William is another gifted child discovered by an art teacher who later became his mentor and lifelong friend. A scholarship to Summer School of Visual Arts at SUNY, Fredonia, a BS in Visual Arts/Black Studies from SUNY New Paltz, and attending the International Conference of Artists in Dakar, Senegal have influenced his afro-centric art themes, ranging from abstract to representational images.

The Howland Cultural Center is located at 477 Main Street, Beacon, NY.

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