Crealdé School of Art’s Hannibal Square Heritage Center Visiting Exhibition Series presents cultural and visual arts offerings in a variety of mediums—folk art, photography, painting, quilt-making, and historic artwork by famous African-American artists, as well as opportunities for hands-on involvement and community collaboration. Our offering is unique to Central Florida, yet we have taken inspiration from various Centers for African-American history and culture which present the blend of permanent exhibitions and installations with changing cultural, artistic and historical exhibitions, including The King Center in Atlanta, Georga; The LaVilla Museum in Jacksonville, Florida; The Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, North Carolina; The Riley Museum in Tallahassee, Florida; and the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
The visiting exhibitions are generally located on the second floor of the Heritage Center; however, some are two-venue exhibitions utilizing both the gallery space at the Heritage Center and the Alice and William Jenkins Gallery on the main campus of the Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park.
The Visiting Exhibition Series at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center is funded through a Tourist Development Grant from the Orange County Government, Department of Arts and Culture and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Winter Park.
2013 HERITAGE CENTER VISITING EXHIBITIONS
January 18 – April 13
Sewn Together: Photographic Quilts Reflecting the Historic Family Ties of Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park
As a tribute to the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Eatonville, the oldest African American municipality in the United States, Crealdé’s Hannibal Square Heritage Center will create an exhibition that explores the strong family ties between the three neighboring communities. The Heritage Center Quilting Guild, inspired by quilting artist Lauren Austin’s 2009 residency and exhibition, will host an intergenerational workshop in the fall of 2012. Seven selected families will complete a 35” x 35” quilt that tells the story of their connection to one or all of the three cities. Additionally, three 24” x 24” collaborative quilts will weave together stories depicting the relationships in the African American communities of the three cities. Opening reception Friday January 18, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Heritage Center Chief Historian Fairolyn Livingston will provide historic research for the project; west Winter Park resident and Heritage Center Docent Mary Daniels will be the quilting project leader, assisted by Crealdé’s Painting & Drawing Department Director Henry Sinn as the artistic curator.
April 19 – September 7, 2013
Preaching to the Trees and the Animals: The Folk Art of O.L. Samuels’
As the opening event for this year’s Folk Art and Craft Festival, the Heritage Center will feature one of America’s most noted folk artists in a one-person exhibition. The Tallahassee artist will show his private collection of elaborately carved wood sculptures that represent his love for the natural world.
Samuels left his Georgia home when he was eight for a life of both struggle and adventure that included travels around the world as well as a life as a professional boxer in New York. Eventually he made his way to Florida where he worked as a tree surgeon. A severe accident on the job 30 years ago paralyzed him for three years, during which time he rekindled his love for God, who he credits for opening a path of light that led him to further develop his talent as an artist.
Pastor O.L. Samuels’ sculptures of birds, dogs, camels and other animals have been exhibited and collected in over 30 countries, throughout Europe, China, Africa and the Middle East. His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s Folk Art Museum and the White House in Washington D.C.
In addition to work from O.L. Samuels’ private collection, the exhibition will feature two large carved animal sculptures from the collection of the Mennello Museum of American Art.
Opening event lecture with artist from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, followed by a reception with live Blues music from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Friday, April 19 at the Heritage Center.
4th Annual Hannibal Square Heritage Center Folk Art and Craft Festival
The Festival will feature work for sale by Florida folk and traditional craft artists, including the original Florida Highwaymen painters, and Crealdé ceramicists, as well as live folk music, local soul food, displays by vendors and a free, storytelling, and a hands-on “Kid Folk” workshop entitled “The Aztec Encounter and Musical Parade,” led by Crealdé artist, Lilly Carrasquillo and Mexican folk artist, David Penaflor for ages 5 and up. Saturday, April 20, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
September 20, 2013– January 11, 2014
Art from the Heart of Florida
The two-location exhibition will be held in the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery at Crealdé’s main campus and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center Visiting Exhibition Gallery in downtown Winter Park. The exhibition is inspired by the diversity of talented visual artists who call Central Florida home. There is a certain “Florida state of mind” that is reflective of the art produced in the center of the state. The skies are brighter here and there is a potent mix of identities that contrasts and combines old Florida with the bright sprawl that also forms a basis for our day to day life in the tourist corridor. The focus of the show is to highlight the work of local artists representing diverse interpretations and media, including sculpture, paintings and photography.
