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<Artists, Fine Arts>

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Allen, Elmer Lucille
Birth Year : 1931
Mrs. Elmer Lucille Allen was born in Louisville, KY. She is a 1953 chemistry graduate of Nazareth College [now Spalding University], and in 1966 she became the first African American chemist at the Brown-Forman Company in Louisville. Allen was one of three women employed at the company, where she held the title of senior analytical chemist. She retired from the company in 1997 and returned to college to earn a MA in creative arts in ceramics from the University of Louisville in 2002. Allen's art work has been displayed at various galleries in Louisville, Indiana, Kansas, and many other locations. She was the first recipient of the Community Arts Lifetime Local Achievement Award in 2004, and that same year was also recognized as a Woman of Distinction. In 2007 she was one of the "Women of Spunk" honorees. Allen is also actively involved as a community volunteer with organizations such as the Louisville Western Branch Library Support Group, Inc. For more see J. Egerton, "Actors Theatre will honor Women of Spunk," The Courier-Journal, 12/02/2007, Arts & Travel section, p. 1I; and "Black Achievements in the Arts Recognized by Governor's Awards" a kyarts.org press release on 01/31/2005.
See "U of L: Elmer Lucille Allen" at YouTube.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Chemists, Civic Leaders, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Arnold, Horacee
Birth Year : 1937
Arnold, born in Wayland, KY, is a professional drummer who began playing while enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during the 1950s. He added an extra 'e' to his first name when he began performing on stage. Arnold has performed with a number of bands over the years, and many are listed in his biography. His own bands were the Here and Now Company, formed in 1967, and Colloquium III, formed in the 1970s. He was one of the most well-known fusion drummers of his time, and he was involved with electronic programming. Arnold studied composition and guitar composition and taught music at William Paterson College [now William Paterson University] in New Jersey. His recordings include two albums, Tales of the Exonerated Flea, re-released in 2004, and Tribe. He also performed in the educational video, The Drumset. Arnold also performed dance; he toured in Asia with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company [now Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater]. For more see the Horacee Arnold website; and "Horacee Arnold" in the Oxford Music Online Database. On YouTube view photos and listen to Horacee Arnold "Puppett of the Seasons" & "Chinnereth II."

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Wayland, Floyd County, Kentucky

