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New Cultural Center exhibit features African-American musicians


The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History has unveiled a new exhibition, Blues, Jazz & Extra Black Notes: A Celebration of African-American Musicians, in the Lobby and Balcony galleries of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., and will feature a performance by singer Doris “Lady D” Fields. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public. The show will remain on display through Sept. 15.

Fields hails from Beckley and is an actress and singer who has worked with Theatre West Virginia. A communications major at West Virginia State University, she wrote the winning song for the recent FestivAll songwriting contest in Charleston.

The exhibition consists of 52 historic and contemporary photographs, watercolors, serigraphs, aquatints, digital images and mixed media sculptures celebrating the enduring legacy of African-American musicians. Blues, jazz and other genres of music are represented, including reggae, Zydeco, ballads from the “American Songbook” series and rock.

Visitors to the exhibit can see images of Louis Armstrong, Buster Bailey, Count Basie, Eubie Blake, Art Blakey, Gatemouth Brown, James Brown, Pete Brown, Ruth Brown, C. J. Chenier, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Guy, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, J. J. Johnson, B. B. King, Bob Marley, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Charlie Parker, Pinetop Perkins, Oscar Peterson, Mavis Staples, Maxine Sullivan, Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Cassandra Wilson, Lester Young and West Virginia performers Bob Thompson, Ethel Caffie-Austin and Ann Baker. In addition, by special arrangement with the Art Kane Estate Archive in New York, Kane’s classic photograph “A Great Day in Harlem 1958” is displayed in the exhibit as a projected image that allows visitors to point at musicians in the picture and see the name and other information from special webpages developed by Wayne Bremser.

Fifteen artists have their work included in the exhibition, including four guest artists from the recent Hampton University Art Museum exhibition New Power Generation: Liani Foster, Joseph Smith, Richard Ward and David Wilson. Three West Virginia artists are represented as well: Michael Keller, Rick Lee and Steve Payne, all of Charleston. Other artists include William Coupon, Susan Dysinger, Van Elliott, Taylor Jones, Art Kane, Gered Mankowitz, Kate Simon and Dick Waterman.

Special assistance for the show was received from the Govinda Gallery, Washington, D.C.; guest artists; and anonymous collectors.

For more information about the exhibition Blues, Jazz & Extra Black Notes: A Celebration of African-American Musicians, contact Richard Ressmeyer, director of arts for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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