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From The Hartford Courant, Susan Dunne staff writer with a focus on arts and entertainment news.

A month for freedom and reflection: Black art exhibits in Connecticut celebrate Juneteenth


Sedrick Huckaby’s 2015 oil on canvas “She Wore Her Family’s Quilt” is part of the exhibit “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” at Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London (Sedrick Huckaby)

Juneteenth is June 19, so many Connecticut galleries use this month to show art by Black artists or to highlight historical and artistic views of the Black experience.

The highlight is five murals unveiled on Juneteenth, each depicting racial justice fighters. They are at:

  • Noah Webster Library, 20 South Main St. in West Hartford, depicting Martin Luther King Jr., Stacey Abrams, Bernard Lafayette, West Hartford native Gertrude Blanks and Connecticut state Rep. Tammy Exum.
  • Mahoney Center at 110 Cedar St. in Manchester, depicting Harriet Tubman, John Lewis and Manchester native Diane Clare-Kearney. This location also has a mural of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 42 Water St. in Torrington, depicting Martin Luther King Jr., Amanda Gorman and Torrington-born John Brown.
  • Alvin and Beatrice Wood Human Services Center at 370 Park Ave. in Bloomfield, depicting Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bloomfield native Dwight Freeney.
  • 350 Washington St. in New Haven, depicting Coretta Scott King and poet Sun Queen of New Haven.

Other exhibits are listed below. The list is not all-inclusive.

  • Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth St. in Hartford, presents “Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein” until June 5. “Connecticut Freedom Workers: Remembering the Civil Rights Movement” is up until the fall.
  • Ober Gallery, 6 North Main St. in Kent, is showing “Clintel Steed: Mixed Tape” until June 6.
  • “W.E.B. DuBois, Georgia and His Data Portraits” is at Art Space, 50 Orange St. in New Haven, until June 27. The exhibit draws from DuBois’ series of data visualizations for the “Exhibit of American Negroes” at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. The artworks “center on the socioeconomic conditions facing Black Americans in the state of Georgia, tracing income, marital status, property ownership, and more for visual representation,” the gallery states. Another exhibit up through June 27, “Dana Karwas: In a Heartbeat,” is inspired by “The Princess Steel,” a piece of speculative fiction by Du Bois.
  • Free Center Hartford, 460 New Britain Ave.; Free Center Middletown, 52 North Main St.; and Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Road in Farmington, are presenting exhibits of self-portraits by Black artists, in the form of painting, drawing, mixed media, photography, sculpture, video, poetry and performing arts. Hill-Stead will show artworks on June 5, in conjunction with a Juneteenth celebration. The Free Centers will show artworks June 5 to 30. On June 30, the centers will celebrate Juneteenth.

“Blind to it All” by Andre Rochester is part of the exhibit of Black self-portraits at The Free Centers in Hartford and Middletown. (Andre Rochester)

  • “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” is on exhibit until Aug. 22 at Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St. in New London. Artists include Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas and Charles White. The collectors’ art emphasizes “the importance of gathering and preserving a spectrum of approaches to the Black image in order to console the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self.”
  • “A Face Like Mine,” an exhibit of a century of Black figurative art in the United States, from 1921 to 2021, is at Mattatuck Museum, 144 West Main St. in Waterbury, until Sept. 12. Artists include Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, James VanDer Zee and Kehinde Wiley.
  • “Through the Looking Glass,” an exhibit of the Randolph Linsly Simpson Collection of African American art, artifacts and ephemera from the 17th to 19th century, will be on view at Amistad Center for Art & Culture, inside the Wadsworth Atheneum at 600 Main St. in Hartford, until Oct. 3.
  • “Above the Underground: The Art of Andres Chaparro” will be at Butler McCook Gallery, 396 Main St. in Hartford, from June 1 to Sept. 10. An artist reception will be June 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • “Leonardo Drew: Two Projects,” an exhibit of two of Drew’s site-specific sculptural “Explosion” installations, will be at Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main St. in Hartford, from June 4 to Nov. 14. One will be on the lawn and another in the Main Street lobby.
  • A Juneteenth Art Show, whose theme is “The Intersection of Community, Black Joy, Freedom, History & Education,” will be June 5 to 19 at West Hartford Library, 20 South Main St. Artworks will be in the media of painting, drawing, photography, graphics, fiber and printmaking.
  • WORK_SPACE, 903 Main St. in Manchester, will present “Juneteenth: The Art of Independence,” an exhibit “that honors independence, resiliency and Black lives and celebrates our nation’s second Independence Day,” from June 7 to July 30.
  • Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main St. in Ridgefield, will present “Hugo McCloud: from where i stand,” an exhibit of found-object culture, June 7 to Jan. 2. McCloud’s subject matter grows “out of his experiences of being Black and his family’s working-class roots,” the museum states.
  • “Un/Common Proximity,” work by fellowship artists Allana Clarke, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Daniel T. Gaitor-Lomack, Esteban Ramón Pérez, Jeffrey Meris, Ilana Savdie and Vincent Valdez, will be up from June 10 to Aug. 13 at NXTHVN, 169 Henry St. in New Haven. The name “refers to the artists’ unprecedented experience of living and working in close proximity with one another during a year punctuated by a landmark U.S. election, global pandemic and national reckoning of systemic racial injustice.”