The Pyramid Club at Art Around Gallery

Dox Thrash
Woman in Red Dress, 1941, by Dox Thrash (sorry about the reflections)

On my way the the Morgellons opening at Fleisher/Ollman, I bumped in Walter Edmonds on his way to Art Around Gallery.

I thought it was pretty funny, me with my white face going to a gallery that attracts an overwhelmingly white crowd and Edmonds, with his brown face, going to a gallery that attracts an overwhelmingly African American crowd.

Hale Woodruff
Old Church, restriking of a linocut by Hale Woodruff

Edmonds’ destination, which is at 2011 Chestnut, is more than a year old and specializes in African-American art (I think that makes 5 galleries–Sande Webster, ArtJaz, October, Art on the Avenue, and this gallery). I was in there once and thought I might have better luck another time, but I never went back.

So I asked Edmonds, who is a West Philadelphia artist, to let me know if the show was worth my while.

A few days later he called to say it was amazing, like walking into the old Pyramid Club, the preeminent African American social club from the 30s to the 50s, with a gallery program that showed important African American artists like Beauford Delaney and Dox Thrash. Edmonds himself had shown there as a young man. He mentioned the pleasure of seeing work by Humbert Howard and Dox Thrash and Paul Keene. He was delighted that he had gone to the opening, and went back still another time.

Julius Bloch
Julius Bloch’s Negro Couple. The woman looks a little worried.

The show was indeed a throwback, a show of Pyramid Club artists, including Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, and even white artist Julius Bloch, who painted many portraits of African Americans–his ticket to inclusion at the club exhibits.

I especially enjoyed two watercolor portraits of women from printmaker Thrash. The oil portraits by Bloch, with their simplified forms and plain backdrops, still have the power to startle. And two restrikings of Hale Woodruff linocuts also looked great. I loved the colors and texture in James Porter’s African Landscape, which looks contemporary. Paul Keene’s Carnival and Humbert Howard’s two oils also had a riot of sparkling color and texture.

James Porter
The contrast of texture and color in African Landscape, by James Porter, looks contemporary,

I asked George Collins, if the works in the gallery were someone’s collection. He said most were owned by the gallery owner, William Dodd.

This exhibit was pretty interesting–a time capsule and a chunk of history. The show is up for December.


dox thrash, hale woodruff, james porter, julius bloch, walter edmonds



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