Positioned between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Central Florida is a meeting place of many contrasts: vast amusement parks and suburban sprawl contrasted against communities with rich, historic architecture and numerous unique ecosystems. It is a bridge between the sultry international mix and bright landscape that is South Florida and the more restrained, forested, small-town feel of the Northern part of the state. Curated by Executive Director Peter Schreyer and Director of Painting & Drawing Henry Sinn.
Opening night reception, Friday, September 20, from 7:00 to 8:30 at the Jenkins Gallery followed by a musical performance and continued reception at the Heritage Center from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m
2012 Visiting Exhibition Series
January 20 – April 21
The Art of Missionary Mary Proctor
Prior to becoming an artist, Mary ran a junk and odds and ends store in rural north Florida. Told by God that “the door is the way,” she began to paint on an old door lying in her yard, and thereafter her focus turned to art making. Using found objects from her junkyard, (now her American Folk Art Museum & Gallery), Missionary Mary crafts three dimensional assembled works from buttons, mirrors, jewelry and other trinkets. Some works are inspired by bible scripture and others by memories of her grandmother or her childhood and most include written messages of spiritual truths or life lessons.
Mary has exhibited her work nationally through galleries, festivals and in visiting and permanent collections in museums including the Museum of African American Art in Tampa, the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, the AmericanVisionaryArt Museum in Baltimore, and at the House of Blues in Orlando, Chicago and New Orleans. She has won numerous Best in Show awards, and has been featured in the New York Times, and the Smithsonian Magazine, Raw Vision Magazine, and Modern Maturity Magazine.
3rd Annual Hannibal Square Heritage Center Folk Art and Craft Festival
The Festival features work for sale by Florida folk and traditional craft artists, including the original Florida Highwaymen painters, and Crealdé ceramicists, as well as live folk music, local soul food, displays by vendors and a free, hands-on “Kid Folk” Storybook Workshop that combines art and poetry for ages 5 and up. (See photos below.) Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on April 21.
May 11, 2012– January 31, 2013
The Sage Project: Hannibal Square Elders Tell Their Stories
A photographic documentation of Winter Park’s historic yet marginalized African-American community and the corresponding exhibition “The Sage Project: Hannibal Square Elders Tell Their Stories.” Established in 1882 and incorporated in 1887, west Winter Park, also known as Hannibal Square, will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2012. Through the art of documentary photography by Heritage Center founder Peter Schreyer, and oral histories collected by Center historian Fairolyn Livingston, the memories and stories of elders from one of the nation’s oldest African-American townships will become an exhibition at Crealdé’s Hannibal Square Heritage Center. It will also be added to the permanent collection of the Center, reaching local residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Images to come after January 1, 2012.
September 14 – December 29
Keeping Haiti in Our Hearts: Interpreting Heritage in the Diaspora
Heritage Center and Alice & William Jenkins Galleries–Keeping Haiti in Our Hearts. An exploration of Haitian art, culture and history will be presented through paintings, photography, sculptures and folk art from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and the collection of Butler H. Smith, Jr. and Betty Ford-Smith in Sebring, Florida. Curators Natalia da Silva and Henry Sinn will be aided by Haitian native cultural experts, anthropologist Dr. Gerald Murray and folklorist Dr. Kristin Congdon. Sponsored by the Consulate of Haiti in Orlando and the Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Orlando.
A two-location opening reception is scheduled to start from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Friday, September 14, at the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery located at 600 St. Andrews Blvd., and will be followed by a reception from 8:30 to 10 p.m. at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, featuring a live Haitian musical performance and located at 642 W. New England Avenue in Winter Park. All events are free.