Bell, Charles W.
Birth Year : 1848
Death Year : 1910
Charles W. Bell, who may have been a slave, was born in Kentucky on August 12, 1848 [source: Ohio Death Certificate, File #44018]. Bell was an educator, a newspaper man, and a pen artist in Cincinnati, OH. He was the husband of Ophelia Hall Nesbit Bell (b.1847 in Jackson, MS), who was a school teacher in Cincinnati. The couple lived at 1112 Sherman Avenue after they were married. By 1870, the family of four lived in the northern section of the 7th Ward in Cincinnati, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Charles Bell was a graduate of the Cincinnati School of Design. He was employed by the Cincinnati School System from 1868-1889; he was the superintendent of writing in the Colored public schools beginning in 1874 with an annual salary of $1,000, and was later also the special teacher of writing for some of the schools attended by white children. Bell also served as president of the Garnet Loan and Building Association. He was one of the editors of the Colored Citizen newspaper in Cincinnati, and he published a newspaper titled Declaration in the 1870s when it was the only African American newspaper in Cincinnati. He was also a columnist for the Commercial Gazette, the column was an early version of the Colored Notes. Charles Bell was also a politician, and had put forth the name of George W. Williams for the Ohio Legislature, but was one of many African Americans who turned against Williams when he pushed through the bill to close the Colored American Cemetery in Avondale, OH. In 1892, while Charles W. Bell was serving as treasurer of the Colored Orphan Asylum, it came to light that more than $4,000 were missing. Charles and Ophelia Bell mortgaged their home at 76 Pleasant Street for $3,000, and Charles Bell was to make restitution for the remaining $1,623.87. Also in 1892, Charles Bell established a newspaper publication called Ohio Republican. According to the Census, by 1910, the Bells were living on Park Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio with their daughters Alma and Maggie. Charles Bell was employed as a clerk in an office. Ten years later, Ophelia was a widow living with Alma and her husband James Bryant, along with Maggie and two of James Bryant's nieces. Charles W. Bell died August 22, 1910 in Cincinnati, OH, and is buried in the Union Baptist Cemetery [source: Ohio Death Certificate, File #44018]. For more see Ophelia Hall Nesbit in The Geneva Book by W. M. Glasgow [available online at Google Book Search]; see Charles W. Bell in George Washington Williams: a biography by J. H. Franklin; Charles W. Bell in Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900 by M. S. Haverstock et. al.; see "At a meeting of the Columbus, O., Board of Education...," Cleveland Gazette, 08/10/1889, p.2; "Disbanded," Freeman, 06/20/1891, p.4; "Burned $1,623.87," Cleveland Gazette, 03/19/1892, p.1; "The Ohio Republican...," Plaindealer [Michigan], 09/23/1892, p.3; and G. B. Agee, "A Cry for Justice" [dissertation] [available online at ETDS].
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Black Kentucky Artists
This exhibition of work by Black artists living in Kentucky was organized for and toured by the Kentucky Arts Commission, June 1979-January 1981. The curator was Roberta L. Williams. For more see black & white photos of the works and artists' biographies in Black Kentucky Artists (1979), available at the University of Kentucky, Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library & Learning Center.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Bradleigh, Gretchen N.
Birth Year : 1949
Gretchen Bradleigh was born in Louisville, KY. She was the Children's Department Artist at the Louisville Free Public Library from 1970-1977 and was later the planning draftsman for the Community Development Cabinet in Louisville. Her work includes the acrylic, "Sisters." For more see Black Kentucky Artists: an exhibition of work by black artists living in Kentucky (1979).
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bradley-Morton, Dhana
Dhana Bradley-Morton, from Louisville, KY, earned her Speech/Oral Interpretive Arts degree from Western Kentucky University. She was WLOU-AM News Director prior to teaming up with Priscilla Hancock Cooper for a number of creative collaborations. Their first production was a poetic concert in 1981, I Have Been Hungry All of My Years, followed by Four Women and God's Trombones. They also performed in Amazing Grace in 1993. Bradley-Morton and Cooper are featured in the KET Production, Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges, a poetic concert featuring African-American writing and music. Together they founded the Theater Workshop of Louisville. In 1994 Bradley-Morton was named executive director of the Cincinnati Arts Consortium; she left the position in January 2002. [She now goes by the name Dhana Donaldson.] For more see B. Brady, "Architecturally Sound," CityBeat, vol. 6, issue 33 (2000); and "Prize Possessions," Cincinnati.com The Enquirer, 22 April 2001.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Brooks, Melody
Birth Year : 1956
Little has been written about African American women ventriloquists, and there has been nothing written about those in or from Kentucky. In minstrel shows, it was not unusual to find a woman playing the role of a puppet for a male ventriloquist. Richard Potter (1783-1835) is often considered the first (or one of the first) African American male ventriloquists, as is John Walcott Cooper (1873-1966), who is also recognized as the first to become famous. Melody Brooks is a modern day ventriloquist. She was born in Berea, KY, the daughter of Audrey and Curtis Brooks. The family moved to Lexington, KY, where Melody graduated from Bryan Station High School. She has been a self-taught ventriloquist since the age of 12 and continues to perform at nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and at showers, parties, and other special events. She performed once on the television show, Good Morning America. Brooks is also an artist (producing drawings, paintings, charcoals, pencils, and mixed medium) and a singer. For more information on Melody Brooks, contact her at (859) 254-2257. For more about African American ventriloquists, see Ethnic Ventriloquism: literary minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century American literature by M. Banerjee; the John W. Cooper Collection (archival) at the New York Public Library. See also the Vent Haven Museum website, the museum is located in Ft. Mitchell, KY, and is the only one dedicated to ventriloquism.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Ventriloquist, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Berea, Madison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Clay, Kenneth H.
Birth Year : 1939
Kenneth Clay grew up in Louisville, KY. In the 1960s he opened the Corner of Jazz, the first African American culture shop in Louisville. In 1978, he co-founded the Renaissance Development Corporation, a cultural arts administrative organization that promoted Black art and culture in Kentucky. In 1983 Clay joined the staff of the Kentucky Center for the Arts, where he remained for more than 21 years. He received the Chicago Kuumba Theater's 1993 Liberation Award for Presenting African American Artists and the 1999 Governor's Community Arts Award. In July 2004, Clay left the Kentucky Center for the Arts and became a freelance arts consultant. He is president of Ken Clay & Associates. For more see "Ken Clay takes a bow," Courier-Journal, 30 May 2004; Kenneth Clay in Kentucky Minority Artists Directory, 1982; and Ken Clay in Who's Who in Black Louisville, Inaugural Edition, p.103.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Businesses
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Clayton, Theodore
Birth Year : 1934
Death Year : 1976
A self-taught artist, Theodore Clayton worked with scrap metal such as spikes, machine parts, horseshoes, and nails. For more see Kentucky Minority Artists Directory, 1982.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Conwill, Houston
Birth Year : 1947
Born in Louisville, KY, Houston Conwill is a multi-talented painter and sculptor. He has received many awards, including the Prix de Rome Fellowship in 1984 and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 1987. He collaborated on the creation of a terrazzo and brass project, Rivers, for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Houston Conwill is the brother of artist and poet Estelle Conwill Majozo. For more see The African American Almanac, 9th ed.; St. James Guide to Black Artists, ed. by T. Riggs; and Art at the Edge, by H. Conwill and S. Krane.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North, Sculptors
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Coxe, Gloucester C.
Birth Year : 1907
Death Year : 1999
Gloucester Coxe resided in Louisville; he was a native of Carlisle, PA. His parents were accomplished watercolorists. He was a display artist for the Lyric and Grand (Colored) Theaters and an illustrator at the Fort Knox Training Aid Center, from which he retired after 20 years. He continued to paint and produced a series of creative works, including the Ebony, Gemini, and Mandela series. For more see interviews and other materials in the University of Louisville Art Library; and "Gloucester Coxe, 92," Lexington Herald-Leader, Obituaries section, p. B2.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration South, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Carlisle, Pennsylvania / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Crowders, Reuben [Ernest Hogan]
Birth Year : 1860
Death Year : 1909
Born in Bowling Green, KY, in the Shake Rag District, Crowders became known as Ernest Hogan, comedian, actor, dancer, songwriter,and playwright. Crowders composed many songs, including the controversial song All Coons Look Alike to Me. He introduced the pasmala dance in the 1890s and was regarded as an exceptional dancer and the best dancing comedian. He produced Rufus Rastus in 1905, and The Oyster Man in 1907. Crowders was an actor in both productions; he was a leading actor of his time. He became ill during the run of The Oyster Man and later died of tuberculosis; he is buried in Bowling Green, KY. His last name is also spelled Crowder or Crowdus in various sources. A documented chronology of Crowders' career is included in The Ghost Walks, by H. T. Sampson. For more see African Americans in California Sheet Music; The First Rock and Roll Record; Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern; and Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan & M. R. Winston. View Ernest Hogan - The Father of Ragtime hosted by Andy Stahl, a Kentucky Blues History Corner video by the Kentucky Blues Society on YouTube.


 
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Depp, Chantel R. Brown
Birth Year : 1969
Chantel R. B. Depp was born in Versailles, KY, the daughter of Charles E. Brown Jr. and Geraldine Collins Brown. In 1986, she was the first (and to date, the last) African American named homecoming queen of Woodford County High School. Depp was the school's prom queen in 1987; 20 years earlier, in 1967, her mother had been voted prom queen. Depp was Ms. Black U of L in 1988-89; Ms. Woodford County Fair Queen in 2000; and 3rd runner-up in the Mrs. Kentucky America Pageant. She was the first African American to be hired in the executive office of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; she joined the staff in 2004 as an employment recruiter and served as a staff assistant to the commissioner. Depp received the Diversity Award at the 2006 Southeastern Association of the Fish Wildlife Agencies Conference. She was the recipient of the 2005 Employee Support Award from Kentucky State University's Office of Career Counseling and Placement for her student recruitment efforts. Chantel Depp is a communication graduate of the University of Kentucky and earned a master's degree in public administration at Kentucky State University with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is a graduate of the Governor's Minority Management Trainee Program. Depp is an instructor and model with Images Model Talent Agency, and since 1999 has been a choreographer with the Woodford County Fair Pageant Board. She has also been a dance coach and is an active leader in the St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Depp is the sister of Charliese Brown-Lewis. This information is taken, with permission, from the resume of Chantel Brown Depp.

