February 6th, 2014

South Carolina Governor’s Mansion Exhibits Rare Collection of African-American Artistry

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (January 20, 2014) –  In celebration of February’s Black History Month, the First Gentleman of South Carolina, Michael Haley, hosts a one-of-a-kind exhibit of rare African-American artistry.  Lace House, within the Governor’s Mansion Complex, will display paintings originally from Charleston’s Old Slave Mart Museum and Library. The pieces are on loan from The Greater Acacia Collection, a foundation which maintains and preserves thousands of artifacts chronicling the African-American journey.


The Old Slave Mart Museum and Library started in 1937 by Miriam B. Wilson and continued in 1964 by sisters Judith Wragg Chase and Louise Alston Graves, showcased a remarkable collection of African and African-American arts and crafts but closed in 1987. The Greater Acacia Collection secured, and has preserved over many years the bulk of these South Carolina treasures.  For the month of February, Michael Haley brings home and invites guests to enjoy this sampling of South Carolina’s unique history.  The exhibit includes but is not limited to:

The Charleston Shrimp Man by Edwin Augustus Harleston, painted on Meeting Street in Charleston in 1924. The artist is usually known for his portraits, making this street scene an uncommon and unique work.

The Story of Tobacco, a seven serigraph series by Rex Gorleigh.  As an avid pipe smoker, this artist received payment in the form of ripe tobacco for private art lessons he was giving to the son of a single mother.  Gorleigh wrote, “In visiting his home, I admired how swell she took care of her son and raised her tobacco. This inspired me to paint the series.”

–Old Charleston City Market by Joseph Delaney, an oil painting done in 1942. He painted the piece while on a Rosenwald fellowship to sketch scenes along the Eastern seaboard.

Linocut prints by Margaret T. Burroughs, the well-known artist and founder of Chicago’s DuSable Museum.  Burroughs traveled by Greyhound bus to visit Judith Wragg Chase and the Old Slave Mart Museum to exchange ideas on building her museum.  The DuSable is the second oldest African-American museum in the Nation; Charleston’s Old Slave Mart Museum and Library predated it by 25 years.

 –An issue of an 1856 National Anti-Slavery Standard.  This newspaper was printed each week from 1840 to1870.   It contained editorials, news articles, poetry and other material designed to educate readers about the evils of slavery.  Newspapers like these were targeted by pro-slavery mobs that attacked editors and destroyed presses.

–The first ever African-American Collector plate designed by Adolphus Ealey using the painting Flower Vendor by Ellis Wilson and dedicated in tribute to a mother’s unselfish love and care.

–letters written to Judith Wragg Chase from the featured artists provide rare, personal glimpses of artists’ thoughts, as well as an enhancement of  history through the artists’ voices.

Acacia was begun under the direction of Smithsonian trained Carroll Greene, Jr., a luminary in the museum field.  It was at his urging that the Old Slave Mart Museum and Library Collection was acquired by The Acacia Collection and preserved for future generations. These South Carolina historical treasures from the Nation’s first African-American Heritage Museum (1937) have been meticulously maintained and are exhibited to promote education and enlightenment of the African-American Journey.

The exhibit will be open for public view at the Lace House through the month of February from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  More in depth information on the Greater Acacia Collection, the World’s Oldest, Largest and Comprehensive collection of African Americana is available at www.acaciacollection.com.