2011 Visiting Exhibition Series
Connecting Andre Smith and Zora Neale Hurston: Maitland and Eatonville as Joining Communities
Adapted for the Heritage Center by Richard D. Colvin, Curator at Maitland Art and History Association
January 21 through April 9, 2011
The powerful, recently restored paintings of Andre Smith, a contemporary of Zora Neale Hurston, will be on loan from the Maitland Art and History Association to coincide with the Zora! Festival. The exhibition features 20 paintings by the Maitland Art Center’s founder, visionary artist and architect Andre Smith (1880-1959) depicting Eatonville, home of author Zora Neale Hurston, in the 1930s and 40s, accompanied by text panels of Eatonville folklore and photographs. The exhibition explores the relationship between these two artists, their creative endeavors, and their respective communities. The vibrant colors and narrative style reflect the trend in painting during the 1930s, when the Italian Renaissance fresco style painting was revisited, as reflected in the work of Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera and in the W.P.A. (Workman’s Progress Administration) murals, which are in public buildings throughout Washington D.C. and present an inspirational image of the hard work and contributions of common people. Filled with beautiful landscapes and moments in community life, this exhibition, originally curated by the late cultural historian Dr. Beverly Robinson of U.C.L.A., will be adapted for the Heritage Center by Richard D. Colvin, Curator at Maitland Art and History Association.
The Art of Uncle Monday and Other Florida Tales
April 15 to August 27, 2011
See framed prints of work by the late Kitty Kitson Petterson which illustrate Dr. Kristin G. Congdon’s book: Uncle Monday and Other Florida Tales. The tales go back over 100 years. Large illustrations vividly express the humor, fright, and other emotions in the stories.
Mid-Century: A Photographic View of Three African-American Communities in Florida.
September 9 to December 30, 2011
A two venue exhibition at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center and the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery featuring Ellie Weems, Gordon Parks, and selections from residents’ family photographs of the Hannibal Square community in West Winter Park. Curated by Peter Schreyer, in partnership with La Villa Museum in Jacksonville, and The Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach.
2009-2010 Visiting Exhibition Series
Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art
curated by Kristin Congdon and Tina Bucavalas
April 9 through June 26, 2010
Opening reception: Friday April 9
Just Above the Water looks into the lives of
thirty-five Florida folk artists. These artists, in many cases
self-taught, show us another perspective of life—one that is
inspired by their everyday customs, their working and living
environments, and their community traditions.
The thirty-five framed panel exhibit, on loan
from The Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, is based on the
book Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art by Kristin
Congdon and Tin Bucuvalas. The book is the culmination of a
five-year project encompassing thorough on-site research and many
hours of interviews with the folk artists. On the opening night, a
lecture will be held at adjacent Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptists
Church, where attendees will be able to interact with authors and
exhibition curators Kritsin Congdon and Tina Bucuvalas.
Hannibal Square Folk Art Festival
In conjunction with Just Above the Water:
Florida Folk Art Exhibition, The Hannibal Square Folk Art
Festival will be a day-long festival on Saturday, April 10, 2010
of art sales by exhibited artists and select Highwaymen, soul food
vendors, jazz musicians and a “Kid Folk” program, which teaches
children about folk art through the Just Above the Water exhibition
and gives them an opportunity to create works of art using folk art
methods. Programming and marketing partners will have
representation, including the Winter Park Community Redevelopment
Association (CRA), and businesses associations: the Hannibal Square
Merchant’s Association, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the
African American Chamber of Commerce.
125 Windows Into Historic Community:
The Complete Hannibal Square Heritage Collection
July 9 through September 25, Opening
reception: Friday, July 9
Visitors—residents, tourists, historians and
cultural anthropologists alike--will never have seen 20th century documentation of community like this: The award-winning
Heritage Collection: Photographs and Oral Histories of West Winter
Park, spanning the 20th century, has been growing with
each of the six Heritage Collection Days, since 2002. This
successful collection has already outgrown its permanent exhibition
space—only 90 pieces are displayed at one time. This special
exhibition will fill the Heritage Center with the entire 125 pieces
that make up The Heritage Collection. The currently displayed
collection will be augmented by archived and new pieces from the
most recent Phase VI of the collection.
This is history told as “story” from the lips
of people who have lived those stories. Images and oral histories
depicting everything from daily life to special neighborhood events
and rites of passage will teach about the lives and reflections of
many of West Winter Park’s African-American families. What was it
like to be part of a community where everyone knew each other…at a
time when church was part of nearly everyone’s life…when the
family’s first car was cause for celebration…and when everyone had
to be back on the West Side of the railroad tracks by 5 p.m.…until
1971. These stories answer those questions and reveal much more
about the makings of this proud and beautiful community.
