ELYRIA — The spirit of artist James F. Pye Sr. lives on with a new exhibit in his name appearing through Oct. 30 at Lorain County Community College’s The Stocker Arts Center.
The Georgia-born, longtime Lorain resident, who migrated to the north to work in the U.S. Steel mill, was a self-taught artist who specialized in drawing and painting vivid portraits, landscapes and industrial scapes.
More than a decade after his death in 2006, his artist children, Sharon Pye-Brown and Jeffery Pye Sr., are continuing his work with The James F. Pye Community Art Exhibit. Its goal is to educate and re-educate minority youth in an effort to make the local community and the world a better place.
“We’re hoping to educate the community in art, and also about people and their history,” Pye-Brown said. “We think of the exhibit as a talk piece.”
“This is very important, especially for the youth,” Pye Sr. said. “There are things I didn’t learn about when I was in high school about my own heritage, black history. All they taught us was like you came from slavery, you were shipped over, you’re freed and then it kind of jumps to Martin Luther King fighting for Civil Rights.”
Among the exhibit’s 17 works painted by both Pye-Brown and her brother, as well as local artists and area youth, are famous African-American subjects ranging from Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes to Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Spike Lee and Barack Obama.
“Different people make contributions and make a difference in their own worlds and communities,” Pye Sr. said. “So these are people who stepped up and had ideas that remained.”
The current exhibit also allows gallery visitors to experience Pye’s painting of a train.
“My father was a very talented artist, who specialized in oil paintings and he worked a lot with landscaping,” Pye-Brown said. “His art was very detailed. His colors are very vivid and realistic.”
The efforts to educate and re-educate local residents began at Lorain’s Harrison Cultural Community Centre where the James F. Pye Community Art Exhibit pieces were first painted and displayed.
In fact, Pye-Brown on Saturdays holds free youth and adult art classes at the Hamilton Avenue location. She said the hope going forward is to add to the current exhibit, which upon leaving the Stocker Center will be proudly displayed in the windows of the Harrison Cultural Community Centre.
“I think if my father was still alive, he would be very proud of his children for carrying on his legacy, and also inspiring other people,” Pye-Brown said. “That’s what he’d want us to do.”
Added Pye Sr., “We look forward to do more in 2019 starting with a new body of work.”