Devoted to the full scope and career of Richard W. Dempsey (1909-1987), one of the most important and prolific AfricanAmerican artists of the 20th century, this retrospective presents a unique, comprehensive glimpse of the development of the artist’s work over four decades. Bringing together over 45 artworks encompassing the artist’s life repertoire beginning with his early portraits made while attending the California School of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, CA, in the 1930s, to his experimental figurative works of the 1950s, and from the colorful, playful works inspired by many trips to the Caribbean throughout his career, to later utilitarian, abstract motifs.
Richard Dempsey was raised in Oakland, CA, and later lived and worked in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Amid the Great Depression, Richard Dempsey responded to one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” by writing a letter to the President stating he wanted to do his part for the country. His bold commitment yielded him a position as engineering draftsman for the U.S. Federal Power Commission. In 1946, along with Elizabeth Catlett, he was awarded a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for a series of paintings, “Outstanding American Negroes”. In 1951, he received a six-week invitation from the Haitian government to paint scenes of Haitian life, and Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Purchase Award, among many others.
Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend, Black History Month in February, and the 50th and 150th anniversaries in 2013 of two momentous events in American history – the March on Washington in 1963 and the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 – with a trip to the Alexandria Museum of Art to view artworks by prominent AfricanAmerican artist, Richard W. Dempsey, and lectures, family classes, and other events related to the artist’s work. Accompanying catalogue essay by Dr. Eloise Johnson, Ph.D. Organized by Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans.
Thursday, December 6, 2012, 5:30pm: 6th Night of Christmas
Storytelling throughout the museum celebrating holiday traditions of different cultures, FREE!
Friday, December 7, 2012, 6:00-8:00pm: Member Exhibition Preview Reception
Members are invited for a special Curator’s tour and preview of Richard W. Dempsey: Recollections
Thursday, December 20, 2012, 6–8pm: “Clementine Hunter: Her Life & Art”
Book signing with authors Art Shiver & Tom Whitehead, FREE!
Thursday, January 24, 2013, 6:00pm:
“Richard Dempsey’s Modernism:
Art, Travel and Identity Construction in Mid-20th Century America”
Lecture by Dr. Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd, Xavier University Professor of Art History, FREE!
The lecture will examine the artist’s prolific body of abstractions, charting how his work was shaped by extensive travels through Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean as well as an active exploration of Modernist art practices such as Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. The lecture will also consider the artist’s engagement with the Washington, DC-based “Little Paris Studio,” founded in 1946 by noted African-American artist and Howard University professor Lois Mailou Jones and the French painter Celine Tabary.
Saturday, January 26, 2013, 10:30am: Active Action Painting Family Class
Painting using techniques inspired by the colorful, abstract works of Richard W. Dempsey
Alexandria Museum of Art, 933 2nd St (Main St), Alexandria, LA 71301
318-443-3458 / themuseum.org / Tue–Fri 10–5, Sat 10–4