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Afro-American Art Exhibit: The Still Lifes of Al Jackson 

Afro-American Art Exhibit: The Still Lifes of Al Jackson (from the J.R. Bagley collection) Plus Works from the Permanent Collection

A new exhibition featuring works of the late African-American artist Al Jackson will open January 16 in The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University. Titled "The Still Lifes of Al Jackson," the exhibition features nine still lifes that are oil-on-canvas paintings by Jackson, who was considered to be one of the leading still-life artists in the country. The paintings being shown are from the J.R. Bagley Collection at Pekin, Ill. The exhibition will run through March 8.

Jackson, who was born in 1940 in Texas, died in 2001. Jackson liked to listen to jazz and blues while he painted. He claimed that the music masked the city sounds outside his studio and let him concentrate on his technique. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago for a short time, but was mostly self-taught. Still lifes were his favorite subject. He was known to spend hours to create the perfect form and the drops of water on his fruit, which were his signature as an artist.

Known as an extremely shy and gentle person, he was reluctant to attend artist receptions for his shows, saying he would rather work than talk. His works have been exhibited in many galleries and exhibitions throughout the United States, including shows in New Orleans, Winnetka, Ill., and Salt Lake City.

Also being shown are six paintings by artist Birger Sandzen, who was born in Sweden but came to the United States in 1871 to teach foreign languages and art at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., and went on to became a highly respected artist, working in oils, water colors and prints. Another part of the exhibition includes 30 works of Afro-American images (paintings either by or of Afro-Americans), all of which are part of the gallery's permanent collection.

Being displayed in the gallery's entrance alcove during the show is a highly valued painting by Cornelia Kuemmel (1863-1938) titled "The Violin Lesson." The 40-inch by 30-inch oil on canvas is being placed with The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at CMU on extended loan by Pat and Sharon (Rhodes) Campbell of Shawnee, Kansas. Sharon Campbell's mother was the late Mamie Rhodes of Fayette, who was the original owner of the painting.