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Original Dr. John Biggers Drawing to be Donated to The African American Library at the Gregory School[3/31/2011]


BY Alex Wang [ March 30, 2011 at 14:07:41 ]

Original Dr. John Biggers Drawing to be Donated to The African American Library at the Gregory School

WHAT:

Gerald B. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Smith, Graham & Company Investment Advisors, L.P. will donate “Our Future,” an original Dr. John Biggers drawing circa 1963 – 1983, appraised at $85,000, to The Houston Public Library African American Library at the Gregory School. Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, director of the Houston Public Library (HPL) will accept this valuable donation on behalf of HPL.

This will be HPL's second acquisition of a Biggers original art work. Biggers donated a mural “Birth from the Sea,” circa 1964-66 to the W. L. Johnson Neighborhood Library when he was an art professor at Texas Southern University.

WHEN:

Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 11:30AM

WHERE:

The Houston Public Library African American Library at the Gregory School,
1300 Victor St., 77019, 832-393-1440

About The Art & Artist

“Our Future” is an original drawing by Biggers, circa 1963-1983. Smith acquired the drawing from Biggers himself, adding it to his art collection. Appraised at $85,000, the drawing will be on permanent display at The African American Library at the Gregory School making it the second Biggers artwork at the Houston Public Library.

Biggers (1924-2001), was an internationally-acclaimed painter, sculptor, teacher, and philosopher. He was born in Gastonia, North Carolina on April 13, 1924. Biggers explored his own life and heritage through the study of art at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia.

Biggers studied under Viktor Lowenfeld at Hampton Institute, he significantly influenced his artistic development. Biggers later created works which reflected his perspective of the anguish that people have suffered merely because of their race or religious beliefs. In 1943 while at Hampton, Biggers’ work was featured in the exhibition “Young Negro Art.” present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Six years later Biggers relocated to Houston and established the art department at Texas Southern University, where he served as professor for more than 30 years.

Biggers received a UNESCO fellowship in 1957 that enabled him to become one of the first African American artists to visit Africa. His art was profoundly influenced by his direct contact with the wonder of the continent and its people. He retired from teaching in 1983 and devoted himself exclusively to his art. Biggers' works feature prominently in the history of African American art and is included in private collections and museums in Houston and abroad.

To find out more about Biggers, listen to his oral history recorded September 15, 1975 for the Houston Public Library's Houston Metropolitan Research Center at the Julia Ideson Building at http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/oral-history/john-biggers-1.php.

About Gerald B. Smith

Smith and his wife Anita have been avid art collectors from many years. They are now in the process of donating several of their valuable art collection to diverse organizations. Smith was a member of the team under former Mayor Lee P. Brown that promoted the need for this Library in the community. Being a great supporter of Mayor Brown and his vision for the Library, he generously contributed to the commissioning of the Lee P. Brown portrait which can be seen next to the room named after him at that Library facility.

A native of Houston, Smith is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Smith, Graham & Company Investment Advisors, L.P. which is a global investment management firm that specializes in managing fixed-income and equity domestic and global investment portfolio strategies for institutional clients. Smith received his BBA in Finance from Texas Southern University. He serves on many community and civic boards including the Museum of Fine Arts - Houston, the Board of Directors for the Greater Houston Partnership, Vice Chairman of Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) Board of Directors, and on the Board of Visitors for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He also serves as Chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation. In the corporate sector, Gerald serves as Audit Committee Chairman for Northern Border Partners, L.P. and as a member of Cooper Industries Board of Directors.

About The African American Library at the Gregory School

The African American Library at the Gregory School is the newest of three special collections operated by the Houston Public Library. Located in Houston's historic Freedman's Town, the Library is housed in what was once the Edgar M. Gregory School, which served as the first public school for African Americans in Houston. As the first library of its kind in Houston, and one of the few African American libraries in the country, The African American Library at the Gregory School serves as a resource to preserve, promote, and celebrate the rich history and culture of African Americans in Houston, the surrounding region, and the African Diaspora.

About the Houston Public Library

The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, three HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. Serving more than 4 million customers per year, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.


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