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Phoebe Beasley

Visual artist Phoebe Beasley was born on June 3, 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio to parents Annette and George Arthur Beasley, Jr. When Beasley was seven years old, her mother died of a heart attack at twenty-nine years of age. Her father later married Mildred Gaines. After graduating from John Adams High School in 1961, Beasley entered Ohio University, where she received her B.F.A. degree in painting, with a minor in education, in 1965. She went on to study at the Art Center College of Design and the Otis Art Institute.
 
In 1965, Beasley joined Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, as an art teacher. She eventually opened a store front studio and gallery along with several artists. She specialized in oils-on-canvas, as well as prints and collages. Beasley moved to Los Angeles, California in 1969, where she worked as a layout artist at SAGE Publications for one year before joining KFI Radio. Beasley worked at KFI for twenty-nine years, eventually as senior account manager. In 1973, she established the Phoebe Beasley Art Studio; and, in 1976, she began showing at solo art exhibitions. Beasley's collage artwork was part of two major touring museum exhibitions, including a 2003 group show mounted by the Smithsonian Institution entitled In the Spirit of Martin , honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a museum show entitled Portraying Lincoln: Man of Many Faces in 2008. Beasley’s works are also featured in the homes of Oprah Winfrey, Anita Baker, Dr. William Burke and Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Dr. Maya Angelou, LaTanya Richardson and Samuel L. Jackson, Tavis Smiley, Byron Allen, Grant Hill, Marla Gibbs, Roger Penske and Tyler Perry.

Beasley’s commissions include being the official artist of the 1987 and 2000 Los Angeles Marathons, the 1999 National Convention of the 100 Black Men of America, and the 2000 National Democratic Convention. She is the only artist commissioned to do the inaugural artwork for two U.S. presidents; first, in 1989, for the inauguration of President George Bush; and, in 1993, for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

In 1977, Beasley became the first Black woman to be appointed president of American Women in Radio and Television. In 1997, she joined the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and served for over ten years. In 2105, she was appointed to the California Arts Council.

Beasley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2007 and November 18, 2019.

Accession Number

A2007.148

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/18/2007

11/18/2019

Last Name

Beasley

Maker Category
Middle Name

Audrey

Schools

Ohio University

John Adams High School

Charles W Eliot School

Moses Cleaveland Elementary School

Robert Fulton Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Phoebe

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

BEA07

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

The Future Is Not Some Place We Are Going To. It's Not A Destination. It's Some Place That We're Dreaming And That We're Making And That Activity Changes Both The Maker And The Destination.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/3/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Polish Sausage

Short Description

Visual artist Phoebe Beasley (1943 - ) was commissioned to design inaugural artwork for President Bill Clinton and President George Bush. Her artwork was featured in the homes of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Tyler Perry.

Employment

Beasley Art Studio

KFI Los Angeles

Sage Publications, inc.

