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Original Prints by African-American Artists
Featuring the Graphic Art of James Edward Jones and Related Works on Paper

January 15 through February 28, 2002
Second Floor Gallery
Curated by William J. Dane
The exhibition entitled Original Prints by African American Artists also includes works on paper in other media and is organized and presented to focus on African American History and is largely assembled from The Library’s Special Collections to include original works of graphic art, autographs, illustrated books for young people, historic documents and contemporary artist’s books.
Silkscreen print by Romare Bearden from his portfolio of prints, Prevalence of Ritual, 1974.

The work of several New Jersey and Newark artists has been especially selected for the occasion and these artists include Gladys Grauer, Roy Crosse, Florian Jenkins and Jacob Lawrence who was born in Atlantic City in 1917. Prints by other notable artists are also on display.
 These include Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Vincent D. Smith, Jean Eda Byrd, Benny Andrews and a small gem of a black and white woodcut entitled The Flight with a religious theme by James Lesene Wells purchased 70 years ago in 1932 for The Library’s growing Fine Print Collection. 

The Flight, woodcut by James Lesene Wells.

Especially featured are a dozen prints by James Edward Jones, a graduate of Newark’s Arts High School some years ago. He later earned a master’s degree from The University of Pennsylvania and has taught for many years at Morgan State University, at Douglass College and in Baltimore where he now lives. Many of his relief prints are in color and were hand pulled by the artist whose subjects include visual themes from Nigeria, the most populous nation of West Africa. His prints often use inks with a water base and are lithographs, serigraphs and mixed media techniques including etchings aquatint and engraving. According to the current national listing in "Who’s Who In American Art", James E. Jones has had a number of exhibitions of his work including those at The University of Pennsylvania and Maryland plus The Baltimore Museum of Art and his awards include a Fellowship at The Philadelphia College of Art.

Agamaga:  Mother of the Masks, relief print by James Edward Jones, 1999

Signed photograph portraits are presented including those for Marian Anderson, The Platters who were a major singing group from an earlier generation, and Newark’s own brilliant star, Sarah Vaughan. Of particular interest is a letter from Booker T. Washington to the Director of The Newark Public Library dated January, 1915 commenting on a welcome book donation from Newark to The Tuskegee Institute of which Mr. Washington was the acclaimed Director. A portrait of Frederick Douglass by Ben Shahn is included among the prints as well as a 1930 color lithographic portrait of Paul Robeson by American graphic artist, Mabel Dwight whose work is now widely celebrated.

I Wish the Rent Was Heaven Sent, color lithograph by Newark artist Gladys Grauer, 1992.

A few books for children are shown including Mumbo Jumbo published by Calloway in 2000 with stunning illustrations and amusing text by Michael Roberts who has been described as "The scissors-wielding wizard of snip". Mr. Roberts is a visual arts director associated with the Paris edition of Vanity Fair and is a contributing editor for Conde Nast Traveler. He currently lives in Paris. 
A unique absolutely one-of-a-kind artist’s book is shown in Cool with text, illustration and ornamentation by Roy Crosse of Newark. This noted artist wrote the text about riding his motorbike in Newark and the images were composed with an original mono print and silk screen configuration. This work is joined by an earlier book by Mr. Crosse and they were selected from The Library’s growing collection of artists’ books which now number several hundred in what is described as a worldwide art movement.

Illustration from artist's book Cool by Roy Crosse.

Celebration of Heritage, a color lithograph by Jacob Lawrence.

Announcements of exhibits of the work of Jacob Lawrence going back to 1943 document the career of this distinguished artist whose work is currently on exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue in New York. 
This timely project was prepared by William J. Dane, Keeper of Prints, Posters and Art Works on Paper of the Library’s Special Collections Division, is open free of charge during regular Library hours which are Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For answers to general questions and additional information, please call (973) 733-7745.

Africa by Romare Bearden


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