An unwavering season of growth

November 4, 2011

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "Sacred Precious One," Pastel, 41 x 37 inches.

Summer zoomed through like a torpedo. The backyard garden, which in past years always yielded cucumbers and tomatoes, went neglected. This unexpected turn of events instead yielded a season of personal growth and diverse experiences: an unplanned vacation; a chance connection to the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; a famous juror at a community festival; and finally a major move.

In June, I accepted an invitation from my daughter and her husband, living in New York, to fly in for a couple of days and hang out with them and his mother visiting from Montana. We enjoyed each other’s company and sought out great experiences for our brief soirée. Though we didn’t have time to catch a Broadway show, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Savage Beauty” had all the trauma and drama of a major theatrical production. A multimedia exhibition, it enthrallingly traversed the prolific fashion career of the late Alexander McQueen whose suicide at age 40 stunned the fashion world. His haunting designs are artistic explorations, shrouded in beauty, mystery and dazzling showmanship. It is no wonder that on the final day of the exhibition, a New York friend reported lines several blocks long, keeping MMA open until midnight.

Evelyn Patricia Terry shares a moment with Dr. Roland Patillo. Photo: Lynda Jackson-Conyers.

Back in Milwaukee in August, as an honoree, I attended the elegant Milwaukee Community Journal Anniversary Celebration, the Academy of Legends. Academy of Legends organizer Patricia O’Flynn Pattillo, founder and CEO of the MCJ weekly newspaper, cleverly emulated Hollywood’s Academy Awards. I took the opportunity to exhibit my work, Sacred Precious One, to a new audience.   I graciously congratulate Florence Dukes for winning in the Arts/Music Category, thus sparing me from giving an acceptance speech.

Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

More importantly,  before the event, I was honored to speak with both former Wisconsin residents, Mrs. Pattillo and her husband, Dr. Roland Pattillo–now Georgia residents. Dr.  Pattillo, a Morehouse School of Medicine professor and Director of Gynecologic Oncology,  shared his role in the discovery of HeLa, the first immortal human cell line ever grown in culture from the cells of Henrietta Lacks. The controversial medical discovery received major news coverage in 2009, with the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Lacks cells were being used for medical research long after her death, without her family’s knowledge or permission. Dr. Pattillo, who helped expose the existence of the cell line, now organizes and chairs the Annual Morehouse “HeLa” Woman’s Health Conference. After my inspirational conversations with Dr. and Mrs. Pattillo, I went immediately online and read a compelling excerpt of the book.

Back in my comfort zone, I was invited by Mount Mary art professor Brad Anthony Bernard to the 2nd annual Community Arts & Funk Festival reception in Milwaukee — which he organized. I provided artwork from artists represented by the Terry McCormick Gallery.  For me the festival highlight was speaking briefly to renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt. Hunt — along with Nicholas Frank, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design faculty member, and Dr. Annemarie Sawkins, Haggerty Museum Curator — juried the festival. Said to have completed more public sculptures than any other artist in the country, Hunt has in impressive signature sculpture installed on the Mount Mary College grounds. Best of Show went to Eddie Davis (painting), 1st Place went to Angela Smith (wearable art), 2nd Place went to Jeff Newville (leatherwork), and 3rd Place went to Bashir Malik (painting). Honorable mentions went to Vedale Hill (painting) and Jessica Laub (ceramics). A lively end of summer occasion, which along with original artwork, feathered live performances by singer songwriters of original music.

Nicholas Frank, Richard Hunt and Dr. Annemarie Sawkins tally scores. Photo courtesy of Harrison Kern.

Finally, I created a kind of win-win change from a potentially unpleasant situation in late August. On three days’ notice, I was asked to relocate from my art studio, at Lincoln Center Middle School of the Arts, to a much smaller space. After negotiating space for my two studio partners,  I decided to move my studio to my home. The daunting task, packing up and moving into the school’s temporary storage from my space that I had occupied since 1985, occurred with the assistance of three maintenance engineers and two friends nearer the end of September.