See photo image of Chantel R. Depp at the Kentucky State University website.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Homecoming Queens, Pageants, Contests, Fish & Wildlife, Forestry
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky

Finn, Marvin
Birth Year : 1917
Death Year : 2007
Marvin Finn was an internationally known urban folk artist who lived in Louisville, KY. He began making toys as a child in Clio, AL, where he lived with his family, including 12 siblings. After coming to Kentucky in 1940, he worked at various jobs, carving toys as time allowed. After his wife died in 1966, he began making toys full-time. His work was highlighted in 1985 when the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery opened in Louisville. For more see Marvin Finn: Wizard of whimsical whittling; Folk Artists Biographical Index, 1st ed., edited by G. H. Meyer; and P. Burba, "Fans flocked to his work; artist Marvin Finn dies," Louisville Courier-Journal, 01/31/2007, News section, p. 1B.


Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North
Geographic Region: Clio, Alabama / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Foree, George W.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1989
Foree was born in Ballard County, KY. She was a member of the Paducah Art Guild. Her artwork, which came from remembered images, has been included in several exhibits. For more see Black Kentucky Artists: an exhibition of work by black artists living in Kentucky (1979).
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Ballard County, Kentucky

Givens, Mrs. Fanny Rosalind Hicks and James Edward Givens
Mrs. Fanny R. Hicks Givens was an artist, songwriter, educator, and police matron. She was born in 1872 in Chicago, IL; her parents were Kentucky natives who had migrated North. In the early 1890s, Givens was living in Louisville, KY, she was head of the art department at State University [later known as Simmons University, KY]. The art department had 23 students and their works were exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She painted a portrait of John R. Walter, Minister of Madagascar and presented it to President Harrison. The portrait was hung in the White House. In 1895, Fanny R. Hicks married James Edward Givens. James Givens was born in 1861 in Greenwood, VA, the son of Jefferson and Mary Ann Dickerson Givens. James Givens was a graduate of Harvard College. He arrived in Louisville in 1892 to become a Latin and Greek instructor at State University. He was later a Latin and English professor at Louisville Colored High School [later known as Louisville Central High School]. He was founder of New South, a weekly newspaper published in Louisville beginning in 1894. From 1898-1900, James E. Givens was the second president of the State Normal School for Colored Persons [later known as Kentucky State University]. He was a storekeeper when he died of typhoid fever in 1910 at his home, 507 Jacob Street, in Louisville, KY, according to the Kentucky Death Records. James Givens was buried in the Eastern Cemetery in Louisville. Prior to his death, he was attended by Dr. Ellis D. Whedbee, husband to Bertha Whedbee, the first African American woman to be employed by the Louisville Police Department. In 1920, the Givens family was living on Finzer Street in Louisville, KY: Mrs. Givens, her daughter Fanny, niece Evaline Williams, and nephew James E. Givens. Mrs. Fanny R. Givens was a portrait artist, and in 1915 she attempted to raise $100,000 to build an Art Institute for the development of Negro artists. She was also a songwriter, on March 23, 1908, she had received a copyright for the words and the song titled "Hallelujah! Christ is Risen," [C 177237]. She was also chair of the Ways and Means Committee in Louisville. She sailed to Liberia, Africa, leaving from the Baltimore port aboard the ship Byron, December 10, 1921, according to her passport application. In 1923, Mrs. Givens and her daughter Fanny were missionaries for the National Baptist Convention, and were to sail to Sweden, the British Isles, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, according to their U.S. Passport. They were to leave the Port of New York on June 30, 1923, sail to their destinations aboard the Olympic, and return to the U.S. within one year. In 1930, Mrs. Givens would become one of the first African American women to be hired by the Louisville Police Department. Fanny R. Hicks Givens died of breast cancer in Louisville in 1947, according to her death certificate, she was buried in Eastern Cemetery. For more see Mrs. Fanny R. Givens on p.202 in The Crisis, v.18, no.4, August 1919, [available at Google Book Search]; p.366 in Catalog of Copyright Entries, new series volume 3, nos 1-5, January 1908, by Library of Congress Copyright Office [available at Google Book Search]; Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1879-1930 by L. H. Williams; "Mrs. Fannie R. Givens" on pp.252-253 of the Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky; and the Louisville Division of Police by M. O. Childress, Sr. See the James Edward Givens entry in Harvard College, Class of 1892-1896, Secretary's Report, No.11 by Harvard College [available at Google Book Search]; see "James Edward Givens" entry in Harvard College Class of 1892, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report, 1892-1917 by Harvard College; and "Prominent Colored Educator" in The Mt. Sterling Advocate, 03/23/1910, p.1. See photo image of Fanny R. Givens at Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Great Lakes Region website.

Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Religion & Church Work, Migration South
Geographic Region: Chicago, Illinois / Greenwood, Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Goss, William Thompson
Birth Year : 1894
Death Year : 1960
Born in Barren Fork, KY, William T. Goss was a poet, commercial artist and letterer, and a portrait artist. He had had no formal education in art when he attend the Haines Institute in Augusta and studied six months in France. His work was shown beginning in 1931 at various galleries and exhibits in Detroit, MI. According to his draft registration card for WWI, Goss had been employed by the Connecticut Tobacco Company in Somerset, KY, prior to the war. He served in the U.S. Navy. His WWII registration card gives his address as Cincinnati, OH, were Goss was employed at the Wright Aeronautical Company. In 1931, he was living at 1021 S. 15th Street in Toledo, OH, and had sailed to France and returned home six months later aboard the ship "France" on September 23, 1931 [source: New York Passenger List of United States Citizens, U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service, S.S. France, September 17-23, 1931]. Upon his return to the States, Goss was employed as a commercial artist at the Chevrolet Motor Company in Detroit [source: Ebony Rhythm: an anthology of contemporary Negro verse by B. M. Murphy]. In 1940, William and Cora Jones Goss lived in Indianapolis, IN, at 2101 Boulevard Place, and both had lived in Detroit, MI in 1935 [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The couple married June 1, 1939 in Marion County, IN [source: Marion County Marriage License Record #55548, p.325, ref. book #152]. While in Indanapolis, William T. Goss was self-employed as a portrait artist and he owned a sign shop [source: "William Goss [obituary]" in the Indianapolis Recorder, 02/13/1960, p.9]. William Thompson Goss died 01/30/1960 at the Veteran's Hospital in Cincinnati, OH [source: Ohio Death Certificate #12228]. His services were held at Delaines Funeral Home in Covington, KY, and he was buried in Cincinnai. Pearl Goss (1890-1976), from Covington, KY, is listed as his wife in the obituary. For more see Negro Artists: an illustrated review of their achievements, by Harmon Foundation (1991 reprint edition); and Afro-American Artists. A bio-bibliographical directory, compiled and edited by T. D. Cederholm. Two of Goss' poems, "Man to Man" and "Variety," are on pp.72-73 in Ebony Rhythm by B. M. Murphy.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Military & Veterans, Poets
Geographic Region: Barren Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Cincinnati, Ohio / Indianapolis, Indiana

