Austin Convention Center highlights artists during Black History Month

] The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Tex. is commemorating Black History Month by highlighting the talents of several Black artists with local ties. Pictured is Floating on the Water, a piece by Regi Thomas.
The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Tex. is commemorating Black History Month by highlighting the talents of several Black artists with local ties. Pictured is Floating on the Water, a piece by Regi Thomas.

AUSTIN, Tex. – The Austin Convention Center Department is commemorating Black History Month by recognizing the contributions of four Black artists: Eric Lee, Regi Thomas, Jack White and John Yancey.

All four artists have Austin community ties and are featured in unique exhibits in the Austin Convention Center’s visual art collection.

“We understand the emphasis that art has on our visitors and staff, and the energy it brings to our facilities,” said Austin Convention Center Department interim director Trisha Tatro. “Our art aims to motivate and invigorate, leaving a positive and creative experience, and showcases the unique emotions associated with Austin and our community.”

The visual arts collection at the Austin Convention Center encompasses 33 exhibits and installations by 30 artists. The pieces are designed into the building, the parking garages, and the Palmer Events Center.

“The works of these four artists give insight to the quality of our entire collection,” said Carla Nickerson, Austin Convention Center Department community services program manager and art program facilitator. “The building doubles as an art venue, which gives us the chance to showcase the region’s most accomplished artists and show off the diversity, talent, and makeup of the Austin area.”

The two works from Eric Lee are made from resin-coated acrylic on glass. Lee’s works promote his worldview that cooperation between people of different groups – genders, religions, national origins, sexual preferences, and colors – lies in the ability to see the beauty inherent in each. Lee, a former Austin resident now residing in Colorado, has a significant list of private clients and collections across the United States and overseas.

Regi Thomas’ original hand-blown and shaped glass art pieces are arranged in a unique grouping to incorporate fiber optic lights. The grouping emulates the feel of flowing and cascading water with natural and human-made debris traveling on the surface.

Thomas, who lives and works in Austin, has other acclaimed works around the world, and her clients include the Texas State Capitol, the Office of the Texas Governor, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, The Black Arts Alliance, Steven Spielberg, the Four Seasons Hotel, the Human Rights Commission, and Dell Computers. She has shared her studio with hundreds of fellow artists, shaping Austin’s art culture and serving as an East Austin hub for events.

Jack White’s work was installed in 2010. He describes himself as an abstract impressionist who is committed to African heritage, with paintings, prints, and sculptures exhibited in numerous colleges and university exhibition spaces, and locally at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. A resident of Austin, White previously taught at Syracuse University and is known for his contributions to art education.

In 1996, the first mural installed and created for the Austin Convention Center was Riffs and Rhythms by Austin artist John Yancey. The large, abstract, broken ceramic tile mosaic depicts the traditions of Texas music, including rhythm and blues, Tex-Mex, Cajun, conjunto, country and western, and zydeco.

Yancey is known for his community-based themed work, with art that continues to be exhibited in galleries and museums throughout Austin and the state. He is also a professor of studio art, painting, and drawing and an associate dean in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He lectures extensively on various aspects of African American art history.

The wide range of media in the Austin Convention Center collection includes acrylic, aluminum, canvases, copper, digital photography, dye-cuts, framed art prints, glass, murals, oil, limestone, salvaged and recycled materials, screen prints, tile, and zinc-plated steel.

For more information about the art collection and artists on display at the Austin Convention Center, go to www.austinconventioncenter.com/visual-art-collection/

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