On Saturday, nearly 100 people visited Flint Public Library to attend a reception for the library’s latest art exhibit.
Through the end of February, the library will showcase the Anthony J. and Davida J. Artis Collection of African American art, a private collection from a Flint family. The reception was put on by The Pierians Incorporated, Flint, Michigan Chapter, a historically African American women’s group founded to promote and encourage the study of the fine arts.
Anthony Artis gave a Powerpoint presentation that told the story about how he and his wife became art collectors, their goals for the collection, some collection highlights, and tips for attendees who may want venture in art buying.
Artis said he initially thought that art collecting was a waste of money that could be used to help people in need. His mindset changed in 2005, when he started a conversation with a coworker at Ruth Mott Foundation about one of the pieces hanging in his office, selected by a curator. At the curator’s recommendation, he went home and looked up the artist and the piece: “St. Marc,” by prominent African American painter Jacob Lawrence. The painting was from Lawrence’s Toussaint L’Louverture Series, about the man who lead the fight for Haiti’s liberation.
“In hundreds of years, this is the first country of black people to fight for their liberation and win,” Artis said. “All of a sudden, here I am, 40-plus years old. I’m learning black history that I never knew about, and I had Jacob Lawrence to thank.”