The 10th annual Black History Month exhibit at the Gilroy Center for the Arts prominently displays photographs of many influential African American figures from throughout history.
Among them are Ivie Anderson, a jazz singer born in Gilroy who performed for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A photograph of Carter Godwin Woodson also hangs on the walls, a man often referred to as the founder of black history whose work later became Black History Month, celebrated in February.
“They all left wonderful legacies,” said exhibit curator Louise Shields. “They have all been an inspiration for me.”
Shields, a Gilroy collage and abstract painter, has also gathered the works created by her family members, Eva Nicholson and Mason Devine. She’s also joined forces with Steven Pattie of Gilroy, who is presenting his collection of black folk art, featuring works by Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver and Lonnie Holley.
The exhibit opens Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 29 at the arts center, 7341 Monterey St. in Gilroy. An opening reception is scheduled on Feb. 3 from 1-4pm, featuring many who have supported the exhibit over the years.
Vercila Chacon will conduct the opening blessing, while percussionist Mike Fair will perform West African drumming. Other performers at the reception will include vocalist Angela Tirado and dancer Khaliha Ramirez.
Pattie said he is drawn to the works of self-taught artists, which represent his collection that is years in the making. Many of the artists created their works on whatever they could get their hands on, Pattie said, as he showed Sudduth’s Statue of Liberty work that was painted on a scrapped piece of wood.
“There’s a certain passion in that art,” he said. “There’s a certain unfilteredness to it.”