The move out of storage is only partially accomplished. Nevertheless, I feel that the new fall season signifies even greater growth. This includes my new project, “Raw Green/Watercolor Workshop.” Designed to benefit k-12 youth and their families, this workshop is funded by a MPS Partnership for the Arts Grant, Alice’s Garden, Walnut Way Community Corporation, Riverwest Artists Association, and Lena’s/Piggly Wiggly. It signals the continuation of unwavering growth opportunities including the return of next year’s cucumbers and tomatoes.

–Evelyn Patricia Terry, evelynpatriciaterry.com

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Celebrating George: Celebrating Art

July 21, 2011

George Ray McCormick, Sr. stands in front of two carvings from the “Four Horsemen” Series,” 2008 (Collection of Deana McCormick). Photo courtesy of Terry McCormick Gallery.

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

George Ray McCormick Sr.–my life partner, my good friend, and as my son says my “road dog”–transitioned on July 30, 2009. To honor our joint creative impulses, I founded the Terry McCormick Gallery that same year. Needed repairs to the gallery porches, kitchen floors and basement, along with other perceived failures and hardships, like accomplishing the publication of my first book bogged me down this year. Desperately desiring success, I avoided opening the gallery.

Lately I learned, by listening to many self-empowerment conversations and recordings, that embracing perceived failure is a necessary component to any success story. I then realized that George’s transition date aligned perfectly with July’s Gallery Day in Milwaukee, a synchronistic moment that trumped my gridlocked thought pattern. Subsequently, I am hosting a reception on July 30, 2011 and exploring options for completion of my book “Permission to Paint, Please! 150 Year Celebration of African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin.”

This realization allows the honoring of my goal to make available, to the public, George’s artwork and that of the other gallery artists, Shana R. Goetsch, Ras `Ammar Nsoroma, Ktinsley and Jacqueline A. Richards.

George Ray McCormick, Sr., “Adam and Eve Series: Cupid Speaks,” 31” x 11” x 11,” Painted, woodburned carved wood, found objects and welded steel, 2007, (Collection of Paul Phelps). Photo: Larry Sanders.

George’s remaining artwork includes spiritual and secular subjects in woodcuts, garden and large bug-like creatures, ink and pencil drawings (exploring sexuality and depression) and woodburned painted carvings (featuring his last series–roosters). His family retained many of his pieces and collectors acquired work through ongoing sales–such as those hosted by the Jazz Gallery and the Center for Spiritual Living.

George deeply desired to have his artwork valued and “paid for” by avid contemporary folk art collectors and museums. He resolutely avoided being taken advantage of after reading how African-American contemporary folk artists often were. Notebooks and entries on bits of paper preserve some of George’s thoughts indicating his personal struggles with “trust,” “God” and “evil.”

Throughout our eleven-year relationship, he also struggled with health issues. Diet changes, to predominantly vegetable-based protein, facilitated his recovery from cancer (twice), arthritis, and blindness in one eye from a stroke. His greatest challenge was drastic blood pressure fluctuations. My research shows managing one’s thoughts, diet and proper sleep drastically impact blood pressure control.  George’s intense commitment to mastering the guitar led him to research and practice into the night. A resulting aneurysm, too soon for me, ended his struggles. Without him “going places” is less interesting. I content myself with completing goals and exploring informative concepts like the law of attraction and the ability to control one’s life by one’s thoughts–a rich exciting opportunity.

Shana R. Goetsch, "Tributary 3" (detail), Collograph prints on paper, 2 feet x 65 yards, 2011. Photo courtesy of the artist.

As for other Terry McCormick Gallery artists, it is important to note that Shana just completed her MA in Community Art at Maryland Institute College of Art and is opening at the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee, August 6, 2011, 6-9 p.m., with her thesis exhibition “3 Tributaries.” Shana R. Goetsch’s intense and provocative pieces, including 4,000 individual prints of row houses on one sheet of paper, challenge us to visually and emotionally connect to 4,000 victims of domestic violence. (You can also see her work in PortalWisconsin.org’s online gallery.)

