Butler Institute acquires bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King; dedication set for Feb. 1


Bronze of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bronze of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown is announcing its recent acquisition of a 300-pound bronze sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The three-dimensional portrait was created by sculptor John Wilson in 1982 as a maquette (prototype) for an eight-foot bronze sculpture of the same subject that was installed in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1983.

“What a thrill for the Butler to have this magnificent sculpture of Dr. King by such an important American sculptor. The only way to describe this work is that it is breathtaking and inspiring,” said Butler Director Dr. Louis Zona.

The Butler Institute will dedicate the new acquisition at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 1. during a special Black History Month program which will call attention to the museum’s preeminent collection of works by African-American artists, which are always on view in the museum’s galleries.

The public is invited to attend the free afternoon program, which occurs in the Butler’s Beecher Court.

The program will include comments about the recent acquisition by Zona and WFMJ broadcaster and community volunteer Madonna Chism Pinkard will present King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In addition, the Rev. William King of Price Memorial AME Zion Church will speak on the historic civil-rights figure. His speech will be followed by a performance by the Price Memorial choir under the direction of Hugh Frost. Butler docents also will be present throughout the afternoon to direct attendees to view some of the Butler’s permanent collection works by African American, which will be so designated with appropriate signage throughout the month of February.

The newly acquired bronze maquette is now on permanent view at the Butler in Youngstown. It is numbered four of 12 editioned works of this series of sculptures by Wilson.

Accompanying the sculpture are drawings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Wilson. These drawing are on loan from the Martha Richardson Gallery in Boston.

A noted sculptor, painter and printmaker, John Wilson was born in 1922 and is best known for his powerful portraits of African-American men. The sculpture on view at the Butler is one of many works that Wilson created of King, one of the most famous and revered black leaders of the 20th century.

Wilson’s interest in figurative art stems from the life drawing classed he attended as a child at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1939, the artist was accepted into that same school on a full scholarship.

He furthered his art studies in Germany, and, in 1943, Wilson created a series of works titled “Deliver Us From Evil,” which combined images of Nazi oppression of the Jews with depictions of social injustices suffered by blacks in America. Through his later studies in Paris and Mexico, the artist developed an interest in monumental works of art.

Wilson helped to develop the art department of Boston University where he served as a professor until 1986. Since his retirement, Wilson has explored printmaking with James Stroud in Boston, and has created several prints based on his monumental sculptures of Dr. King.

For further information, contact Kathryn Earnhart, 330-743-1107, ext. 123 or email info@butlerart.com.

Caption: John Wilson’s ‘Martin Luther King, Jr.,’ 1982, edition 4 of 12. Bronze with dark brown patina, 30 by 23 by 23 inches, 300 lbs. Butler Institute purchase, 2015. Image courtesy of the Butler Institute.

© 2015 Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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