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Zita Cousens

Art gallery owner Zita Cousens was born on July 30, 1953 in Lowell, Massachusetts to Major M. Cousens and Inez Lopez Cousens. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in psychology from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1975 and 1978, respectively.

Cousens began her career as a resource teacher for the Boston Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts. She eventually became a guidance counselor and served in that role for more than thirty years. In 1980, Cousens co-founded the Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts with painter Stephen Rose. The gallery houses a diverse collection of art as well as a retail space and has showcased works by artists such as Delilah W. Pierce, Lois Mailou Jones, John Breckenridge, M.C. Lamarre, Mark Zeender, and Boston Globe photographer Derrick Jackson. Cousens also hosted a book signings for Oak Bluffs author Dorothy West, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lani Guinier, Jill Nelson, Stephen L. Carter, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Charles Ogletree, and the late Bebe Moore Campbell and Gwen Ifill.

Cousens hosts an annual reception at the art gallery for the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Ground’s cottage tour and fundraiser, which provides awards for children during the All Island Art Show, and raises funds for the local hospital. Cousens has also served on the Gala Host Committee for the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston and is a Friend of the Studio Museum of Harlem.

Cousens and her husband, Michael Brown, have two children.

Zita Cousens was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 17, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.153

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/23/2017

Last Name

Cousens

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Zita

Birth City, State, Country

Lowell

HM ID

COU05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cancun and San Francisco

Favorite Quote

Success is a choice.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/30/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grilled duck

Short Description

Art gallery owner Zita Cousens (1953 - ) was a guidance counselor at the Boston Latin School for over thirty years and co-founded the Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.

Favorite Color

Peach and tea

Samuel Akainyah

Painter Samuel Akainyah was born in Ghana on September 5, 1953. His father was a Ghanaian Supreme Court justice, and his mother was a teacher. He was one of five children. Akainyah attended a boarding high school before moving to Chicago, Illinois, in 1975 and enrolling into the School of the Art Institute to study fine art and art history. He received his B.A. degree in 1979 and later received his M.A. degree. While in school, Akainyah completed a mural at St. Sabina Church, on Chicago’s South Side. Akainyah also received his M.A. degree in diplomacy and international law from the Graduate Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago.

After graduate school, Akainyah began using his African history knowledge and his painting skills to create highly expressive paintings. In the early 1980s, one of his frescos was sold at a celebrity auction and later became a poster for the NAACP. A decade later, “Akainyah: The Art of Liberation,” became a traveling exhibition worldwide, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela and those who have died in South African prisons. In 1994, Professor Beverly Ross-Normand wrote and hosted a forty-minute television program for children entitled Initiations, which juxtaposed Akainyah’s painting of the initiation of Ghanian males against the rising gang subculture in America. A few years later, Akainyah became a faculty member in the humanities department at Kennedy-King Community College in Chicago. He has published three books including a 2008 autobiography.

Akainyah was honored by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois when they proclaimed February 15, 1999, as Samuel Akainyah Day in Chicago. That same year, he was elected as the official artist of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In 2005, he presented the President of Ghana with an 11’ X 11’ painting entitled, From Whence We Came, valued at $80,000. A year later, he was named one of the fifty most influential African Americans in Chicago by N’Digo magazine. Akainyah has been a member of the Rald Institute and Ghana National Council of Metropolitan Chicago. He has also chaired the Black Creativity Art Competition at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Akainyah lives in Chicago and has his own art gallery. He is married to Kim Akainyah. They have three children.

Accession Number

A2008.092

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/18/2008 |and| 12/14/2009

Last Name

Akainyah

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

University of Chicago

St. Monica's

Kumasi High School

Kumasi Academy

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Samuel

HM ID

AKA01

Favorite Season

None

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/5/1953

Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

Ghana

Favorite Food

Soup (Peanut Butter), Fufu, Stew (Spinach), Beans (Fried), Plantains (Fried)

Short Description

Art gallery owner Samuel Akainyah (1953 - ) was elected as the official artist of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1999. He owned Akainyah Gallery, and taught at Kennedy-King College.

Employment

Akainyah Gallery

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:534,6:1157,14:14536,177:20230,286:21106,297:22639,316:23150,324:26800,380:34910,481:40361,595:42017,635:42569,644:44363,687:44984,697:49250,707:52800,782:53439,793:57273,856:57628,862:57983,868:58409,880:59190,893:59474,898:60326,913:61249,929:62101,945:78269,1213:81748,1275:92237,1375:93478,1398:94208,1407:94865,1417:95522,1428:96398,1445:107369,1618:108860,1696:110848,1734:111274,1741:112552,1762:113262,1773:115676,1817:115960,1822:121460,1842:121971,1853:139780,2143:140728,2157:142940,2193:149092,2256:149628,2283:164110,2459:165982,2492:170230,2568:171238,2583:172606,2604:177380,2679$0,0:840,15:1400,26:2450,45:2800,51:3430,64:4060,74:4550,82:5740,103:6370,116:7000,126:7490,134:8680,156:9870,176:11410,209:11830,216:18250,280:19238,313:21898,347:24026,385:24862,399:25394,407:30750,412:31608,425:38862,536:39252,543:39564,548:40500,571:41202,587:41670,594:43386,626:44088,637:44712,646:46974,685:47286,690:49002,723:49392,729:50094,741:50640,750:50952,755:52746,772:61078,823:61816,835:63374,863:68540,943:69360,954:72148,1014:77778,1075:78857,1093:79272,1099:79687,1106:84086,1164:84916,1175:85497,1183:85829,1188:86908,1205:91368,1232:91900,1240:93800,1279:94408,1289:95244,1301:96308,1322:98132,1362:98740,1370:99500,1385:100108,1393:100868,1404:101552,1414:106046,1446:106670,1454:107996,1478:112130,1554:112754,1563:113690,1577:116342,1615:116654,1620:117278,1629:121850,1686:122600,1697:124175,1726:125075,1741:127550,1798:128000,1805:128525,1829:131225,1885:131825,1894:132650,1907:139210,1999:140570,2014:141370,2027:144090,2073:145690,2096:146410,2108:149930,2180:154190,2188:154498,2193:154883,2199:155807,2214:157130,2226
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Akainyah's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the Nzema language

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his father's law career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his father's first two marriages

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah recalls his mother's career as a headmistress

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah describes his parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah talks about polygamy in Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes his upbringing in the British colony of Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the customs of the Nzema

