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News Release

For immediate use

August 16, 2004 -- No. 378

Local angles: Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point; New York, N.Y.

Coverage note: Media representatives are invited to a preview with Vivian Hewitt. Artists Margaret Burroughs and James
Denmark also are expected. For details, see end of story.

Note: For other events coming up at the center, visit http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/aug04/stoneevents081604.html

Images: See end of story.

Prized collection of African-American art
to open programming at new Stone Center

CHAPEL HILL – One of the nation’s most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art will be displayed Monday (Aug. 23)-Nov. 10 at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, an academic unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Celebration and Vision: The Hewitt Collection of African-American Art," will be the center’s first program in its new building at 150 South Road. The structure, a milestone in the life of the university, will be dedicated Saturday (Aug. 21).

Among the 55 paintings, lithographs and collages in the Hewitt exhibition are "The Card Players" by Hale Woodruff; "Morning Ritual" by Romare Bearden; "Woman in a Blue Coat" by Ernest Crichlow; "Gate in Tangiers" by Henry O. Tanner; "Easter" by Jonathan Green; and "Head of a Woman" by Elizabeth Catlett.

Others among the 18 artists represented are Charles Alston, John T. Biggars, James Denmark, J. Eugene Grigsby, Earl Hill, Alvin C. Hollingsworth, Ronald Joseph, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Virginia Evans Smith, Ann Tanksley, Ellis Wilson and Frank Wimberley.

The exhibition will be free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The collection presents a wide range of colors, techniques and subjects, from powerful portraits and drawings to colorful collages and abstract paintings. Harlem street scenes, church services and images of Africa are among the subjects of the works.

Vivian Hewitt of New York City and her late husband, John Hewitt, amassed the collection over 50 years. They visited studios and built a network of friends and artists. When John Hewitt’s health began to fail, the couple looked for ways to keep their collection together and have it seen by the public, for education and enjoyment.

Charlotte-based Bank of America purchased the collection in 1998, and, since 1999, has underwritten a national traveling exhibition.

"Bank of America is committed to improving lives by providing educational opportunities, building inclusive communities and promoting cultural outreach," said Kenneth G. Reece, market president for the bank in the Triangle. "The Hewitt Collection showcases the legacy and contributions of the artists to our community and, in particular, how African-American culture and art are a vital part of our society. We hope everyone will enjoy visiting the new Stone Center to see all the wonderful things it has to offer."

The UNC exhibition will be in the Stone Center’s Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum, named for Robert Brown of High Point and his late wife. William J. Armfield IV of Greensboro, a former chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, and his wife, Janie, donated funds for the gallery and named it in honor of their friends, the Browns.

Hewitt, a Pennsylvania native, retired as special librarian at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York; her husband was managing editor for several magazines including "Hospital Practice." Although they did not have unlimited means, they had an eye for fine art and for emerging artists who would grow to national prominence.

"We wanted to live with beautiful surroundings and at the same time take pride in our own heritage and culture," Hewitt said.

Hewitt and some of the artists have North Carolina connections. Her aunt and uncle live in Davidson. "I’ve been visiting there all my life," she said. Her parents were from Statesville and King’s Mountain. "Mel Watt is my cousin." Watt, a North Carolina Congressman, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Carolina in 1967.

As for the artists, Alston, Bearden and Grigsby were born in Charlotte and John Biggars in Gastonia. Catlett once taught art in Durham’s public schools. Grigsby was born in Greensboro and spent part of his childhood in Charlotte.

"We want the collection to be seen by everyone, not just African Americans," said Hewitt. "These artist are wonderful, competent accomplished artists who happen to be black."

The center and Bank of America will sponsor the exhibition. Those interested in guided tours for school classes or other groups may call Pamela Sunstrum at the center, 919-962-9001. For more information, call 919-962-9001 or visit http://www.ibiblio.org/shscbch.

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Images: For Jonathan Green’s "Easter," 1989, acrylic on paper, visit http://www.bankofamerica.com/newsroom/presskits/images/easterbig2.jpg

For Ann Tanksley’s "Canal Builders II," 1989, oil on linen, visit: http://www.bankofamerica.com/newsroom/presskits/images/canalbuildersbig2.jpg

To download a photo of Sanchez, visit: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/event/stone_center/sanchez.tif 

For a photo of De Leon, visit:  http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/event/stone_center/freelon.jpg 

Media briefing with Vivian Hewitt: From 4:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 23) at the Stone Center, 150 South Road. Artists Margaret Burroughs and James Denmark will attend if their health permits. For updates later this week on their status, call Antoinette Parker, 919-962-7265, or L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589 or 919-219-6374. Hewitt and others will be available for questions, photographs and explanations about the art works. Media representatives may remain afterward for a private reception at 5:30 p.m., at which Hewitt will speak.

Contacts: Vivian Hewitt, 212-865-1256 through Thursday (Aug. 20); Antoinette Parker, Stone Center, 919-962-7265

Bank of America contact: Terri Bolling, 410-547-5869, terri.bolling@bankofamerica.com

News Services contacts: Print: L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589, cell 919-219-6374; broadcast, Karen Moon, 919-962-8595