Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sketch Art: Sam Fuller Jr and Laban

Colored pencil and graphite drawing

Today, I want to share some of my art collection with you all. The featured artist is African American sketch artist, Sam Fuller Jr. I met Mr. Fuller in the Fall of 2005 at DuPont Circle Park here in DC. It was autumn, so the weather was still fairly warm. I took daily walks during my lunch hour near Dupont Circle; one afternoon, I observed Mr. Fuller in the park selling his art. I didn't bother him that day, but I noticed him the next day as well, so I decided to approach him to take a closer look at his work. He sat quietly on the park bench while sketching one of his upcoming pieces. As I walked closer, I noticed that he wore jeans and a starched white shirt that appeared very bright in the sunlight.

I introduced myself and asked if I could take a look at some of his artwork. He showed me his work and also shared works in progress. I visited with him the rest of the week at the park during my lunch hour. We talked about his career as an artist and his journey in life. He told me that he lived in Texas, but he was in town visiting his sister somewhere in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He also mentioned that he was incarcerated as a younger man, and honed his skills as an artist during his time in prison. The most touching and personal story he shared with me was about his son named Laban, whom he hasn’t seen for many years (he spoke about the son’s mother, but I don’t remember the details). Sadly, he had no idea where to find Laban, who is a young man today. So, in honor of his son, Mr. Fuller signs all of his work with his signature and Laban’s name in hope that Laban will see it one day. It is his hope that Laban's discovery will spark a reunion between father and son.

The featured piece is wonderful to me. I purchased it from Mr. Fuller on the last day we talked. I wish I had more to show, but this was the only piece I could afford at the time. It’s a tribute to Jazz and the famous Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. African American culture and music seems to be the overriding theme in most of Fuller’s work. I like this piece because it screams ecstasy and hot Jazz! Funny, the men in this piece seem more subdued than the women.

By the way, thank you all for reading my Women and the Blues series. There is one post left in the series so stay tuned.

Note to Sam Fuller: Mr. Fuller, this is my way of contributing to your efforts while showcasing your wonderful talent as an artist.

Best Wishes~
Stephen Bess

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