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the Nzema burial rites

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah remembers the Ghanaian military coup of 1966, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah remembers the Ghanaian military coup of 1966, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah describes the impact of the military coup upon Ghanaians

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah recalls Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah's literacy programs

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon Kwame Nkrumah's legacy in Ghana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah recalls the impact of the military coup upon his family

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah describes the aversion to politics in Ghana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon Ghana's political turmoil

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah describes his schooling in Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah describes his decision to leave Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the economic opportunities in Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the philanthropic opportunities in Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes his early interest in art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah describes his choice of paint media

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his education in Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the connection between parents and their children

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah remembers his decision to study art

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Samuel Akainyah describes the development of his art movement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Akainyah's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah recalls transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah remembers the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes the differences between Ghana and the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah recalls his instructors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah talks about Claude Monet

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah talks about Pablo Picasso

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah talks about African American artists who influenced him

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Samuel Akainyah describes Chicago's African American artists and gallery owners

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the themes of his artwork

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his musical interests

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah recalls Father Michael Pfleger's financial support

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the size of his paintings

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes his artistic career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah describes 'The Father Clements Story'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah remembers Harold Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his studies in diplomacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah's policies, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah's policies, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah remembers his instructors at the University of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah recalls his final term paper at the University of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah describes the relations between the United States and Ghana

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his decision to remain in the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his decision to remain in the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah talks about Ghanian expatriate communities

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah talks about gender roles in the Nzema culture

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the artistic concept of dualism

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Samuel Akainyah describes his dualist paintings

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his move to the United States

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah describes the influence of history on his artwork

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah describes his plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his career as an artist

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes the community of black gallery owners

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the patrons of his art

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah describes his students at Kennedy-King College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah talks about his commissioned artwork

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Samuel Akainyah describes his favorite painting

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his career as a professor

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah describes his hopes for Ghana

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah describes Ghana's influence on the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the history of slavery in Ghana, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah talks about the history of slavery in Ghana, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Samuel Akainyah describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Samuel Akainyah describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Samuel Akainyah remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Samuel Akainyah reflects upon his legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Samuel Akainyah describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Samuel Akainyah narrates his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$7

DAStory

4$9

DATitle
Samuel Akainyah reflects upon Kwame Nkrumah's legacy in Ghana
Samuel Akainyah describes his dualist paintings
Transcript
Other African countries took the cue, and to-date, and one more statistical data, in that period, he built over twenty-seven government chartered boarding schools and secondary schools, littered through the length and breadth of the country. And one amazing paradigm he brought: every school was required to have a student population that reflected the entire demographic of the country. So, classes were taught in English, no doubt; we studied Latin and French. However, after classes, you can hear the Fante speaking and the Ashanti students speaking, the Ga students speaking. So, in the process, your average Ghanaian student, graduate from those high schools spoke three of the different languages just by hearing their classmates speak it in the dormitory, in addition to French and English. To-date, it is probably--the Ghanaians will tell the truth about this. It's probably the only reason why our country has not seen any of the riffs of sectorial and ethnic cleavages on the--in the manner that Rwanda, Tutsi, Hutu; and the Darfur [Sudan], Janjaweed; and all the rest of it. We--and even in Igbo, Ife, Beninian conflicts (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah and in Nigeria, yes sir--$$We don't have that because the three of us--your camera, you the host, myself as the guest. Now, it could be Nzema, Ashanti and Ewe; we're in the same school, but we are classmates. How can I wage any bloodshed against my classmates? And this is what Nkrumah [Kwame Nkrumah] was trying to advocate and, of course, hindsight is always 20/20, as has been advocated. So, now, people see the wisdom of what he was trying to do, yeah. And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) But they saw him as being disruptive at the time.$$Of the social institutions and the prevailing traditional tenets of the time. It, it was very much intrusive, and this was a perception. And even to make it worse, when the farmers' children left the plantations completely, then he thought, that being the case--then all the men who were illiterate and could not work, he formed what's called the Builders [Builders Brigade] and the Farmers Brigade, and purchased huge plots of land to plant palm trees and rubber trees, and these men were, were working in the plantations and they had a salary, and the salary seemed to be better, and so the farmers thought Nkrumah was trying to nationalize farming, so that was also another--. So, the, the, the inner currents that fulgurated enough to cause the rifts in the country were purely from the agricultural sector.$$Okay.$$Yes; it was never discrimination because his covenant reflected the entire country. You had northerners, you had Ewes, you know.$So, throughout some of my paintings, you can stand east and see something totally different, and stand west and see something totally different; or you can take the artwork in total and turn the whole artwork upside down and read a whole 'nother interpretation out of it. And so this is it. I took a piece like that to Christie's titled 'Man At Work' [ph.]. And on one part, Maasai warriors were sitting down mourning the death of one of their comrades; and it was cast against a dark blue sky; and their, their clothing was red lit with a fire that they were sitting around. Turned upside down, that black--that blue sky became the warriors with their heads, and the red clothing down became the bright sun; they were going back to the field to seek revenge, to find that lion that killed the man and, and so on. So, even if you look at the artwork that is behind me (gesture), this piece evolved to be the official artwork for the 1996 Democratic National Convention [Chicago, Illinois] and it, it captures everything I've just said. You will see three architectural symbols: one, the White House, source of executive authority, located on the far left of California because they have the largest legislative votes. To the extreme right you have the [U.S.] Capitol, the source of legislative authority. And then right in the center, you see the [U.S.] Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court is a source of judicial authority. And on the Supreme Court, you see the flag because independence of the judiciary is really the brick and mortar of the American separation of powers. And enshrined in that is the huge American flag, and you see the Sears Tower [Willis Tower] and the Buckingham Fountain as two iconographic images for the City of Chicago [Illinois]. When that artwork is turned upside down, all that confetti that you see pouring down on the Democratic Party, they actually become human heads, and they're all running a marathon holding and hoisting the flag up, and the idea is that we should stand up and hold America high. Why? Because this is the last beacon on earth. There is no country, Mr. Crowe [Larry Crowe], no country on earth, where you have a citizen from every country in the world in it.

