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Video: Kate Javens - "Painter" Michener Museum

Solo Exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery, For the Wolves, the Lambs and the Rev. Nov. 3 - Dec. 10, 2011
installation images

After joining her local community garden, New York artist Kate Javens discovered 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.

Kate Javen’s 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, Reverend Williamson.

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.

Click here to Purchase Kate Javens: American Beasts

Solo exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery, Mar. 6 - Apr. 12, 2008. installation images



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