The Love Deeper Than a River project at SPC

February 11, 2019

Public Information Officer


Outstanding college alumni John Coleman, Gracie Poe and Howard Rhoder are featured in one of the nation’s premiere collections of art at a community college

The Honorable Lila Cockrell is on a speaking tour promoting San Antonio and Trinity University Press teams up with St. Philip’s College for a very special celebration in that regard this week.

The free nonprofit event is part of SPC’s African American History Month observance that begins with public access to The Honorable Lila Cockrell's African American Art Collection established in 2015 to coincide with the observance and it continues throughout February and advances to include a one-day meet-the-stateswoman book signing event with Cockrell on the same floor of the space that houses a collection that not only in part also tells the story of all in San Antonio, it’s also a day of celebration at one of the nation’s premiere collections of art at a community college.

All are welcome to attend the Trinity University Press Lila Cockrell at St. Philip's College event Feb. 13 from 4-6 p.m. in the Saint Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center on the third floor of the college's G. J. Sutton Learning Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. The event is free and open to the public, with free parking as well.

Lila Cockrell will speak at St. Philip's College on her new book Love Deeper Than a River, with a book signing to follow. Viewing of the collection in the Saint Artemisia Bowden Gallery next to the center is an excellent option, as it includes the works of three outstanding alumni of St. Philip’s College: Glen “Frank” Franklin; Gracie Poe and Howard Rhoder. While Franklin, Poe and Rhoder are St. Philip’s College alumni, exhibited artists who are each recent exhibiters at the college include Poe (2017), Claudette Hopkins (2012) and Paul Hurd (2018). Works from each of these artists mentioned were also part of the unique 2018 project I, Too, Sing San Antonio: An Exhibition of the Works of Local African American Artists that took place April-through-May of 2018 in the Saint Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center under the curation of Dr. Scott Sherer, director of the Main Art Gallery at UTSA, and arts patron Aaronetta Pierce, the college’s project team consultant.

In her forward to the original 2015 exhibition catalogue for the opening of The Honorable Lila Cockrell's African American Art Collection, St. Philip's College President Dr. Adena Williams Loston provided the following:

"For two decades the Honorable Mayor Lila Cockrell has been avidly and lovingly collecting the works of noted and upcoming African American artists with a particular focus on local artists, some of which are our very own St. Philip’s College alumni."

The Honorable Lila Cockrell's African American Art Collection serves as a unique anchor piece for cultural celebrations held at the college, and groups or individuals are welcome to make visit appointments online throughout the year through the college tour program. For details on the Feb. 13 event, consult the Trinity University web page, or Trinity University Press marketing director Burgin Streetman at 210-999-8884 (ext. 8947).

About the artists in The Honorable Lila Cockrell's African American Art Collection at St. Philip's College...

