By Nic Custer
A collection of more than 600 art works from the African diaspora, from Jacob Lawrence to Dawoud Bey, has a new permanent home in downtown Flint.
A free gallery housing the Mott-Warsh art collection had its grand opening during June’s Art Walk.
Works by about 185 artists, including Lawrence, Kara Walker, Nick Cave, Elizabeth Catlett, Kehinde Wiley and others were on display in the renovated single-story building at the corner of Saginaw and Court streets.
When the doors officially opened, Maryanne Mott, a daughter of C.S. and Ruth Mott, greeted visitors as they lined up to sign the guest book and view works selected from the collection.
She began the art collection 15 years ago with her late husband, Herman Warsh, a lifelong educator and philanthropist. Mott grew up at the Mott family estate, Applewood and now lives in California.
The couple have long maintained close connections with Flint, both through their participation in the Mott Foundation and their practice of sharing art with Mott’s home community.
Stephanie James, curator and collection educator of the Mott-Warsh collection, assembled the opening exhibition. She said she wanted the Mott Warsh Gallery’s first show to highlight the collection and provide an introduction to many community members.
“I really wanted to show off the diversity of the collection, give people a sense of the depth and breadth of different media represented in the collection- different stylistic tendencies, realism and abstraction, young and old artists,” James said.
She added that the ability to assemble such a diverse show from the collection is a great compliment to how open to varied artistic approaches Mott has been as a collector.
The gallery has an open main exhibition area with several small galleries in adjoining rooms. A small gallery near the Court Street entrance focuses on early and mid-20th century artists that laid the foundation for contemporary artists in their use of media, styles or broke down barriers in the art world.
There is a small video projection gallery and a room, which James said is planned to become a reading library with art books and artist biographies. The core artworks will remain on display for six to 12 months. Other areas in the gallery may rotate works bi-monthly.
EVM Managing Editor Nic Custer can be reached at NicEastvillage@gmail.com.