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three outstanding artists of Black Boston in the last century are Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998), Allan Crite (1910-) and Meta Vaux Warwick Fuller (1877-1968).

All had distinguished careers and major exhibitions.
Crite and Fuller, working with Maud Cuney Hare's Allied Art Players, also played a role in the development of Boston's nascent black theater. Louis Mailou Jones, 1925

    Lois Mailou Jones

Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998) was born in Boston and lived with her parents and brother on School Street, near the Boston Common.
She trained as an artist at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
A life-changing encounter occurred when she returned from a trip to Paris: she met Alain Locke on the campus of Howard University. As leader of the New Negro Renaissance, Locke told her: "'. . .I wish you would do more with the black subject, Lois Jones. All of you artists have got to do something about this movement. You've got to contribute as artists.'"
Jones stated for the record:

"So I took very seriously what he said, to the extent that I immediately went back to my studio apartment in Washington and decided to do a subject which would deal with lynching because we were having lynchings ast that time in the '40s"(Oral History, Schlesinger Library, 16).

That painting was "Mob Victim." Jones then took up black themes in earnest: examples are "Negro Youth" 1929, "Ascent of Ethiopia" 1932, and Cubist forms, "Les Fètiches" 1938.

ANegro Youth (L.M. Jones)s a child Jones spent summers on Martha's Vineyard Island, where her family and writer Dorothy West rented summer houses next to each other in Oak Bluffs.
Jones' parents later bought a [Methodist] Campground house and had it "rolled up" School Street to 21 Pacific Avenue, where it still stands. (Martha's Vineyard Times, June 18, 1998, 2).

Also on the Vineyard, her mother worked as a maid and ran her own hairdressing business. Jones began studying art at an early age, encouraged by her parents.
After Jones finished at the Museum School, fellow artist Meta Vaux Warwick Fuller advised her that she should go to Europe, where her race would not be a barrier to success in art (Oral History).
Jones won a fellowship to the AcadÈmie Julian in Paris in 1937. She was elated to discover that in Paris a black woman encountered less prejudice than at home.

Jones painted impressionistic landscapes, Cubist- influenced abstractions and subjects from recent black American history.
In 1930 Jones joined the faculty at Howard University in Washington DC, retiring forty-seven years later.

Jones was not exempt from racial incidents, however. In one particular instance, her well known "Indian Shops, Gay Head, Massachusetts" won the Robert Woods Bliss Prize for landscape in 1941 at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. But she had to have a friend submit the painting for her and had to receive the prize by mail, because the Corcoran at that time did not accept submission from African American artists.
The Corcoran did, however, celebrate her work in the last decade of her life (Martha's Vineyard Times, loc. Cit.).

Jones, an important artist linked to the trans-Atlantic idea of NÈgritute (CÈsaire and Senghor), also won the distinction of being the last surviving artist of the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance.

For all of her prizes, one of Jones' proudest moments came early on, when she had her first one-woman show in her native Boston, at the respected Vose Galleries on Newbury Street.

    Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

The distinguished sculptor Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was born in Philadelphia, and came to Boston after studying in Paris at the AcadÈmie Colarossi and the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Rodin proclaimed her "a born sculptor"; Saint-Gaudens allowed her to work in his own studio.Emancipation

As with Lois Mailou Jones, a meeting with a famous African American intellectual led her to a turning point in her artistic career. W.E.B. Dubois advised Meta to introduce African and African American themes into her art and to use art as an expression of the African-American experience.
Dubois later commissioned Fuller to do a piece to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Fuller's most famous sculpture, "Ethiopia Awakening," became symbolic of the rise in Pan-Africanism both in thepolitical and cultural world."

When Meta Warrick Fuller married Dr. Solomon Fuller, a distinguished psychiatrist, the couple settled outside of Boston, in then rural Framingham, where they raised their sons.
Fuller collaborated with black creative artists living in Boston proper. Her name appears on the playbills of the Allied Arts Players, headed by Maude Cuney-Hare.

