Judith Alexander had a huge appreciation for Benjamin Jones and his work. The board knew for certain that she would want to support this significant exhibition.
MOCA GA had this to say about the show: "Organized in seven enticing themes, Benjamin Jones' "Speaking" spans 40 years of making art, including fresh work never seen before.
Jones continues to hone his distinct visual language as a thought-provoking force for change. “I want people to feel the rage and to fight injustice in today’s crazy world,” Jones says. “The drawings are my way of screaming out, hoping to make another person speak out, and then another.”
As a keen observer of current events, Benjamin Jones keeps intricate journals. He mines images clipped from magazines, newspapers and his travels, then recycles this source material into his drawings.
Parallels have been drawn between Jones’ work and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet and young Pablo Picasso. Each influence gave Jones new tools to break the rules and discover a visual voice undeniably his own.
Mixing whimsy with horror, humor with malevolence, Jones’ haunting creatures speak to life’s paradoxes and struggles, compelled by the artist’s internal urgency.
Inhabiting an intriguing, indefinable space, each poignant portrait reveals a glimpse of Benjamin Jones’ own innermost feelings and insecurities, while touching a familiar place in all of us."
Click here for interview with Lois Reitzes on WABE, 2020, featuring Benjamin Jones and Barbara Archer.
Click here for Benjamin Jones Documentary. Michael Brassert, Director, Brooke McDonald, Producer, Courtesy MOCA GA
Click here for more about Benjamin Jones
IMAGE (Top): Benjamin Jones, courtesy MOCA GA
The New York premier opening of Tina Dunkley's multimedia solo exhibition, Sanctuary for the Internal Enemy: An Ancestral Odyssey, inspired this gift from the Judith Alexander Foundation, which provided funding for the show's catalogue.
Dunkley presented prints, assemblages, and textiles based on her publication, The Merikins: Forgotten Freedom Fighters in the War of 1812, in an evocative and visually riveting exploration into the lives of enslaved Africans who escaped bondage and fought for the British during the War of 1812.
Dunkley's passion for the subject came as a result of meticulous research into her own maternal ancestry, through which she learned of the plight of her ancestor, Ezekial Loney, and other freedom fighters who fled a Virginia plantation in 1814. Loney was among 4,000 former slaves who were settled after the war in South Trinidad and called themselves Merikins, a creolization of "American".
The exhibit traveled to Atlanta's Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, where it was on display from June, 10 2019 - October 6, 2019.
Click here for more about Tina Dunkley
IMAGE (Top): Tina Dunkley in her studio by Jerry Siegel
Slideshow Images (below): Pieces from Sanctuary for the Internal Enemy: An Ancestral Odyssey by Tina Dunkley. The still photo image is taken from Manifest Odyssey, 2018, a 4-minute video by Tina Dunkley and Shelia Pree Bright.
The Judith Alexander Foundation was the sole funder of a film by Emmy award-winning Felipe Barral, documenting Larry Walker's monumental MOCA GA retrospective of 2018. The film was screened at the museum in October, 2018 and now resides in the permanent archives there as an important component of the documentation of the work and life of the great visual artist, beloved art professor and mentor, Larry Walker.
The Judith Alexander Foundation provided seed funding to OPENDOX LLC for the production of a hybrid feature-length documentary film about the artist Nellie Mae Rowe, directed by Petter Ringbom and produced by Ruchi Mital, with the working title, This World is Not My Own. The film is scheduled to open in early 2021.
Click here to learn more about this project.
IMAGE: Nellie Mae Rowe, by Jay Weiland, 1981
In the spirit of Judith Alexander, who worked tirelessly to support Georgia artists in many different and crucial ways, we were pleased to make a gift to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, an organization that provides pro bono legal services to artists and arts organizations through its network of over 1,000 volunteer lawyers. In addition to providing legal services to limited-income artists, GLA also conducts dozens of free or low-cost educational seminars and workshops for artists and arts organizations on numerous legal and business-related topics.
The Judith Alexander Foundation is pleased to continue its support of MOCA GA (the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia) in supporting Georgia's contemporary artists. The Museum is now home to a permanent collection of over 1,000 works of art which continues to grow in depth and breadth by 50-100 pieces a year through donation, gift, bequest and purchase.
IMAGE: Courtesy of MOCA GA. PAINTING: Untitled by Herbert L. Creecy, Jr., 1992; acrylic on canvas; MOCA GA Permanent Collection.
