James E. Lewis Museum When: Dedication exhibit, Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 through Jan. 19.
Where: Murphy Fine Arts Center, Morgan State University, Hillen Road.
"I am not often moved, but I was moved on Sunday."
James E. Lewis, sculptor, art historian, archaeologist, teacher, collector, curator, Henry O. Tanner professor emeritus at Morgan State University, has devoted his life to art, to Morgan State, and to his community. Last Sunday that devotion was recognized in a ceremony naming the art galleries and attendant areas of the Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan the James E. Lewis Museum of Art.
In honor of the occasion and in recognition of his long and distinguished career, more than 40 artists have donated works to the university's permanent collection. They include Gordon Parks, Sam Gilliam, Grace Hartigan, Albert Sangiamo, Joyce Scott, Amalie Rothschild, Duane Thigpen, Jack White and Joan Erbe, and their works are now on exhibit in the Lewis Museum's dedication exhibition.
The tribute is apt. Many know Mr. Lewis from his sculpture, notably the "Frederick Douglass" at Morgan and the "Salute to Black Soldiers Who Have Fought in Various Wars" north of the Battle Monument on Calvert Street.
Many know him as a teacher and molder of the Morgan art department where he was chairman from 1953 to 1973, or for his scholarly research in Africa or his archaeological work both there and in Israel, or as the organizer of such respected exhibitions as "The Calculated Image," "Afro American Artists Abroad" and "The Monumentality of African Miniature Sculpture."
Of all his accomplishments, however, none surpasses his building over four decades of the Morgan art collection.
From its inception in 1952 with the purchase of five pieces of African art for $595, Dr. Lewis has steadily increased its scope and depth, until today it numbers about 3,000 works. Partly through his acquaintance with artists such as Josef Albers, dealers such as Abraham Adler and collectors such as Wilbert and Irene Petty, Mr. Lewis has assembled a collection diversely rich.
It includes African art, with works from Cameroon, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Ghana, among other places; African-American art, with works by Henry O. Tanner, Beauford Delaney, William H. Johnson, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Robert S. Duncanson, Gordon Parks and Sam Gilliam; art by Europeans, with works by Adolphe Bougueureau, Narcisse Virgile Diaz, Allan Ramsay, Antoine-Louis Barye and Pablo Picasso.
There's also art by Americans of European descent, with works by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, Mary Cassatt, Robert Henri, John Marin, Hartigan, Keith Martin, Herman Maril and Aaron Sopher, whose 1971 pen and ink sketch of his friend Mr. Lewis graces the cover of the dedication exhibit's catalog.
Morgan President Earl S. Richardson calls the Lewis Museum holdings "one of the best collections of a college or university anywhere on the East Coast," and Mr. Lewis' accomplishment in building it "phenomenal." Morgan's tribute, he added, was "well deserved and overdue." Hear Hear.