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The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will unveil on New Year's Eve the first pieces in its collection of art by African Americans, 19 works purchased with grant funds from the state Natural and Cultural Resources Council.
The work, which includes paintings, silverpoint etching, photographs and sculpture, is either by Arkansans or is pertinent to Arkansas's African-American history. The pieces, bought in consultation with Garbo Hearne of Hearne Fine Art, reflect the signature style of the artist.
Represented in the collection so far are Kevin Cole, Tarrence Corbin, Rex Deloney, Sylvester McKissack, Euneda Otis, Charly Palmer, AJ Smith, Marjorie Williams-Smith, Susan Williams, Ernest C. Withers and Michael Worsham. All are living but Corbin, painter and instructor at the University of Cincinnati, who died Dec. 3, and Withers, the famed Memphis civil rights and musician photographer, who died in 2007. Some of the work was commissioned.
The museum, which focuses on business, politics and culture, won a $50,000 grant from the NCRC to purchase the collection; $20,000 remains for 2010 acquisitions, Deputy Director Heather Zbinden said.
Hearne said the museum will try to acquire five to six works a year and hopes to ultimately travel the collection to other museums.
The art will be exhibited throughout the museum rather than in a single spot, but will be shown in the third floor auditorium at the hour-long unveiling event at noon. The event will coincide with the museum's celebration of the Kwanzaa holiday “Kuumba” (creativity). The day before, on Dec. 30, the Tidwell Project Dance Ensemble will perform at noon in celebration of the Kwanzaa day “Nia” (purpose).
The events will be free. The museum is at 501 W. Ninth St.
Hearne also said her new gallery, under construction at Wright Avenue and Chester Streets, will open on Valentine's Day. Hearne Fine Art was previously located in the Museum Center at 500 Clinton Ave. A Java Roasting coffee shop in a portion of the shop will open in January.
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