Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art Sponsored at HMA by Leslie Petteys & William "Skip" Campbell

March 12 - June 12, 2022

The Huntington Museum of Art is pleased to announce it will host Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art, celebrating the passion of an ordinary couple who spent more than 35 years as devoted connoisseurs, building a collection of vivid artworks that are both resonant and remarkably personal. Memories & Inspiration is on view at the Huntington Museum of Art from March 12 through June 12, 2022. This exhibit is sponsored at HMA by Leslie Petteys & William “Skip” Campbell.

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art presents 67 selected works from a body of art amassed over 35 years. Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, gladly gave up many ordinary comforts in order to live with extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries. Their collection includes works by Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White, but Kerry and Betty do not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focus on the more meaningful task of gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image, in order to console the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self.
The result is an eclectic gathering of pieces crossing different mediums, subjects, and styles by a group of artists of the African Diaspora who—in terms of training, experience, and expression—are strikingly diverse but unified in their use of cultural and historical narratives. As their collection has grown, so has the Davises’ storehouse of memories of discovering new works of art, building friendships with artists, and conversing with museum professionals and other collectors in their home. Memories & Inspiration brings together an awe-inspiring selection of works, but it is their personal resonance—their connection to the Davises’ hopes, passions, and everyday lives—that gives the collection its unique power.

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art was organized and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC

Kerry Davis, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a former sergeant of the United States Air Force, a retired carrier with the United States Postal Service, and an ordained deacon. He began collecting in the mid-1980s in partnership with his wife, Betty, who shared his passion for art. Begun originally with the modest aim of enhancing the interior decor of their mid-century split-level home in suburban Atlanta, the Davises’ collection has grown to over 300 works by some of the most distinguished African American artists of the twentieth century.
Inspired by previous generations of African American art collectors, who understood the importance of preserving cultural expression, memory, and imagery, Davis has sought to contribute to this legacy and be a source of inspiration for others in the community. The Davis residence—dubbed an “In-Home Museum” by visiting neighbors, parishioners, and friends—serves as a meeting place and cultural hub for artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts. Kerry and Betty have two children and one granddaughter.

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit ArtsandArtists.org

Huntington Museum of Art

This exhibit is sponsored at HMA by Leslie Petteys & William “Skip” Campbell.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

For more information on exhibits at the Huntington Museum of Art, visit hmoa.org or call (304) 529-2701. HMA is fully accessible.

West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. Registration does not imply endorsement.

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art

Sedrick Huckaby, She Wore Her Family’s Quilt, 2015. Oil on canvas. Photograph by Gregory Staley.