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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Beauford at the Whitney Studio Galleries - 1930

According to David A. Leeming, author of Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney:

Beauford's first major break as a painter came in January 1930 when he approached a woman named Mungo Park about his work. Park worked at the Whitney Studio Galleries, which would become the Whitney Museum of American Art the following year.

Original location of the Whitney Studio Galleries
8-12 West 8th Street, Manhattan
Photo by Beyond My Ken from Wikipedia

Park looked at Beauford's portfolio of drawings and introduced him to Juliana Force, director of purchasing and exhibition at the Whitney. Force offered Beauford the chance to exhibit his art at a four-person show that ran from February 26 to March 8, 1930, with the only stipulation being that he produce additional pieces for the event. He worked diligently, and entered the exhibit with three oil portraits and nine pastels.

Juliana Force
Photo from Flickr

Beauford won first prize at this show for a pastel drawing of Billy Pierce, who was his employer at the time. Pierce was the owner of a dance school where Beauford had begun making a name for himself with his pastel and charcoal drawings of the school's dancers and clients. These drawings were part of the portfolio that Beauford showed to Mungo Park to earn a place in the show.

The remaining drawings that Beauford entered in the Whitney show were all awarded honorable mention.

As a result of his interaction with Miss Park and Mrs. Force, the Whitney offered Beauford a job as caretaker and offered him living space and a studio in the basement of the building. This was the beginning of his stay in Greenwich Village.

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