Toledoans Head to Chicago to Experience the Art of Arvie Smith

Rhonda Sewell, Albert Earl and Reggie Williams (first, second and fourth from left) with hosts in Chicago

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

The Frederick Douglass Community Association’s Executive Director Reggie Williams and Board President Albert Earl, along with the Toledo Museum of Art’s Director of Belonging and Community Engagement Rhonda Sewell, were  invited to Chicago last week to view the works of painter Arvie Smith, a viewing that left the three Toledoans awestruck, said Earl.

The exclusive gathering honoring Smith and his art occurred at the Monique Meloche Gallery in River North, as part of the Afrofuturist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined, curated by Galerie Myrtis for the European Cultural Centre in Venice, Italy.

The invitation for the trip was extended by Pigment International founder and owner, Patricia Andrews-Keenan. Pigment International® is a multimedia collective promoting Black art, curation and innovation with three focuses: art journalism, art programming and artists’ development.

The three Toledoans were treated to a luncheon with Arvie Smith, an artist who “tackles the American experience of race,” said Sewell.

Smith, born in Houston, lives and works in Portland, Oregon. He has an MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art and a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art. He has studied in Florence, Italy and has had recent solo exhibitions at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, OR; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Portland and the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland.

His work has been included in group exhibitions at UTA Art Space in Beverly Hills, CA; the Portland Art Museum and the Upfor Gallery in Portland. His various paintings are also included in the permanent collections of museums around the country..

Smith’s paintings are typically of psychological images revealing sympathy for “the dispossessed and marginalized members of society in an unrelenting search for beauty, meaning and equality,” according to his biography.

He has also taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the University of Oregon and the Oregon College of Art and Crafts.

The invitation to Chicago from Pigment is perhaps the start of a collaboration between the magazine, the Toledo Museum of Art and the Frederick Douglass Community Association, said Earl.

As Earl noted, the FDCA has an art program and a partnership with TMA through which the kids who participate are able to receive instruction in the arts on an ongoing basis. “We are big supporters of the arts and what it means for our kids,” said Earl. “To be able to link with an international art magazine is huge.”