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In 1853, Bill Traylor was born into an enslaved black family in rural Alabama. He wound up living through significant changes, from the Civil War to Emancipation to Reconstruction to Jim Crow segregation. He died in 1949 and was buried in an unmarked grave, not living to see the full breadth of the civil rights movement. But, whether he knew it or not, he would become a part of its artistic history. Around 1939, in his late 80s and living in Montgomery, he decided to do something that at the time was profoundly radical for him: He picked up a pencil and paintbrush. His art showcased black humanity, often featuring black and brown figures working, celebrating, and simply living. The work is wonderfully vibrant with its defined shapes and bright colors. He would leave behind more than one thousand works. Only relatively recently has Traylor’s work been given its due, and now it’s on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with the exhibition Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor. Better late to recognize a pioneer than never. This year, his grave finally received a headstone. Read more>>> The exhibition is on view to March 17, 2019 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970. americanart.si.edu. (Kayla Randall)
OH AND ALSO
Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace performs at 9:30 Club. 7 p.m. at 815 V St. NW. $30.
Author Wayétu Moore discusses, at Politics and Prose at Union Market, her magical debut novel She Would Be King, which lushly reimagines the early years of Liberia and combines history with magical realism. 7 p.m. at 1270 5th St. NE. Free.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery presents Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography, an exhibition exploring Japanese artists’ work that reflects the changing of both printmaking and their country. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 1050 Independence Ave. SW. Free.
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