Greene, Bryan
Born in Fort Knox, KY, Greene grew up in England. This artist's work is inspired by his wife and four children. Greene's early work included cartoons and movie characters. He is a graduate of Southwestern College and San Diego State University. For more see Designs for Better Giving.com, Bryan Greene.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, & Meade Counties, Kentucky / England, Europe

Gudgell, Henry
Birth Year : 1826
Death Year : 1895
Gudgell, born a slave in Kentucky, became a blacksmith, coppersmith, silversmith, and a wheelwright. He and his mother went with his father/master, Spence Gudgell, to Livingston County, Missouri, where he carved a walking stick that has also been described as a conjure remedy. The stick, the only surviving work of Gudgell, is at Yale University. For more about the carvings on the cane see B. J. Crouther, "Iconography of a Henry Gudgell Walking Stick," Southeastern College Art Conference Review, vol. 12, issue 3 (1993), pp. 187-191; and see "Missouri Wood Carving," The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts, by J. M. Vlach, Cleveland Museum of Art.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration West, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Livingston County, Missouri

Hamilton, Ed
Birth Year : 1947
Ed Hamilton, who was born in Ohio and grew up in Louisville, KY, has created a number of sculptures throughout the United States, including the Booker T. Washington Memorial at Hampton University, the Amistad Memorial in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Spirit of Freedom: African American Civil War Memorial in Washington D.C. A nationally recognized sculptor, he is the author of The Birth of an Artist: a journey of discovery. Hamilton, a graduate of Shawnee High School in Louisville, 1965, and the Louisville School of Art, 1969. He also attended the University of Louisville and Spalding College [now Spalding University]. He has received Honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville. For more see the Edward Hamilton website; and the Ed Hamilton interview [#209], "Connections with Renee Shaw," 02/03/2007, at KET (Kentucky Educational Television).

See photo image of Ed Hamilton at Great Black Kentuckians, a Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Sculptors
Geographic Region: Ohio / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Harrison-Pace, Yolantha
Yolantha Harrison-Pace, who lives in Danville, KY, is a performing arts specialist. For 30 years she has designed and facilitated academic programs in dance and the performing arts, most recently in the Danville/Boyle County area. She also conducts storytelling and poetry writing workshops, is the founder and facilitator of V.O.I.C.E. (Voices of Influence Creating Encouragement) and S.P.E.A.K.!!! (Stop, Please End Abuse to Kids!!!), and is the author of a book of poetry, Wing-Plucked Butterfly (Neshee Publication, 2004). Harrison-Pace has received a number of awards and honors, including the 2004 YOUnity Guild Humanitarian of the Year Award and the 2004 Urban Spectrum Poetry Book of the Year Award. For more see Yolantha Harrison-Pace on the Kentucky Educational Television website.

  See The Wells Are Dry by Yolantha Harrison-Pace aka Mama Haiti on YouTube
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Harvey, Henry
Birth Year : 1820
Henry Harvey, born around 1820 in Kentucky, was an ornamental painter in Ironton and Springfield, OH, he was one of the early African American artist in Ohio. He was the husband of Rebecca Harvey (b.1827 in NC). The couple was probably free (not slaves) and are listed in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census as a Mulattoes. For more see the Henry Harvey entry in Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900 by M. S. Haverstock et. al.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Springfield and Ironton, Ohio

Hawkins, William L.
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1990
Hawkins was born on a farm near Lexington, KY, and reared by his maternal grandmother, Mary Scudder. As a young man, he was a trapper and horse trainer, but when his girlfriend became pregnant he was sent to live in Ohio. He began to paint when he was 80 years old, using materials that came from junk piles and throwaway material at construction sites in his artwork. Hawkins also collected photographs that he used in his work. One of his signature techniques was to paint a frame around his work that included his name and the place and date of his birth. For more see Souls Grown Deep: African American vernacular art of the South, vol. 1, by P. Arnett and W. Arnett.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, & The Derby
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Ohio

Huddleston, Anna L.
Huddleston was born in Louisville, KY. She taught elementary school for 19 years with the Louisville Public Schools and then was a junior high school art teacher and consultant for 20 years. She was also president of the Kentucky Art Education Association and the first African American to receive the Milner Award. For more see 2002 Governor's Award in the Arts; and Black Kentucky Artists: an exhibition of work by black artists living in Kentucky (1979).
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

The James Harvey Family (Woodford County, KY)
The family of James Harvey was regarded as skilled, artistic, musical, and mechanical. Harvey, considered a naturally gifted mechanic, was an engineer in a distillery near Frankfort, KY. He was the father of Lewis, Will, and two other boys; his wife was described as Mexican. The March 1902 issue of the Woodford Sun newspaper contained a story relating how 18 year old Lewis built a functioning miniature stationary steam engine; Lewis had not been trained as an engineer and was thought to be uneducated. He was also a wood carver and had made a walking stick designed with people and animals in bold relief. Will, who was 15 years old, sketched portraits and landscapes in pencil and crayon. The two other brothers were gifted musicians and played a number of instruments. For more see "IV. Inventive Genius, Mechanical Skill, etc." on pp. 470-471 in The Story of a Rising Race, by Rev. J. J. Pipkin [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and "Untutored Negro boy is a genius," Woodford Sun, 03/06/1902, p. 1.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering
Geographic Region: Woodford County, Kentucky

Jones, Carridder "Rita"
Carridder Jones was born in South Carolina and lived in Indiana before moving to Kentucky. A playwright and historian, Jones's research has included African American communities in Kentucky, especially the black hamlets in Lexington and Louisville. Her play, "Black Hamlets in the Kentucky Bluegrass," was a finalist in the New York Drama League's New Works Project in 2002. Another of her plays, "The Mark of Cain," was chosen by the University of Louisville's African-American theater program for the Second Annual Juneteenth Festival of New Works. She has presented her research at conferences, programs, workshops, and as productions. She is the co-founder and Director of Women Who Write. In 2006, Jones received the Sallie Bingham Award. She is author of the 2009 book A Backward Glance. For more see "Free Black Hamlets," Courier Journal (Louisville) News, 04/19/04; and "Filmmakers hope to save Bluegrass freetowns," Lexington Herald Leader, 08/10/03.

