Preview: Black Art Auction

Steve Walker, “Two Friends” (1998), acrylic on board, estimate: $1,000 - $2,000

Image courtesy Christopher West | Black Art Auction

Cresting and falling like ocean waves in a storm, abstract hues of teal and turquoise, with bold patches of emerald and lavender, reign in Felrath Hines’s The Island (1962). A graduate of Crispus Attucks High School, the Hoosier-born artist’s painting is one of a lot of more than 100 works by African-American artists available for sale at the inaugural Black Art Auction on May 16.

Billed as the only auction house in the world solely dedicated to the sale of African-American fine art, the Indianapolis-based auction features works spanning three centuries in mediums including painting, sculpture, assemblage, photography, and printmaking. Participants in the auction will be able to bid on Hines’s The Island and other works from his contemporaries, such as Alma Thomas’s exuberant colorist abstract paintings, Sam Gilliam’s sculptural postwar expressionist “drape” paintings, and Charles White’s “images of dignity” depicting powerful scenes of everyday African-American life.

The latest endeavor by Thom Pegg, owner of Tyler Fine Art in St. Louis, in partnership with Christopher West, owner of Christopher West Presents, the collection aims to serve as a resource on the depth and breadth of African-American practices and styles. In addition to the sale and display of these works, the duo plans to support ongoing scholarship on the historic and legacy artists featured in the collection in an effort to establish clear links between prominent figures of the group and those in close proximity that struggled to achieve similar acclaim.

The collection represents a significant boon for the accessibility and representation of black art in the Indianapolis community, in which 28 percent of the city’s population is black. As African-American artists continue to struggle to obtain representation in historical art collections in museums across the world, Black Art Auction provides a new opportunity to rectify some of these issues in our community. If successful, Black Art Auction may contribute in furthering the legacy of native Hoosier artists such as Hines, while fostering a dialogue for the need of greater representation in our city.

The inaugural Black Art Action takes place Saturday, May 16 at noon at Black Art Auction (1497 N. Harding St., Indianapolis, 317-986-6084). Online, absentee, and live bidding available via the website and through invaluable (both have a 25 percent buyers premium) or through liveauctioneers (29 percent buyers premium). To arrange for phone bidding, email or call 317-986-6048.

Gallery (Images courtesy Black Art Auction):