Ras `Ammar Nsoroma with “Thought, Speech, Action,” (1 panel of 14), 4' x 8,' Acrylic on board, 201l. Photo: Elisabeth Miller.

Ammar recently completed a project of 14 panels for the Franklin Square Apartments spearheaded by Melissa Goins of Maures Development group. Ammar, the lead artist for accomplishing ten murals in conjunction with youth employed by Artworks for Milwaukee, Inc., created the last four, independently, in April.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "And God Loves You, Too," 24" x 16," Screenprint (edition 125-few remain), 1979. Photo: Vernessa Weatherall.

Open to the public, Terry McCormick Gallery hosts “George Ray McCormick, Sr. Celebration” at 2522 North 18th Street on Saturday, July 30 from 1 p.m.–5 p.m.

Gallery Night and Day sites to view my artwork  are: Friday, I will be present for my continuing exhibition at Cuvée’s featuring a winding down of  “One Hundred Dollar Special Sale,” at 177 North Broadway from 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.

Selections from “Finding Peace Prayer,” an abstract collage series, are exhibited during Peltz Gallery’s “21st Annual Remarkable Women Show 2011.” Located at 1119 East Knapp Street, the hours on Gallery Night are 6 p.m.–9:30 p.m. and on Gallery Day are 11:00 a.m.–4:00 pm.

Jose Alfredo Chavez produced this video, after learning of George’s transition, in time for his memorial service. For more information visit evelynpatriciaterry.com.

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Haints in the Closet

June 2, 2011

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "The Very Nice Lady," 26” x 30,” Pastel, 1983.

An enigmatic presence in my life, my mother, Jessie Mae Terry, made her transition on April 9, 2011 at age 96. Longing for the mom prototype—June Cleaver in the TV program Leave it to Beaver—I released her. Over the years I had many questions, which Mom long ago avoided answering. Often, she responded to my inquiries by covering her ears, humming loudly to drown me out, or retreating behind closed doors. Then there was that closet. Though she allowed me to reorganize other storage areas in her home, the bedroom closet was off limits. “Wait until I am dead,” she adamantly said.  At the time I attached little significance to her attitude. Finally, I know “what” Mom needed to stay in the closet during her lifetime.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "Jessie Mae Terry," reproduced on a plate, from the installation, "I Mind, Eye mind, I Mind," John Michael Kohler Art Center, 1994. Photo by Vernessa Richardson.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "Jessie Mae Terry," reproduced on a plate, from the installation, "I Mind, Eye mind, I Mind," John Michael Kohler Art Center, 1994. Photo by Vernessa Weatherall.

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, her family moved to Charleston, Missouri. There, in her early 20s, she graduated from Lincoln High School, after it was finally built. Hardworking and resolute, she made her way to Milwaukee, married, and started a family. My unanswered questions started when I was about seven. Walking home from school, two “friends,” upset that I was chosen to erase the board, began stepping on my heels and taunting “teacher’s pet.” Although timid, I believed I would be “whipped” if I went running home defeated. Remembering Mom’s advice to “scratch out an attacker’s eyes” to limit their vision, I turned around and began scratching my offender’s eyes out. Surprised, the bully retreated. Later when the terribly injured child and her mother visited our home, my mother denied providing that instruction. My “June Cleaver” dreams vanished, leaving instead “our relationship”–one that I constantly sought to improve.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "Eric Knight & Rochester Terry," reproduced on a plate, from the installation, "I Mind, Eye mind, I Mind," John Michael Kohler Art Center, 1994. Photo by Vernessa Weatherall.

Then there was the question of “will the real father please stand up?” Believing that Rochester and Jessie Terry could not possibly be my parents, I continually searched for my true identity whenever left home alone. One day, as a teenager named Evelyn Patricia Terry, I discovered my original birth certificate with an “Evelyn McMath” and my mother’s maiden name, “Jessie McMath.” When I confronted her, Mom gave me a photograph of Eric Knight, aka Evelyn Prescott, explaining him as my father from the Island of Barbados. Subsequently, Rochester Terry adopted me before they later divorced. I wondered about Knight, but never pursued it.