Before coming to Boston, Meta Warrick had already established her reputation. At thirty years old, fresh from the studios of Paris, she accepted a commission "to construct in a true and artistic manner" tableaux "so arranged as to show . . . the progress of the Negro in America from the landing at Jamestown to the present time."

Links of Interest:
Excellent bio-articles on Fuller and the scope of her artistic career from and

   Allan Crite

Allan Crite (1910) has been a life-long Boston artist.

He was just ten months old when his family moved to the city from Plainfield, New Jersey. He has never lived anywhere else, though Dilworth Street, where he lived as a child, was erased by urban renewal (what Crite calls "urban destruction").

His paintings, which depict the Roxbury neighborhood of his youth, are now prized as historical records for the city of Boston.

Crite's spiritual dimension is expressed in religious scenes and altar pieces that can be found in chapels and churches across the country.
Younger than Lois Mailou Jones by five years, Crite followed her footsteps to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (1939). He was one of the few African American artists to work briefly for the Federal Arts Project (FAP) in the 1930s.

Links of interest:
A photograph of Allan Crite and an outline of his artistic career
A description of Crite taking a visitor through his house museum

   Beauford Delaney

Beauford Delaney (1902-1979) was born in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Beaufort Delaney: Can Fire in the ParkIn 1923 he moved to Boston, where he took art classes at the Massachusetts Normal Art School and the Copley Art Society and met the poet Countee Cullen and other intellectuals.
This was a formative period of his life. In 1929 he moved to New York City and on to Paris in 1953.
His painting, figurative when abstract art carried the day, did not at first get its due from art critics and historians.
In Paris Delaney became fast friends with James Baldwin, who in 1964 had this to say:

"[Delaney] has been starving and working all of his life-in Tennessee, in Boston, in New York, and now in Paris. . .More than any man I know he has trasncended both the inner and outer darkness."

Links of Interest:
The career of Delaney, based on the biography Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney (1998) by David Adams Leeming.

   Before Fuller, Jones and Crite
Though lacking the access to patronage enjoyed by many white artists of the times, Fuller, Jones, and Crite were not the first of their race to find inspiration in the city where Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardiner and the Museum of Fine Arts created an art-loving climate.

Before Fuller, Jones and Crite came sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1940s-c.1890).Edmonia Lewis

Born in the middle of the 19th century, part Chippewa Indian, part African-American, and an orphan, Lewis was educated at Oberlin College.
As a child she roamed the woods with the Chippewas and Chippewa heritage played a part in her work, as did the black legacy. Her brother supported her studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, a major abolitionist center at the time. Later, in Boston, her desire to become a sculptor took hold.

The neoclassical sculptor Edward Brackett mentored her and she created a medallion portraying the abolitionist leader John Brown and in 1864 she completed a bust of Robert Gould Shaw, the Civil War colonel who led an African American regiment to glory.

From Boston this wanderer went to Rome, home to many expatriate American artists, including several women.
In her work she infused elements of her ethnicity (including elements of Egypt, which she saw as African), which was not always the case by any means for her times.
She also used African-American themes in creating works like "Forever Free," where she celebrates the emancipation of slaves.
She was the first African-American, man or woman, to pursue sculpture in great depth.
In Rome, Lewis was welcomed into a tight-knit circle of American expatriates whose artistry was not confined to sculpture or to painting, but encompassed acting as well. Women could succeed in Europe, where they could not in their own country.

For an African-American woman Europe represented two-fold salvation. A discussion of Lewis' career can be found at this site.

Yet another African American who made an early appearance on the Boston art scene was Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, c. 1828.

Edward Mitchell Bannister: Landscape with Boat (oil on canvas)Bannister migrated to Boston, around 1848. Photographer, daguerrotypist, 1863-1865, and portrait painter, 1863-1872, he moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1869.

He received a Bronze Medal in Art at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876, and founded the Providence Art Club in 1872. Bannister served on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISDI) in Providence.