The Foundation made a gift to the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) in support of a new documentary that will chronicle the life, work, and times of Nellie Mae Rowe, and her friendship with Judith Alexander. The film is being directed by Petter Ringbom and produced by Ruchi Mital at Opendox, NYC with the working title, This World is Not My Own. The film is scheduled to premier in early 2021.
Click here for more information about the film.
IMAGE: Photo by Lucinda Bunnen; Embellished by Nellie Mae Rowe
The Judith Alexander Foundation supports the ongoing work of MOCA GA (the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia) in supporting Georgia's contemporary artists as well as art history as it continues to engage the public in innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programming.
IMAGE: Courtesy of MOCA GA. PAINTING: Time by Rocio Rodriguez, 1995; oil on canvas; MOCA GA Permanent Collection.
The High Museum's exhibit, Sprawl: Drawing Outside the Lines had special meaning to the Judith Alexander Foundation as it brought together a diverse selection of over 100 newly acquired works by Georgia artists from the sprawling metropolis of Atlanta. Michael Rooks, the High's Weiland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, put an emphasis on making clear the burgeoning energized dialogue between local artists, the museum and the community at large. That quest speaks directly - and beautifully - to our mission of supporting Georgia artists.
IMAGE: Gossip by Fabian Williams, 2014; watercolor on paper
Click here for a review of Sprawl: Drawing Outside the Lines show at the High Museum by Catherine Fox for ArtsATL, August 5, 2016
Our grant to the Mildred Thompson Legacy Project, with the Cue Art Foundation acting as fiscal sponsor, enabled us to support a venture whose goal is to substantiate the work of one of the great - and largely unsung - artistic contributors to the history of 20th century abstraction.
Put off by the difficult atmosphere of racism in the American art world - and in American society in general - Thompson spent most of her career in Germany and France prior to moving to Atlanta in 1986. Over the following years, until her death in 2003, she became an associate editor at Art Papers and a beloved mentor to students at Agnes Scott and Morris Brown Colleges, the Atlanta College of Art and Spelman College, where she served as artist-in-residence. In her later years, she added another persona as a blues musician.
Thompson left behind an expansive body of work, primarily in painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Her unique and cultivated abstract visual language, inspired by theories and systems of science and music, deserves thorough exploration. We are pleased that our contribution can assist in this endeavor. Learn more about Mildred Thompson at this website.
Click here for a review by Yves Jeffcoat from Burnaway.org of the exhibit we participated in funding at SCAD (Savannah).
PHOTO: Mildred Thompson during the 1960s. Courtesy Mildred Thompson Estate
Herb Creecy, the most renowned and highly respected artist, is remembered for his abstract expressionist style that uniquely found its roots in southern heritage and landscape. He and Judith Alexander were contemporaries and great friends. Surely they grabbed a hickory burger together at The 7 Steers from time to time or visited the early Buckhead galleries, with spirited conversation. The Foundation wanted to honor this life-long relationship with a gift to MOCA GA for its 2016 retrospective and full-length, full-color, hardback publication, Creecy.
As important and influential as Creecy was, there have been, to date, no scholarly publications documenting his life and work and impact on the art community. With this exhibit and catalog, Creecy's achievements will be part of the literary cannon of art in America available to libraries and collectors nationwide.
IMAGE: In the Eyes of the Birds, 1972, by Herbert Creecy, acrylic on canvas. MOCA GA Founding Collection
Click here for access to MOCA GA's collection of Herbert Creecy's paper
The Judith Alexander Foundation made a grant to the Southern Documentary Fund to support the documentary feature, Thumbs Up for Mother Universe, that tells the tale of one human’s drive to succeed against all odds. Lonnie Holley, the self-taught African American visual artist, and now musician, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, is an American original. He has overcome grinding poverty and a nightmare childhood to become a creative powerhouse with an agenda to save the planet.
Peabody Award winner George King, a British documentary filmmaker based in Atlanta, has been filming Holley’s life and work for the past 18 years. During that time Holley has been beaten-up by police, shot at by neighbors, jailed, and evicted from the land homesteaded by his grandfather. His famed “art environment” was bulldozed under, and his art stolen and destroyed. But somehow Holley has outwitted history, circumstance, and the ignorance of others to emerge as a star in the firmament of American culture. Click on this link to see a trailer for the film.
PHOTO by Matt Arnett: Director George King, camera operator Josh Bagnall, and Lonnie Holley, at Xavier University, New Orleans, 2014.
