Artists of Color exhibit coming to NACC for Black History Month

Ray Robertson with his art, including the wood based sculpture "Back to the nest" which won first prize at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center. (Photo by Tom Lizardo)

As the King holiday arrives, and with Black history month a few weeks away, the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC) is preparing for its Artist’s of Color display in the Townsend Gallery.

Ray Robertson, the gallery’s co-director, is responsible for putting together the works that will be on display during the show, which is scheduled to open Feb. 6 and run through March 17.

There will be a reception from 6 to 8 pm on Feb. 11.

“I consider the gallery to be the heart of the agency,” said Robertson, “it's the church, the sacred space.”

Robertson started his art work by building things at a young age, but his serious art career began as a painter, before moving on to other media as well.

“Now, I’m really a collageist,” Robertson said, “which means putting together things that are unrelated to make a beautiful whole. I consider myself a master at that.”

Robertson compared the art of collaging to viewing things the way children do, “philosophically, I believe no thing is a thing in and of itself. Children tend to see things this way, where an adult will identify the thing, a child will add “it looks like it could be this, or that.”

“The older I get, and the more my eyesight is strained, the more I sense that phenomenon is heightened in me.”

Besides being co-director at the Townsend Gallery, Robertson has been a tenant at the NACC for a dozen years, using several different studio spaces to create his works.

He used to spend upward of 12-hours a day at the NACC, but after a bout with cancer a few years back he’s been rebuilding strength, plus his wife wants him home more often.

Still, the evidence of his work throughout the building demonstrates how much he loves time creating in the studio.

“I was 19-years old before I ever met an artist who actually worked out of a studio,” he said.

He said there are several people who are verbally-committed to the upcoming Artists of Color show, which he hopes will draw numerous artists who have never displayed before.

“I beat the bushes myself, artist to artist, I don’t rely on social media.”

Robertson is a 1967 graduate of Niagara Falls High School and holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Buffalo. He’s also a member of the Buffalo Urban Artists Collective.

He said he’s pretty confident he will get enough artists to fill the event, with submissions due by Jan. 22.

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