Giving homage to the spirit

Show: An exhibit at the Anacostia Museum in Washington explores religion and spirituality in African-American art.

September 14, 1999|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

I got down to the Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington too late to review the retrospective exhibition of Alma Thomas, an African-American artist who, before her death in 1978, became one of the most important figures in the Washington Color Field School.

However, a companion exhibition at the Anacostia Museum, "Locating the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in African-American Art," continues through Dec. 1 and is well worth the trip to D.C.

The show focuses on the many ways African-American artists have expressed and interpreted the role of religion and spirituality in the black community.

It includes 115 paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture and textile works by 74 artists, as well as personal shrines and objects from private devotional rituals.

Several Baltimoreans are represented in the show, including photographers Ken Royster and Carl Clark, quilt maker Elizabeth Talford Scott and Maryland Institute, College of Art dean Leslie King-Hammond, whose evocative installation, "Altar for My Grandmother Ottalie Adalese Maxwell," is redolent of the curative herbs and spices collected by women of her West Indian immigrant family.

The Anacostia Museum is located at 1901 Fort Place N.E. in Washington. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. For information, call 202-287-3307.

Another show worth seeing in Washington at the Howard University Gallery of Art, which is featuring an exhibition of the work of African-American women.

"Black Women Artists in the Academy," which has been extended through mid-October, presents the work of 31 black artist-scholars, including Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Jan Murray and Howardena Pindell.

The gallery is located on the campus of Howard University at 2455 6th St. N.W., in Washington. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9: 30 a.m. to 4: 40 p.m. For information, call 202-806-7070.

A century of African photography is the subject of an unusual exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building on the Washington Mall.

"Revue Noire: Africa by Africans" presents a distillation of more than 100 years' worth of images spotlighting the African family, men and women at work and play, studio portraiture and press photography from the 1960s.

The 220 black and white and color photographs explore the different aesthetics and techniques employed by African photographers from different parts of the continent.

The exhibition was curated by artist-scholar Deborah Willis, author of "Reflections in Black: A History of African American Photographers 1840-1999," a reference work on the history of African-American photography scheduled to be published by Norton Press early next year.

The Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building is located at 900 Jefferson Drive S.W. in Washington. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

For information, call 202-357-4500.

More to see

New sculpture by contemporary Czech artist Cestmir Suska will be on view at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington through Sept. 30. The embassy is located at 3900 Spring of Freedom St. N.W., in Washington. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call 202-274-9100.

C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore presents "Symbols/Objects: Stories and Facts Untold," constructions and installations by three Greek artists: Angelos Antonopoulos, Effie Halivorpoulou and Yannis Ziogas. The gallery is located at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call 410-539-1080.

Gomez Gallery features paintings by Deborah Donelson and sculpture by Ted Aub. The gallery is located at 3100 Clipper Mill Road. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For information, call 410-662-9510.

Landscapes by David Ridgeway, Duane Lutsko and Kim Parr are on view at Paper-Rock-Scissors Gallery through Oct. 24. The gallery is located at 111 W. 36th St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Call 410-235-4420.

Grant to start art programs

The Maryland Institute recently announced receipt of an $600,000 award from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fund to participate in the foundation's new Community Arts Partnership Program.

The grant allows MICA to develop a curriculum-based community arts program that brings together MICA students and Baltimore city schoolchildren as part of a national effort to develop new models for undergraduate art education.

Over four years, MICA will partner with Child First, a Baltimore after-school program, to develop 10-week art mentoring programs to help children learn art skills in a variety of areas.

The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund invests in programs that enhance the cultural life of communities and encourage people to make arts and culture an active part of their daily lives.

Donate to BMA

The family of Ellen B. Hirschland, who died Sept. 3, asks that friends wishing to commemorate her do so by making a donation in her memory to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Mrs. Hirschland was a grand-niece of Baltimore's famed Cone sisters and served on the BMA board of trustees for many years.

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