— Original article by Mamie Smith-Faust

Political Legacy. Artwork by Jan Spivey Gilchrest
Political Legacy. Artwork by Jan Spivey Gilchrest

For 25 years, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild had gifted the Evanston community with a collection of artwork by local and regional artist. Selections of the 32 pieces will be on display at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center in its newly renovated gallery.

The idea for the Art Guild was inspired in 1987. That year, at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. community birthday celebration, a community organization called C.H.O.I.C.E./Student Action Council donated an enlarged, framed photograph of the Salem to Montgomery Civil Rights March. The community responded overwhelmingly with pride and appreciation.

The Art Guild has collected over 30 pieces of art

Later that year, the Foster Senior Club donated a picture entitled “Mother and Child” by Margaret Burroughs, the founder of Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History. Soon after, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Advisory Board presented an oil painting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled “The Study”, created by Evanston artist, A. Terrell.

In March 1987, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Advisory Board established a standing committee for the arts. It consisted of community members with an interest in expanding the visual arts program at the Center. It was the Advisory Board’s vision of a permanent exhibit space that sparked the idea of converting the Center’s second level, which was then a poolroom, into a gallery and library. Funding for renovations was obtained from a City of Evanston Community Development Block Grant.

With a commitment to create and preserve the history of Black Evanston through the arts, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild was incorporated and on December 13, 1987, the Art Guild received its 501(C)(3) tax-exempt status. This vision was the “brainchild” of the Public Arts Movement in Evanston.

Members of the Art Guild receiving a Check from the Ludacris Foundation
Members of the Art Guild receiving a Check from the Ludacris Foundation. Photo courtesy of Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild

In 2004 the Art Guild sponsored the “Children of Uganda” for the Evanston community through a major grant from the Ludacris Foundation. The Children of Uganda is a performance group that uses traditional dance and drumming in supporting the fight of HIV and AIDS.

The Art Guild has been instrumental in the conservation, preservation and documentation of Evanston Black history through the creation of a museum and gallery. Commissioned and donated works of art were displayed at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center and later at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, bringing to fruition the goal of a permanent exhibition space illustrating the Black Experience.

The Guild is a past recipient of the Mayor’s Award for the Arts. On March 6, 2012, The City of Evanston passed a resolution honoring the Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild, designating room 2200 in the Lorrain H. Morton Civic Center the “Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild Meeting Room”. The room officially opened on March 24, 2012.

Mamie Smith, Val Summers and Lorraine H. Morton
Mamie Smith, Val Summers and Lorraine H. Morton. photo courtesy City of Evanston.

Though the committee formally dissolved in 2012, the work of the Art Guild was made possible by the following members who have been instrumental in bringing this unique collection to the Evanston Community: (1997 committee) Mamie Smith-Faust, Founder, Patricia A Vance, President, Val Summers, Vice President, Laura Hayes, Secretary, Bettye J. Palmer, Treasurer, Carol Wharton, Assistant Treasurer, Gordon Faust, Exhibit Coordinator, Jane Colleton, Allen (Bo) Price, Pauline Williams, and honorary members, Lorraine H. Morton, Don Colleton and Earlene Fleetwood.

On June 21, 2015, The Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild collection will be rededicated in a newly renovated common area on the second floor of the Lorrain H. Morton Civic Center.

 

Note: Article updated by Patricia A. Vance, former president of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Art Guild

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