Community mural unveiled

File photo: Artist David Loewenstein's mural honoring black Kansans was unveiled Wednesday Sept. 17, 2007.

A much-anticipated community art project was unveiled Wednesday afternoon, kicking off three days of events to celebrate the life and work of Kansas artist Aaron Douglas.

The mural is part of a major exhibition, “Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist,” organized by Kansas University’s Spencer Museum of Art, which will run through Dec. 2.

Douglas was born in Topeka in 1899 and is considered one of the first black artists to portray racial themes within the context of modern art.

“The ideals of Douglas live on, and they live on in the heart of Lawrence,” Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Spencer Museum of Art, told a crowd of about 50 at the dedication ceremony.

The mural is painted on the northern wall of the Aquila building on the northeastern corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

“It’s not just art for art’s sake but about African-American history,” said David Loewenstein, the Lawrence artist commissioned to design the mural.

The design features images of seven black artists who either were born in Kansas or lived in the state, including Langston Hughes, a Harlem Renaissance poet who was raised in Lawrence; and Gordon Parks, a photographer, author and film director who was born and raised in Fort Scott.

The design also reflects a theme of pollination and growth of artists and a community.

Other events


¢ Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture sponsored by KU’s department of English and the Hall Center for the Humanities, 7:30 p.m., Spencer Museum of Art auditorium.


¢ Free public reception with live music and refreshments, 5:30 p.m., Spencer Museum of Art.

¢ Talk by art critic and scholar Richard J. Powell of Duke University, 7 p.m. in the museum auditorium, on “Paint that Thing! Aaron Douglas and the call to Modernism.”


¢ “Aaron Douglas and the Arts of the Harlem Renaissance” interdisciplinary conference, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Spencer Museum of Art auditorium.

¢ Cabaret/Harlem Renaissance-style rent party with refreshments and live music, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Kansas Union Ballroom. Tickets are $10 for public and $5 for students with a KU ID. Eric Avery, a 2006 theater and film alumnus from Minneapolis, Minn., will direct original cabaret performances. Music provided by Kansas City’s American Jazz Museum All Stars.