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Located on the garden level of 419A Convent Avenue

Located on the garden level of 419A Convent Avenue

Living in a city with so many galleries, it’s impossible to see them all.  But when we heard of an abstract art exhibit that included works by Norman Lewis, Sam Gilliam, Barbara Bullock, Geraldine McCullough and Charles Alston–all at the same time–we couldn’t resist and headed north to one of the oldest galleries specializing in African-American Art in the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem.

Essie Green Galleries owner Sherman Edmiston (left) on the last day of current exhibit 'Outside the Margins'

Essie Green Galleries owner Sherman Edmiston (left) on the last day of current exhibit ‘Outside the Margins’

The Essie Green Galleries, owned by Sherman Edmiston, originated in Park Slope in 1979, born from the close personal relationship Sherman and his wife Essie Green had with many of the artists that grace the gallery walls today including Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones and Jacob Lawrence.  They moved the gallery to a brownstone in Harlem in 1989, continuing to represent and exhibit the Black Masters.

One of three intimate rooms within the gallery

One of three intimate rooms within the gallery

The gallery opening in the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem in 1989

The gallery opening in the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem in 1989

Essie Green Edmiston passed away in 2000 but what bears her name has blossomed into a premier gallery specializing  in the works of not only Romare Bearden, but other Black Masters, as well as a contributor and exhibitor to many institutions including The Smithsonian, The High Museum, The Schomburg and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Much of the work depicts life in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The last two decades of Bearden’s life in the Caribbean are well represented in his later work.  All of this work shows the rich history of the African American culture.

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Sherman Edmiston, now remarried to artist Bette Byer, regularly exhibit their vast collection of Bearden’s and other Masters in revolving shows every few months.  If you find yourself quite taken with a specific piece, Sherman, Bette or one of their knowledgable staff are there to give you the stories behind the work and an inside story on the artist.

Often referred to as the Bearden Gallery because of their close personal relationship

Often referred to as the Bearden Gallery because of their close personal relationship

Near the reception area, you will see what appears to be a double-door closet.  But when opened, you will be treated to large wire panels that open like a book with exquisite paintings on each ‘page’ after page after page.  A gallery inside a gallery.

A surprise art collection inside the double-doors

A surprise art collection inside the double-doors

On wire panels, opening like a book, pages of artwork

On wire panels, opening like a book, pages of artwork

Much of the work is part of the galleries personal collection

Much of the work is part of the galleries personal collection

The Gallery is easy to reach by subway lines A, B & C to 145th Street.  Located at 419A Convent Avenue, you enter on the 148th Street garden level and is open from Tuesday through Saturday.  10am to 6pm.  We’re keeping our eyes open for information on their up and coming December show.

Contact the author at AFineLyne

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