Peg Alston

Private art dealer Peg Alston was born in Camden, New Jersey on December 31, 1938. As a child, Alston always wanted to make a difference. Prior to starting her private art dealership, Alston worked as a social worker from 1969 to 1975. She obtained her B.A. degree from New York University in 1960 and obtained her M.S.W. degree from Columbia University in 1964. She has also continued to study various art classes at the New School for Social Research. Her career in art began in 1969 as a council member for the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York. Inspired by art and private dealing, she became the publicity director for Cinque Gallery. Becoming frustrated because of the lack of visibility for African American artists, she established the Peg Alston Gallery in 1975, a private art dealership, specializing in African American art and sculpture.

Alston has held numerous art-related positions. In 1978, she served as a panel member on the New York State Council for the Arts where she helped to bring visibility to African American artists. In 1980, Alston became the curator for Retour Aux Sources, the first exhibit of African American artists in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and West Africa. In 1989, she was the coordinator for the Celebration of Tokyo and New York City as Sister Cities Art Festival, which led to her receiving the Distinction of Honor Award by the New York Coalition of Black Women that same year. From 1990 to 1992, she and Dr. Kaye E. Davis co-sponsored Established Art Seminars in New York City, which helped to bring African American art to a broader audience.

Alston continues to work to promote the works of African American artists. In 1995, she was Honorary Chair Person for Black Pearls: Treasures of African American Women Artists, an exhibit presented by the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women at New York City’s Cinque Gallery. Also in 1995, she was a panel speaker for Collecting African American Art at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey and she was also a panel speaker at the Conference on Female Entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which was sponsored by the National Association of Female Executives. Alston has received several awards for her work in African American Art including a Certificate of Recognition from National Scene Magazine.

Alston lives in New York with her husband and continues to run the Peg Alston Gallery of African American art and sculpture.

Accession Number

A2006.032

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/2/2006 |and| 3/7/2006

Last Name

Alston

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Sumner

Camden High School

Columbia University School of Social Work

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Peg

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

ALS01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Thank You, God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/31/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Vegetables

Short Description

Art gallery owner Peg Alston (1938 - ) is a private art dealer who established the Peg Alston Gallery in 1975. Alston's gallery has received recognition for promoting the artwork of African American artists and sculptors.

Employment

Seamen's Society for Children

City University of New York

Peg Alston Fine Arts Gallery

Favorite Color

Neutral Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:1196,8:2116,34:9752,187:11776,211:15272,272:15732,278:22716,385:23700,405:24192,414:33950,636:38788,724:44986,762:46746,785:56372,909:56780,917:57256,929:57732,937:63779,994:81151,1220:92210,1371$0,0:505,4:7070,155:10302,242:18473,305:22636,323:24016,343:28064,421:28524,427:29904,443:35332,517:49725,590:52100,666:53335,693:54380,713:57420,756:70080,868:70456,873:78070,1039:96648,1194:99170,1231:105130,1270:108658,1321:109330,1331:113278,1391:114202,1404:114790,1412:127365,1512:128285,1527:138834,1696:139369,1708:143910,1768:145030,1784:146150,1803:148310,1845:151110,1963:152550,1991:154230,2040:158151,2056:160973,2122:165953,2210:178070,2310:178902,2321:182182,2349:185954,2407:186692,2417:188004,2437:188660,2445:191220,2459
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Peg Alston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Peg Alston lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Peg Alston describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Peg Alston describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Peg Alston describes her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Peg Alston describes her paternal grandmother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Peg Alston describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Peg Alston describe her genetic makeup

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Peg Alston describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Peg Alston remembers her grandmother's influence

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Peg Alston recalls her childhood neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Peg Alston recalls her difficult childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Peg Alston remembers quitting her violin lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Peg Alston remembers childhood Christmas celebrations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Peg Alston recalls her teachers at Charles Sumner Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Peg Alston recalls her organizational participation in Camden

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Peg Alston recalls her decision to study social work

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Peg Alston describes people who influenced her in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Peg Alston describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Peg Alston remembers New Jersey's Camden High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Peg Alston remembers her childhood understanding of racism

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Peg Alston describes her extracurricular activities at Camden High School

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Peg Alston recalls her experience of racial discrimination at the YWCA

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Peg Alston remembers being refused service at a Camden restaurant

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Peg Alston remembers deciding to attend New York University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Peg Alston recalls adjusting to life at New York University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Peg Alston remembers living in Greenwich Village in New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Peg Alston describes the African American community at New York University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Peg Alston recalls discovering art while babysitting in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Peg Alston describes the woman who employed her as a babysitter

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Peg Alston remembers entering the art world

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Peg Alston describes her career in social work

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Peg Alston talks about the Spiral group

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Peg Alston describes her early interest in African sculpture

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Peg Alston remembers holding an African sculpture show at her apartment

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Peg Alston remembers being mentored by Romare Bearden

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Peg Alston recalls showing Edward Clark's artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Peg Alston describes the novelty of exhibiting African American art

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Peg Alston talks about the demarcation of black art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Peg Alston recalls holding a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Peg Alston remembers educating herself and others about black art

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Peg Alston describes the public's ignorance of black art

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Peg Alston describes her response to Jean-Michel Basquiat's popularity

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Peg Alston shares her opinion on Jean-Michel Basquiat's art

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Peg Alston's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Peg Alston talks about her mother's family history

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Peg Alston talks about her uncle's experience as a Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Peg Alston recalls finding photographs for the Black Theatre Festival-U.S.A.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Peg Alston recalls contributing to an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Peg Alston talks about Edward Clark

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Peg Alston talks about Merton Simpson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Peg Alston recalls selling the artwork of Elizabeth Catlett and Jacob Lawrence

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Peg Alston remembers discovering Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Peg Alston remembers an exhibit at City College of New York in 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Peg Alston talks about African American art and history

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Peg Alston talks about the role of the Studio Museum of Harlem

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Peg Alston describes her mission for Peg Alston Fine Arts Gallery

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Peg Alston describes how she chooses art

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Peg Alston talks about William T. Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Peg Alston talks about Al Loving

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Peg Alston talks about Howardena Pindell

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Peg Alston describes African American art galleries in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Peg Alston describes the broadening audience for black art

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Peg Alston describes the National Black Fine Art Show

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Peg Alston describes her hopes for the Peg Alston Fine Arts Gallery

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Peg Alston recalls promoting the artwork of Norman Lewis

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Peg Alston reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Peg Alston talks about her selection as HistoryMaker

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Peg Alston reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Peg Alston describes her vocation in art

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Peg Alston narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