Hugs, emotional support, celebrations, and building self-esteem were absent as I was growing up. I wondered why in conversations with her. She responded, “Babies need hugs and kisses.” Instead of affection, my mother provided necessities.

Mom’s work history reflected steady growth–Star Gloves, American Motors, and finally retiring from Milwaukee County. She traveled in America and abroad to Hawaii, Haiti, and Jerusalem. Remarkably, at 80 years old and tiring of repeated hospital trips, she became a vegetarian after asking me how I stayed well. Juicing carrots and celery daily, for her remaining years, she was only sick once following a flu shot.

Finally clearing out that off-limits closet, I was privileged to discover another piece to my life’s puzzle: Mom’s divorce certificate from someone named Casey, over a year after my birth. I had heard her reference that marriage, but not in relationship to me. Before her transition, she recently claimed that the closet had “haints” in it. It appears, for her, it did.

Often, Mom bought artwork from my art exhibitions. That ‘closet’ discovery helps me to comprehend her purchase of my mixed media creation, If You Are Enslaved to A Secret Lie, The Truth Will Set You Free. Thankful that she provided channels of good in my life, I gradually began, after her transition, accepting whatever her situation was and our subsequent relationship. Financially, she was proud that she had my back, by supporting me when my sales waned. What I wanted from her, I learned to create. Discovering articles stressing communication as the key to affecting changed behavior; I eliminated spankings as discipline with my own children. After reading billboards questioning, “Did you hug your child today?” I began comforting by hugging and playing with them more.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "If You Are Enslaved to a Secret Lie,” (front), 4 ½” x 4 ¼”, Paint, wood burning. Jessie Mae Terry’s art collection. Photo by Vernessa Weatherall.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "The Truth will set you Free," (back). 4 ½” x 4 ¼”, Paint, wood burning. Jessie Mae Terry’s art collection. Photo by Vernessa Weatherall.

Now, my channels for nurturing expand, flowing to my grandchildren and my friends. I surround myself with nurturing people–many who hug automatically, almost the moment they see me. So. I hug more, have one more answer and keep those wretched “haints” at bay.

Contact: Evelyn Patricia Terry
I will be exhibiting at Lincoln Center of the Arts, 820 East Knapp, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with studio partners Ras `Ammar Nsoroma and Laura Easey-Jones, Friday, June 10, 12 noon–9 pm. The exhibition is organized by Laura Easey-Jones. Visit evelynpatriciaterry.com/news for additional information.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

May 27, 2011

Milwaukee was a frank and clattering workhouse of a town, a concrete smokestack of a place with trolley cars clanking against a web of power lines and telephone cables filling the sky. Curls of steam rose from the rooftops and factory silos and from the gray hulk of the Schlitz brewery over by the Cherry Street Bridge.

“It was the other side of the world from the wide-open quiet land of the cotton fields.

This was Milwaukee in 1937 as described by Isabel Wilkerson in her wonderful book, The Warmth of Other Suns, The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. The book attracted a lot of attention when it appeared in 2010 and it merits continued notice even if newspaper critics and talk show hosts have covered it and moved on.

Its subject is the migration of millions of African-Americans from the states of the old Confederacy to the cities of the Northeast, Midwest and California that began prior to World War I and continued into the 1970s.

They fled from an all-encompassing environment of relentless dehumanization, economic impoverishment, and arbitrary, brutal violence. It wasn’t just segregation on buses, in bathrooms and at water fountains, although that was bad enough. It was impeding, hampering, denying “colored” children access to education. It was keeping their parents enserfed on sharecropped farms or in the lowest-paying, lowest-skilled jobs. It was making a fiction of the constitutional right to equal protection under the law that thousands of Americans, black and white, had fought to preserve,

So they left, by the million. By Wilkerson’s estimate, six million boarded the “colored only” cars of the Seaboard and Illinois Central railroads, crowded into the back seats of Greyhound buses, or set off in autos not knowing if they would find a restaurant where they could eat, a hotel with a room they could rent, or a gas station with a restroom open to them.

