Al Johnson, “Baby of Wisdom,” Mixed Media, Available for Purchase

PLATTSBURGH, NY –The Strand Center for the Arts is thrilled to host a Contemporary African American Artists Exhibition in the Main Gallery in January 2018. Titled, “Sweet Music Never Heard until Diversity Plays Catch-up: Contemporary African American Thought,” this forthcoming exhibit features artwork of five African American Artists:  Otto Neals, Dr. Myrah Brown Green, Eric Pryor, Al Johnson and Sadikisha Saundra Collier. It will take place in The Strand Center Main Gallery on Friday, January 5 and a reception that is free and open to the public will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. that evening.

The artists brought together for this show have a wonderful diversity of styles with an equally diverse assortment of media and approaches to creating art. For instance, Otto Neals, and those of his generation, who saw it as their role to create images to wipe out stereotypical fodder that were the precursor of “Black is Beautiful.” His 1972 Viscosity Etching, “Uhuru,” the Swahili word for freedom, its imagery harks historically both backwards and forwards.

Another artist, Dr. Myrah Brown Green, revives African American tradition of making something out of nothing through her use of the fiber art of quilting. The tradition of squaring away scraps of things, the leavings to create monumentality. In her work, “Night in Tunisia,” she weaves her own personal history into the quilt, using a photo transfer image of her childhood self as a basis.

Yet another artist, Eric Pryor, continues the tradition of weaving rhythm, texture music and history within the layered iconography of his oeuvre. His tactile work, “Talking Drum #2,” makes use of etched markings charged with electricity, which evokes the call and response tradition of African culture wherein the drums sweet rhythm must elicit a dance response.

Speaking in code, Sadikisha Collier references the two Americas W.E.B. Dubois spoke of in The Souls of Black Folk in her mixed media painting, “The Pledge,” where allegiances are pledged to the Black National Anthem, the song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the American Flag is washed in the colors of Black Liberation.

Theda Sandiford, a self-taught mixed media artist based in Jersey City, NJ was born in Queens NY in 1970s into a cultural gumbo of multi-racial parentage. Though art is engrained in her psyche, Theda’s first professional creative endeavors were in the music business as a marketing executive at Island Def Jam and Republic Records. After years of ground breaking digital work, she began to explore her own artistic self-expression as art therapy.

Finally, there is Al Johnson, an artist who takes a modernist bent in his use abstract expressionism cutting a wide swath communicating through colors and shapes.  One can feel his sweeping gestures, his dance before the canvas as he completes his application of paint with his trowel.

This unique exhibit will be on view in The Strand Center Main Gallery at 23 Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh from January 5 to January 26, 2018. The exhibition opening is Friday, January 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This event is free to the public and refreshments will be served. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For tickets and more information on this and upcoming events, exhibits, concerts, or classes happening at The Strand Center for the Arts, please call 518-563-1604 (ext. 105) or visit

The Strand Center for the Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a high caliber arts center and theatre, providing the best of visual arts, music, dance, and theatre to the community.  The SCA is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the United Way, The Adirondack Foundation, Stewart’s Shops, and the Cloudsplitter Foundation.

The Strand Center for the Arts’ Diamond Sponsor is NBC 5; Platinum Circle Sponsors are The University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital, Meadowbrook Healthcare, and Twinstate Technologies. The Strand Center for the Arts’ Gold Sponsors are Northern Insuring Agency, Inc., Boire Benner Group, Best Western Plus – The Inn at Smithfield, Casella, 97.5 Eagle Country, and Jeffords Steel and Engineering Company.