INSPIRED BY THE COLLECTION—Janice Burley Wilson, Ann Tanksley, Karen Farmer White, Yvonne Cook, Jonathan Green and Vivian Hewitt taking in all the art.

“Life’s Little Instruction Book” says, “acquire art that your grandchildren will fight over.” We don’t know of any fights, but the art that was acquired by John and Vivian Hewitt is worthy of the phrase.

On March 31, at the August Wilson Center, the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art was introduced to Pittsburgh.

With Nancy D. Washington and Karen Farmer White as event co-chairs, guests enjoyed an evening of conversation and celebration with 97-year-old Vivian Hewitt. Alexis Taylor of the Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture interviewed the collector on stage, and she shared the story of how she and her husband began collecting art, right after they were married. The New Castle native said, “I did not want a dishwasher or an electric sweeper, give me a painting.” The Haitian painting “Sugarcane Dancers” was one of the first paintings they purchased.

“Instill & Inspire” is a collection of 58 paintings and drawings from across the 20th century. The works range from completely representational to fully abstract, mirroring the development arc of American art in the 1900s.

CELEBRATING ART—Rev. Glenn Grayson and Brenda Tate (Photos by Debbie Norrell)

The best known artists in the collection are Romere Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence and Henry Ossawa Tanner.

EXHIBIT HOST—Yvonne Cook with her mother, Christine Cook.

Spotted celebrating a belated birthday with Vivian Hewitt and previewing the collection were Thad Mosley, Tina Brewer, members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Links and The Pierians. Vivian Hewitt is an AKA, a member of The Links and an honorary Pierian.

A book published by the University of Pittsburgh Press accompanies “Instill & Inspire” and was for sale that evening. The “Instill & Inspire” exhibit runs through June 30 at the August Wilson Center.

 

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