Allen Stringfellow, 1923-2004

With scraps of paper and applications of glue, Allen Stringfellow reconstructed the worlds he knew. As a collage artist, he created jazz scenes and depicted families at birthday parties and picnics. Mr. Stringfellow, 80, died Wednesday, June 23, 2004 of cancer in his Near 

North Side home. He was an artist who came of age in the Depression, learning his craft at the University of Illinois and in Milwaukee before perfecting it as a student and printmaking instructor in the South Side Community Art Center, the city’s first for African-American artists, which opened in 1941. “Because we were black, the white galleries just weren’t open,” Mr. Stringfellow once told the Tribune. He later worked to change that, opening the Walls of Art gallery in the Gold Coast neighborhood, which his niece Diane Dixon described as the city’s first black-owned gallery. Born in Urbana and raised in Champaign, Mr. Stringfellow, the son of a nightclub manager and one of seven children, showed an inventive streak from a young age, said his sister Sylvia Williams. “From grade school, in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades, he just drew,” she said. “It was just a natural instinct.” As a young adult he fashioned costumes for his father’s employer and designed apparel. Later in life he took to wearing only red. “It was just something he came up with some years back; he just said, `I am going to wear red clothes,'” his niece said. He also worked as general manager of the Armand Lee & Co. framing house in Chicago, his niece said. Other survivors include several nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. July 10 in Nicole Gallery, 230 W. Huron St., Chicago.

(Image: Baptism by the River, Collage, 2000)
Source: Chicago Tribune, shared by Essie Greene Galleries,419A Convent Avenue, New York, 10031 212 368-9635

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