Join Thirty-Nine West Gallery as we welcome artists selected for the Aaron Douglas Art Fair in our exclusive preview show.

Jessica Mays of Jessie Lou Photography is the 2018 Aaron Douglas Art Fair Featured Artist.

I’ve always had a camera in front of me. Viewing the world through that little square allows a focus and a view of the world you don’t get elsewhere. About two years ago I decided to take my photos and make them more. What I found was a whole new magical world of color, contrast, detail, and surprises. I like to imagine my pictures show the world we live in every day, the magic that lies just beyond the surface. Because these are photos it’s not a far leap.

I’m not professionally trained, I did take some classes at Topeka High and Washburn, and my Dad always made sure I had an appreciation of fine art, but it’s not what I went to school for. In fact, I don’t think I aced any of those classes. As in most art, practice is everything, and I have practiced a lot. I still am. Each piece that makes it on the wall is a series of trial and error. There isn’t a filter for my pieces, I don’t use photoshop, I can’t use the same process twice. I can take 100 photos, and maybe one will make it through the editing process, and be considered for show. It’s a frustrating, rewarding, adventure that I am so honored the Topeka Art Community as recognized. I have shown my work in several NOTO Galleries and I am so incredibly honored to be this years Aaron Douglas Art Fair’s Featured Artist. I hope to see you all at the Fair, September 22.

Jessica Mays

Featured Artist, Jessie Lou Photography

Other artists featured in this show include: Carol Williams, Diane Wurzer, Brenda Meairs, Marie Plinsky, Phyllis Cory, Oshara Meesha, Scott Brackey, Morgan Long, Jodee Jensen, and Kelsey Hughes.

The NOTO Arts District in North Topeka started in 2010 and has grown beyond anyone’s imagination to be a vibrant place for studios, galleries, sales, events and networking. Many of our artists, whose first public experience was the Aaron Douglas Art Fair, have migrated to NOTO and other opportunities with great success.

After taking in this month’s special preview, join the fun at this years Aaron Douglas Art Fair on Sept 22nd from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Aaron Douglas Art Park at 12th and Lane.

About Aaron Douglas:
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Aaron Douglas is regarded by many as the “Dean of African-American painters.” He was born in 1899, raised in North Topeka and graduated from Topeka High in 1917. After graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a short teaching stint at Lincoln High in Kansas City, Aaron Douglas went to New York in the 1920’s to study with Weinhold Reiss. Douglas became a leading visual artist in the “Harlem Renaissance” or “New Negro” Movement. His work was published regularly in The Crisis magazine, he also illustrated for Opportunity and Vanity Fair. In 1934, Douglas was commissioned to paint a series of murals “Aspects of Negro Life” by the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library though a WPA grant. Our mural “Slavery Through Reconstruction” was the third in that series and hangs today the same building where it was first displayed, now called the Schomberg Center for Black Culture. In 1937, he accepted an invitation to join the faculty at Fisk University in Memphis where he became the first dean of the art department, a post he held, continuing his art and mentoring literally thousands, until his retirement in 1966 and after then until his death in 1975.