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Event celebrates opening of the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art

When and where: Friday night at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Downtown.

The opening celebration of the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art was made extra sweet with a cake and candles to honor Ms. Hewitt’s 97th birthday. The invitation-only event welcomed 350 cultural influencers to join in the festivities and enjoy a preview of the Hewitt’s vast collection, including 58 paintings and works on paper and 50 posters by artist Jonathan Green. Ms. Hewitt, originally from New Castle and the first black librarian in Pittsburgh, was overjoyed at the love surrounding her. “Isn’t this just wonderful?” she beamed as guests such as Janis Burley, Demeatria Boccella and Mark Lewis lined up to greet her. But why feel so connected to art? “Art enriches one’s life,” she said. “It enhances and enlarges everything around you. Without it, there is no beauty and without beauty ... what kind of life is that?”

#InHerWords: Artist Ann Tanksley, whose work was featured in the exhibition, spoke of the importance of art in her life: “In the beginning, my social commentaries were dark. I used a lot of gray. But now, I’ve traveled, I’ve lived, I have learned that I can say what I want to say in bright colors.” She added, “Art to me is a part of my being, and I don’t know if I could exist without it.”

The exhibition runs through June 30.

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