The Crimson White

Gallery helps create epicenter for art

Gabriel Dickson

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The lifelong passion of a man has found a new home in Tuscaloosa. The Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art, located at 2308 Sixth St., is currently housing a 1,700-piece collection of American art estimated at over $4.8 million.

The collection, donated to the University of Alabama in 2008 by Alabama native Paul R. Jones, is one of the largest collections of African-American art in the world.

Paul R. Jones started this collection because he felt that African-American artists were being overlooked and were not being judged upon based solely on artistic merit.

Dr. Lucy Curzon, faculty advisor of the student exhibition and assistant professor in the department of art and art history, said the location of the building carries as much significance as the art itself.

“With the location of the Harrison Galleries and the Children’s Hands On Museum, the administration wanted to create an art epicenter,” Curzon said. “Paul Jones believed that art was not just for the select few; he wanted it to be accessible to anyone to view. By making it accessible to everyone, we can make what Mr. Jones wanted to come true.”

The new Jones Gallery will have different exhibitions running all year long. The inaugural exhibition entitled Icon will be open until Sept.16 and has been curated by graduate students in studio art and art history from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The exhibit will showcase works by famous artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Emma Amos and Clarissa Sigh, among others.

“This exhibit features works done by artists in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s,” Dr. Curazon said. “People can channel through artists from that time. Works of art are markers of society.”

The opening reception was held Aug. 13, 2011.

“There were several hundred people, including dignitaries from UA, Tuscaloosa and Paul R. Jones’ great niece,” Curzon said.

Caleb Sexton, a UA student majoring in graphic design who is currently working under Dr. Curzon as a gallery assistant, points out the significance of the inaugural exhibit. He believes that the Icon exhibit showcases those ‘Iconoclasts, or history book artists.’

“Art and design are means of communication to publicize events – it’s what makes society, society,” Sexton said.

The exhibit is open to the public for free, and the gallery will be participating in Art Night on the first Thursday of each month, when they will stay open late.

In accordance to the mission of Paul R. Jones, teaching is the main goal of the gallery, and Sexton is one student who is taking advantage of the experience he is gaining through working at the gallery. He has already started his own graphic design business, Rising Phoenix Designs.

“It helps me gain involvement in a real world setting, because art is such a big part of the community,” Sexton said.

For more information on the collection, gallery or Paul R. Jones, go to art.ua.edu/site/galleries/paul-r-jones-collection.

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Gallery helps create epicenter for art