In a climate of intense development throughout
their home community, The Heritage Collection has been an exhibition
that touched a chord and brought together the African-American
residents in an unprecedented way. Residents and the city of Winter
Park started paying attention. What was once a whisper became a full
chorus tuned to preservation and celebration. The neighborhood
continues to be developed—but with an eye on the history and
heritage of this special place. Visitors will have a chance to see
the entirety of a powerful exhibition that was a catalyst for change
in the City of Winter Park, who has since named itself “the City of
Culture and Heritage.”
The Art of Hope:
A Regional Juried Exhibition Commemorating the
First African American U.S. President, Barack Obama
a two-venue exhibition held at The Heritage
Center and at Crealdé School of Art’s Jenkins Gallery, October 8
through January 15, Opening reception and awards presentation:
Friday October 8.
Visual artists from all visual arts mediums,
throughout the 9 Southeastern United States (Florida, Georgia, North
and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana) will be invited to enter this juried exhibition
commemorating the significance and the hope surrounding the election
and presidency of Barack Obama. Entry fee will be $20, and there
will be 3 awards and approximately 60 pieces will be selected for
The juror and curator for this exhibition will
be Bobby Scroggins, sculptor and Associate Professor of Art at the
University of Kentucky and visiting instructor at Crealdé School of
exhibition will be the unveiling of the updated Hannibal Square
Timeline, which includes the date of the inauguration of the 44th president and 1st African-American president.
Bigger Than A Scrapbook:
The Talking Quilts of Lauren Austin
A two venue exhibition held at The Heritage
Center and at Crealdé School of Art’s Jenkins Gallery, January 15 to
Austin, a New Smyrna-based African-American
quilt maker, “tells stories with her quilts that go to the heart of
history in African-American culture.” She creates portraits in
fabric that portray lifestyle, political and legal themes relating
to the black experience and the African Diaspora worldwide. In her
art quilts, Austin shares her cultural and family history, her
experiences as a U.S. diplomat to South America, and her background
as a human and civil rights lawyer and associate law professor at
Syracuse University School of Law. Austin has been a community
artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New
Smyrna Beach. She is currently working on a commission depicting a
colony of Bahamian freed slaves that will be dedicated in Freeport,
Bahamas, this October. Prior to her two-venue exhibition, Austin
will be in residency at the Heritage Center for a two-day community
workshop, made possible through the 2009 TDT Cultural Tourism grant.
She will teach the quilt-making process to Hannibal Square
residents—youth to seniors—who will create a family heirloom quilt
plus a collaborative quilt, which will be included in the 2010
exhibition and added to the permanent public art collection of the
Heritage Center. The two-venue exhibition will feature Austin’s
larger quilt works at the Crealdé Jenkins Gallery and her smaller,
community-based works at The Heritage Center. An opening reception
will be held at both locations from 7 to 10 p.m., beginning with a
gallery talk by the artist at Crealdé’s Jenkins Gallery, followed by
a live-music reception at The Heritage Center.
Archive of Exhibitions
2008-2009 Visiting Exhibition Series
Against All Odds: The Original Highwaymen Painters
April 7 - June 27, 2009
Requested by both visitors and residents, Against All Odds: The Original Highwaymen Painters, represents 19 of the original Fort Pierce Highwaymen artists. It chronicles a group of African-American men and women, who, in the midst of the deepest segregation of the post-war era, found success through their paintings depicting Florida's natural landscapes, beautified the world and became part of Florida's cultural history. Curated by noted Highwaymen collector Geoff Cook. On loan from the Orange County Regional History Center from the collection of Geoff Cook.
Sacred Places, Sacred History: Black Churches of West Winter Park
July 7 – September 26, 2009
Black church historian Rebekah McCloud, Ed.D. University of Central Florida, was the winner of the 2003/04 Rhea Marsh and Dorothy Lockhard Smith Research Grant from the Winter Park Public Library. With this funding, McCloud conducted research, wrote educational panels and paired them with photographs to create Sacred Places, Sacred History: Black Churches of West Winter Park. The exhibition explores and provides insight into the rich history of west Winter Park’s churches and the important role they have played in community life.