13$3

DATitle
Peg Alston remembers being refused service at a Camden restaurant
Peg Alston describes the novelty of exhibiting African American art
Transcript
Another time, well again that was before I graduated [from Camden High School, Camden, New Jersey]. Graduation, the prom it was, I planned where we as a group, there may have been about twelve of us were going after, after the prom for dinner and to celebrate. It was a place called the Hawaiian [Hawaiian Cottage, Cherry Hill, New Jersey]--I can't remember now, I guess I've really blocked it now, and this was like you know you're passing out of Camden [New Jersey] and you see this and it was the front of it was the shape of a pineapple and it looked great and I guess black people I never knew of a black person going there, but this was certainly a place to go. Your prom, you know, you want something that's really fantastic. I called and I never made reservations any place before, but I figured here twelve people, at least twelve people I made reservations, we went after the prom, and then they told me they didn't have my name and I'm one, you know, I said, "Well let me see the book," and then my friends said, "Come on Vonnie [HistoryMaker Peg Alston]," you know as they all told me, "Let's not, let's you know, we'll go somewhere else." I was crying I was so upset, very upset, but and you know after that, years after it was integrated, but I didn't know, but you know I had never set and would never want to. I don't think it exists now, but anyway.$So, that did a lot for Ed [HistoryMaker Edward Clark] in the black community, introducing his work. What did that do for you as an art dealer hosting his first show (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I learned, I learned a lot just in terms of presenting an, an exhibit, and it was always, you know, I knew that I was in the right field; it all felt good. What I was doing, you know, just felt right for me. I mean I was doing what I enjoyed, even though mind you, you know, we're not talking about successful, often successful monetarily because there were many, many months when I didn't know how I was gonna pay my rent, but I also learned not to worry. I also, something told me you know that you know that, that was, you know, would be work--working against me and, but just to believe that it would work out and it did. So, it was always an uphill. This was, this business was, 'cause I mean it was sort of unprecedented in terms of as I look back and what I was doing. There, there was not another dealer doing what I was doing that I could speak to, that I could get some tips from. I just learned as I went along. I tried to buy, and at that time in the '70s [1970s] very little documentation on black artists, so I purchased whatever I could in terms of catalogs, I mean you know I had just reams of now, whenever, even African sculpture I would just buy whatever books were available on African sculpture and the first book I knew that came out about black artists with the exception of an art, somebody from, from Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.]--now I can't think--his mind--I just can't think, in the '40s [1940s]. I can't think of the, the, the book now or the name of the person, but it'll come to me. But, after that there was no information and early '70s [1970s] there was a book or mid-'70s [1970s] that came out called 'The African American'--'Afro-American Artist' ['The Afro-American Artist: A Search For Identity'] by Elsa Honig Fine. And up to that point Bearden [Romare Bearden] did a lot of writing because again there was just this dearth of, of material. There was none available and so he contributed what he could. So, there were about two or three books that have been, you know, co-written, by Romare Bearden in the '70s [1970s]. So, I was just saying that there were, you know, very little information written, et cetera, and also no galleries, no galleries that specialized in African American art--

George N'Namdi

Art dealer and educator George R. N’Namdi was born September 12, 1946, in Columbus, Ohio; his grandfather, Rev. Langdon E. Johnson was a noted businessman and “race man” in West Virginia. N’Namdi's father, George R. Johnson, a postal worker, helped N’Namdi’s mother, Ima Jo Winson Johnson, open three beauty shops. Fascinated by earning money, N’Namdi worked several jobs while attending Felton Elementary School, and Franklin and Champion Junior High Schools. N’Namdi graduated from Columbus East High School in 1965. Changing his major from accounting to education, N’Namdi graduated from Ohio State University in 1970; he earned his master’s degree in education and another in psychology before obtaining his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1974.

In 1970, N’Namdi was appointed regional education director for Head Start in Southwestern Ohio. When he moved to Ann Arbor in 1972 to work on his graduate degrees in psychology, N’Namdi became involved with the Black Student Psychological Association and cultural thinkers such as Geneva Smitherman and Niara Sudarkasa. During this period, N’Namdi and his wife changed their surnames to N’Namdi, which means “father’s name lives on” in the Ibo language of Eastern Nigeria. In the mid seventies, N’Namdi served as a therapist at Milan Federal Prison and taught courses at the University of Michigan. In 1978, N’Namdi and his wife Carmen founded the Nataki Talibah School House; the Detroit based independent grade school, named for their late daughter, consistently outperformed local and state schools while teaching transcendental meditation and emphasizing the arts.

N’Namdi began collecting art in 1968; with a partner, in 1981, he opened Jazzonia Gallery. In 1982 N’Namdi launched his family based G.R. N’Namdi Gallery; he later expanded his holdings to include galleries in Chicago and in New York City. N’Namdi’s son, Jumaane, manages the Chicago gallery and his daughter, Kemba, helps with the Detroit site. While exhibiting the works of artists Hughie Lee Smith, James VanDerZee, Allie McGhee, and Barbara Chase Riboud, N’Namdi is creating a $3 million dollar complex in Detroit’s Cultural Center arts district.

Accession Number

A2005.018

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/18/2005 |and| 1/20/2005

Last Name

N'Namdi

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Michigan

Felton Laboratory Charter School

Franklin Junior High School

Champion Avenue School

East High School

The Ohio State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

NNA01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring, Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Life Treats Me The Same Everyday. My Ability To Handle It May Vary From Day To Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

9/12/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Art gallery owner George N'Namdi (1946 - ) founded with his wife the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse, an independent school in Detroit that emphasized transcendental meditation and the arts. In 1992, N'Namdi opened the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery in Detroit that later expanded to Chicago and New York.

