Thomas Sills (1914-2000)

An exhibition of works by the African American abstract expressionist artist.  Sills was born in Castalia, North Carolina in 1914 and with little formal education, began painting in 1952 at the age of 38.  In 1957 he won the prestigious William and Noma Copley Foundation Award and held solo exhibitions at the Betty Parsons Gallery, NY; Paul Kantor Gallery, CA; and Bodley Gallery, NY.  His work was also included in many group exhibitions including the Fourth Annual Artists Annual at Stable Gallery, NY. The Stable Gallery was the center of Abstract Expressionism in New York City in the 1950's and home to artists Robert Indiana, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, Willem deKooning, Andy Warhol, and Lee Krasner.  

John Wesley Hardrick (1891-1968)

A comprehensive exhibition of works by African American figurative and landscape artist John Wesley Hardrick, with focus on a single important collection of his work.  Hardrick was best known as an accomplished portrait painter and landscape artist.  His distinctive landscapes, impressionist in style, drew inspiration from William Forsyth, his instructor at the John Herron School of Art and member of the Hoosier Group.  Hardrick made many trips to Brown County, Indiana, registering the details ofthe countryside with his mind, rather than a sketchbook.  He painted from memory, mixing his own colors and applying the paint thickly and expressively, embellishing the scene somewhat with his own energy and imagination.  Hardrick painted portraits ofmany of the well-known citizens of Indianapolis, both white and African American, as well as working as a WPA muralist in 1933-34.   Because of his prodigious talent, throughout his career he often received community support.   He participated in the Hoosier Salons in 1929, 1931, and 1934 and the 2nd Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Negro Art in San Diego.  His most well known work, Little Brown Girl, was purchased by a group of Indianapolis African-American citizens and donated to the John Herron Art Institute.