Linda Schäpper: Central Florida Folk Art Painter of Historic and Sacred Scenes
October 6 – December 19, 2009
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 15, 5:00–8:00 p.m. during the Third Thursday Hannibal Square Stroll
Folk Art painter Linda Schäpper is most widely recognized for her “Family of Christ” tapestry — an enormous patchwork of human figures encircling Jesus on the cross that became the spiritual backdrop for Pope John Paul II’s landmark October 1995 mass in New York’s Central Park, and for her “Nativity II,” which became the 1998 UNICEF Christmas card. Linda Schäpper: Central Florida Folk Art Painter of Historic and Sacred Scenes is an exhibition of paintings depicting African-American community life from a historic perspective. The artist will hold a community workshop August 21–23, 2009.
October 7–December 20, 2008
Centennial Faces, on loan from the Museum of Florida History, is a selection of family portraits by Tallahassee photographer Alvan S. Harper. The early 20th century photographs show members of affluent, upper middle-class African-American families in Florida’s capitol city. These portraits disclose a dignity far removed from the poverty and hardship typically portrayed in photographs of African-Americans in the post-Civil War era. Reflections of Harper’s clients’ prosperity are apparent in elaborately beaded dresses and finely tailored waistcoats. The forty-nine portraits comprising the exhibit are only a fraction of the two thousand glass plate negatives in the Alvan S. Harper Collection in the Florida State Archives.
A Decade of Zora! Festival Posters
January 13–March 28, 2009
A Decade of Zora! Festival Posters celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the internationally known ZORA! Festival with official posters from ten years of past festivals. Each poster is a print of the work by some of the 20th century’s most noted African-American artists, including Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold and the late Dr. John Biggers. Curated by Dr. M.J. Hewitt, member of the ZORA! Festival National Planners and former co-editor of the International Review of African-American Art. On loan from the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts.
The Hannibal Square Heritage Center is honored to celebrate the Zora Neale Hurston Festival’s 20th Anniversary by exhibiting the posters created to recognize some of the most noted African American artists of the 20th century. We salute the contributions of this internationally recognized festival, its longtime director Mrs. N.Y. Nathiri, and of course, author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, for their tremendous contributions to the culture of our region, the nation, and the world.
-Peter Schreyer, Executive Director, Crealdé School of Art, at the opening reception
2007-2008 Visiting Exhibition Series
South Apopka: A Community Portrait by Photographer Bob Michaels
May 2-July 26, 2008
South Apopka, with its deep roots to the past, is characterized by remaining almost entirely African-American. This exhibition features portraits and social landscapes of this unique Central Florida community by Crealdé alumni Bob Michaels. The exhibition was curated by Peter Schreyer, one of his instructors and mentors. Some of these photographs were exhibited at the Apopka History Museum during Black History Month in 2007.
"South Apopka represents the African-American community that bounds my home, the City of Apopka, Florida. This area has a long history, rich cultural heritage, a real sense of community, and some extraordinary people. It is a traditional small town (of the sort that has passed away in the modern era) where everyone seems to know everyone else. South Apopka is unique among rapidly expanding Central Florida in having almost no population turnover. Most of the residents were born there, including a number of third- and fourth-generation natives. It is common to hear several people recalling events that happened over fifty years ago but where everyone was present. It is truly a throwback to an old time when the population of central Florida was a very small fraction of what it is today." -Bob Michaels
A Hannibal Square Portrait: Plein-Air Painting by Tom Sadler and His Students
March 13 – June 28, 2008
During the inaugural session of classes at the new Hannibal Square Heritage Center in the fall of 2008, Crealdé associate faculty member Tom Sadler and his plein-air painting students captured moments in time on Hannibal Square. The class focused on paintings of the historic area and its mix of the old and new. Some of the old churches are featured in several of the works while others focus in on the shops in the square itself. Works in this exhibition also include the old houses in the area, which sometimes incorporate a new building under construction in the background. The Hannibal Square area is undergoing extensive transition and this change is portrayed sometimes dramatically, and in other cases more subtly, through paint on canvas. Curated by Tom Sadler. (Above image: Yellow House by Claudia Backes,
part of the permanent collection of the Heritage Center.)
