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Posts Tagged ‘African-American artist’

I’ve been thinking alot about my parents lately – maybe it’s the holidays. In any event, it made sense for my sister and I to take a ride down to Philadelphia today, where a painting that once belonged to my parents now graces the corner of one wall in the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘s American Art Collection. The painting is “Doorway in Tangier” by the artist Henry O. Tanner, an internationally acclaimed African American painter active in the late 19th century and into the early part of the twentieth. While in Paris, Tanner apparently befriended my grandfather’s cousin Philip Miller, a talented but less well-known painter who later became a newspaper cartoonist. Tanner gifted the painting to Philip, who in turn presented it to my parents as a wedding present. My father took delight in its historical provenance; my mother, an aspiring artist, in Tanner’s evocative use of light and color. It held a cherished place in our living room and when my parents passed on, we called around to see which museum might appreciate its significance and similarly honor it. The folks at PMA were and continue to be most gracious, welcoming us during our now annual pilgrimage. No question that the very best legacy is one in which certain values and attributes are passed down from generation to generation. Still, it’s a bit of a thrill to know that a work by such a culturally important artist lives on through a remarkable “regifting” process and at the same time to see a familiar fixture of our childhood hanging so importantly next to a plaque bearing my folks’ names.

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