The Art Students League presents ‘Creating Community. Cinque Gallery Artists’ in May, 2021




Ruth Jett’s business card, circa 1980-2001. She was Executive Director of Cinque Gallery. Image via Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Arts Student League and The Romare Bearden Foundation team up to present the first introductory survey of Cinque Gallery, one of the United States’ most innovative and enduring non-profit artists’ spaces with the exhibition, Creating Community. Cinque Gallery Artists.

This ground-breaking exhibition celebrates a diverse selection of late twentieth century and contemporary artists who participated from 1969 – 2004 in this pioneering artist collaborative enterprise.

Founded by three master League artists, Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow, and Norman Lewis, who were determined to “provide a place where the works of unknown, and neglected artists of talent….primarily minority artists” would “not only be shown but nurtured and developed.” Cinque Gallery successfully fostered a mutually supportive community of artists for nearly four decades – and yet, it is virtually undetectable in modern scholarship and criticism.

The League has invited arts administrator and curator Susan Stedman and artist Nanette Carter to direct this ambitious curatorial, programmatic and scholarly endeavor. This exhibition of paintings, works on paper, sculptures and archival documents are part of Stedman’s oral history project illuminating the achievements of several generations of artists such as Emma Amos, Betty Blayton-Taylor, Tom Feelings, Cynthia Hawkins, Bill Hutson, Norma Morgan, Howard McCalebb, Otto Neals and Ben Wigfall.

The exhibition also features other artists, in addition to the Gallery’s founders, who have become widely celebrated: Charles Alston, Robert Blackburn, Elizabeth Catlett, Ed Clark, Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, Stanley Whitney and Hale Woodruff.

“The League is honored to present Creating Community: Cinque Gallery Artists, paying tribute to this important collaborative enterprise and the contributions of its artists, including many former League instructors and students,” said Michael Hall, the League’s Artistic & Executive Director. “The mission of the League reflects that of Cinque in terms of ethos and access – a platform created by artists to develop and showcase the work of other artists and foster a creative community through mentorship. In this spirit, we are committed to providing accessibility for the next generation of artists and cultural producers through our affordable classes and free

Creating Community. Cinque Gallery Artists exhibition will be supplemented by a series of public programs and artist talks including:

5/7/21:  Live from the Cinque Installation with Guest Curator Susan Stedman and Anki King, Associate Director of Phyllis Harriman Manson Gallery
5/17/21:  Constructing Black Cultural Institutions during the 60″s Civil Rights Movement, creators of institutional organizations talk about their experiences.

Creating Community. Cinque Gallery Artists will be on view from May 3 to July 4, 2021 at The Art Students League of New York, 215 West 57th Street, NYC, viewing Monday ~ Friday from 11am to 6pm. (VIP Opening, May 2).