October Gallery in Philadelphia lives by motto: “African American art is good for everyone”
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For decades, Philadelphia has been home to Black prominent artists. In Germantown, the October Gallery is living up to its motto, “African American art is good for everyone.”
“Look at the lips on this bother, look at the nose, the highlight in his forehead,” tour guide Stephanie Daniel said. “You kind of see pain. She captures a face like no one else can.”
Philadelphia artist Laurie Cooper’s originals adorn the walls of the October Gallery.
“Using just pastels, blending with her fingers,” Daniel said. “She’s phenomenal.”
Daniel walked us through the historical Germantown home turned gallery, where the walls display rich paintings, photographs and drawings of Black art. It’s also one of the few galleries left in Philadelphia.
“They can sit and look at a piece,” Daniel said, “and just get lost in it.”
The October Gallery has been connecting people with art for 38 years. Its motto is “African American art is good for everyone,” and it has crowds to prove it.
“We made a name for ourselves by having an art expo,” Daniel said. “The African American Art Expo was the largest Black expo in the entire country, and we would have over 200 artists.”
It even attracted big names like Ernie Barnes, who was a professional football player who became an artist.
“He did our very first show at the expo when we had it at the Liacouras Center,” said.
And actors like Billy Dee Williams, known for playing Lando Calrissian in Star Wars and who is also a painter.
“He’s fabulous. He does huge pieces,” Daniel said. “He told us the story about how he went to art school and just happened to go to an audition one day and nailed it.”
The gallery is also focused on molding young artists.
“A lot of kids who have art in school maybe have it once a week,” Daniel said. “When you have kids who are so talented and it’s not natural.”