Cleveland Public Schools

Glenville High School

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481873">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Phoebe Beasley's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481874">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481875">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley describes her parents' birthdates and birthplaces</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481876">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley describes her earliest childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481877">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481878">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley remembers her mother and father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481879">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Phoebe Beasley describes her the role of religion in her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481880">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Phoebe Beasley describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481881">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Phoebe Beasley recalls her early family life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481882">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Phoebe Beasley describes her parents' roles at Manakiki Golf and Country Club in Willoughby, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481883">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Phoebe Beasley remembers segregation in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481884">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley remembers her paternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481885">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley describes her maternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481886">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley describes her childhood chores</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481887">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley remembers Sundays with her paternal grandparents, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481888">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley remembers Sundays with her paternal grandparents, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481889">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Phoebe Beasley describes her early personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481890">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with her sister</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481891">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with her brother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481892">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Phoebe Beasley talks about her tall stature</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481893">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley remembers the day her mother died</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481894">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley remembers the impact of her mother's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481895">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley describes her experiences following her mother's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481896">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley describes her father's second marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481897">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley describes her sister's lawsuit against their father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481898">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with her stepmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481899">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley describes her decision to study art at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481900">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley describes her experiences at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481901">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley recalls the riot at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481902">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley reflects upon the impact of racial discrimination on children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481903">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley talks about her first marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481904">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Phoebe Beasley remembers her art career in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481905">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with Maya Angelou, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481906">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with Maya Angelou, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481907">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley describes her position at KFI Radio in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481908">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley talks about the supporters of her early art career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481909">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley remembers Maya Angelou's promotion of her artwork</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481910">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley describes her work with Oprah Winfrey, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481911">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley describes her work with Oprah Winfrey, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481912">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Phoebe Beasley describes her work with Oprah Winfrey, pt. 3</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481913">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Phoebe Beasley talks about her painting, 'Executive Order 9981,' pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481914">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Phoebe Beasley talks about her painting, 'Executive Order 9981,' pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481915">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Phoebe Beasley reflects upon her body of artwork</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481916">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Phoebe Beasley recalls being commissioned by Tyler Perry, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481917">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Phoebe Beasley recalls being commissioned by Tyler Perry, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481918">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Phoebe Beasley describes her relationship with Earl G. Graves, Sr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481919">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Phoebe Beasley describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481920">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Phoebe Beasley describes the book 'Sunrise Is Coming After While'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481921">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Phoebe Beasley talks about her artwork commissions from presidents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/481922">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Phoebe Beasley reflects upon her life</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Phoebe Beasley describes her decision to study art at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio
Phoebe Beasley recalls the riot at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio
Transcript
We'll forward a little because you went through Univ- you went to Ohio University [Athens, Ohio]--$$Yes.$$Graduated in June of 1965--$$Yes.$$--with a degree in painting--$$Yes.$$--major?$$Yeah.$$And a bach- and a minor in education?$$Yeah, that's absolutely, yes.$$Okay, okay.$$And--$$What was college like for you?$$College--well, first of all, let me, let me go back a few months before I went to college. And I had a counselor. Even though I was good in art, did very well in art, I wanted to major in it. The senior counselor, you know, when you to get be a senior, you get a different counselor. And I remember a counselor telling me that--I said, "Oh, I'm planning to major in art." And she kind of looked at me. It was kind of between a smirk and a laugh, and it was kind of like a slaugh [ph.], and it was like--I thought, no, that's not for me. And it was, "There is no such thing as an African American artist. You have to be serious about your career, and at some point, understand what your limitations are." And I was hearing her, but there was something wrong with what was coming out of her mouth. And she said, "Now, come see me tomorrow, let me know, I'll give you a day to decide what you're going to major in because I need to send this transcript in, and come back, and see me tomorrow." And I went home. And the good thing is I didn't hit her, I didn't react, I didn't (laughter), you know, all of that. What would my grandmother think (laughter) comes back to you. Oh, and since there was really nobody to talk to about, you know, there's not a mother and father there to say--and so, you think, well, now wait a minute, I thought I was good in art and, and to her, to her credit, I couldn't think of an African American artist either. I couldn't think--I could think of African American thespians. I could think of [HistoryMaker] Ruby Dee, [HistoryMaker] Ossie Davis. I could think of, of musicians--Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Little Richard. But I could not think, and I'd never, I'd never read about an African American artist when I was in high school [John Adams Senior High School; John Adams High School, Cleveland, Ohio], never saw a book on one. But I don't know--blood, guts, youth, nuttiness, and just pissantiness [ph.], I was determined to put down, I'm going to major in art. Went back the next day and said, "Look, put artist. I'm, I'm going put, art major--that's my major." And she looked at me, and, and realized that I was not to be trifled with at that point, you know. You almost had the, (speaking Arabic) "As-Salaam-Alaikum [Peace be unto you]," (laughter). Don't say another word to me (laughter). There is an attitude where you get particularly, when all of a sudden, we look much taller than we are (laughter).$But I taught for four years, and it was probably the most rewarding thing I'll ever do, teaching high school, because these students were about my age. You know, I was barely out of my, you know, into my twenties. And they were, some of them almost into their twenties, (laughter), so, so that age difference, you know, and it's just, and it was during black power and H. Rap Brown [Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin]; and Ron Karenga [HistoryMaker Maulana Karenga] and, you know, keeping the lid on Cleveland [Ohio]. And '65 [1965] to '69 [1969] is when I taught. And I remembered when I--we had actually a riot at the school [Glenville High School, Cleveland, Ohio]. And some of the students had beaten up teachers. They had taken over this, the cafeteria. They had masks over their faces or material, and the police were outside. All the teachers and, and students were, about three thousand students in the school, we were all down on the ground in the parking lot. And you had about forty students in the school. And on the bullhorn they said, "Send in Mrs. Evans [HistoryMaker Phoebe Beasley] and Mr. Dahdale." Well, I didn't mention that I'd gotten married [to Louie Evans, Jr. (ph.)] in that period (laughter), but I was Mrs. Evans, and I heard my name. And Dennis Dahdale [ph.], who is still my attorney today (laughter), said, "Pheeb, you'll have to go in. We have to go, and then save our kids." I thought, wait a minute, I've already given my notice two weeks ago. I'm leaving and going to Hollywood [Los Angeles, California]. I'm going to California (unclear). And the police were saying, "No, we can cover you." "Cover me? You're about as far as the Pacific Ocean is from this, this gallery [M. Hanks Gallery, Santa Monica, California] here (laughter). You're going to cover me (laughter)? Them's my kids in there (laughter)." Oh, but Dennis convinced me that the thing to do would be to go in this cafeteria, and to help them with their demands, to negotiate the demands. And we went in. They had this long table and sat us in the middle of the table. And I just wanted to, you know, I'd hear the voices, and I would want to smack the student, and rip off this, this, this cloth and say, "Stop it, just stop it right now." But these students were very serious. I mean, they had beaten up, put a couple of the teachers in the hospital--not that some of these teachers didn't deserve what they were getting, retribution, but it was still wrong on their part. Well, they had demands like, "We want to be able to wear afros as large as we want." Well, my way of negotiating was, "Whatever y'all want (laughter)." Dennis, on the other hand, was kicking me under the table saying--"And we want to be able to wear dashi- [dashiki]--." They had the long, they had long dresses, African garb, and now they had to put a limit on how long the train could be. And some of the students were objecting to the length of the train that could be on the garb. And I thought it ought to be as long as a wedding train out the front door and all the way, you make, making turns. But Dennis had said, "You know, we need to talk about the students. We have a safety issue." So, he was studying for the bar. I was studying to get the heck out of there until we leave for Los Angeles [California], but we did negotiate the demands. And they returned the school to the property of the (laughter) Cleveland public schools.