When she wasn’t studying as a medical student at Howard University College of Medicine, Dr. Celeste Hart could be found in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It’s where she began her self-directed education in art collecting, as she attended numerous art fairs and gallery openings in the country’s capital and beyond. As Hart returned home to Tallahassee and began her own practice as an endocrinologist, her budding art collection followed.
Hart’s medical practice is housed within the original building her grandfather, a general practioner, built in 1954, making it one of the oldest continuous functioning medical establishments in Tallahassee. The lower floor remained empty and, in search of tenants, Hart’s wheels started turning about how she could share her art with the greater community. Thus, the Anderson-Brickler Gallery was born, with its first exhibition featuring her collection of Romare Bearden’s work, which is currently on display through Dec. 29.
“It’s a way of giving back and getting a dialogue started,” said Hart, founder and director of the Anderson- Brickler Gallery. “Art is a catalyst, and I hope people would look at some of Bearden’s pieces and see themselves through his eyes and realize the power and influence they may have that they might not always realize.”
Hart is constantly amazed by the pieces she’s lived with for years that continue to draw her in. In fact, the first work she purchased as a fledgling collector was by Bearden, a 20th-century African-American artist who is well known for his dynamic collage and oil paintings that present his unique perspective on the American experience. Hart’s poster was from Bearden’s jazz series at the Smithsonian, titled “Bopping at Birdland.”
From Bearden’s Odyssey series, she’s intrigued by the artist’s reinterpretation of Homer’s epic poem to include and reflect culture. The work hanging in her home from the series, “Circe Turns a Companion of Odysseus into a Swine,” continues to provoke Hart’s thoughts on the piece in new and interesting ways.
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