Artist Michaelangelo Lovelace (b. Michael Anthony Lovelace) discusses his personal background and career; including details on his family and art education, and insights on the intersection of art and race. Lovelace, a native Clevelander, describes the formative moments of his life, including his first encounters with racism, the mentorship of artist Reverend Albert Wagner, his art education experiences at Cuyahoga Community College and the Cleveland Institute of Art, his first art exhibit at Karamu House, the untimely death of his son, and the spiritual awakening that redirected him. Lovelace also recounts the trials of identifying as an artist within the African American community of his youth, where he was often accused of "acting white" and where art was seen as "something white people do." The artist describes thematic content in his work, which often depicts poverty and race, as well as his use of color, textured materials, and perspective. Also of note is the artist's recollection of the controversy surrounding his mural "My Hometown," which was installed at the Cleveland Clinic, but which was deemed racist by some employees of that institution, leading to aggressive coverage by local television media. The mural depicted Cleveland as a racially divided city, with blacks living on the east side and whites on the west side. In closing, Lovelace discusses his reaction to the historic candidacy of President Barack Obama, and describes its influence on his current work, "Stand Up and Be Counted."
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The first generations of African American artists who were active in the Cleveland region were showcased in the 1993 exhibition Yet Still We Rise: African American Artists in Cleveland 1930-1970. In 2005, a second exhibition was organized by Cleveland Artists Foundation (ARTneo). In addition to gallery shows, this exhibit – titled Each in Their Own Voice: African American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005 – documented subsequent generations of African American artists through oral history…