Congress honors artist Harry Davis





Harry DavisCongresswoman Alma Shealey Adams (NC-12) has presented a special resolution honoring Wilmington native and artist Harry Davis.

She referred to Davis as a fellow artist and a living legend who has contributed to North Carolina culture and the arts community.

“I am an artist, and I understand what artists do,”Adams said in a Tuesday interview.

Co-founder of the AtelierGallery in downtown Greensboro twenty-five years ago, Adams said her love of art has helped her honor African-American heritage for decades. She also chooses to highlight the works of others, especially fellow North Carolinians that might not be known by congressional colleagues.

Her Wilmington honoree began drawing and sketching as a young child.

“When I was four or five years old I loved to draw, and I turned to oils after my accident,” Davis said.

A veteran, the artist served with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army after graduating from Williston High School in 1967. The middle child of Evangelist Anna Davis was reared to be strong and overcomer  of adversities.

Through Adams’ resolution Congress learned that Davis is self-taught and well known for his attention to details that are enhanced by deliberate uses of bright and bold colors.

Private collections throughout the United States include Davis’ works. Hallie Berry, Denzel Washington, Jayne Kennedy, Bill Cosby, and Justice Henry Frye are notable owners of his paintings.

Since the 1970s Davis’ work has been honored by organizations and agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency in McLean, Virginia, the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute of the University of Wisconsin, and the North Carolina Azalea Festival.

Davis was awarded Best of Show for the 2001 Azalea Festival, and by 2006 he had earned the distinct honor of being tapped as the featured artist for the events.

Seven years later he was awarded best in show for the 2013 New Orleans Jazz Festival. Such accolades are complemented by scores of awards and special exhibitions sponsored by colleges, universities and arts guilds throughout the U.S.

He was honored locally as a Town Hall Man of the Year. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, many churches and organizations have also recognized Davis’ long-term contributions in the arts community.

“When I talk to young people who really want to become an artist I let them know it is tough to make a living, especially for African-Americans, but things are changing,” Davis said.

“I tell them to go to college and major in design, painting, or whatever their interest is. I don’t want them to have to learn over time by trial and error like I did.”

Emphasizing a strategy to always have a college degree in case there is a need for income from a different profession, Davis followed that plan. He earned a B. A. degree in Sociology from UNCW in 1979.

Congresswoman Adams said she knows well about all of the time it takes for an artist’s work to be recognized in a state or nationally, especially if an individual is African-American.

“We seldom get an opportunity to showcase as other artists have,” she said and added that as things are changing young people should think more about designing items or creating things that are artistic and link to income.

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