Favorite Color

Green, Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:6308,159:6764,166:7980,174:14516,283:26637,414:143670,1940:148695,2039:169509,2227:169914,2233:173810,2261$0,0:28380,467:43347,601:98514,1401:114085,1542:133484,1849:160966,2205:161726,2216:163246,2234:169934,2297:200010,2708:213930,2893
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George N'Namdi's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes his maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes his maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes his mother's childhood and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George N'Namdi describes his father's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi describes his father's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes his father's support for his mother's beauty salon

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi shares his childhood memories of watching his father play baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi shares his memories of his family's house and land

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes his father's humanitarian service

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi recalls learning about his grandfather on the internet

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes being influenced by his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George N'Namdi describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George N'Namdi names his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi names his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes his childhood personality

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes his early interest in entrepreneurship

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi recalls how he learned to be an entrepreneur

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes his early interest in fashion, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes his early interest in fashion, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes his experience in elementary school and junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi recalls the junior high school teachers who influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George N'Namdi recalls manipulating the grading system at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi reflects on his experience at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi recalls his enjoyment of The Impressions and his understanding of politics in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi recalls how he made money in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes becoming a better student during his senior year at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes his skill at wrestling and his confrontational attitude at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes his college options when he graduated from Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes his experience living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and being mentored by Ernest Spaights

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes enrolling at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi describes hosting dances as a high school student

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes promoting dances while a student at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes his decision to switch majors from accounting to education at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes the challenges he encountered at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes the African American community at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes race relations in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes the racism at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes his experience working as a supervisor for the Head Start Program in Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of George N'Namdi's interview

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes his positions at the Head Start Program and getting married in 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes enrolling at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi compares his experiences at The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi recalls the professors he worked with at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes his dissertation in psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes his dissertation committee at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi shares his experience at the University of Michigan and volunteering at Milan Federal Prison, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George N'Namdi shares his experience at the University of Michigan and volunteering at Milan Federal Prison, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - George N'Namdi describes teaching and designing courses at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi recalls the death of his youngest daughter, Nataki Talibah, and the decision to found the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi talks about his awareness of the Council of Independent Black Institutions

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes the decision to open the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes the philosophy of "the norm" at the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes teaching about the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes how he taught students at Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan to identify racism

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi talks about the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse becoming a charter school

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes his role in running the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi talks about implementing the philosophy of "the norm" as the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse has grown

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes some of the experiences available at the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes his teaching and research at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes the different rights and responsibilities of different age groups at the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes how the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse prepares students for high school

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi talks about the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, Michigan and its positive focus

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes beginning his collection of art and antiques, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes beginning his collection of art and antiques, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - George N'Namdi describes opening the Jazzonia Gallery in 1981

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - George N'Namdi describes the growth of the G. R. N'Namdi Gallery and its reputation for abstract art

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - George N'Namdi describes the art and artists featured at the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - George N'Namdi describes how the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery selects art to display and lists some of their artists

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - George N'Namdi describes the market for art at the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - George N'Namdi describes the difference between prints and reproductions or artworks

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - George N'Namdi describes his approach to education and service at the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - George N'Namdi describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - George N'Namdi describes his lack of regrets

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - George N'Namdi reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - George N'Namdi reflects on his parents' pride in him

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - George N'Namdi describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$2

DATape

6$9

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
George N'Namdi describes teaching and designing courses at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan
George N'Namdi describes how the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery selects art to display and lists some of their artists
Transcript
Also I taught courses [at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan], and I was a graduate teaching assistant. And sometimes I would make up, I would design courses that I would-- got the permission to teach. And--$$Which ones? I mean, can you give us an example?$$Um, I, most of my things was like on the family, around the family and family dynamics. Because I combined my anthropology, anthropology studies, where I studied cultural anthropology, and focused on the family. And I wanted to look at the family from a perspective of how were the African families in pre-colonial Africa? That is your basis for deciding what's off in the family. So, I would teach courses like that, mixing psychology and anthropology together.$$So, rather than use European family--$$Right.$$--structure as a paradigm, you used the African family structure, an African structure?$$Yes, right. To give you an example, I-- E. Franklin Frazier, who was, you know, one of the, was part of the Chicago [Illinois] golden era of sociology and did the book, "The Negro Family [in the United States]." Well, E. Franklin Frazier... I mean it's very important what E. Franklin Frazier did. Because it changed history, in terms of how we were related to. He, he was talking about the effects of enslavement on African people in America. What E. Franklin Frazier did, he used the European paradigm. So, he found this... how it's the broken family, but it's based upon being broken if you use the European paradigm. Now, it doesn't mean that the African families who were enslaved had not had destruction done to the family. What it meant, you didn't know what the destruction was. One example, you would say female head of households. Well, if you look at the African family, the mother and children had their own structure that they lived in. Because a lot of times, it was polygamy. So each wife would have their own house and children in that house. So, if you look at enslavement and say, "Oh, the woman's living in the house with her children, that's a bad sign. That shows it's been broken down because there's no man in that house." Well, historically, from a historical perspective, that woman would never have had a house where a man lived in anyway.$Now, how does it work? Do you purchase most of the works and then re-sell them? Or how do you--$$No, we do a lot on consignment. But we're like an exhibiting gallery. So, our exhibits stay up between six and eight weeks. And now, since we have three of them, we kind of rotate those exhibitions. They go from one gallery to the next. I mean, not necessarily immediately afterwards, but, so that's what we do there. So, you know, so that's what we do there in that way. So, we do-- we work primarily on consignment with the different artists. But we're a gallery that--we work to promote the artists, okay. It's not just about selling the work, but it's also about promoting their career.$$Okay.$$Because in the art field, the galleries are very important. Because, see, the museums take their cues from galleries, alright.$$Well who--well, go ahead, I'm sorry.$$Who are some of the artists?$$Yeah, I was going to ask that.$$Some of the artists that we work with--we work with [HM Edward] Ed Clark out in New York [New York City, New York] who grew up in Chicago [Illinois]; [Alvin] Al Loving in New York, he grew up in Detroit [Michigan]; Allie McGhee, who's from Detroit who still lives here; Nanette Carter, who's in New York; [HM] Howardena Pindell from New York; Vicente Pementel, who's from the Dominican Republic but now lives in Paris; Tyrone Mitchell, the sculptor, from New York; James Little from New York; [HM] Richard Hunt from Chicago; William T. Williams. Some of the, we deal with some of the major, major artists around the country, particularly in the African American community. Carol Ann Carter, who's a professor at the University of Kansas [Lawrence, Kansas]; you know, [HM] Artis Lane out of--$$Los Angeles [California], right.$$Los Angeles.$$Los Angeles, right.$$So we have kind of a mixture of artists that we, that we kind of represent.$$Okay. She's very, she's real strong in terms of representation, so--$$Yeah, yeah, she is, you know.$$So there's a mixture of different--$$Barbara Chase-Riboud. Barbara Chase is out of France, you know, she lives in France and Italy, you know. And oh, yeah, Herbert Gentry is one of the artists. We do carry some of the work, historical works, like Jacob Lawrence, Beauford Delaney, Romare Bearden and those people... Charles Alston. Like we say, we've exhibited Lois Mailou Jones. But we do, we do, like I said, we try to do formal exhibitions. We now do catalogs with our shows that travel. So, we have a document of what they do. So, you know, those are the-- that's what we kind of do with the business. And like I say, we try to position the gallery more so now to become an important institution in art. Because the more important that the gallery becomes in the art business, the more the museums or curators will listen to what the galleries-- they will know what the gallery is presenting, you see.