Judith Alexander left a bequest to the High specifically earmarked to purchase work by Georgia artists. That gift inspired an exhibit that marked a vital shift in the way Atlanta's largest museum relates to and reflects the creative community that lives and works in its immediate environs. The significance of the exhibit was not lost on the foundation that bears Judith's name. It marked a sea change that was a long time coming.
Contemporary Art Curator Michael Rooks, working with Judith's lifelong friend and independent Atlanta curator, Marianne Lambert, for whom the fund was named, decided to focus on the relatively affordable medium of drawings, rather than spending the grant on just a few paintings or sculptures. The resulting exhibit grew to more than 56 works, including two expansive wall murals, by 41 artists, roughly 60 percent of whom were experiencing the first museum show of their careers. The works represent intriguing and divergent directions in metro Atlanta contemporary art-making, and are now part of the permanent collection at the High.
Click here to read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's review of the exhibit, by Howard Pousner
IMAGE: Blue Building, 2009. Andy Moon Wilson, Acrylic, pen and ink on paper
The Judith Alexander Foundation was an early supporter of Artadia, the organization whose core belief is that direct support for artists - through individual grants and professional development - will have an impact on the expansion of the nation's cultural heritage. The Foundation came into being around the same time Artadia started their Atlanta program and worked closely with founder Chris Vroom in the early going. Having a program in place, aligned with our values, provided an effortless entry into the work we wanted to do in the community and was, in so many ways, serendipitous.
Click here to see the Artadia Atlanta Awardees through 2014.
Click here to learn more about Artadia: The Fund for Art & Dialogue.
IMAGE: Matters of Bioluminescence, 2013, 16 mm, 7 minutes. By Robbie Land, grand prize winner of Artadia Atlanta 2014
When Haiti was struck by a devastating magnitude 7.0Mw earthquake in January, 2010, the board members of the Judith Alexander Foundation joined many others all over the world in feeling shock and grief for the people of the island nation. Because Judith had spent time in Haiti multiple times during her life, working with and supporting local artisans, and collecting Haitian VooDoo Art flags, they knew she would want to do whatever possible to bring some relief. The board was especially moved by the work Partners in Health, under the leadership of Dr. Paul Farmer, was doing in Haiti, including the building of a teaching hospital in Mirebalais.
Click here to read an article from Partners in Health, Haiti, 3 Years After the Earthquake, January 11, 1013
The Foundation delighted in contributing to a memorial exhibition and celebration of the late Dr. Richard A. Long, the longtime Fine Art Advisor to and invaluable supporter of the Galleries at Clark Atlanta University. The event supported the galleries' Permanent Collection in which several works of art from the Judith Alexander collection are housed.
In the spirit of a Ghanian tradition in which a memorial coffin is created in the likeness of an object or subject related to the diseased's favorite pastime, the university commissioned a fantasy coffin in the image of Long's indispensable car, a 1974 yellow B210 Datsun. The coffin, created in Accra, Ghana, was unveiled on February 9, 2014, the day that would have been Long's 89th birthday.
Dr. Long was beloved for his devotion to the visual arts and celebrated as a writer, lecturer. He was the Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Emeritus, at Emory University and the founder of the Triennial International African Art Symposium.
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) mounted the first-ever museum retrospective exhibition of the work of Ruth Laxson titled, Hip Young Owl . The Judith Alexander Foundation contributed funding for the exhibit and catalogue, representing nearly all of Laxson’s hand-made artist books, as well as a large number of her prints, drawings, paintings, letter art, and sculpture.
The exhibit surveyed the breadth and depth of the then 88 year old artist’s work and celebrated the legacy of a true master throughout a long career, infused with her trademark sense of humor.
The catalogue accompanying the exhibition includes essays by Laurie Whitehall Chong, Special Collections Librarian and Curator of Artists' Books at the Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design, and Margaret Shufeldt, retired Curator of Works on Paper at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University.
Born in 1924, Laxson was one of Atlanta's most beloved artists and is recognized as one of the nation's preeminent artists’ bookmakers.
Laxson died on June 1, 2019 and was remembered lovingly at a celebration at MOCA GA. Click here to see the program from the moving event.
Click here to read a review of the MOCA GA exhibit from ArtsATL
Click here to access MOCA GA's Ruth Laxson Papers
IMAGE: (top) Ruth Laxson at home. From Rhode Island School of Design, Fleet Library, Special Collections
IMAGE: (bottom) Accordion book detail at MOCA GA exhibition, 2013