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[[3 images]] its African-American Steering Committee. "I think one of the things you must demonstrate to the public is an effort to have something in the museum that is culturally representative. People want to see something that looks like them." Walters Director Gary Vikan says the museum has already acquired two pieces that he hopes will go on display this month. One is a Bannister painting; the other is a bust by 19th-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis. "It is our intent to add to our permanent collection over the next three to five years," Vikan says. "We hope at the end of the day to have about a dozen works." BMA officials say its curators have begun to identify several pieces for possible acquisition, with an eye toward expanding its collection of contemporary work by African-American artists. Director Doreen Bolger says the Brown gift ties in with the museum's efforts to attract a diverse audience and cites the BMA's Joyce Scott exhibition as an example. But Bolger believes the Brown gift goes beyond race, color, or creed. "They really stand out as a wonderful example for the entire community, every part of it," says Bolger. "They are truly supporting the arts, not just by giving to many institutions, but by volunteering and giving feedback. All of this benefits arts organizations, but in human terms, it's just a great thing." IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK, THEY MIGHT TELL A POWERFUL story. It is the story of a historic building, a pioneering businessman, and his quest to reveal elements of African-American history through art. Opposite page: Eddie and Sylvia Brown in their office on Calvert Street; This page (clockwise from top left): Derrick Webster's mixed-media sculptures, Elizabeth Catlett's Reclining Woman, and Jacob Lawrence's Genesis series. When Eddie Brown first toured the building at 1201 North Calvert Street, he sensed he had stumbled upon a special site. Built in 1877, the five-level, 12,500-square-foot mansion had a grandeur and stateliness - one that shone through despite its less than perfect condition. "The business was expanding and we needed to relocate," explains Brown, whose offices were formerly on Cathedral Street. "We saw that this building not only had a great deal of space, it had history. It seemed to be the perfect place for us." Once a 55-room private residence known as Solomon's Corner (Solomon Corner was the name of the original owner) the property is listed on the National Historic Register and has state historic preservation status as well. Brown Capital Management purchased it in 1998 and relocated the following year after extensive renovations were completed. Today, the property has been meticulously restored--complete with arched windows, a marble-tiled entry hall, a sweeping spiral staircase and a crystal chandelier. Not only functional as office space, it also provides a stunning, expansive venue in which to display art. Indeed, pieces of art are everywhere--in the waiting and reception areas, individual offices, corridors, conference room, stairwells, copy centers, kitchen, and bathrooms. "Each artist has his or her own story," says curator Madeline Murphy Rabb, a Baltimore native and Chicago-based fine arts consultant, whose firm, Murphy Rabb Inc., manages the collection. "We are building a collection that tells those stories, not just about African-American artists, but about great works of art. For so many years, these artists have been ignored by the mainstream art community, but it's time for this wonderful work to be acknowledged and shared." David Driskell, a painter, collector, and author of The Other Side of color: African-American Art in the Collection of Camille O. BALTIMORE * JUNE 2002 * 77
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