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Edwardsville Center Showcases African-American Art Through St. Louis’ Portfolio Gallery

St. Louis-area art openings this Friday explore the beauty of nature, teapots and African-American works. “Ebony Creations” is a joint project of Portfolio Gallery and the Edwardsville Arts Center.

When the folks at Edwardsville Arts Center (EAC)sought to spotlight African-American artists in 2011, they first gathered their thoughts, then Googled them. Quickly, the online search led them to Portfolio Galleryin St. Louis’ Grand Center, which has exhibited black artists since 1989.

Postcard for Ebony Creations
Credit Courtesy of the Edwardsville Arts Center
Courtesy of the Edwardsville Arts Center

But the rest of the process was slow-going. On Friday evening, after three years of conversation and practical issues including sponsorship-gathering and EAC’s one-year lead-time on exhibits, the Edwardsville facility and Portfolio will open “Ebony Creations.”The event will include live music and a chance to talk with many of the artists.

Bringing the idea to fruition was a learning experience, according to EAC board chair Joan Wentz. She came to understand the work through exposure, as will others of every race, Wentz noted.

“I was ignorant about African-American art. So it’s an educational thing,” Wentz said.

In an email, EAC executive director Pat Quinn summed up the effort as a joyous event.

“The show is a great celebration of local black artists allowing EAC to reach a wide untapped part of the community,” Quinn wrote.

For Portfolio founder Robert Powell, the exhibit is about getting new eyes on the work, which includes 30 paintings, photographs, textiles and sculptures by local artists. Powell expects some visitors will travel from as far as Chicago and hopes many others will cross the bridge from St. Louis.

“Sometimes we treat the river like it’s an ocean but it’s really only 20 minutes away,” Powell said.

Friday Exhibit Openings: EAC/Portfolio, RAC, Slein, Craft Alliance

‘Ebony Creations’
Where: Edwardsville High School campus, 6165 Center Grove Road, Edwardsville, IL, 62025
When: Opening reception 6-8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10 includes live music; runs through Feb. 28
How much: Free
Information: EAC website and Portfolio Gallery website

image of Juke Joint 1
Credit Regional Arts Commission | “Irrevocable Fragments”
Byron Darnell Rogers’ “Juke Joint 1”

‘Irrevocable Fragments,’ exploring how memories influence purpose
Where: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd., 63112
When: Opening reception 5:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10; runs through Feb. 15
How much: Free
Information: RAC website

Credit Philip Slein Gallery
Catherine Howe’s “Gold Painting (Morandi I),” 2013

Paintings by Catherine Howe, examining marriage of form/content in depicting nature
Where: Philip Slein Gallery, 4735 McPherson Ave., 63108
When: Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10; runs through Feb. 15
How much: Free
Information: Slein Gallery website

Credit Craft Alliance
Cliff Lounsbury’s “Red” from"‘Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition"

‘Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition,’ celebrating Craft Alliance at 50
Where: Craft Alliance, 6640 Delmar Blvd., 63130
When: Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10; runs through March 23
How much: Free
Information:Craft Alliance website

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.