August Wilson African American Cultural Center one of five best (Sept. 18)

by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor

Have you heard the latest? The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is one of the five best art galleries in Pittsburgh. The numbers have been crunched using Yelp data and some other figures that are being kept secret to determine the best of the best. Here are the results: Randyland, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Space, Wood Street Galleries and August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

I have a confession to make…I’ve only been to AWAACC but now that I see this list and I have more free time I am going to visit the rest. I paid a visit recently to the August Wilson Center and I’m hoping you will do the same. I am often surprised when I talk to people and find they have never been to the August Wilson Center.

A new exhibition opened on Sept.13 and will run until Dec. 15. The exhibit features the art of Ben Jones and the exhibit is titled “Resurgence—Rise Again: The Art of Ben Jones.” Also featured is “Amani Lewis: Subjective Nature.” This is the first solo show for Lewis. Several other artists are included in this show: Murjoni Merriweather, Jo Nanajian, Pearson Chambers, Campbell Jackson, Josef Isaiah and Donald Lewis.

Prior to the September opening I had an opportunity to meet Ben Jones during a media preview. It is always exciting to meet the artist and find out what they are thinking and how they work. Jones is from Jersey City and is considered one of the most significant African American artists of this century. His work derives from his interest in social justice, the spiritual, the environment, and humanity. Jones has a great interest in Cuba, where he is well known and has had several major exhibits. Jones has made over 90 visits to Cuba since the 1970s, and is noted by the Granma International of Havana, Cuba as one of the most important African American artists of his generation. He explained the layers of his work and why you see certain things in each piece. I think the entire exhibit is a must-see.

I was really impressed with the work of Murjoni Merriweather. On display is a series titled “Golden” and also several ceramic busts that are accented with gold jewelry or gold teeth. Each piece by each artist tells a story. Here are three dates for you to make note of: Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., Jazz listening session and artist talk. Nov. 19, 6-8 p.m., join Amani Lewis and Murjoni Merriweather, co-founders of Clr’D (pronounced colored) artist collective, along with members Campbell Jackson, Washington, D.C. mixed media artist and Jo Nanajian, Boston-based artist for a panel discussion. This will be moderated by Jessica Lanay, art writer and critic. On Dec. 15 from 2-4 p.m., a last look and a panel discussion and closing reception. Join Ben Jones and Amani Lewis for a lively conversation with Q&A moderated by Kilolo Luckett, Curator of Visual Arts.

All events are free and open to the public. AWAACC is located at 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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