Ernestine Brown

Gallery director, arts advocate and civic leader Ernestine Turner Brown was born October 22, 1935 in Youngstown, Ohio. She was the first of three children born to Alma Hill and Isaac Turner. She attended Madison Elementary and East/North High Schools in Youngstown, Ohio and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Youngstown State University in 1959. Brown also completed post-baccalaureate work at Boston, Northwestern and Kent State Universities.

After graduating from Youngstown, Brown worked as a full-time business education teacher in the Cleveland Public Schools from 1960 until 1966, and then as a part-time instructor in business classes at Cuyahoga Community College until 1976. Since 1980, she has been the director and co-owner, with her husband water colorist Malcolm Brown, of the Malcolm Brown Gallery in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Under Brown’s directorship, the gallery has gained national and international recognition for increasing awareness and appreciation of the visual arts by exposing new and seasoned audiences to a broader spectrum of art and artists. Among the renowned African American artists whose works have been showcased in the Malcolm Brown Gallery are Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Selma Burke. Articles about the gallery’s exhibits have appeared in USA Today, Black Enterprise, and Essence Magazine among others.

In addition to serving a diverse audience of private collectors, Brown has worked to enhance and develop the art collections of public institutions and private corporations, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Coca-Cola Corporation. Brown is also a much sought-after speaker, addressing such topics as “Collecting Art: The African American Artist” and “the Role of the Gallery to Artists and Art Audiences.”

Brown is active in numerous professional and civic organizations, including the Advisory Outreach Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, the NAACP and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She is also the recipient of many awards and honors, including the “Salute to Excellence in Art” award from the National Council of Negro Women and the Cleveland Arts Prize “Special Citation for Distinguished Service to the Arts.”

Accession Number

A2004.022

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/15/2004

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

East High School

Madison Elementary School

North High School

Youngstown State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ernestine

Birth City, State, Country

Youngstown

HM ID

BRO19

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

New England, Southwestern United States

Favorite Quote

The Difference Between A Stepping Stone And A Stumbling Block Is How High You Step.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

10/22/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Sweet Potato Pie, Peach Cobbler

Short Description

Art gallery owner Ernestine Brown (1935 - ) was co-owner and director of the Malcolm Brown Gallery, which gained national and international recognition for increasing awareness and appreciation of the visual arts under her direction. Brown is active in numerous professional and civic organizations and has received many awards.

Employment

Cleveland Public Schools

Cuyahoga Community College

Malcolm Brown Gallery

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernestine Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernestine Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernestine Brown talks about her maternal family background and the role of the church in her family's life

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernestine Brown talks about her paternal family's migration north

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernestine Brown talks about family vacations to the South

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernestine Brown talks about her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernestine Brown describes her childhood neighborhood in Youngstown, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernestine Brown talks about her parents' relationship, their divorce, and assuming responsibilities as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernestine Brown describes her childhood neighborhood in Youngstown, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernestine Brown describes the smells and sounds of her childhood in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ernestine Brown talks about elementary school and her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ernestine Brown describes her childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernestine Brown talks about participating in oratory competitions in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernestine Brown talks about working as a secretary for a lawyer in Youngstown, Ohio during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernestine Brown talks about various secretarial jobs she held while in school at Youngstown University in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernestine Brown talks about applying for teaching positions after graduating from Youngstown University in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernestine Brown talks about employment opportunities for African American girls in Youngstown, Ohio during the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernestine Brown recalls the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernestine Brown talks about teaching in the Cleveland Public School System during the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernestine Brown talks about attending workshops at Boston University and returning to Boston in summer 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ernestine Brown describes how she met her husband, HistoryMaker Malcolm Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ernestine Brown recalls the March on Washington and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernestine Brown talks about protests and de facto school segregation in Cleveland, Ohio during the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernestine Brown reflects upon the unrest and assassinations of the late 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernestine Brown talks about returning to teaching in the Cleveland Public Schools in 1977 after giving birth to her three children

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernestine Brown talks about searching for a location for an art gallery

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernestine Brown remembers being forced to sign a restrictive covenant when she bought their first house in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernestine Brown talks about opening the Malcolm Brown Gallery in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1980

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernestine Brown talks about exhibitions by HistoryMaker Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Hughie Lee-Smith at the Malcolm Brown Gallery

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernestine Brown talks about operating the Malcolm Brown Gallery in Shaker Heights, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ernestine Brown reflects upon the role of art in society

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ernestine Brown talks about institutions that collect and showcase HistoryMaker Malcolm Brown's art

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ernestine Brown talks about running the Malcolm Brown Gallery in Shaker Heights, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ernestine Brown talks about developing a relationship with June Kelly, Romare Bearden's manager

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ernestine Brown describes the relationship between the Malcolm Brown Gallery and other arts organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ernestine Brown explains how the Cleveland Museum of Art acquired a painting by HistoryMaker Malcolm Brown

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ernestine Brown talks about her involvement with the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ernestine Brown talks about her children and volunteer activities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ernestine Brown describes her hopes for the future of art in America

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ernestine Brown talks about the relationship between race and American art

