Simba

Jeff Donaldson, Simba, 1972, mixed media, 28 x 18 in. Collection of Dr. Sheryl L. Colyer, Courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York
 

Maternal Homage

Jeff Donaldson, Maternal Homage, 1971, mixed media, 27 x 27 in. Courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York 

Aunt Jemima and the Pillsbury Doughboy

Jeff Donaldson, Aunt Jemima and the Pillsbury Doughboy, 1963, oil on linen, 48 x 48 in. Courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York

Majorities

Jeff Donaldson, Majorities, 1977, mixed media, 44 x 36 in. Private Collection, courtesy of Kravets Wehby, New York 

Stone Singer

Jeff Donaldson, Stone Singer, 1996-1999, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 36 in. Private Collection, New York, Courtesy of Kravets Wehby, New York 

Victory in the Valley of Eshu

Jeff Donaldson, Victory in the Valley of Eshu, 1971, mixed media, 36 x 25 ½ in. Courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York 

Jeff Donaldson: Dig

October 27, 2018 - January 21, 2019
Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Jeff Donaldson: Dig, the artist’s first museum retrospective, explores Donaldson’s four-decade career. Spanning his activist roots in Chicago to his influence on future generations of artists as a professor at Howard University and vice president of the Barnes Foundation, this major exhibition presents new scholarship and features works never before publicly presented.

In 1968, Donaldson, along with Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams, founded the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA). Formed in Chicago’s South Side, AfriCOBRA was born in an era of political and social unrest and in an art world that privileged white artists and audiences. AfriCOBRA sought to create a new kind of art that was not only politically engaged but reflected contemporary black culture and appealed specifically to a black audience.

Donaldson’s work across the decades combines energetic colors, intricate patterns and African iconography to celebrate the history of African art and the roots of black culture. Featuring paintings, prints and mixed media works, Dig reflects on Donaldson’s deep belief in the responsibility of an artist to create work that is both socially relevant and visually striking. The exhibition features iconic examples of Donaldson’s early work known for its high energy “coolade” palette. For the first time, these early examples are shown alongside Donaldson’s later, lesser known works from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, demonstrating the artist’s lifelong commitment to making, as he often described, “art for the people, not for critics.”

Jeff Donaldson: Dig is organized by The Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY, and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the Akron Community Foundation, Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust, KeyBank Trustee, and Katie and Mark Smucker.

Knight Foundation logo    Ohio Arts Council logo    Akron Community Foundation logo    Katie & Mark Smucker

Talk: Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell

December 15, 2018, 2:00 PM

In 1968, Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell founded AfriCOBRA with artists Jeff Donaldson, Barbara J. Jones and Gerald Williams. The couple, who now live in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, will give a talk about their careers.

Talk: Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell

December 15, 2018, 2:00 PM

Talk: Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell

In 1968, Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell founded AfriCOBRA with artists Jeff Donaldson, Barbara J. Jones and Gerald Williams. Headquartered in Chicago, the group gathered in Wadsworth’s studio to develop an approach to art that was inspired by the colors, rhythms and patterns that the artists found in the music, fashion and art of the African continent, creating a style and identity that celebrated the richness of their creative heritage and delivering strong, positive messages for black communities. The couple, who now live in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, will give a talk about their careers.

Wadsworth Jarrell’s work is found in the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the High Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Art. Jae Jarrell’s work has appeared in several major exhibitions, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s 2014 exhibition Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s 2015 exhibition How to Remain Human. Her garments belong to private collections as well as to a permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Dig In: Jenniva Cummings, Special Effects and Makeup

December 13, 2018, 6:30 pm

Join us for a performance by one of three reknowned local African-American artists. Each of the featured artists will create a work of art inspired by Donaldson that will be performed live in the museum. Video of the performances will be presented throughout the run of the exhibition.

Dig In: Jenniva Cummings, Special Effects and Makeup

December 13, 2018, 6:30 pm

Dig In: Jenniva Cummings, Special Effects and Makeup

Akron arts publication The Devil Strip teamed up with the museum to create video profiles of three African-American artists in the Akron community that will be on view in the museum’s Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box during the run of Jeff Donaldson: Dig. Each of the featured artists will create a work of art inspired by Donaldson that will be performed live in the museum. Video of the performances will be presented throughout the run of the exhibition.

Free and Open to the Public