Six million is a statistic. One life is a story and Wilkerson focuses on three that add to her work’s power and meaningfulness. Only one touches on Wisconsin, that of Ida Mae Gladney. She came north with her husband George from Mississippi to Milwaukee in 1937 because her sister was already in town. George was unable to find work, so the Gladneys moved to the south side of Chicago, but their lives played out like that of many who settled on the north side of Milwaukee.

They did not strike it rich, raise daughters who sang for Motown, or sons who played for the Bulls. They worked at low-skill, blue collar jobs, skimped and saved for decades until they could afford a modest home of their own in what would prove to be one of the most racially segregated cities in America. It was not the Garden of Eden, but it was better than the Mississippi they had left.

Milwaukee and other Wisconsin cities were not major destinations for southern states’ migrants, but the African-American population of Milwaukee increased from less than one thousand to nearly one-quarter million in the 20th Century. Those are statistics. Each life is a story.

We cannot know them all, but Isabel Wilkerson gives us a taste and whets the appetite to learn more.

–Michael Goc

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“Art Play Date” at the Terry McCormick Gallery

April 7, 2011

Children ages 4-12 attend Evelyn Patricia Terry's Art Play Date.

As we grow older, we often fixate on other people and thus cannot focus on goals that we originally had. I have done so in the past and many people around me do so now. We lose ourselves in the whirlwind of wanting to be loved, wanting politics to go our way or wanting what someone else has. We grow disappointed in the world, we think, but we’re really disappointed in ourselves for not disappearing the “piles of disappointments.” Our anger creates so much insecurity. We, afflicted ones, believe that it is exclusive only to our lives and the worse is that we believe that there is no way to change or adjust our prognosis. I needed options to change. I received them. That is what I pass on to others.

I take my cues often from children. Children between birth and 7 years old unabashedly want what they want. They might hear “no” a lot, but they are determined—thus, the tantrums. Later on, in varying degrees, they begin to think that what they want may not be forthcoming, acceptable or possible. Some devise schemes, some give up – the fortunate ones are given options.

That’s why I hold “Art Play Date” in my space, the Terry McCormick Gallery. I teach children, and their parents and grandparents who must accompany them, to access their creativity in the visual arts, as they are introduced to and learn more about healthy food choices. My watercolor and mixed media workshops encourage individual thinking, exploration and exposure to a wide range of art supplies. In past workshops, I have also introduced juicing raw vegetable with apples and blending frozen fruit smoothies. In the summer, frozen berry and banana smoothies are not only a healthy treat, but very refreshing.

Children making art at the Terry McCormick Gallery.

At my last “Art Play Date,” in February, we created mixed media brooches and works on paper. The children and their parents enjoyed vegan chili, somosas, hummus and chips, and lots of raw fruits and vegetables. Attendees must learn to eat raw healthy snacks, so that they can enjoy finishing with a dessert–blueberry, strawberry, apple and walnut pizza pie. My goal is to promote what is within our control and dwell less on what is outside of our control. We can start with honoring our bodies and strengthening our connection to our creativity.

I thoroughly enjoy working with children, just as I do with people of all ages, because my goal is to maintain an atmosphere that allows people to go within to access their creative strength. I believe we must teach children possibility thinking—encouraging them to search for and develop options. Teach children they must not demand that others get something for them, be something for them, or know what they want. Rather they must learn to create ways to get what they want–it is their responsibility to keep their eyes on “their prize.”

Frequently, young children ask me, “Why do I have to do anything your way?” I always answer them honestly as I can. Which is, “Because I created an opportunity for you to learn something new–you can go home and do it your way after this session.” When visiting schools, I often add, “I was paid to be here, why would someone pay me to teach you what you already know?” They usually decide to learn whatever it is I am teaching. Many times after they follow directions and attempted a project, if there is time, I let them do it their way.