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

9$7

DATitle
Ernestine Brown describes how she met her husband, HistoryMaker Malcolm Brown
Ernestine Brown talks about exhibitions by HistoryMaker Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Hughie Lee-Smith at the Malcolm Brown Gallery
Transcript
--'Cause then [HM] Malcolm [Brown] was supposed to--I met him at--I met him at the BU [Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts] dorm--I met him at--no I saw him--you wanna hear this story?$$Yes.$$You got time?$$Yeah, I do.$$It's interesting. I was walking home from school one day and I was always fascinated by tall men and I came home and I said, "Linda [Wood Williams (ph.)] I saw a long, tall and fine walking down the street," (laughter), never saw him again. My mother [Alma Hill Turner] called me--I was gonna go to the Delta [Sigma Theta Sorority] Convention and my mother called me and said your sister [Alma Joyce Williams] has met this guy and she's talking about getting married to him and she just met him in the spring, she said you need to come home and talk to her. Well at that time, children listened to their parents, and I said, "Linda I don't think I'm gonna go to the convention." It was not a situation where today you have to in order to get your hotel, you have to register first, I had just--I wa--it was just a thought to go. It wasn't--I wasn't all registered to go. So I said okay, and I said, "Linda my classes are finished I'm gonna go home." She had a couple more classes, finals to take. And I said--I told her the whole story and she--and I said to her well--she said, "Why don't we go tell the dining hall goodbye." I said, "Ooh, that's a good idea; we might see him," (laughter). So, we go, silly girls and from across I span the room, pan the room is it what--what do you see in town-- say in television lingo?$$Pan.$$Pan the room? I pan the room, I said, "Ooh Linda, there he is," (laughter). She said, "You wanna sit beside him?" I said, "Yeah," well we had been seeing these African guys, my friend was a young Jewish fella, had introduced us to these African fellas, and I said well we been you know we been talking to them, so let's go sit with them. And as Linda--'cause they were waving, so Linda went to sit with them and because there were not many African Americans there at this school, you know people are far more friendly, from across a crowded room, he waved. And Linda and I waved back and then he motioned with his hands, you know come this direction. Women today would go, woman of that era, we motioned to him you come. He, after he had lunch, he walked over, you know where you from and that kind of conversation. Linda had to go to class; he said can I walk you home? And I said yeah, but you see I violated that--that thing that we had about we would not--but that's not a date, that was just a walk home, right (laughter)?$$Right.$$And I told him that--well he wanted to--he wanted to go out that evening, I couldn't go out that evening. But I said call me and then the next day he did and I said to Linda--she said, "Well now if you wait a couple more days, we can all drive home together." Well I was--I was telling everybody I met goodbye, and I had all these things, dates lined up anyway, or dinners and luncheons, the rest is history. I was supposed to meet him at the March on Washington because that's where I was going to go and that didn't pan out. But when you talk about the history of--of the period, I did go--came home and I did go with Karamu [House, Cleveland, Ohio]--you know I was--we were one of the busloads that went to the March on Washington. And I was just talking to my grandson about that last month, during Black History Month. Because I had--was saying Avery do you know about the March--I said do you know who [Reverend] Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.] is, and he was telling me yes, and I said well grandma heard him give his I Have A Dream speech.$So we went about showcasing at its best in 1981, we opened [Malcolm Brown Gallery, Shaker Heights, Ohio] in 1980. Nineteen eighty-one [1981], we have a show of [HM] Elizabeth Catlett's work and you--and you know the world now knows how important she is. Nineteen eighty-two [1982], we bring Romare Bearden here and it blew the comm- it blew the art world and--I don't wanna--maybe I--I mean I saying it in the wrong way. But because he had never had an exhibition in a black owned gallery, and his, his gallery in New York [New York] was Cordier [&] Ekstrom, he was only known to have Ek- museum shows. And our show it came on the hills of his exhibition that traveled to four or five museums started in 1980. 1982 he was here in the flesh.$$Okay.$$Which was wonderful. We started with a lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Art [Cleveland, Ohio]. At that time, up to that time, they had never allowed an artist to lecture that they did not bring to town. And we got all kinds of--it was just wonderful. People from around the country flew in to see the work of Romare Bearden at the Malcolm Brown Gallery.$$Okay.$$And then we went on. Hughie Lee-Smith who has Cleveland [Ohio] connections but had not shown here in fifty years, we had an exhibition of his in 1984 and it just kept--it just continued on and on and on. Everybody that we brought, it was--with the exception of Hughie Lee-Smith, because of his Cleveland connection, but a half century of not being here, it was the first exhibition for the State of Ohio. And people came and I have people tell me now, say Ernestine, I remember when Romare Bearden came to your gallery. Or I remember when Elizabeth Catlett came with the exhibition that was at the museum. In 2002, she opened with us on that Friday, September 20th I believe and then the 21st she went to the museum, people were just amazed when they realized that she had been coming--we had been showing her work all along, but it hadn't clicked as to the significance of this--of this woman. And then with this recent exhibition [The Art of Romare Bearden] at the National Gallery [of Art, Washington, D.C.]--that opened at the National Gallery of his work and then that will show--will tour, it's very significant.$$Yeah.

Isobel Neal

Born Isobel Hoskins July 28, 1933 in New York City, Neal attended PS70 in Brooklyn and graduated from Franklin K. Lane High School in 1951. Neal studied at the University of Michigan from 1951 to 1953, but returned to Brooklyn and earned her B.A. degree in History from New York University in 1955. That same year, she married Attorney Earl Langdon Neal and moved to Chicago.

In Chicago, Neal taught at Mason, Shakespeare and Beethoven public schools beginning in 1955. From1965 to 1975, she taught homebound students. In 1977 she received a M.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology form University of California at Santa Barbara. Neal also volunteered on the boards of various cultural institutions and organizations including: the Illinois Arts Alliance, DuSable Museum of African American History, the Illinois Humanities Council, New Regal Theatre, Cultural Center Foundation and Art Resources in Teaching. Her involvement with the annual "Black Creativity" art exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry inspired her to develop her own gallery.

In 1986 Isobel Neal opened The Isobel Neal Gallery. Featured artists over the years have included: William Carter, Jonathan Green, Geraldine McCullough, Madeline Rabb, Elizabeth Catlett, Herbert House, Norman Lewis, Bennie Andrews, Reese Bennett and many others. The Isobel Neal Gallery identified and cultivated a hidden community of black art lovers while creating a venue for quality art. Neal retired from the gallery in 1996, passing the mantle of Chicago representation for many of the artists on to George R. N’Namdi. Still active as a curator of art shows, Neal lives in Chicago with husband, Earl, where she enjoys time with her four grandchildren.

Accession Number

A2004.005

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/22/2004

Last Name

Neal

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Franklin K. Lane High School

P.S. 70

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Isobel

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

NEA02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/28/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Art gallery owner Isobel Neal (1933 - ) has taught in public schools in Chicago and has volunteered on the boards of various cultural organizations. In 1986, she opened The Isobel Neal Gallery, which identified and cultivated a hidden community of African American art lovers while creating a venue for quality art.

