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Utica art museum shines light on African American artist from Boston

The Crite exhibit feature pieces in Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute
Tessa R. Howard
Tessa R. Howard
The Crite exhibit feature pieces in Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute

Allan Rohan Crite, an African American painter and writer who explored experiences his neighborhood in Roxbury, Massachusetts, is now apart of an exhibit at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute in Central New York.

Curator Mary Murray wanted to bring Crite’s paintings and watercolors to Central New York.

“His early paintings, the neighborhood paintings are intended to show African American families, his neighbors in the Roxbury section of Boston, living just very ordinary to counteract negative stereotypes,” Murray said.

The action of bringing Crite’s work is a part of Murray’s effort to engage with Utica’s Black community through art.

“We wanted to integrate the museum and the other programs here into our community. Especially try to reach neighborhoods and potential audiences that we haven’t particularly reached or served very well in the past,” said Murray.

According to the Institute, staff sought insight and counsel from the Institute’s African American Community Partners — a group made out of local leaders around Utica.

Member of the Institute’s African American Community Partners, Sharon Baugh said she is happy that the she was able to give greater insight into Crite’s work.

“All of us have stories and narratives, and they are different. All our journeys are different. Bringing us to the table it gave them another perspective that they were not aware of.” 

For the past five years, the museum has put in an effort to diversify its art holdings and artists represented.

Now, three different artists are under consideration for exhibits.

“When you have a lot of intuitions that stand like this, a lot of people think this doesn’t belong to me. But it does, it’s you. This museum was built for the public trust,” said Baugh.

Within the Crite exhibit, many paintings are seen with warm colors and pictures of his neighbors in the Roxbury area doing normal activities.

“His drawings mainly depicts African Americans as people with dignity and worth," said Baugh. "You do not see pictures of African Americans not presented in a bad light.”

Unchained: The Crite Spirituality and Black Activism Exhibit will be open until early May 8th, 2022 at the Munson William Proctor Arts Institute.