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Racially integrated art exhibition opens in Texas

August
22
1971

On this day in 1971, one of the first racially integrated exhibitions of contemporary artists in the United States opened in the remodeled De Luxe Theater in Houston. The exhibition began at a time of nationwide controversy about opportunities for African-American artists. It was sponsored by the Menil Foundation of Houston and curated by Peter Bradley, an associate director of the Perls Galleries in New York. With the help of the Rice University Institute for the Arts, Bradley transformed the old movie house into a showplace for nineteen contemporary artists. More than 1,000 people attended the opening to view Bradley's works, as well as those of Virginia Jaramillo, Ed Clark, Larry Poons, Jules Olitski, William T. Williams, Sam Gilliam, and others. More than 4,000 people had attended the exhibit when it closed on September 29. The theater continued to display examples of African-American art for three years, and served as a gallery for the Black Arts Center until 1976.

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