TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History is pleased to announce a gift of seventeen works of art to the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama by Jack and Rebecca Drake. The Drakes’ gift is the largest single addition to the Jones Collection since Paul R. Jones’ original gift to the College of Arts & Sciences in 2008. Included in the donation are established and emerging artists, with a focus on artists who have connections to Alabama, such as Thornton Dial, William Christenberry, Charlie Lucas, Chris Clark, and Birmingham native Erin LeAnn Mitchell.
“We are very excited by this generous gift from Jack and Rebecca Drake. It dramatically expands the Paul R. Jones Collection in new directions,” said Paul R. Jones Curator Emily Bibb, “Most of the works given by the Drakes are by artists not previously held in the collection. These pieces build and improve the collection, especially because of the inclusion of recent works and work by artists with Alabama connections, areas that we have identified for greater support.”
Known as ardent contemporary art collectors and for their gifts to institutions such as the Birmingham Museum of Art, this gift from the Drakes is part of a long pattern of support. Jack and Rebecca Drake have been friends of the Paul R. Jones Museum for many years. That relationship was recently exemplified in an exhibition of their collection, It’s Like That, in the Jones Museum, following which, they gave works from the show by Clementine Hunter, John Bankston, and others to the collection.
Since then, the Drakes have contributed artworks that helped expand the visual and critical voice of the Paul R. Jones Collection. “Art collectors occupy a pivotal role, not just for artists, but also for art museums,” Daniel White, director of the Paul R. Jones Museum, said. “The Drakes are dedicated to their community at a local and regional level. Their focus is to share art with the public, knowing that it will also continue to help support the artists they choose to champion. With this major gift, it helps us turn the corner, as it allows us to expand what we can display in exhibitions around the collection and show that we are still actively collecting. In 2022, we had our first Recent Acquisitions exhibition. To be able to have the next one just two short years later, largely due to this gift from the Drakes, is a phenomenal thing to be able to say.”
Images above, left to right: Three of the gifted works from the Drakes now at the Paul R. Jones Collection: Charlie Lucas, “Untitled (Mask),” scrap metal with headscarf, 10 x 14 inches; Leslie Smith III, “Meet Me in the Sky,” 2022, oil paint, dried pigment, sewn canvas, and industrial felt; Erin LeAnn Mitchell, “What you don’t have in your head, you’ve got to have in your feet,” 2022, acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique on canvas.
For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in art history and studio art, visit our Degree Programs page.