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An Intriguing Art Exhibition in Midtown Manhattan

Ellen Levitt

Posted on June 15, 2021 21:55

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The Cinque Gallery at the Art Students League is a wonderful show in a small exhibition space.

As a lifelong New Yorker and an art lover, I'm always searching for intriguing exhibitions around town, especially in lesser known spots. Thus, I was eager to see the "Creating Community, Cinque Gallery Artists" show at the Art Students League (ASL) in midtown Manhattan. Many years ago my mother attended drawing sessions here, so I'd known that they staged small but remarkable shows.

Accompanied by my two daughters, we visited on a Tuesday and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Displayed in a large, airy space on the second floor of the building, we saw paintings, sculptures, collages, and some memorabilia such as postcards related to the gallery. The show was curated by Susan Stedman, whom we spoke with at the ASL. 

The show was devoted to the life of the Cinque Gallery, a non-profit space that for over 30 years showcased fine arts of African American artists. Several such artists went on to lengthy, acclaimed careers in the arts while others are more obscure; nevertheless, this determined, struggling gallery promoted their work. The Cinque Gallery was located in a few different spaces in Manhattan and dealt with tight finances, but left a solid legacy.

Originally, this exhibition was to have opened in 2020, but due to the pandemic it is now running from May through July 2021. Fortunately, it fits in well now because "Grief and Grievance" at the New Museum in lower Manhattan, which also showcased works of African American artists, just closed in early June. In fact, photographer Dawoud Bey has pieces in both these shows.

A few of the artists in the Cinque Gallery show also studied or taught at the Art Students League, cementing the role of New York City's arts scene in the development of many Black fine artists. One example is this collage by Romare Bearden, who was one of the three founders of the Cinque Gallery, along with artists Ernest Crichlow and Norman Lewis.

Among the artworks I admired in the Cinque Gallery show were a photograph by Dawoud Bey, a spirited portrait of an athlete by Emma Amos, and a provocative memory piece by Debra Priestley. My older daughter liked a mixed media piece by Ademola Olugebefola, titled Sun Ra.

It's good that many people want to visit art museums, but oftentimes in NYC they flock to major art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. It's important to seek out exhibitions in smaller, lesser-known sites. I realize that just as most people are familiar with major classical composers like Beethoven and Bach, but may not know Couperin or Hindemith, exposure to art is typically associated with visits to big, famous museums.

Expand your art-loving horizons by visiting places like the Art Students League--the Cinque Gallery exhibition is free! You'll be rewarded.

 

 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on June 15, 2021 21:55

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Source: Post-Gazette

The Westmoreland Museum of American Arts 2020 schedule to feature African American art, music and contemporary works.

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