Arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton recently announced the formation of Art Bridges, a 501(c)(3) foundation with the mission to share works of exceptional American art to a wider audience. The Old Jail Art Center (OJAC) is among a handful of institutions that have been selected to receive a loan from Art Bridges. Other institutions include Amarillo Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Blanton Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, Tyler Museum of Art, and Yellowstone Art Museum. Each of these institutions are designing innovative programming to engage audiences with the loaned objects, as well as works in their collections, through Art Bridges support. The work on loan to the OJAC, Untitled (Subway Station), 1945, by Norman Wilfred Lewis, is on view now in the Nail Gallery.
A native of New York City, Norman Lewis began his career during the 1930s as a social realist. He shifted from an overtly figural style, depicting bread lines, evictions, and police brutality, to non-objective abstraction in the 1950s, but remained active and consciously aware of social inequalities, particularly those faced by African Americans. Lewis was an important member of the Abstract Expressionism movement. His work is characterized by the duality of abstraction and representation, using both geometric and natural forms, in the depiction of both the city and natural world, and expressing both righteous anger and joyous celebration.