“The Urban Landscape Painting class set out to capture the essence of the area ‘west of the tracks’ in Winter Park, which is an area in transition. Plein-air and studio work were combined in the effort to portray on canvas what the students found interesting to the eye. Old churches under raking light, colorful store fronts around Hannibal Square, and older homes with the evidence of new construction looming in the background … all were fair game. One student learned ‘that the people who live in the Hannibal Square neighborhood are some of the most genuine people in the world’ and that painting the area ‘very likely changed my life.’”
—Tom Sadler, Associate Faculty, Crealdé School of Art, March 14, 2008
“The class of painters immediately bought into the subject and immersed themselves in the tranquil scenes and beautiful fall light of the Hannibal Square community, without ignoring the sometimes unsettling transitional quality of the cultural and social landscape of the neighborhood. I was impressed how the artists captured much of the beautiful community mood I had loved about Hannibal Square for many years. To my knowledge, the presented body of work represents the first serious attempt to portray this historic community in paintings. The colorful and heartfelt studies add a beautiful contrast to the Heritage Collection of black and white photographs and oral histories contributed by the residents themselves for permanent display at the center.
—Peter Schreyer, Executive Director, Crealdé School of Art, Spring, 2008
The World of Mr. Imagination, Two-Venue Exhibition
January 18 – March 1, 2008
This exhibition was presented at both the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery at Crealdé and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center Gallery. As a tribute to Black History Month, the Smithsonian-collected, Pennsylvania-based artist returned for a major exhibition of his sculptures, constructions and installations. Presented in partnership with Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, The Golden Rule Foundation, and the City of Winter Park. (Photograph at left by Peter Schreyer)
Mr. Imagination (born Gregory Warmack) took a new name when he survived a near-fatal shooting in 1978. His brush with death inspired him to craft a spiritual renaissance in his creations—an awakening which now propels his art toward a declaration of faith and a sense of pride and dignity in his heritage and personal history. His art can be found at the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York, and the House of Blues in both Chicago and Orlando.
During a two-week residency at the Heritage Center, Mr. Imagination worked with assistant Lynn Tomlinson (Crealdé artist and Director of the 2007 Community Pride Mosaic Mural across the street at the community center) to lead community members, artists, and area school children in the creation of a Memory Wall public art sculpture installation in front of the Heritage Center. The collaborative public art effort—a Golden Rule Community Project—was initiated as part of the Unity Heritage Festival in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The Memory Wall was unveiled at the Heritage Center during a special reception for guests from the 19th Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities in Eatonville. The Mr. Imagination residency and Memory Wall project was presented by Crealdé School of Art in partnership with the Golden Rule Foundation, Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, and the City of Winter Park
Winter Park Collects Folk Art
October 13—December 23, 2007
Presented in partnership with the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery, the exhibit featured f African-American folk art collections from local residents. The exhibition was launched with a Gala fundraiser, including live music by the First World Drummers and Dancers outside, and jazz and blues singer Ruth King inside the Heritage Center and proceeds from this event went to support the Heritage Center’s mission to celebrate the past, present, and future contributions of Winter Park’s west side community.
Ruby C. Williams, Folk Artist
Ruby Williams grew up in Bealsville, Florida—a community formed by her ancestors, freed slaves in the 1860s. It is these roots that form the stage for Ruby’s produce stand and “walk in” gallery on State Road 60. Ruby Williams’ art career began when a passer-by noticed her brightly painted signs advertising her fruits and vegetables. With coaxing from him and others, this spiritual businesswoman, minister and grandmother embarked on the journey that has led her into classrooms, galleries and museums in Florida, as well as nationally.
Recently Williams illustrated a charming children’s book titled, I Am Ruby. “I’ve been ministering since I was a kid ... I do everything from the bottom of my heart, whether shelling a bucket of beans or making a painting.” Her brightly colored paintings speak her messages loudly and clearly. “... I like when people look at it and smile.”
Ruby Williams was recently honored with a Florida Folk Life Award in Tallahassee and was included in the show, “On Their Own — Selected Self-taught Artists,” at the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum in Washington, D.C.