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Barbara Bullock. The Animal Healer, 1990.

Sam Gilliam. Fine as a Cobweb, 1989.

Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach #9, 1990.

The Chemistry of Color: The Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African–American Art at the Hudson River Museum, February 5 – May 8, 2011

I have always tried to paint the way poets write their best poems ― with feeling, imagination, and some semblance of the shape-shifting truth. - Edward Hughes

The Chemistry of Color titles a bold and vibrant collection of paintings from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), which opens at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, on February 5.Works by African - American artists from a key period in American art — the 1970s and 80s― show artists in the forefront of changes that began a decade before with the Civil Rights Movement. The Hudson River Museum is the only venue for this exhibition in the
tristate region.

Among the 41 artists in The Chemistry of Color who found inspiration in a poem, a photograph, texture, a pattern, or an object are Benny Andrews, Sam Gilliam, Edward Hughes, Alvin Loving, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, and Raymond Saunders. Their works show their experimentation with color, narrative, and materials, and traced their expression of new American ideals forged between 1970 and 1990. In the process, these African-American artists emerged from decades of invisibility in the art world.

Color is the linking element in The Chemistry of Color. From hues that are cheerful and bold to pastel watercolors that convey coolness or gossamer memories, the stories of African-American lives are seen. A small sampling ―Barbara Bullock’s 14-inch sculpture of a painted tin house; Edward Hughes’ mixed-media work Untitled, inspired by his trip to Haiti and employing his favorite symbol, the heart, to connote the centrality of love. Faith Ringgold, famous for her quilts, who uses folk art to explore perspectives on growing up in Harlem; and, James Brantley, who with color and layers of thin glazes fill a canvas, Vanessa’s Lips, with the image of a woman of overwhelming being and sensuality.

Diverse in medium and style, the Chemistry of Color highlights sculpture, works on paper, and mixed media that are part of the Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African-American Art at the Pennsylvania Academy.  Formed at the ARCO Chemical Company when Mr. Sorgenti was its president, he purchased the collection for the Academy, and in so doing secured it for the public. Although the Sorgenti Collection includes a wide range of multi-generational artists working in a variety of styles, many of the works on view date to the late 1980s, and a large number of the artists such as Howardena Pindell, Barbara Bullock, and James Brantley have strong ties to Philadelphia. Others such as Moe Brooker, Nannette Acker Clark, Edward Hughes, Charles Searles, Raymond Saunders and Richard Watson trained at PAFA. These artists revel in the myriad options artists have had in the studio since the 1960s and defy being pinned down to a particular style.
The Chemistry of Color: The Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African-American Art is organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A catalog is available.
From February to May 2011, the Hudson River Museum is sponsoring a roster of complementary programs.

Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY. Wed – Sun, 12-5 pm. Museum: $5 adults, $3 seniors & youth 5-16. Children under 4, free. Members Free.  Exit 9 (Executive Blvd). Saw Mill River Pkwy (north or south). Info & Dir: 914.963.4550;

The largest cultural institution in Westchester County, the Hudson River Museum is a multi-disciplinary complex that draws its identity from its site on the banks of the Hudson River, and seeks to broaden the cultural horizons of all its visitors. It engages in the presentation of exhibitions, programs, teaching initiatives, research, collection, preservation, and conservation – a wide range of activities that interpret its collections, interests and communities.




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