Zenith Gallery Presents Creatively We Unite Group Exhibition

By East City Art Editorial Team on January 31, 2017

Fri, February 3 2017 — Sat, March 4 2017

Our Girls Shall Read by Doba Afolabi. Courtesy of Zenith Gallery.
Our Girls Shall Read by Doba Afolabi. Courtesy of Zenith Gallery.


Meet the Artists Receptions: Friday, February 3 from 4pm to 8pm
Saturday, February 4 from 2pm to 6pm


Featuring: Doba Afolabi, Mason Archie, Anne Bouie, Francesca Britton, Richard Fitzhugh, Robert Freeman, Cassandra Gillens, Carolyn Goodridge, Hubert Jackson, Gloria Kirk, Christopher Malone, Ibou N’Diaye, Preston Sampson, Curtis Woody

Doba Afolabi was born in the mountains of southwest Nigeria and credits his mother, who was a versatile dancer, as the fundamental force behind his flair for expression. Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Yoruba stylized carvings were all later influences on Afolabi. Doba studied at the famous Zaria Art School. While still in school, he became known as one of the “Zaria Rebels,” an art school known for their experimental style and bold color palette. Briefly, he worked for the United Nations as a graphic designer. He also spent some time teaching art at Yaba Technical College, in Lagos, Nigeria, before eventually immigrating to New York City and he is currently based in Brooklyn. His first solo exhibit, Buffalo Soldier was in 1999, in North East Miami, Florida, at Asmar B Art Gallery. Since that time, he has been an annual presence at the Black History Month art shows featured on the campus of Florida International University. In addition to showing with Zenith Gallery, he is also represented by Dorsey Gallery in New York.

Mason Archie was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. Archie began his artistic career as the Art Director and pictorial artist for Lamar Outdoor Advertising. In 2005, he began to work full- time as a fine artist, swiftly achieving notoriety. In addition to natural talent, he also attributes his success to a single-mindedly intensive study of the materials and techniques utilized in traditional landscape and Realism paintings executed by the 19th century Naturalist artists, whose art and techniques have clearly influenced Archie. Archie generally begins by conducting numerous studies through observation outdoors before beginning a canvas. His landscapes transcend mere geography, as they self-assuredly, yet quietly, evoke powerful metaphors. Archie’s work has been exhibited at the Schuster Art Center in Dayton, OH, Indiana State Museum, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI, The National African American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, OH, and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. He has been featured in The International Review of African American Art, American Art Collector, and The American Art Review.

Anne Bouie was born in Birmingham, Alabama; she grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and was deeply affected by the beauty and culture she experienced during summers on her grandparents’ farm in Florida. She is an artist in the native tradition, and draws heavily upon pre-conversion indigenous cultures, which use art to heal, teach, and sustain meaning. The traditions of southern folk artists are also a source of inspiration. Her pivotal moment as an artist came while attending a meeting of the Black Artists of DC, who encouraged her to “stop sitting on her ideas for art, and get busy doing it”. In 2006, her work was accepted in Found, an exhibit sponsored by BADC, and she has been an artist ever since.

Francesca Britton is a local artist who was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Britton not only paints; she also designs jewelry and is a seasoned arts educator. She has been creating art her entire life, beginning by learning to paint with an easel next to her mother, Marchita Crawford. Having grown up in a family atmosphere featuring creative talents, Britton followed in the family footsteps developing her own style and artistic sensibilities. She shares her knowledge and talent by teaching and counseling in Washington DC’s Banneker High School; her mission is dedicating her time to life-long learning so that she may continue to grow in artistic sensibilities and keep a fresh perspective to be relayed in her painting and jewelry making.

Richard Fitzhugh is a Washington DC native, and graduate of the Howard University School of Architecture. He has worked in the field, at home, and abroad. Imposing his vision of urban landscapes on paper, Fitzhugh’s deep sense of community is reflected in his vivid palette, and in his 25 years working with disadvantaged youth. This current show includes some of his finest work, depicting familiar Washington DC streets and landmarks. The artist speaks about his chosen medium: “I’ve stayed with watercolor because this paint medium is transparent. Because it’s transparent, everything you do for a painting, even when you have covered something already painted previously, you can see totally everything that has been done for the painting. But for the watercolor painting, being able to see everything that was done…. [makes me feel that] my art…. begins to resemble my life.”

Robert Freeman has been showing with Zenith Gallery and nationally for over 35 years, and has been included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The National Center for African American Artists, Boston Public Library, Brown University, and The DeCordova Museum. His paintings have been featured in exhibitions at Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA. Known for his vivid and powerful figurative paintings, Freeman has traditionally focused on the interactions between people in his work. Skillful, bold use of color and gesture are the trademark of Freeman’s work and make his figures nearly abstract. In the winter of 2016, Freeman was featured in a retrospective show at the Danforth Art Museum, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Cassandra M. Gillens is a self-taught artist, currently residing in North Carolina. Born in Boston, some of her earliest memories are of drawing with colored chalk on the sidewalks of her childhood neighborhood of Roxbury. Cassandra also has fond memories of visits to South Carolina to visit family. These memories have moved her to paint visions of The Low Country’s southern culture. Growing up in Roxbury, Gillens dreamt of one day returning to The Low Country – a place that had won her heart and spirit. Upon her return as an adult, she swiftly reconnected with her people and the culture she so loved. Cassandra’s paintings clearly show that love and those connections, with their depiction of the vivid colors of the southern seasons and their images of good ol’ Southern living.