See photo image and additional information about Carridder Jones at the Oldham County History Center website, 2009.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Historians, Migration West, Emancipation Day / Juneteenth Celebrations, Women's Groups and Organizations, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: South Carolina / Indiana / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Jones, Silas
Birth Year : 1940
Silas Jones was born in Paris, KY. He is the founder and director of WordPlay and author of books of fiction, short stories and plays, including Waiting For Mongo, Children Of All, and God in Little Pieces. Jones has also written for film, television, and radio. He earned his B.A. in English from Washington State University. Many of Jones' plays have not been published nor made available to the general public. For more see R. Forte, "Back stage with successful playwright Silas Jones," Call & Post [Cleveland, OH], 06/16/1994; National Playwrights Directory, 2nd ed., edited by P. J. Kaye; and Silas Jones at doollee.com, The Playwrights Database. Silas Jones is included in the picture of the children in "Brentsville One-Room School Students" on page 87 of Paris and Bourbon County, by B. Scott and J. Scott.


Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Television
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Kentucky State College Players
Start Year : 1940
End Year : 1993
A brief entry about the Kentucky Players, a college theatre group, can be found in The African American Theatre Directory, 1816-1960, by B. L. Peterson. According to the author, the group produced some "excellent" plays between the 1940s and 1993, including Sleeping Dogs and A Woman's Privilege. For more information, contact Kentucky State University - CESKAA.

 

  See photo images of the Kentucky State College on p.53 in the Kentucky State College 1965 Thorobred yearbook.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

LaFrance, Helen
Birth Year : 1919
Helen LaFrance was born in Graves County, KY. She is a self-taught folk artist who began painting when she was a small child. Her folk-art, called "Memory Painting," presents autobiography in visual images. Her work has been featured in galleries in Kentucky, Georgia, and Missouri. LaFrance's art gallery was located in downtown Mayfield, KY. For more see KET Productions' Kentucky Life Program 306, Artist Helen LaFrance; and B. Mayr, "The simple life - paintings reflect woman's experiences in rural Kentucky," The Columbus Dispatch, 06/17/2007, Features - Life & Art section, p. 7E.

See photo image and additional information about Helen LaFrance at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Great Black Kentuckians.

See video on Youtube of Helen LaFrance Orr, Folk Heritage Award Recipient of the 2011 Kentucky Governor's Awards in the Arts.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky

Lawson, William H.
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1913
Lawson was born in Maysville, KY, the son of Robert Lawson. He attended school in Ripley, OH. His family moved to Louisville in 1856 and was listed as free in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. The family included William; his mother, M. Lawson, who was employed as a wash woman; and two other children. William was training to become a painter, decorator, and photographer. In 1872 he ran unsuccessfully for Marshall of the City Court. From 1879-1886, he operated a photography studio at 319 W. Walnut Street. He was later a U.S. store-keeper and an artist. William Lawson served with the 122nd Regiment of the U. S. Colored Troops; he was a quartermaster sergeant. He helped organize the United Brothers of Friendship and served as a state and national Grand Master. He was also a published poet. William Lawson was married to Emeline Lawson, who was born in 1857 in Tennessee. He was later married to Elizabeth [Lizzie] Lawson. For more see the "W. H. Lawson" entry in Weeden's History of the Colored People of Louisville, by H. C. Weeden; and J. C. Anderson, "Photography," p. 703, middle column, in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Businesses, Military & Veterans, Photographers, Photographs, Poets
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Mallard, Joseph "Sunshine"
Birth Year : 1943
Born in Summit, MS, Joseph Mallard now lives in Louisville, KY. He is a performing artist of creative stitchery. Mallard is a member of the National Standards Council of American Embroiders Guild of America as well as the Kentucky Chapter. Since 1970 he has been teaching children in Kentucky and southern Indiana how to embroider. Mallard was inspired after seeing former football player Rosie Greer stitching on television. His patented trademark is J. Moose Stinkingneedle, a cartoon moose. Mallard is a graduate of Alcorn State University. For more see Black Kentucky Artists: an exhibition of work by black artists living in Kentucky (1979); and C. Bryon, "Stitches in time: artist's needlework reflects events in son's life," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 08/11/2002, News section, p. 1B.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Summit, Mississippi / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

May-Miller, Zephra
Birth Year : 1943
Death Year : 2004
Born in Indianapolis, IN, Zephra May-Miller was known as the "Bag Lady of Louisville." She used weaving techniques to create artwork and clothing made from plastic bags. Her works, which include hats, dresses, and sculptures, have been exhibited at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, the Runako Gallery, and many other locations. For pictures of her work see Visual Arts by Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation. For more on Zephra May-Miller, see P. Burba, "Artist Zephra May-Miller dies at 61," The Courier-Journal, 12/21/2004, News section, p. 6B.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Indianapolis, Indiana / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

McCoo, Edward Jordan (the first)
Birth Year : 1882
Death Year : 1930
McCoo was a minister at the AME Church in Newport, KY. He is recognized for writing, publishing, and producing the play Ethiopia at the Bar of Justice. The play was first performed at the General Conference of the AME Church in Louisville, KY, May 1924. It would gain popularity and become a must-see during Negro History Week. The 24 page play was published in Memphis. McCoo was born in Alabama, the son of William and Elizabeth McCoo, and he died of tuberculosis in Newport, KY, and was buried in Cincinnati, OH, according to his death certificate. He was married to Jennie McCoo and the couple lived at 210 W. 7th Street in Newport, KY. McCoo and his first wife, Lillian (b.1884 in IL), and their two children, had lived in Springfield and Chicago, IL, prior to his move to Kentucky some time after 1920. For more see "[Edwin] McCoo" on p. xxxiv in Plays and Pageants from the Life of the Negro, by W. Richardson.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Kentucky African American Churches, Migration North, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Alabama / Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

