Art Bacon is known by many as an artist, educator, and scientist. However, art has always been his passion. He was born in West Palm Beach but lived in several places in and outside of Florida. Recognized early for his artistic talent, he won many prizes and awards long before he graduated from high school. Now retired from Talladega College where he was named Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences and Humanities, he is painting more than ever and occasionally writes and recites poetry. His newest exhibition titled The Art of Art Bacon, Artist and Activist is scheduled to open on Thursday, May 16, 2013 in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library. An opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, May 19 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Board Room. The exhibition runs through June 21, 2013 and is on view during regular hours of operation.
People are Bacon’s subjects of choice especially older and neglected people whose experiences show in their faces. In the early days, he worked almost exclusively with ink washes and lines—very little color. He was a minimalist and believed that color interfered with his expression of feelings. Bacon now uses more color and acrylics and a number of other media and techniques, often combining several. However, he still like lines and his palette is still limited. A leading art critic describes Bacon’s work as “social commentary with a bold vitality.”
Works by Bacon can be found in many private collections including those owned by Bill Cosby, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, and Hank Thomas. Institutions owning pieces by the artist include Alabama State University, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Mobile Museum of Art, Heritage Hall Museum, University of Maryland, Comer Museum, and Opryland. He has been featured in Southern Living and Lakeside magazines, Black Art in America, an online journal, and other publications.
ABOUT ART BACON
After finishing high school, Bacon went to Talladega College and majored in biology. However, art became a strongly competing involvement. Bacon enhanced his artistic skills by enrolling in art courses as electives—they were taught by David Driskell, a notable artist and later a leading authority on African American art. He earned the College’s Armstrong Award for Creative Ability.
During his senior year at Talladega, Bacon was severely beaten for sitting in the “wrong” waiting room at the Southern Railways train station in Anniston, Alabama. The incident took place on January 1, 1961 and helped to increase his determination to succeed at both art and science.
In graduate school at Howard University, Bacon's involvement in art was limited to illustrations for scientific papers. He received the M.S. and Ph.D. in 1963 and 1967, respectively. He is credited with discovering a new species of protozoa.
Following a year as the first Black postdoctoral researcher at the University of Miami, Bacon returned to his alma mater as a science administrator and member of the biology faculty. He immediately resumed painting and exhibiting his work. Under his leadership as Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Peterson’s Guide to Colleges and Universities included Talladega College in its publication on the “Top Two Hundred Undergraduate Science Programs in the Country.” In his first professional art competition, he won second prize and sold thirty works. Since that show, he has exhibited in many places and won numerous prizes.