Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit

February 02, 2015

This monumental exhibit will feature over 36 black fine artists, spanning three generations, and including several contemporary and legendary fine artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, George “P-Funk” Clinton, and Samella Lewis— America’s leading historian and collector of black fine art.

Black Artists On Art Book Covers

The exhibit is based on the Black Artists on Art book series, created by Dr. Samella Lewis in 1969, that catalogued over 150 actively producing black fine artists, who were generally overlooked by the mainstream museums, galleries, and fine art institutions. The revolutionary book series was an instant hit and sold thousands of copies in its first 3 years before going out of print.

“I wanted to make a chronology of African American artists, and artists of African descent, to document our history. The historians weren’t doing it. I felt it better the artists do it anyway, through pictorial and written information… It was really about the movement.” — Dr. Samella Lewis

Now in 2015, Samella Lewis’s grandson, Unity Lewis, is continuing her legacy by reviving the book series and creating new books that will feature contemporary black artists, and stretch far beyond the traditional mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. The exhibit will serve as a campaign launch to recruit over 500 new black artists for upcoming volumes of Black Artists on Art.

The Legacy Exhibit will unite artists from the original Black Artists on Art books with contemporary artists, who will be featured in the new books, resulting in an intergenerational display of black fine art, spread across 7,000 square feet of gallery space in the heart of downtown Oakland.


Across the bay, the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) is also displaying works from the Samella Lewis collection for the Art of Elizabeth Catlett exhibit. As a result, MoAD and Oakstop have joined forces to engage in a joint effort to recruit as many black artists as possible for the Black Artists on Art books.

Oakstop Gallery opened in February 2014, and is now a 10,000 square foot mixed-use facility dedicated to shared workspace, events, meetings, and the proliferation of local entrepreneurs and artists. Oakstop will also celebrate its one year anniversary at the exhibit grand opening, making this a highly visible, must-see event. Oakstop’s Founder and Director, Trevor Parham, is featuring his art in The Legacy Exhibit, and is the co-author of the new Black Artists on Art books alongside Unity Lewis.

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