McNari, Jewel K.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1982
McNari grew up in Louisville, KY. She taught school for 20 years and was also a ballet dancer. In 1932, she opened the Jewel K. McNari School of Dance in Louisville where children learned ballet, tap, and interpretive dance. Some of her students went on to become well-known dancers. The school closed in 1975. For more see The Courier Journal (Louisville), News, 2 July 03; SR84 [Word doc.]; and Kentucky Minority Artists Directory, 1982.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Merriweather, Claybron W.
Birth Year : 1874
Death Year : 1952
Claybron Merriweather was born in Christian County, KY, the son of John and Mary Gwynn Merriweather, both former slaves. The Merriweathers lived in extreme poverty. Claybron eventually saved enough money to attend school and later became a schoolteacher and founded three newspapers. He was also a painter, using water colors and oils for his paintings. He is author of Light and Shadows, published in 1907, it was his first book. Merriweather was also a poet and went on to publish five additional books. He promoted his poetry by giving readings in various cities; in 1940 he was in Chicago and was on his way to Cleveland to give a dramatic reading before the Mission Convocation of the First Episcopal District. Claybron Merriweather was also a practicing lawyer, and had studied with the Black Stone Institute, which offered a home study course. He began his practice in 1908 and was the first African American attorney in Hopkinsville, KY, and the first to receive a license to practice law in Mayfield, KY [source: "First Colored Attorney," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 05/11/1912, p.4; and "First Colored man ever admitted to the bar at Mayfield, " The Paducah Sun, 11/28/1905, p.1]. Claybron Merriweather was the husband of Rosa Morgan Merriweather (c.1874-1935), born in KY, she was a school teacher in Paducah and in Hopkinsville, KY. The couple last lived at 1103 Coleman Street in Hopkinsville. They are buried in the Cane Spring Cemetery in Christian County, according to their death certificates. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians by A. A. Dunnigan; "C.W. Merriweather to give reading," Kentucky New Era, 08/10/1940, p.6; and The Law Trained Man by W. C. Wermuth [available full text at archive.org].
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Lawyers, Poets
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Morris, Horace
Birth Year : 1835
Born a freeman in Louisville, KY, Morris assisted slaves in the underground railroad. He was the only African American cashier in the Freeman's Savings and Trust Bank of Louisville. Morris was the first African American steward at Louisville's Marine Hospital and an early newspaper publisher. He was editor of the Kentuckian; was one of the editors of the Colored Citizen (Louisville, KY) newspaper beginning in 1866; and was editor of the Bulletin newspaper that was established by J. Q. Adams in 1879. Morris was a daguerreotype artist in Cincinnati, OH, during the 1850s when he was employed at the gallery of James P. and Thomas C. Ball. He also lived in Xenia, OH, before returning to Kentucky. Horace Morris was the son of Shelton Morris. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, his birth date is given as about 1832, and his race is given as white. His exact death date is not known, but occurred between 1880, when he was last listed in the U.S. Census, and 1900, when his wife Wilhelmina was listed as a widow. For more see Life Behind a Veil, by G. C. Wright; see the Horace Morris entry in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and Horace Morris in Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900 by M. S. Haverstock et. al.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Civic Leaders, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Medical Field, Health Care, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research, Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati and Xenia, Ohio

Parks, Suzan-Lori
Birth Year : 1964
Suzan-Lori Parks was born in Fort Knox, KY, but lived in a number of states; her father was in the military. This playwright has received a number of awards, including the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play, Topdog/Underdog. She wrote the screenplay for Girl 6 and is author of a number of books, including Getting Mother's Body: a novel and Venus. Parks is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. For more see Women of Color, Women of Words; Biography Index, vols. 20-26; and Contemporary Black Biography. Profiles from the international black community, vol. 34.

See photo image of Suzan-Lori Parks at Wikipedia.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors
Geographic Region: Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade Counties, Kentucky

Pegram, Amelia Blossom
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Amelia Blossom Pegram is a teacher, writer, performer, and poet. She began teaching in South Africa, then left the country in 1963. She studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has acted on stage, radio, and television in England and the United States. Pegram came to the U.S. in 1972. She has won many awards, including the Louisville Board of Alderman Literary Award. She is author of several books, including Our Sun Will Rise: poems from South Africa, and she is included in Conversations with Kentucky Writers II. For more see Biography Index A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 20 (Sept. 1991-Aug. 1995); and the Amelia Blossom Pegram at the South African Women for Women Annual Awards website.

See photo image of Amelia Blossom Pegram and additional information at the KET Website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Cape Town, South Africa / England, Europe / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Raynor, Sarah Harper
Birth Year : 1853
Raynor was born in Kentucky, the daughter of Jennie Harper. She was an artist in wax works. She married Reverend Jacob R. Raynor (b. 1838 in Tennessee), pastor of the Garfield Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN. The Raynors are listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Sargent, Nathaniel
Birth Year : 1863
Death Year : 1954
Nathaniel Sargent, a slave born in Kentucky, was raised by a white family in the North. He was a graduate of the University of Illinois. Sargent came to Kitsap County, Washington, in 1882. He worked as a logger, and later became a rancher with about 250 acres of land. Sargent was an artist who created oil paintings, and he was also a writer. In 1897, he was elected the first African American Justice of the Peace for Seabeck, Washington. For more see "Justice of the Peace for Seabeck - 1897" in Northwest Black Pioneers: a centennial tribute, by R. Hayes; and the Black Historical Society of Kitsap County, Inc.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North, Migration West, Judges
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Seabeck, Kitsap County, Washington

Sebree, Charles E.
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 1985
Sebree was born in Madisonville, KY. A painter, costume designer, professional dancer, theatrical producer, and choreographer who had many other talents, he created over 150 works of art, directed workshop productions at the American Negro Theatre, and designed sets and costumes for Broadway appearances. Sebree was company artist at the U.S. Naval Base in the Great Lakes. He produced Mrs. Patterson, which played at the National Theatre and starred Eartha Kitt, Enid Markey, and Avon Long; Mrs. Patterson was Eartha Kitt's debut in the U.S. For more see St. James Guide to Black Artists, ed. by T. Riggs; Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 14 (Sept. 1984-Aug. 1986); and Charles Sebree: a retrospective, by C. Sebree.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky

Sheppard, William Henry
Birth Year : 1865
Death Year : 1927
William H. Sheppard was born in Waynesboro, Virginia. He was a devoted Presbyterian whose parents were freed slaves; his father was a barber and his mother managed a women's health bath. Sheppard became a minister, then found a way to go Africa, even though at that time African Americans were not chosen to head African missions. Sheppard was an evangelist who fought to improve the living conditions of Africans. He was also the first American to collect African art. Sheppard referred to himself as "The Black Livingston." In his final years, Sheppard resided in Louisville, KY, where he was a leader in the community as well as pastor of the Grace Hope Presbyterian Church (1912-1927). The Smoketown housing development, Sheppard Square, is named in his honor. William Sheppard was featured during Family Saturday at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, February 2003. The African art collection included items donated by Sheppard's family. In 2007, William H. Sheppard was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame. For more see M. Larry, "Speed will showcase William Sheppard's life," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 02/14/03; M. Lewis, "Jewel of the Kingdom," Mission Frontiers; and William Sheppard: Congo's African American Livingstone, by W. E. Phipps.