A young artist participates in an Art Play Date in February.

My “Art Play Date” allows me to share the knowledge I attained much later in my life–knowledge I feel would have been very valuable to have known at a younger age. I have always loved receiving information as a foundation to better navigate life. Believing that there are others like me, younger and older, my gallery’s “Art Play Date” opportunities are my way to share creative freedom from other people’s opinions. This freedom has allowed me to create unabashedly. Because we still have many opportunities to access creative outlets in Wisconsin, we must make sure that we support them by utilizing them.

–Evelyn Patricia Terry
www.evelynpatriciaterry.com

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Art is Money

March 8, 2011

Charlesetta Thompson

By Evelyn Patricia Terry. (All photos of poets courtesy of Shogo Chida.)

My favorite three goals for 2011 are: 1) to be healthy no matter my age, 2) to amass art as money to pass to my progeny, and 3) to enjoy more. I’ve found a dependable formula for good health–including eating raw green things, staying physically active, taking supplements, and listening to “healthy thought” information. I am an art machine and money comes when I concentrate on who can benefit from my art and services. But enjoying more, in Wisconsin winters, is alien to my brain and definitely necessitates a new thought process.

Sally Tolan

The day before the 2011 Woodland Pattern 17th Annual Poetry Marathon Benefit, I was invited to make a donation by poet Charlesetta Thompson. Along with presenting, poets were responsible for gathering contributions for this annual fundraiser. On the spur of the moment, I decided to attend. Many of the presenters thanked founders Anne Kingsbury and Karl Gartung for Milwaukee’s gem, Woodland Pattern, as “specialist in small press poetry” and for the well organized showcase opportunity.

Eric Disambwa

After sitting down, I was smitten. From the very beginning, the presenters’ words, emotions, and delivery unexpectedly hooked me. I wanted to experience it all. As a visual artist, attracted to great communication and people watching, I found in this marathon a haven for straightforward, thoughtful, emotional, sexual, biological, biblical, geographical, psychological, sociological, political, and unapologetic existential “yearning for something more.” I felt a strong connection to the event. My artwork, although visual, is driven by its narrative nature, just as poetry appears to be driven by its visual nature.

As the marathon went on, toward the evening while desiring to lock into the intensity of the readings, I began to note in the white spaces of my brochure, the following secession of spoken words that evoked a range of images and emotions:

Harvey Taylor

Shiny city lights, diamonds, Juneteenth Day, dope, insects, cricket, Devils, God, Jesus, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, ancestor, brother’s keeper, old, young, bully, hospital, bacteria, disease, parasitic, swine flu, pray, hallelujah, anti-matters, tropical storms, family, incarcerated, gold, aluminum, cops, crime, allegations, sorrow, death, hunger, vegetarian, vegan, bifocals, Mother Africa, prose, foxhole, doom, mutants, cinnamon, jasmine, advice, ear lobes, heart, throat, lungs, muscle, tongue, douche bag, wine, elevator buttons, nervous breakdown, subway sandwich, black, sapsuckers, tiny red shoes, Mexican, sarcastic incantations, republican, Steve Harvey, Al Sharpton, JZ, finger, route, June, heaven, flatbeds, music, Mozart, guitar, violins, flutes, batman, accommodating, January, July, environments, America, humankind, belongings, sense of place, intimacy, despair, gratitude, writing sound, color, feelings, thoughts, post traumatic stress syndrome, tree stands, concealed weapons, war, crown, delusions, mulch, bed, mirrors, corners, ceiling, covers, windows, kill deer, weasel, possum woodchucks, bulls, horse, geese, horse, cat, dogs, wolf, chicken, sisters, twins, dreams, showdowns, tarot cards, bikes, cookbooks, roads, streets, mountains, beaches, Grand Canyon, parks, ocean waves, pandemics, no-thing, something, Google, Facebook, presenters from Chicago, racism, Cubism, Abstraction, Madison, and love letters.

