The art world is all abuzz about the soon-to-be-open Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Set to open September 24, the Washington, D.C.-based museum embraces the fact that African-American history is our nation's history, with explorations into powerful moments in art, community and events over the past 100 years.
Through a global Lift Your Voice initiative, organizations around the world are co-celebrating the opening with their own events (between now and December 2017), including Houston's Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. But there's another local connection: A piece by Floyd Newsum, an art professor at University of Houston Downtown (this year marks his 40th anniversary as a professor), is part of the Smithsonian's permanent collection and will be on view when the museum opens later this month.
As Anchorman's Ron Burgundy would say, this is "kind of a big deal." The Smithsonian Institution acquired Newsum's After the Storm CNN in 2013, and another painting inspired by his grandmother, Ghost Series Sirigu, Janie's Apron, the year before.
Exhibits will cover difference-makers like Olympic superstar Carl Lewis, musician Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins and the "Little Rock Nine," as well as pivotal events like the flooding of the Mississippi River in 1927 and the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Can't make it to Washington, D.C.? The Houston Museum of African American Culture also is opening an exhibit this month titled "Now and Forever: The Journey Never Ends," a retrospective of 13 paintings by Newsum that's curated by John Guess Jr. The works demonstrate much of the artist's trademark symbolism, some with vivid colors, with most of the works being large in scale.
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As mentor and teacher to countless students at UHD, Newsum has both inspired emerging artists and collaborated with them, inviting students to help in the creation and installation of pieces including the whimsical public installation on Main Street, Planter and Stems, and the ceiling-hung Ladder of Hope at the Acres Home Multi-Service Center.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on September 24, 1400 Constitution Avenue NW, 202-633-4751, nmaahc.si.edu.
"Now and Forever: The Journey Ever Ends" opens September 17 and runs through November 12, Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline, 713-526-1015, hmaac.org. Free.
Newsum also has a solo exhibit of two-dimensional pieces themed around kites running January 14 through February 18, 2017 at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, 346-800-2780, longneckergallery.com. Free.