African American murals exhibit to open
African Americans have a longstanding, but little-known, mural tradition. Denied access to mainstream museums and galleries, venues within the black community became showcases for images of a people’s historical struggles and achievements.
An exhibit “Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals,” showcasing murals from all over the country with a special emphasis on work by local artists, comes to Oregon Historical Society, opening Monday, Nov. 16 and continuing through Feb. 13.
The core show of photos of murals nationwide will be supplemented by an exciting array of original work from the local and regional muralists, from sketches and studies to entire mural panels.
Highlights include work by two little-known women artists, Charlotte Lewis and Thelma Johnson Streat. The latter assisted Diego Rivera on one of his mural projects. Also, getting significant attention for the first time will be the Albina Mural Project, painted in 1977, in which seven artists of color, mostly African American, researched regional black history and created five 20×20-foot panels that were seen by thousands of Portlanders at the corner of North Vancouver Avenue and Alberta from 1978-1983.
Video oral histories, archival documents and photos will help bring this important, but underexposed project alive. All the local work will be placed in a national context by also featuring images of some of the best, most exciting African American murals from all over the United States.