A Celebration of Culture and Music

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

In celebration of Black Music Month and Juneteenth (June 19), we hope that you enjoy this collage in our collection.

Jerry Prettyman (American, active mid-20th century‒present)
Session I, 2005
Watercolor and collage on paper
29 7/16″ H x 21 15/16
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Sandi King, in honor of the museum’s 75th Anniversary, A4144,06.0205  
In this lively abstract composition, two jazz or blues musicians play their instruments in the midst of a jam session, as suggested by the title. In the center, a man (wearing a blue hat and striped jacket) strums the strings of his guitar while a string bassist (facing him nearby) places his hand on the instrument’s finger board. Known for use of bold colors and contrasting, fragmented forms, African American artist Jerry Prettyman’s work is influenced by Expressionism and Cubism. Like Joseph Holston and Faith Ringgold, whose works are on view nearby, Prettyman seeks to capture the spirit and driving energy of jazz and blues music through visual art. His experimentation with collage elements (note the incorporation of paper cut-outs with varying textures and shapes) closely resembles the style and technique of renowned Black artist, Romare Bearden, a pioneer in this medium.
Originally from Chicago, Prettyman is currently based in Baltimore. He studied applied art and design at Catonsville Community College and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and received fine arts instruction at Morgan State University. For 39 years, Prettyman worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for the Department of Health and Human Services, Baltimore. In 2005, he created Session I on the occasion of the Western Maryland Blues Festival, Hagerstown