American, born 1945
The Dirty Spoon Cafe, 2002
Dye on carved and tooled leather
50 3/4 x 37 inches
The Dirty Spoon Cafe (2002), a large-scale, hand-tooled leather work by Georgia-born artist Winfred Rembert (b. 1945), was one the winners at the 2016 edition of the Collector’s Evening. Rembert’s intricately detailed and vibrantly colored leather paintings document the joy and suffering of his personal odyssey through the Jim Crow South, from the good times he celebrated at all-black establishments like the Dirty Spoon Cafe to the forced labor he endured as a prisoner in a chain gang. This lively nightlife scene is a stunning example of Rembert’s facility with leather, which he tools, paints with dye, and varnishes. The rhythmic, interlocking figures in the work recall the dynamic scenes of African American life by great artists like Archibald Motley, Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. This is the first work by Rembert to enter the High’s collection and complements other works such as the brightly painted wood relief carvings by Elijah Pierce and Herbert Singleton and Jessie Telfair’s Freedom Quilt.