Museum Staff Highlights Collector’s Vision Throughout Pandemic

Despite restrictions due to safety precautions around COVID-19, the staff of the Paul R. Jones Museum is going full steam ahead with exhibitions and events focused around the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama.

Daniel White

Daniel White, director of the museum, and Emily Bibb, curator of the collection, have put on four major exhibitions since March, presented gallery talks and Zoom lectures, accepted an exhibition support grant and, in general, kept calm and carried on amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Emily Bibb

With guest curators Paul Barrett and doctoral student Barbara-Shae Jackson, the museum pulled together a full schedule of exhibitions for the year. “For a while, the museum was open by appointment only, but since the Charlie Lucas show began, we’ve been able to have our regular hours,” explained White.

Charlie Lucas: Talking to the Ancestors, a wide-ranging solo exhibition of the iconic artist’s work, curated by Barrett, opened in October.

In addition to these home exhibitions, Bibb curated a “selected works” show that traveled to the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) in October and will run through January 16, 2021. Working with HMAAC’s director, John Guess, Jr., Bibb selected 40 works by artists, including  Benny Andrews, Sheila Pree Bright, Fahamu Pecou, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, and Ming Smith. She presented a Zoom lecture about the exhibition for visitors to the Houston show. Bibb has managed the Paul R. Jones Collection since she came to UA in 2012.

In September, White announced that the Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded the museum a grant in support of its exhibition programs for 2020-21. “The grant helped supplement our exhibition programs for the entire season,” explained White, “including support honorariums and exhibition shipping costs — these funds gave us that extra boost to help us fully realize projects.”

The two remaining exhibitions in the museum’s schedule are solo shows. Mario A. Robinson, a leading realist artist well-known outside Alabama, will be guest curated by White with Emily Bibb. Everyday Strangers: Alonzo Williams, Jr., features a multimedia artist who uses video and language to create art through random encounters with strangers. That exhibition is in partnership with the Houston Museum of African American Culture.