Carolyn Goodridge, born on October 21, 1960, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies, immigrated to the U.S. in 1963. Goodridge was brought up in a Pentecostal environment and later became widely read in Eastern philosophies. She landed in the Kwan Um School of Zen, residing at their Chogye International Zen Center in New York by age 19. The late Zen Master Seung Sahn Sunim taught the artist about “Zen mind.” Her artwork is broadly inspired by these teachings. Goodridge states: “The materials used in my work are organic: melted beeswax with natural pigments, resin made of sap from Malaysian fir trees, rice paper, wood and sometimes glass. Using encaustic I enjoy contrasting, not only organic and geometrical shapes, but also smooth and rough texture, as well as dull and shiny reflective surfaces.”

Hubert Jackson was born in 1943 in Culpeper, Virginia. He began his artistic career with a correspondence course in commercial art, which he took while still in high school. From there, he went on to formally study painting, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture and photography. Jackson earned his Bachelors in Fine Arts Education at Virginia State University in 1965. After graduation, he moved to Washington DC. In 1971, he earned his Master’s Degree in painting from Howard University. In the early 1970s, he participated in the historical national movement of community-based mural projects under the advisement and mentorship of master artist Hughie Lee-Smith. Jackson’s work is in several private collections throughout the U.S., and has been shown in countries such as Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, New Guinea, and Rwanda through the Artist-in-Embassies Program, run by the U.S. Department of State. This past summer he had a show at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. He also taught visual arts for many years at Wilson High School, located in Washington, DC.

Gloria Kirk is a photographer who considers herself as “one who thinks outside of the box.” Kirk has been the recipient of numerous awards for artworks in media and genres as diverse as portraits, still life, photojournalism, landscape, architecture, and conceptual photography. In October 2007, four of her fine art pieces were chosen by the Artist-in- Embassies Program for exhibition in the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for a period of three years. Kirk is a member of the Professional Photographers Society of Greater Washington, DC Black Artists, The DC National Conference of Artists, The Exposure Group, and FotoCraft. She has been in numerous publications including The Washington Post, In the Arts, and Spice. Kirk has exhibited throughout the US, Cuba, Ghana, Brazil, & Sierra Leone.

Christopher Malone is a self-taught artist who wants us to move past seeing dolls as just playthings for children, but rather as spiritual objects, capable of inspiring deep thoughts and heady visions in balance with our imaginations and our dreaming state. He believes that how far you take this interpretation of the capability of his dolls is up to you. In his words: “I have always been fascinated with dolls. Their form and construction, complex and simple forms…made of stone, clay, bone, ivory, grasses and wax… have for as long as I can remember have beckoned to me to hold them in my hand and study them. I have no idea why…? From the beginning of recorded time, all over the world, people have been making dolls. Dolls have been children’s play things and have also been used to bridge the gap between our physical world and the spiritual realm… . Like most traditions… there’s so much more to the story.”

Ibou N’Diaye uses wood as his medium so that he may continue following the rich tradition of Malinese sculpting and because of the unique individuality of each piece of wood; no two pieces can ever be exactly alike. He creates his artwork based off a certain aura he senses from the individual piece determined by the grains and how it feels in his hands. N’Diaye’s pieces all conjure the harmony of the past, which he hopes to share with the world in his pieces. He uses traditional tools to carve the wood to underscore the unity with the past as well as to make each piece feel more personal.

Preston Sampson is a contemporary painter who prides himself on using un- stretched and unprimed canvas, often with ragged edges, to create alive and insightful pieces. In Sampson’s paintings, color is the main focal point that brings his unique works to life. As the great Modernists attempted to do in various ways, Sampson uses color to remind the viewer of the artifice of his creations. He also uses color to represent the stream of consciousness, and experiences of the people in the paintings, and to bridge a gap from reality into the world of the paintings. His pieces all have a perennial quality that transcends any time. While primarily working in acrylics, Sampson also creates art with watercolors and mixed media collages. Though his vibrant and broad brush strokes, Sampson gives the viewer the ability “to emote, to touch, to move you to the center of it all, to enable you to feel certain changes, like fleeting moments of memory.”

Curtis Woody is a mixed media painter who juxtaposes visual elements into a language of moods and reactions that allow for the viewer’s own interpretations. The paintings begin with hand cut museum board blocks that are painted, embellished, scratched and merged together to form what Woody terms as “mixed media quilt paintings”. He uses colors, patterns, and textures to direct the composition; the meaning of the attached elements often becomes clearer as they are assembled. The result is a continual search for balance between spontaneity and historical relevance. Through the multi-layering the creation becomes a thoughtful, spiritual, interesting, sensitive and ongoing experience for the viewer. The pieces are not pre-planned; Woody prefers to let the feelings and the emotions of the overall design dictate how each block fit together. He draws inspiration from images of Adinkra symbols, the Bassa alphabets of Liberia, and small segments of authentic slave narratives. Other sources of inspiration are from early 19th century quilt makers.

Gallery Hours:

  • Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm to 6pm
  • All other times by appointment, please call 202-783-2963

The event is located at 1429 Iris St. NW. For more information, visit www.zenithgallery.com.