Treasure found in FPS now at the DIA

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 14, 2012

 “Two Figures and Landscape” by Hughie Lee-Smith, 1954, oil on board, is currently on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. The painting is on loan from Fitzgerald Public Schools.

“Two Figures and Landscape” by Hughie Lee-Smith, 1954, oil on board, is currently on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. The painting is on loan from Fitzgerald Public Schools.

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WARREN — A painting recently discovered on the Fitzgerald Public Schools’ premises is now on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit.

“Two Figures and Landscape” painted in 1954 by artist Hughie Lee-Smith, is among several of the late artist’s pieces hanging in the DIA’s “New Art for a New Self-Awareness” gallery in its suite of African-American art galleries.

“Two Figures and Landscape,” which depicts a couple on a rocky shore with a calm sea beyond them, was displayed for several years inside a FPS break room. According to a DIA press release, the 1954 graduating class at Fitzgerald High School purchased the painting and gave it to the school district as a gift.

After reading an article on Lee-Smith, a former student realized the painting’s significance and contacted district Superintendent Barbara VanSweden about the gem.

“We were very excited to learn that our district held a painting by a well-known artist,” VanSweden said in a prepared statement. “It made sense to loan our Hughie Lee-Smith painting to the DIA, so it could enhance the collection by this notable artist and be appreciated by visitors to the gallery. Since our discovery, we have learned that Fitzgerald High School graduating classes from 1953 through the mid-1980s donated works of art by Michigan artists to the district. We will be on the lookout for other artwork by well-known artists.”

Chatterton Middle School students are scheduled to visit the museum March 22, and two groups from the high school will take a trip March 30. The field trips were made possible by a grant from Target, the press release stated.

According to DIA representatives, Lee-Smith was born in Florida, and as a child, he moved to Atlanta and Cleveland. He studied art at the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts, which is now the College for Creative Studies, and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Wayne State University. Lee-Smith’s works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, Howard University and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

DIA hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for ages 6-17, and free for DIA members. For membership information call (313) 833-7971. The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave., in Detroit.

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