  • ++John Coleman (Playground | Returning Home) is a native of Saluda, S.C. and arrived in San Antonio in 1963 as a soldier in the Army at Ft. Sam Houston. He was the first graduate in St. Philip’s College history to receive his Associate of Arts degree in Art. This was only the beginning in the groundbreaking of “firsts” for Coleman as an artist; he was one of the first African American Artists to locate studio work in the La Villita Historic District where his alma mater was founded in 1898. After meeting a fellow African American Artist, Robert Blake, and being inspired by Mr. Blake’s portraiture and a desire to tell African American history, Coleman evolved his work into its current medium, acrylic on canvas portraiture of life in African American society.
  • Glen “Frank” Franklin (The Face of the Buffalo Soldier | I Have a Dream | Frank’s Pool Hall), a native of Cushing, Okla., first picked up a sketchpad at age five, his drawings in his notebooks were an early indication that this gifted youngster would one day see his dream come true and distinguish himself as an artist. During his military career, he spent a number of years in Germany, Greece and Turkey and took correspondence art courses from the Washington School of Art and served as an army illustrator. He combines his commercial art training with fine art, rendering his finely detailed character experience studies that depict the full range of the Black American experience.
  • Anthony Edwards (Piano Man) is a self-taught artist who began painting in his early forties and saw success early in his career; his works were included in the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibit of the Harriet and Harmon Kelly collection of African American Art. His artistic range includes folk art, works in stain glass, and most recently, creating giclee images using Photoshop. His work can be found in numerous private collections and the San Antonio Museum of Art. Edwards enjoys painting with acrylics and designs stain glass renderings with an Afrocentric focus.
  • Marcus Glenn (Lip Locking, Mouth Open, Finger Poppin’ Jazz | Harmonizer-Music Series II) was born and raised in Detroit where he attended the Center for Creative Studies, he rose to prominence at an early age – at 20 years old he had his first major exhibition, with his strip “Double Trouble” he became the youngest cartoonist ever employed by the Detroit Free Press. Glenn credits his artistic skills to God given ability and to studying artists such as Picasso, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews and Ernie Barnes. He is one of the most widely collected contemporary artists, and his collectors eagerly await each new creation.
  • Jacqui Dorsey (Bus Stop), a San Antonio-based retired nurse, is a painter and ceramic artist who designs and creates tile murals, relief murals, and busts. She always infuses cultural relevancy into her work while depicting every day and historical figures. Dorsey is deeply committed to using her talents to engage the community and has worked in collaboration with community programs and professional colleagues on public projects. 
  • Charles Criner (Get on the Floor) is a native of Athens, Texas, and received his formal education at Texas Southern University, where he studied under painter and printmaker Dr. John Biggers. He is the resident artist at the Museum of Printing History in Houston. Narrative plays a prominent role in Criner’s works – he creates from biographical images that are reflections of his childhood memories and cultural heritage.
  • Aaron “A.R.” Harvey (Jazz by Two), a self-taught artist who painted in the French Quarter, draws on the musical history and mystery of the culture. Many of his original works are textured using pumice rocks, sand, glass beads and special gels that are laid on canvas and painted over to build up the surface and create a three dimensional image. In 2005, Harvey was among the thousands of New Orleans residents who fled Hurricane Katrina and relocated in San Antonio.
  • Claudette Hopkins (Blue Ribbon On My Hat) was born and raised in Dallas, Texas; she first studied art in the Dallas Public School system and received her formal training in Art Education at Texas Southern University in Houston, TX. Her first exhibition was at Decor Galleries in 1991, followed by one-woman shows at the Carver Cultural Center, the McCreless Branch Library and St. Philip’s College. Her works are often realistic depictions of strong black women whom she has personally known or who are part of her artistic vision. Hopkins is also active with the San Antonio Ethnic Arts Society, where she served as president for 15 years. 
  • ++Gracie Poe (African Funeral Vase) is an outstanding St. Philip’s College alumna who was born in Giddings, Texas, raised and educated in San Antonio. After retiring as a Sears executive, she began dedicating herself to her passion: art in the clay medium. She had always been an art enthusiast and poet. Although self-taught, she has studied and developed her art with some of the finest artists in San Antonio. Poe focuses on sculptural forms of African influence, inspired by ceremonial masks and Africa’s rich textures and symbols. They are depicted in her masks as well as her figurines and vessels.
  • Donna Bruni (High Fashion), a former presidential appointee at the Pentagon, has been an arts philanthropist and advocate her entire life. She has been chairman of Arts San Antonio, a board member on both the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and Santa Fe Opera as well as Houston Grand Opera special events chair. Bruni is an accomplished photographer/artist in her own right, having displayed her art in a variety of venues.
  • ++Howard Rhoder (Midnight Oil), a native of Edna, Texas, is basically a self-taught artist whose realistic representation moves from inviting landscapes to scenes to people with a story to tell. He has admitted that although he practiced some form of art most of his life, it was after completing some painting courses that his confidence grew. Rhoder received formal art training at Victoria College, San Antonio College, and Southwest School of Art and received an Associate Degree in Art from St. Philip’s College. He is also a member of the San Antonio Ethnic Art.
  • Rosalie Berkowitz (The Children) was a Memphis, Tennessee native who moved to Texas when she was eleven years old and later became a painter of Black-American subjects. She studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design in New York City and later settled in San Antonio where she was Assistant Director at the John Heller Gallery. Berkowitz’s exhibitions included venues in San Antonio and Dallas, Albany and Woodstock, New York. 
  • Ronney Stevens (Ray II) is a native of San Antonio, Texas and pursued his passion for art in California at the Otis Art Institute and the American Animation Institute, where he decided he liked portraiture. He moved back to San Antonio in 1999 and studied oil painting at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, while also working on commissioned portraits. His work is currently displayed at the African Marketplace in Los Angeles and he has been a featured artist at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.
  • Romare Bearden (The Lamp) was a Charlotte, N.C., native who moved to New York City at a very young age. At New York University, he focused on his art and became a lead cartoonist and art editor for the Eucleian Society’s monthly journal, The Medley. He continued his artistic study under German artist George Grosz at the Art Students League in 1936 and 1937. His life and art are marked by exceptional talent, encompassing a broad range of intellectual and scholarly interests, including music, performing arts, history, literature and world art. Bearden experimented with many different mediums and artistic styles, but is best known for his richly textured collages.
  • Doc Spellman (The Pearl Brewery Delivery Man) a native Texan whose career spanned decades, painted scenes of life in the South and was known as one of San Antonio’s most prolific and renowned artists. He painted life as he viewed and saw fit to depict it, telling stories he found meaningful. The themes of his paintings speak to an array of themes – including Biblical depictions, memories of his childhood, scenes of African village life and portraits of historical notables. Spellman created an untold number of works, whose hallmarks are generous applications of layered paint and masterful texturizing of color.
  • John Willard Banks (125th Street), a black self-taught artist, was raised in Seguin and began his art career in 1978 while he was recuperating from an illness. His distinct style – outlining figures in pencil or ball point pen and shading them in with colored pencil, crayon, and felt-tipped marker – was often influenced by his early rural memories, serving as excellent documents of black life in the early twentieth century Texas.

++ = St. Philip’s College Alumnus