See photo image of William H. Sheppard at the Wikipedia website.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Barbers, Kentucky African American Churches, Religion & Church Work, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Waynesboro, Virginia / Africa / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Smith, Morgan and Marvin
Birth Year : 1910
Born in Nicholasville, KY, the sons of Allena Hutchinson Smith and Charles Smith. The Smith twins were photographers who left Kentucky and settled in Harlem, NY. The memorable photo of Robert Day playing Hi-Li was taken by Morgan Smith. Marvin later took up abstract painting and Morgan became interested in film. The resonant life in Harlem was captured on film and in photographs with events and images such as the first African American policeman. Morgan Smith died in 1993 and Marvin Smith died in 2003. For more see The Photography Encyclopedia, by G. S. McDarrah, et al.; M & M Smith: for posterity's sake, by H. Lyons, et al; Morgan and Marvin Smith, from North By South: The African American Great Migration; and Harlem: the vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith, by M. and M. Smith.

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North, Photographers, Photographs
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Harlem, New York

St. Clair, I. W., Sr.
Birth Year : 1889
Born in Louisville, KY, St. Clair was the first African American to earn a fine arts degree from Indiana University. He was a teacher and principal of schools in Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky. For more see Who's Who in Colored America. 1933-37.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Bloomington, Indiana / North Carolina / Kansas

Strider, Maurice
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1989
Maurice Strider, born in Lexington, KY, was a graduate of old Dunbar High School, Fisk University, and the University of Kentucky. He was an artist and an art educator. After furthering his study of art in New York, he returned to Lexington in 1934 to become an art teacher at old Dunbar School. His painting, The Carnival, won the John Hope Purchasing Award in 1960. He was a researcher of African American art, culture, history, and race relations. His artwork has been exhibited in many locations, including the Carnegie Institute. Strider was also a correspondent and photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier and Louisville Defender. He received the Chicago Defender Award in 1958. In 1966 he became the first African American full professor at Morehead State University. The Maurice Strider Library/Media Center is located at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans 1975-2004.



See photo image and additional information on Maurice Strider on p. 6 in the Kentucky Alumnus, vol. 4, no. 44, 1974, at Kentucky Digital Library.

Access Interview

Read about the Maurice Strider oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in SPOKE Database.

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Photographers, Photographs
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Chicago, Illinois

Tate, Mary L.
Birth Year : 1890
Born in Kentucky, she was the daughter of Harry and Anna Tate, both Kentucky natives, and the family of five lived on Lincoln Avenue in Cincinnati,OH, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Mary Tate was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and also studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy and the University of Chicago. Her work was shown at the Harmon Exhibits from 1928-1931. For more see Negro Artists: an illustrated review of their achievements, by Harmon Foundation (1991 reprint edition); and Afro-American Artists. A bio-bibliographical directory, compiled and edited by T. D. Cederholm.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / Chicago, Illinois / Harlem, New York

Thompson, Robert L. "Bob"
Birth Year : 1937
Death Year : 1966
Thompson was born in Louisville, KY. He had a nine-year art career for which he received acclaim and success and during which time he completed over 1,000 works, including LeRoi Jones [Amiri Baraka] and His Family in 1964. Thompson died in Rome after gall bladder surgery at the age of 29. For more see The African American Almanac, 9th ed.; World Artists, 1950-1980, C. Marks, ed.; and Bob Thompson, by T. Golden, B. Thompson & J. Wilson.

See photo image of Bob Thompson at Wikipedia.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Rome, Italy

Walker, Frank X
Birth Year : 1961
Frank X Walker was born in Danville, KY. He is a visual artist, poet, author, educator, and motivator. Walker is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, editor of Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium, and author of Affrilachia and Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York. He has given over 250 poetry readings, including readings at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, and in Santiago, Cuba. He has received many awards, appeared on television and been heard on the radio; he was the first writer from Kentucky to be featured on NPR's This I Believe. Walker was director of the Kentucky Governor's School for the ARTS, 1998-2004, leaving that position to become an English professor at Eastern Kentucky University. He has also been a visiting professor at Transylvania University. His teaching experience includes writing workshops at various locations and writing classes at the university level, including the University of Louisville and the University of Minnesota. Walker is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Spalding University, and he received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Kentucky and an honorary Doctor of Letters from Transylvania University. In 2010, Frank X. Walker joined the University of Kentucky Department of English, and in 2011 he was named director of both the African American Studies & Research and the Africana Studies Programs at UK. In 2013, Frank X Walker was named Kentucky's poet laureate [source: M. Meehan,"Lexington writer Frank X Walker named Kentucky poet laureate," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/15/2013, p.A3]. At the age of 51, he is the youngest to be named the state's poet laureate and he is also the first African American to receive the honor. For more see Frank X. Walker website; Affrilachian Poets; and The Columbia Granger's Index to African-American Poetry, by N. Frankovich and D. Larzelere.


  See photo images of Frank X Walker by Rachel Eliza Griffiths at the Frank X Walker website.

  View Kentucky Muse: (#503) Frank X Walker "I Dedicate This Ride" at KET Video (Kentucky Educational Television).

Access Interview Read about the Frank X Walker oral history interviews available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.

   View video at Vimeo: "Accpetance Speech: The Induction of Frank X Walker, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2013-2014 - April 24, 2013, Capitol Rotunda, Frankfort, Kentucky." Video footage courtesy of the Kentucky Arts Council. Edited by Nyoka Hawkins for Old Cove Press.