Employment

Mason Elementary School

Beethoven Elementary School

Shakespeare Elementary School

Isobel Neal Gallery

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Isobel Neal's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Isobel Neal lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Isobel Neal describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Isobel Neal describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Isobel Neal describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Isobel Neal describes her mother's personality and work

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Isobel Neal describes her father's personality and work

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Isobel Neal describes her earliest memory in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Isobel Neal describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Isobel Neal describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Isobel Neal talks about attending P.S. 70 in Brooklyn, New York and her father's expectations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Isobel Neal talks about her interest in art while attending New York University in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Isobel Neal describes attending Franklin K. Lane High School in Queens, New York in the late 1940s, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Isobel Neal describes her experience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Isobel Neal describes attending Franklin K. Lane High School in Queens, New York in the late 1940s, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Isobel Neal talks about her switch to being a history major, and her lack of understanding about African American history growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Isobel Neal describes her experience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Isobel Neal talks about completing her undergraduate degree in history at New York University in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Isobel Neal describes her move to and experiences living in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Isobel Neal describes HistoryMaker Earl Neal's emergency operation while she was in a program at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Isobel Neal talks about her employment in the Chicago Department of Welfare's children division

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Isobel Neal talks about her teaching experiences at Mason School and Shakespeare School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Isobel Neal describes the differences she noticed between Shakespeare School and Beethoven School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Isobel Neal describes her experiences teaching homebound students, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Isobel Neal describes her experiences teaching homebound students, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Isobel Neal talks about her husband HistoryMaker Earl Neal's career and its impact on her activities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Isobel Neal describes the impetus for opening the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Isobel Neal talks about the location of the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Isobel Neal describes artists she featured in the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Isobel Neal describes her most successful shows at the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Isobel Neal describes her most successful shows at the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Isobel Neal talks about the impact of African American art on Chicago, Illinois' gallery culture

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Isobel Neal talks about the consequences of 'The Chicago Show' on the Isobel Neal Gallery in the late 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Isobel Neal talks about Mayor Harold Washington's legacy for art programs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Isobel Neal describes her reasoning for leaving the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Isobel Neal talks about notable art events and working with artists in Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Isobel Neal describes challenging experiences she had with clients, artists and gallery owners in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Isobel Neal describes her hopes and concerns for the African American art community and her perspective on purchasing art

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Isobel Neal reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Isobel Neal talks about an art show at Noyes Cultural Art Center in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Isobel Neal considers what she would have done differently

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Isobel Neal shares advice for young artists who want to approach a gallery with their work

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Isobel Neal talks about the opening night of the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Isobel Neal describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Isobel Neal narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Isobel Neal narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

7$9

DATitle
Isobel Neal describes the impetus for opening the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois
Isobel Neal describes artists she featured in the Isobel Neal Gallery in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
Had you, I mean, well, how did the, well just tell us how the idea for the gallery [Isobel Neal Gallery, Chicago, Illinois] came about (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I know it's very strange, it's very strange. It's like, I wish I could tell you it was always my dream, or, you know, it was the artist coming out or what. None of that. I was chairing 'Black Creativity,' the juried art show [sic, 'The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition'] one year--$$This is the big show that's held at the (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) This is the big show that's held in February at the Museum of Science and Industry [Chicago, Illinois] which is a science museum basically. It has nothing to do with art.$$But it's on the South Side [Chicago, Illinois]--$$It's on the Southside and they have the celebration of black history once a year, and it's in February so part of it is a juried art show. I saw the slides come in to this art show from artists all across the country and across the water, Canada, everywhere, and I said, "My goodness, this is a science museum, this is a art show at a science museum for one month. What did these artists do the rest of the year," and that's what took me to the gallery. Checking out what they did for the rest of the year. And, I found for maybe [HM] Richard Hunt and maybe one or two other artists, there wasn't anybody doing anything of-I don't wanna say. Well back up a little bit, the South Side Community Art Center [Chicago, Illinois] was certainly around for fifty years, but I was talking about a commercial gallery, and that's what I said I wanted to do. Maybe that's where all the back burner came forward a little bit and I said, "I think I wanna open that art gallery." Everybody, family, everybody, husband, everybody said, "You've got to be crazy." I talked to art gallery owners. I talked to Dan Cicero [ph.] and then I talked to, oh, gosh, I can't think of her name now who said, "You must be crazy." Anyway, I did it. I had saved a little nest egg from my teaching days and I invested it in it and it just got blown away real fast, but there was such a response to the gallery that it became clear to my family that, yes, it was a need here. It was a need and it was the junction of not only a need, but a time, a need for artists to exhibit, but a time when there was a professional black middle class that wanted and searched for works by African American artists. So it was a good junction of time there.$Now who--what artists did you feature in your gallery [Isobel Neal Gallery, Chicago, Illinois], and what type of art were you trying to--?$$Well, all that sort of evolved. I opened up with William [S.] Carter, a local person, graduated from the--School of the Art Institute [of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois]. Had wonderful following and he was known in the community so, he brought in a lot of people. And that show was many different artists. It was, he was the feature, but then I had one or two works by a lot of different people, local and--I had done some buying of art through connections in New York so I had some Jacob Lawrence prints that were, by the way, I think $700, $500 maybe. And, the series, what was that series, the 'John Brown series'. Can you imagine? I wish I had not sold him.$$What are they worth now?$$I can't even tell you. Lots, lots more. Let's see, locally, it gone on to have done very well was [HM] Jonathan Green. I had work by him. I had a couple of [HM] Madeline [Murphy] Rabb's pieces. I had [HM] Elizabeth Catlett, inadvertently, next to her first husband [Charles Wilbert White]. Somebody mentioned that to me. I got a little brain drain here. Who was out on the West Coast. Wonderful strong.$$Was this a sculptor?$$No, painter. Yeah. I'll come back to it. Anyway, who else was in my first show? Just a mix of different artist's work. So I had a lot of help from people because, from New York, I probably had some Clark, [HM] Ed[ward] Clark, pieces, too. And then I had a show soon after of all New York artists, [HM] Howardena Pindell and Benny Andrews. And then I begin hearing, well, why, you know, what about the artists here? Or are you going to show New York artists. So I said it's a interesting learning experience that I then mixed it up a little bit more so that I did want to focus on the artists that I felt were not being shown. More local people, try to be supportive, and I found that I had no trouble finding people, they found me. The grapevine worked and I had more slides than I ever thought from everywhere too.$$Okay.$$From everywhere, across the water as well, plus every state here.