Joe Wesley Overstreet — American Contemporary Art

Joe Wesley Overstreet (1933–2019) was an African-American painter from Mississippi who lived and worked in New York City for most of his career.In the 1950s and early 1960s he was associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, he became known for works such as Strange Fruit and The New Jemima, which reflected his interest in contemporary social issues and the Black Arts Movement. He also worked with Amiri Baraka as the Art Director for the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School in Harlem, New York. In 1974 he co-founded Kenkeleba House, an East Village gallery and studio. In the 1980s he returned to figuration with his Storyville paintings, which recall the New Orleans jazz scene of the early 1900s. His work draws on a variety of influences, including his own African-American heritage, and has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.

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