PORTSMOUTH — The Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center announced a significant gift of art to its permanent collection.
The gift is comprised of twenty-five works by African American artists, most of whom are from Ohio.
“Over the past several years, the museum has been making a concerted effort to increase the holdings of works created by African American artists. This important gift adds to the breadth and depth of the entire collection. We are thrilled to receive these works,” Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon said.
The gift is a generous donation from collectors Barbara and Arthur Vogel of Columbus, Ohio. Barb Vogel, herself an artist, knew these artists personally. As a professional photographer, she photographed many of them in their studios. In 2020, Barb published “Ohio Visual Artists Remembered”, a catalog of Ohio artists whom she photographed and whom have passed away. She holds BFA and MFA degrees from The Ohio State University, and is also a recipient of the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award. Her work has been featured at the Southern Ohio Museum, both in a solo exhibition, as well as in the group exhibit, “Extended Relationships.” Art Vogel, who is a retired Pre-Press Production Manager from the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, says he will miss the works. Art is a native of Sciotoville, and graduated from Portsmouth East High School and The Ohio State University.
Many of the pieces included in the gift were purchased directly from the artists, and each piece represents the collectors’ memory of the time it was acquired. It is rare to have collectors who know so many of the makers of the works they hold, as well as the history of each piece.
Included in the gift are pieces from Aminah Robinson, Barbara Chavous, Reverend St. Patrick Clay, Mary Merrill, Kojo Kamau, Roy Butcher, Mr. Imagination, and Roman Johnson, all of whom have passed. There are several pieces by Queen Brooks, a living Ohio artist who recently had a solo exhibition in 2020 at Southern Ohio Museum. There are paintings, photographs, mixed media works and sculptures.
Many of these artists knew each other and influenced each other. “Barbara Chavous was a mentor of mine, and, of course, so was Aminah,” said Queen Brooks. Brooks’ art career started in the photographic studio of Kojo Kamau in Columbus. Working there she got to know all of the artists in the African American community. Brooks went on to receive a Masters of Fine Art from The Ohio State University.
When gifts come into the Museum they need to be cataloged and processed, requiring much formal paperwork. The museum’s Board of Trustees votes to accept every piece as it enters the collection, which guarantees the museum’s commitment to preserving the work in perpetuity. “That process is happening now”, says Jenna Yoakam, the museum’s Collection Manager. “Every piece is photographed, measured, and a detailed condition report is made of each. We also research the artist and the provenance of each piece. Provenance is the history of the piece from the time it left the maker’s hands until it arrived at the museum. In this case, it is pretty direct for most of the pieces.”
These works complement the holdings of African American artists in the museum’s collection that include Romare Bearden, Elijah Pierce, Aminah Robinson, April Sunami, and two historic quilts by unknown African American makers.
The Vogel Collection is scheduled to be on view in the Kricker Gallery in October, 2021, and the public opening reception date is pending. The Vogels will be in attendance, as well as the artist Queen Brooks.