Johnnie Lee Gray

Let Freedom Ring, ND
Acrylic on Board
24 x 30 in
$65,000
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This painting captures the sense of "double victory" the Tuskegee Airmen fought for--victory abroad and victory at home. The Tuskegee Airmen was the all-black World War II fighter squadron that never lost a bomber. The flag-wrapped Statue of Liberty's ringing of the Liberty Bell against the backdrop of clouds shaped in "V"s mirror the optimism some blacks had. They hoped that helping to win World War II would translate into victory against Jim Crow. The collection of available works artist Johnnie Lee Gray is handled exclusively by Neema Fine Art Gallery, an art gallery featuring phenomenal works of art by phenomenal Southern African American artists. Artist, Johnnie Lee Gray was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina in 1941. In his early years, Gray demonstrated artistic talent, painting & drawing as a way to express his emotions & depict his surroundings. Working alongside his grandparents in the fields of their sharecropper farm, & later as a carpenter, textile mill worker, & house painter, Gray learned early on to use the materials of his milieu to create works of art that drew on his memories & experiences as a black American man. After graduating from the county’s segregated Lincoln High School in 1960, Gray enlisted in the Army, where he served for seven years, including an 18-month volunteer tour of duty in Vietnam. As a Vietnam Veteran and self-taught artist, Gray’s work illustrated his experiences in the military as an African-American and the participation of black people in the history of the American and world landscape. Described as “visionary” “outsider” artist, the patterned shapes, visual texture, vibrant palettes and repetitive forms showcased in his paintings are recognizable characteristics of his historical narratives. The PBS television series, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow aired nationally in the fall of 2002 & prominently featured Grays work. The series was sponsored by New York Life Insurance & gave new attention & recognition to Gray's work. The public response from the series prompted a traveling exhibition in 2003, curated by Dr. Gwendolyn H. Everett of Howard University, with its official opening night at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. From 2003-2009, Johnnie Lee Gray’s work was exhibited in such venues as the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda, Washington D.C.; The Forbes Galleries, Manhattan, NY; Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, IL; Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, GA; California State University, Northridge, CA; the Spartanburg County Museum of Art, SC; University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville, VA; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA; Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC; Converse College Milliken Art Gallery, Spartanburg, SC; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY; and the Cherokee County History & Arts Museum, Gaffney, SC. Significant exhibitions include traveling solo exhibits: “Rising Above Jim Crow: The paintings of Johnnie Lee Gray”, 2003 and “Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art”, 2007-2008.

CHARLESTON

83 Broad St.
Suite 623
Charleston, SC 29402

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11159 Serenbe Lane
Chattahoochee Hills, GA  
30268
(770) 243-3720

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CHARLESTON

83 Broad St.
Suite 623
Charleston, SC 29402

ATLANTA

11159 Serenbe Lane
Chattahoochee Hills, GA  
30268
(770) 243-3720

Contact

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