Artist peeks into window of life, relationships

Lensay Abadula and Lensay Abadula

While many of his male peers played sports growing up in the projects, Gerald Sanders spent much of his youth drawing cartoon characters and comic strips.

By the age of 17, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) owned his art.

Sanders’ art was showcased at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center Gallery, 1655 Foster St., Sunday at the opening of “A Life Time of Series.”

The exhibit commemorates Black History Month and will be displayed through March to celebrate Women’s History Month.

The center’s program manager Betsy Jenkins said she feels the exhibit will be beneficial to the Evanston community.

“I’m pretty sure they’ll gain a greater appreciation for the arts,” Jenkins said. “And they don’t have to go into Chicago.”

The exhibit features various series. In the “Women, Children & Motherhood Series,” paintings focus on the relationship between mothers and children.

One painting, “Madonna of Kilwi,” portrays a partially nude mother, in the middle of pregnancy.

A group of ambitious young females fill a dance classroom in “The Ballet Class” part of a set of paintings called “The Lesson Series.”

Sanders began drawing cartoons as a young child and impressed many of his peers and teachers.

In high school, one of Sanders’ teachers knew the Kennedys and suggested Sanders begin painting members of the Kennedy family.

The teacher later sent Sanders’ work to Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Because he did not have the money, Sanders was unable to attend professional art school and continued to develop his own style.

Sanders was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he later joined the Special Services and taught art. He now lives in Chicago.

Although many of his pieces feature black subjects, Sanders said he believes “black art” is simply work done by black artists and does not necessarily have to portray black people or issues.

“Black art is art done by blacks,” Sanders said. “Even if you are drawing nothing but lemons, its black art.”

Rich color and attention to fine detail are constant in Sanders’ work, which he classifies as a contemporary realism.

Evanston resident Priscilla Giles said she enjoys Sanders’ true-to-life style.

“It looks like you’re looking into the window,” Giles said.

Sanders said he was drawn to this art style because of his lack of professional training.

“I never went to art school to study the Renaissance and the old masters,” Sanders said. “In my little mind I believed that whatever you draw is supposed to look exactly like that.”

Sanders teaches both young teens and adults and will be holding three upcoming workshops at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.

Chicago resident Roberta Mack has taken classes with Sanders and said he is a skilled teacher.

“He’s adamant for you to do it his way and in the long run, you do gain from that,” she said. “You do see your accomplishments in a short period of time.”

Reach Lensay Abadula at [email protected].