After joining her
local community garden, New York artist Kate
the rich history of community service in her Harlem neighborhood
and learned of the inspiring story of Reverend Linnette C. Williamson,
a hardcore heroine. This show honors the legacy of the “Rev” and
the vest-pockets of beauty that her efforts left behind.
paintings in oil are stunning both for the breathtaking beauty
of her brushstroke as well as for their passionate moral intensity.
In a painting style that synthesizes an Old Masters clarity of
light with a basis in American naturalism and realism, Javens connects
with the viewer by an empathy to her subjects – paintings
of animals that are named for, and in fact stand as metaphorical
portraits of, figures in American history; persons who represent,
to Javens, an altruism and social activism that deserve to be commemorated.
The animal subjects of Javens’ paintings embody to her the
inner qualities and essence of the human historical figures that
she honors, suggesting that it is not so much the image, but rather
the quality of these persons for which they should be remembered.
For her third exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery, Javens' inspiration
is the profound story of the life and works of a heroic woman,
the Reverend Linnette C. Williamson, (1923-1990). The “Rev”,
as Williamson came to be known, was ordained in 1956 and led the
Christ Community Church of Harlem. She spent her life dedicated
in service to the people of Harlem and in so doing she created
an event in the life of a city, changing the lives of people in
desperate need and marking forever a place where something remarkable
happened. The title of the exhibition, "The Wolves, the Lambs
and the Rev" refers to the vision of the church leaders in
Harlem on a block that was once called 'the most dangerous block
in New York City’, to create a mission embodying the essence
of the bible passage "When the wolf lies down with the lamb'.
Among the many services Williamson provided to the homeless, the
substance abusers and the neglected people of her flock during
her ministry, the Rev was instrumental in the first development
in the nation of the “vest pocket” community garden.
The gardens were called vest-pocket parks due to their shape and
size. The idea was to create open green spaces in congested urban
areas and it was argued that the spaces should be as small as one
building lot; 100 feet by 20 feet. It was on Rev. Williamson’s
block of West 128th Street, between Fifth and Lenox Avenue, that
three, vacant city-owned lots were chosen to begin a revolution
in public open spaces. The Harlem riots of 1964 brought into focus
the living conditions in blighted urban neighborhoods and the first
vest-pocket park opened in May, 1965. Over forty years later Kate
Javens moved into the Rev's old neighborhood and joined the community
garden that began as that first vest-pocket park.
After learning the story of Reverend Williamson, Javens decided
to honor and commemorate the Rev, the neighborhood of Harlem, and
the momentous event that happened there. For the wolves in the
show’s subject title, Javens worked with the dogs that are
around her and part of the fabric of the neighborhood. Also, for
the first time, Javens will include a portrait of her human subject,
Kate Javens was born in Missouri and spent her childhood in Japan,
Mexico, and the bicoastal United States. She attended the Pennsylvania
State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Javens is a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Painting Fellow, a
Pew Fellowship in the Arts Disciplinary Winner in Painting, and
a three-time MacDowell Fellow. Her work is held in the permanent
collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts Museum, the Palmer Museum of Art, the
Telfair Museum of Art, the Blanden Museum of Art and the Connecticut
College Print Collection. She has had solo exhibitions at the Blanden
Memorial Art Museum in Iowa, the Princeton University Bernstein
Gallery, Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, the Schmidt Dean Gallery
in Philadelphia, and the Sarah Morthland Gallery in New York City.
Her group exhibitions include the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia,
the North Dakota Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art,
Anna Kustera Gallery in New York City, the Abington Art Center
in Philadelphia, Billy Shire Fine Art in Los Angeles, DFN Gallery
in New York City and the Aldrich Museum in Connecticut. She lives
and works in Harlem, New York City.
here to Purchase Kate Javens: American Beasts
Solo exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery, Mar. 6 - Apr. 12, 2008. installation