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Walker, Renelda Meeks Higgins
Born Renelda Meeks in Louisville, KY, she is the sister of Kenneth Meeks, Michael Meeks, and Reginald Meeks. She was the art director of Social Policy and organized shows for the U.S. Mission to the UN. Her works have been published in the New York Times and Crisis. She was the Human Resources Administration spokesperson for New York City. She is the daughter of Eloise Kline Meeks and Florian Meeks, Jr. For more see Afro-American Artists. A bio-bibliographical directory, compiled and edited by T. D. Cederholm; and The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York City, New York

White, James L.
Born in Mt. Sterling, KY, James L. White served in the Navy and later attended the University of Massachusetts. He later moved to California, where he lived for a while before he and Taylor Hackford became the screenwriters for the 2004 film Ray (about Ray Charles). The movie received six Oscar nominations, and Jamie Foxx, playing the role of Ray Charles, won an Oscar in 2005 for Actor, Leading Role in the film. For more see R. Copley, "'Ray' writer dared to dream: Kentuckian bucked odds, hit big with biopic," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/27/05.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky / Amherst, Massachusetts / California

White, Solomon E.
Birth Year : 1841
Death Year : 1912
Solomon White was an artist, scenic painter, and fresco painter. He was born in April 1841 in Kentucky and was the husband of Mary J. White (b.1855 in OH). In 1860, Solomon White was a free person who lived in Cincinnati at the home of Penelope Cousins and Wiley Cousins who was a barber. Solomon would return to Kentucky where he and Mary had their first three children. By 1870, the family had moved to Memphis, TN, where Solomon was employed as a framer. The entire family was listed in the 1870 Census as Mulattoes, including the last two children who were born in Tennessee. By 1879, the family lived in Cincinnati at 276 John Street [source: Williams' Cincinnati Directory for 1878-9], and there were two more children. A year later, the family lived in Grand Rapids, MI, and Solomon was employed as an artist and fresco painter. They lived at 43 Curtiss Street from 1880-1885, according to the Grand Rapids City Directory. They then returned to Cincinnati, and Solomon White continued his work as an artist [source: Williams' Cincinnati Directory 1884-1885]. In 1886, the family moved to 267 W. Eighth Street [source: Williams' Cincinnati Directory 1886]. Solomon White continued as a scenic painter and a fresco painter; he is listed in Williams' Cincinnati Directory as late as 1895, and in the Cincinnati Business Directory section under Fresco Decorators in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory, 1898-99. In October of 1899, Solomon White painted the scenery for the play On the Suwanee River when the play came to Newark, OH. Solomon White had made drawings of the Suwanee River on a trip to Florida, and used the images in the scenery. In 1900, Solomon continued his work as an artist, and he and Mary shared their home on W. Eighth Street with their youngest two sons and Solomon's brother Jackson White, a butcher who was born in December 1861 in Kentucky [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Solomon E. White died February 5, 1912 in Cincinnati, Ohio according to the Ohio Death List. For more see "Auditorium Saturday," Newark Daily Advocate, 10/21/1898, p.6; and Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900 by M. S. Haverstock, et. al.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Memphis, Tennessee / Cincinnati, Ohio / Grand Rapids, Michigan

Whyte, Garrett
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 2000
Whyte was born in Louisville, KY, according to his Army enlistment records. [Mt. Sterling has also been given as his birth location.] He completed an art education degree at North Carolina A&T State University in 1939. Whyte was an artist for the Chicago Defender, taught art at a high school and was an art professor at Chicago City College System [now City Colleges of Chicago]. In addition to teaching, Whyte was an artist for a number of organizations before he retired in 1980. He is remembered for his art and for the creation, for the Chicago Defender, of the comic strip, "Mr. Jim Crow," one of the first Civil Rights graphic satires. Whyte was a WWII Army veteran. For more see J. D. Stevens, "Reflections in a dark mirror: comic strips in Black newspapers," Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 10, issue 1 (Summer 1976), pp. 239-244; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1975-2006.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Jim Crow, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Mount Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Williams, Charles
Birth Year : 1942
Williams was born in Blue Diamond, KY, near Hazard. He lived with his grandparents and later moved to Chicago with his mother and other family members. He returned to Kentucky with an uncle and did not leave. One of his art forms was to use a circular saw and a reciprocating saw to draw on plywood. For more see Souls Grown Deep: African American vernacular art of the South, vol. 2, by W. Arnett and P. Arnett.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration North
Geographic Region: Blue Diamond, Perry County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Wilson, Ellis
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1977
Ellis Wilson was born in Mayfield, KY, the son of Frank and Minnie Wilson [source: U.S. Federal Census]. He was a free-lance interior decorator and painter. Though he acquired international fame, he never made a living from painting. Wilson worked with the Federal Art Project during World War II and painted African Americans employed in war industries. His painting The Fish won the 1946 Atlanta University Purchase Award. He received the Certificate of Merit from the U.S. Treasury Dept. for donating the painting Nocturne during the war loan drive. His works were exhibited at Kentucky institutions beginning in the 1950s. For more see The Art of Ellis Wilson, by A. Sperath; and In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling.

   See photo image of Ellis Wilson and additional information at the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) website.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky

Wolfe, George C.
Birth Year : 1954
George C. Wolfe was born in Frankfort, KY. A director, writer, and producer, he has received numerous awards, including the Obie Award in 1990 and the Tony Award for best director in 1993, for the first part of Angels in America, Millennium Approaches; Wolfe was the first person of color to win the award for directing a "white" play. He also produced Paradise (his first professionally produced play), and The Colored Museum and Jelly's Last Jam, both of which are also books authored by Wolfe, and he has completed many other works. Beginning in 1993, he was the producer and artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Joseph Papp Public Theater. In 2004, Wolfe moved from theater to film and produced Lakawanna Blues, a play written by Ruben Santiago-Hudson that debuted off broadway in 2001, and Wolfe directed the 2005 award winning motion picture with the same title. George C. Wolfe is the son of Costello and Anna M. Lindsey Wolfe. For more see The African American Almanac, 9th ed.; and Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. A biographical guide featuring performers... in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the world, vol. 38. See photo images of George C. Wolfe on his facebook page.

    See George Wolfe with other children in photo image at Kentucky Historical Society Digital Collections.

    See video 1 - The Colored Museum - Dir. George C. Wolfe on YouTube.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

 

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