Judith and her brother Henry Alexander Jr.
In the mid-1950s, native Atlantan Judith Alexander was a woman with a vision. After studying art — first at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, then with the painter Hans Hofman in New York City — the 24-year-old advocate for art and artists opened the New Arts Gallery on North Peachtree Road, with the express purpose of stirring things up.
As a showcase and platform for such world-renowned artists as Franz Kline, Jackson Pollack, and Jim Dine, Alexander’s gallery grew into a center for Atlanta’s young arts community. It soon became known for the soirées that attracted artists, art professionals, critics, and teachers, many of whom drove from all over the South to hear Kline and other contemporary artists hold forth on theory and practice.
Alexander’s advocacy for artists of every stripe grew greater as the years wore on. In 1978 she became a pioneer in the promotion of self-taught artists when she opened the Alexander Gallery on East Paces Ferry Road. Among those she brought to the world’s attention were Nellie Mae Rowe, Ned Cartledge, Carlton Garrett, and Linda Anderson—Georgians all.
Though she lived most of the year in New York City from 1989 through 2004 (she moved to be near her sister Rebecca), Alexander remained a revered presence in the Atlanta family of artists, art-lovers, and art dealers.
Judith was born in Atlanta in 1932, the youngest of four children of Henry Alexander, a prominent lawyer, and Marian Kline Alexander.
After a lifetime of appreciating art in its countless forms, introducing new types of art to people from far and wide, and furthering the careers of promising young artists, she died suddenly in
New York in December 2004.
In the December 17, 2004 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Catherine Fox concluded her appreciation of the local art icon with reminiscences from friends.
“Judith had a way of building you up,” [Mario] Petrirena says. “One time, after some disappointment, she said to me ’People can be curators or dealers or critics, but never forget that you have the biggest gift of all—the ability to make art.’ She was always there. I can’t count the number of artists she helped.”
Judith and the renowned wrestler Claude "Thunderbolt" Patterson. Nellie Mae Rowe was a fan and included likenesses of him in several of her drawings.