Louis Draper: Retrospective will be on view at Candela Books + Gallery through February 22, 2014.
Lou Draper is starting out 2014 with several great accomplishments:
Candela Books + Gallery will host the first retrospective exhibition of Draper’s work. Retrospective will showcase over 40 photographs spanning Draper’s career, from the late 1950s to 1990s. Primarily a street photographer, Draper’s archive has revealed an incredible range of artistic skill, including portraiture and abstraction, which will all be highlighted in the exhibition.
In 1958, Draper moved from his hometown, Richmond, Virginia to Harlem to study photography. In those early years he photographed all over the streets of New York with a compassionate and discerning eye for the social conditions of the time, as well as quietly observing the nuances of mid-century city life. Among notable contemporaries he photographed are Langston Hughes, Hughie Lee Smith, Miles Davis, Malcolm X, Katherine Dunham, and the civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer.
Draper was a founding member of the seminal black photographer’s collective originally named the Kamoinge Workshop, formed in 1963, which included Roy DeCarava as its first director. Other notable members of Kamoinge over the years: Ray Francis, Herb Randall, Al Fennar, Jimmie Mannas, Shawn Walker, Tony Barboza and Beuford Smith. Kamoinge and its photographers were featured in an important 1966 Camera Magazine issue, focused on Harlem and the increasing urgency of race relations in the United States at that time.
Draper’s sister, Nell Draper-Winston, became the executor of Draper’s estate upon his death in 2002, and together with her colleague, Cheryl Pelt, partnered up with Candela Books + Gallery to organize, research and promote the Draper archive, resulting in this important retrospective exhibition as well as placement among private and public collections, including the Virginia Museum of FIne Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Virginia State University.
An opening reception will take place Friday, January 10, 2014 from 5-8pm at Candela Books + Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.
Also, several of Draper’s photographs are now in the permanent collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and will be featured in their upcoming exhibition: Signs of Protest, which opens January 11, 2014.
Light Work is a widely esteemed nonprofit photography organization located in Syracuse, New York. Artist residencies, exhibitions, and the regularly published Contact Sheet have been among its contributions to the photo community since 1973. For a week during August 1995 and again for a week in August 1996, Louis Draper was an artist-in-residence there, working on his New Jersey Arts series.
In Contact Sheet 88 (1996) five artist portraits are published from this body of work. And a simple quote from Draper: “I’m hoping to catch some of the spirit of the artist in his/her environment.”
And in Contact Sheet 117 (2002), Draper is noted in memoriam, with this portrait of painter, Hughie Lee-Smith:
“Photographers can be invited into the lives of strangers, and sometimes they locate and describe the meaning of community and the formation of character, like the photographs of Lou Draper.” —Contact Sheet 88, JH
Girl and Cuba, 1968 (Philadelphia)