By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – For Eddison E. Romeo, it’s all about standing for something in life.
So, when the Newburgh-based artist was approached by curator Josephine Green with the title of this year’s African-American Artist Group Exhibit: “In Our Lifetime,” Romeo immediately became inspired to construct a piece on the Civil Rights icon, Congressman, John Robert Lewis. Using a plastic bin canvas, the creative Romeo (who refers to himself as a “MacGyver” artist) superimposed a detailed, potently striking image of Lewis’ face using a mixed medium approach that included 24 carat gold paint, Swarouski Crystals, and heavy construction tape, helping produce unique three-dimensional nose and glow in the dark effects.
“When I learned of the theme of this year’s show, I thought about how this is not just a month to celebrate African-Americans but a 365 days a year thing; I then thought about Lewis giving a speech for Obama and the Freedom Rides and his seeing all of the positive changes that he helped make happen in his lifetime,” explained Romeo who has four pieces in the Show. “I then thought about how the keys to life are love and peace, and how we need to fight for them, and they don’t come free; change can start with one person, but it takes a community to keep it going, just like we need to fight to keep Lewis’ legacy alive, and I’m hoping I can do that through this piece.”
Twelve other artists are joining Romeo this month in the quest to celebrate African-Americans with their eclectic contributions to the 27th Annual African-American Group Art Show at Beacon’s Howland Cultural Center. Whether through photography, painting, writing or another vehicle, each of the Hudson-Valley based artists is paying tribute to someone or something that has had a profound impact on both them and the world. The subject matter spans everything from the Pandemic, to sport’s figures, to the Civil Right Movement, to outdoor scenes to music entertainers. Applying an assortment of techniques and approaches, the mainstays for each artist is an unwavering back story and passion for their work.
Brooklyn artist, Corey Lightfoot, is in the Show for the second year. Originally learning about the popular, long-standing group event through one of its veteran artists, Richard Outlaw, Lightfoot could not be more honored to be making a return appearance, displaying his work in 2021.
“This is such an important event because it is an opportunity to educate people on the rich history of black art; I also absolutely love the Howland Cultural Center, an amazing piece of art itself, and its location on Main Street in Beacon is ideal because it’s a creative and artistic environment-landscape outdoors that just makes you want to see beautiful art.”
Showcasing nine pieces this year, Lightfoot’s favorite is a very lifelike depiction of musician, Andre 3000.
“Andre is a very creative and unique person, who I believe has never been painted before; his stylish-funky aura are art in and of themselves and something I really wanted to try to capture,” said Lightfoot. “I respect him so much for his desire to only want to put quality stuff out there as an artist.”
Once again, this year’s Curator is Josephine Green, a contributor as well with two photography pieces on display upstairs.
“The Pandemic has really challenged our lives, including artists and the way they work and what they make,” said Green. “I’m really hoping that people who have never gone to see a black art exhibit will look at them differently after going.” She added, “Each year the artists get better and better here, and it’s very interesting how many have changed their styles, as they are looking at things differently as well as really looking inside themselves because of the Pandemic.”
Other artists in this year’s show include: Jean Benoit, Ronald Brown, Rhonda Green-Phillips, Arnold Hayes, Kyra Husbands, Thelma Lightfoot, Marline A. Martin, Richard Outlaw, Symantha Outlaw, Miles Pinkney, Sandi Pinkney, Oliver Spearman, and Donald Whitely. The Show, which opened on February 6, continues through February 28. Due to the Pandemic, Gallery hours are limited to Saturday and Sunday from 1-5pm, following mask, social distancing and hand sanitizing guidelines. The Howland Cultural Center can be found at 477 Main Street in Beacon. You can also locate them online at: http://howlandculturalcenter.org or by calling (845) 831-4988.