In recognition of Black History Month, the Burlington County freeholders are displaying the works of famed local artist Lady Bird Strickland at the Smithville Mansion Annex Art Gallery in Eastampton.
Now a resident of Willingboro, Lady Bird Strickland was born into poverty in the foothills of Georgia in 1926 at a time when America was still a segregated society offering little opportunity or encouragement to African-American artists. She transformed herself from a young girl hanging around the Harlem clubs into a young woman who socialized with and painted some of the most influential entertainment and political figures of the mid-20th and 21st centuries.
For more than six decades, Lady Bird Strickland’s paintings have expressed aspects of life as it existed during slavery, Harlem’s Jazz Age, and the civil rights movement. Best described as “reflections of social consciousness,” her artwork offers the viewer a perspective often forgotten in our everyday, contemporary struggles.
Today, at the age of 85, the artist continues to paint and draw in Willingboro, where she lives with her daughter, Pat Cleveland, and her family.
“I want my paintings to tell a story,” she said. “I paint what I feel and experience. I will not be pigeonholed for any reason, commercial or otherwise.”
Sponsored by the Burlington County freeholders, the wheelchair-accessible Smithville Mansion Annex Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the Smithville Mansion in Smithville Park, located on Smithville Road in Eastampton, just 3/4 of a mile off Route 38.
Gallery hours for the exhibit are Thursdays through Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., through the rest of the month. Admission is free.
For more information, call the Burlington County Division of Parks at 609-265-5858.
- Release courtesy of the Burlington County Board of Freeholders