Ryan Hurley

With the poet’s permission, I’m sharing this very short piece “Critique” from LOVELY, RASPBERRY: POEMS by Aaron Belz. It made me laugh out loud.

That’s not very good.
Try doing that differently.
That’s not very good either.
You’re not very good at this.

After missing only a couple of hours in the middle, I experienced great food, the event supported “art is money” and I accomplished approximately ten hours of pure enjoyment that cold winter day. Despite the tough political climate of our state, I am keeping my thoughts on what I want to multiply and give power to. I can honestly say, my year is on track.

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How This All Started

October 1, 2010

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

"Beyond the White Picket Fence: The Computer Beckons," installation by Evelyn Patricia Terry, UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery, 2006. Photo: Vernessa Richardson.

My practical-minded mom suggested majoring in cooking so that I might always be employable at a hospital or other institutions. Having no career notions, I attempted to follow her advice. But instead, my art career began after one of my University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Home Economics professors, Ms. Jean Stange, suggested that I might be an artist. She was aware (no doubt) of my poor performance in other department classes. In a cooking class, my soufflés fell and my white sauce had lumps. In interior design, I didn’t like matching or even looking at sofas, rugs, paint swatches, and curtains. However, I loved Ms. Stange’s Related Art class and I excelled.

Growing up, drawing was second nature to me. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to learn degrees could be earned based on one’s ability to draw. Mom once said her grade school teacher relegated children caught drawing to the corner  to wear a dunce hat. Consequently, her conditioning discouraged promotion of drawing.

"Play the Race Card: The Patriotic Bride Wore Black, Red and Green," by Evelyn Terry. Mixed media found objects, 2009. Photo: Fred Fischer, Tom Fritz Studios, Inc.

I knew I was an artist when I walked into a Mitchell Hall printmaking room and saw an art student pull a print on an etching press. For the first time, my continuous feelings of misery from being on earth dissipated; I felt overall joy and a strange new sense of my future opening up to embrace me and invite me forward. Though the road to becoming and being an artist has often been bumpy, I was determined to keep the feeling of peace and contentment that the environment of creating art provided. I strive daily for that feeling when I am not in the actual act of producing art. After switching to art classes, I began almost immediately to make a leap to becoming a professional artist by selling my artwork in festivals. Additionally, opportunities came along through galleries, art consultants and museum associations.

As a professional full-time visual artist who has worked conceptually, figuratively, and with abstraction exploring such subjects as race, religion, relationships, recycled art, and raw food health, I have created artwork in the areas of printmaking, recycled found objects, pastels, painting, public art and installations. The “Play the Race Card” series is my current body of work, which conceptually addresses continuing US race issues from my self-actualized perspective. I have received two fellowships, several grants, and a selection of exhibition awards. Through the assistance of art consultants, my work has been collected widely. I have artwork in more than 400 collections throughout the United States (also Japan and Germany) and Milwaukee-area museums. Presently, I have a book manuscript, Permission to Paint, Please! 150 years of African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin, contracted to the UW Press in Madison, Wisconsin. It is now in the editing process.

In 2009, I started the Terry McCormick Gallery in the lower level of my duplex after a series of burglaries, arson and the death of my long-time companion, self-taught artist, George Ray McCormick, Sr. He left a plethora of his creations including sketches, woodcarvings, and sculptures. My gallery exhibits the work of both contemporary fine and folk artists. It carries my last name, Terry, and that of Mr. McCormick’s.

"Last Supper Club Dinner," George Ray McCormick, Sr. Wood-burned carved wood, acrylic, and plywood, 4' x 8,' 2008. Photo: Larry Sanders.

Click below to read about and hear Adam Carr’s (88.9 Radio Milwaukee) visit to my gallery:

http://unifiedmilwaukee2.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/make-milwaukee-week-5-the-terry-mccormick-gallery.

You can learn more about me and see some of my work at www.evelynpatriciaterry.com.

You may also visit my website for gallery information or call 414.264.6766 to make a gallery appointment. I am pleased to share my ideas as a blogger and will generally concentrate on issues important to artists and artmaking.