National Civil Rights Museum

Memphs, TN



Celebration and Vision: The Hewitt Collection of African-American Art


From left to right: Charles H. Alston, Women Washing Clothes, undated (c. 1970), oil pastel on paper; Romare Bearden, Morning Ritual, 1986, collage with acrylic on plywood; Romare Bearden, Homage to Mary Leu, 1984, lithograph; John T. Biggers, Family #1, 1974, conte crayon on paper.


Celebration and Vision: The Hewitt Collection of African-American Art opened August 31, 1999 at the National Civil Rights Museum. The Hewitt Collection, regarded as one of the most important and comprehensive collections of art produced by artists of color during this century, will be on display at the museum through November 15, 1999. Memphis is the first stop of the collection's three-year national tour.

From left to right: Elizabeth Catlett, Head of a Woman, 1967, lithograph; Emest Crichlow, Woman in a Blue Coat, undated (c. 1948), oil on canvas; Emest Crichlow, The Balcony, 1980, Collage with acrylic on canvas; Jonathan Green, Easter, 1989, acrylic on paper.

Special guests at the ceremony included Mayor Willie Herenton, Collectors John and Vivian Hewitt, Bank of America Memphis President Bryan Miller and National Civil Rights Museum Executive Director Beverly Robertson.

"It is indeed an honor and privilege to welcome the Hewitt Collection to Memphis," said Mayor Herenton. "This outstanding African American Art collection is another example of Memphis' continued support and admiration for the arts. I applaud Bank of America for bringing this renowned exhibition to our great city."

From left to right: Ann Tanksley, Canal Builders, 1989, oil on linen; Henry Ossawa Tanner, Gate in Tangier, undated (c. 1910), oil on canvas; Hale Woodruff, The Card Players, (c. 1978), oil on canvas; Hale Woodruff, Country Church, 1935, .linocut

Bank of America purchased the art collection from John and Vivian Hewitt of New York in 1998. The Hewitt Collection consists of 58 two-dimensional works of art by 20 artists and represents more than 50 years of collecting. The exhibition stands as a testament to the passion of the Hewitts, their close interaction with most of the artists, and their dedication, spirit and courageous vision. Art and Antiques magazine listed the collection in their third annual compilation of Top 100 Treasures in their March, 1999 issue.

"Bank of America is pleased to bring the Hewitt Collection to Memphis," said Miller. "We hope that our community will embrace this extraordinary exhibit and take advantage of what can be learned from the collection as it offers a survey of African-America art and society."

"Thanks to Bank of America, visitors to the National Civil Rights Museum over the next few months are in for an extraordinary cultural experience," said Robertson. "Celebration and Vision is a wonderful exhibit for the National Civil Rights Museum to host and we are privileged to be the first site on its tour. This exhibit, we are sure, will attract many new visitors to the Museum while giving those who have toured before, a good reason to come and tour again."

The Bank of America Foundation is underwriting a three-year national tour to enable people around the country to view this meaningful collection. Following the tour, the collection is a promised gift to the Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, N.C., which will be the collection's final home.

The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the South Main Historical District of Downtown Memphis, at 450 Mulberry Street, in the Lorraine Motel.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/26/10


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