African American artists exhibit opens at the Appleton


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Posted January 29, 2021 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette | Photo submitted by Gregory Staley

From the exhibition “Memories & Inspiration,” Sedrick Huckaby, “She Wore Her Family’s Quilt,” 2015. [Gregory Staley/Submitted]

It took more than 35 years for Kerry and Betty Davis to collect 300 original artworks created by African American artists.

On Jan. 30, an exhibit of 62 of these paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures will open at the Appleton Museum of Art.

The exhibit, “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art,” is a touring exhibit organized by International Arts & Artists in Washington, D.C.

Now retired, Kerry Davis, a mail carrier, lived frugally, choosing to splurge on original artworks that reflected his experience as a Black American. He bartered his carpentry and handyman skills, constructing frames and doing odd jobs for artists in exchange for art to add to his collection.

The works he and his wife, Betty, a retired television producer, are sharing through the exhibit include pieces by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas and Charles White.

One piece that holds sentimental value for Kerry Davis is the painting “She Wore Her Family’s Quilt.”

Commissioned from Texas artist Sedrick Huckaby in 2015, Davis said the colorful oil on canvas painting reminded him of the handmade quilts in his childhood home.         

“We are very lucky and honored to bring the ‘Memories & Inspiration’ exhibit to our community,” said Appleton Museum of Art Director Jason Steuber.

He said the show is a continuation of the museum’s efforts to showcase Black artists. 

“Over the past two decades, the Appleton has hosted solo and group exhibitions of African American artists from private and public collections,” Steuber said.

Kerry Davis will give a free Zoom talk, joined by Daytona Beach native and now Atlanta-based African American artist Kevin Sipp, on Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. Zoom login details for the talk are available at AppletonMuseum.org.

In honor of Black History Month, admission is free every Saturday and Sunday in February.

The Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visit appletonmuseum.org for more information.