Biography: Eugene Lawrence Foney (1950-2020) by Halima Taha

"Art is Business"  Black Art In America original posted by Najee Dorsey
  Biography: Eugene Lawrence Foney (1950-2020) by Halima Taha

Eugene Lawrence Foney (1950-2020) 
Eugene Lawrence Foney, 69 passed away on April 7, 2020, in Chicago. He was born to Eugene and Ruth Foney in the windy city on October 6, 1950. Eugene was affectionately known as Dad, Brother, Gene, Uncle Eugene, Sporty, Jr., and ELF -for his initials - by his close family, friends, and colleagues. He is better known as a celebrated art consultant, publisher, entrepreneur, and businessman who championed African American artists and culture. He was also known as the ‘art dealers’ dealer’ throughout the United States, with Houston, Texas as his base. 
Eugene’s foray into the art world was nothing short of Divine providence. After graduating from Southern Illinois University and working odd jobs, he was in the process of deciding to pursue an MBA at Texas Southern University. One day while contemplating his future he took a walk. He paused and was moved by a print he saw displayed in the window of a neighborhood cabinet maker’s storefront gallery called the Wood Shop. With a limited budget, he purchased the piece on a layaway plan. After developing a relationship, the owner suggested that he sell prints of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and other Black leaders to help him pay for his schoolbooks after giving him a catalog he produced on African American art. 
Eager to introduce people to prints by Black artists he successfully sold many of the prints for the Wood Shop. He soon became the person in Texas to ask about art and artists, resulting in him developing the fine art market for American artists of African descent through his business, artcetera, which he developed and expanded for over 40 years. During this time Eugene was exposed to a diverse range of people who became lifelong clients and friends. Eugene was a staunch advocate for artists. He was also actively involved in the development of the Houston African American Art and Culture Museum and was a member of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts African American support group. 
The catalyst for the expansion of artcetera was when he was asked by a dear friend, to curate and fulfill a wish list for the George Cleveland Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library system. Their interest in African American art enabled him to include art by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, John Biggers, Eldzier Cortor, Charles Alston, Samella Lewis, Camille Billops, Aaron Douglass, Benny Andrews, Joseph Delaney, Robert Blackburn, Fred Jones, James Denmark, Margaret Burroughs, Claude Clark, Vincent Smith, William Carter, Ellsworth Ausby, and Ademola Olugebefola. 
After putting this distinctive collection together, he focused on building individual and institutional fine art collections throughout the United States and the Caribbean for more than four decades. He sourced masterworks for many historic and renowned art dealers and galleries, including but not limited to, Terry Dintenfass, Sid Deutsch, Leo Castelli, Martha Henry, Beverly Saks, Peg Alston, June Kelly, the Tony Shrafazi Gallery, ACA Gallery, Pace Gallery, Wilmer Jennings Gallery, Stella Jones Gallery, Woodshop Gallery, Black Heritage Gallery, Isobel Neal Gallery, Black Art in America and Hauser & Wirth. 
No matter where he traveled Eugene had lots of what they called themselves, “his Best Friend”. Elders loved his old fashion respect for them. The younger generation looked up to him and valued him for his opinion and knowledge. Throughout his life, Eugene was a voracious reader and studied the art market with great tenacity and a demeanor that combined the bold excitement of bebop and the ease of cool jazz. He lived by his own rules, social protocols, and the lack thereof, which either endeared people or at times caused many collectors and dealers to lose out on great opportunities. He was always eager to ‘make a deal’ but believed that “fools rushed in where angels dare to tread.” It was always about making the best deal, which for Eugene was a well-choreographed process of thoughtful research, timing, judgment, integrity, and presentation- an art form he made his own. Eugene always taught you something about the art, gave you a wonderful story to later share about your purchase and a forever lasting friendship was part of the sale. One of Eugene’s most accomplished deals that he was extremely proud of involved facilitating and helping to bring the papers and archives of Houston based artist John T. Biggers to Emory University in 2011 which is currently a permanent display. 
Eugene made indelible impressions on all who met him. He had an infectious smile, a sardonic sense of humor, a love for hats, and an appreciation for Black cowboys at the rodeo and BBQ. He also had an uncanny ability to find the hippest, out of the way, food, and music spots wherever he traveled. Eugene had an active inquisitive mind for art, adventure, and fun in everything he did. Perhaps one of the most endearing things was his pleasure in a range of music from the blues, jazz, rock, r & b to hip hop. 
Eugene is survived by his daughter Ariel E. Dale in Los Angeles, CA, and his sister Jennifer Foney in Powder Springs, GA. He is also survived and loved by aunts, uncles, more than 100 cousins, countless friends, and his beloved brothers of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. A memorial tribute will be scheduled later. If you so desire, at this time the family suggests donations in Eugene L. Foney’s name be made to a favorite art organization that features and supports African American artists or the American Cancer Society. 
A sincere thank you to everyone who provided input. 
Photo Credit: Tony Smith, Photographer 
Written by: Halima Taha, arts & culture strategist, corporate & academic speaker, and author of Collecting African American Art: Works on Paper and Canvas. 


"Art is Business"

Examining the State of our Environment
Curators: Alpha Bruton (she/hers) + Adero Knott  (she/hers) 


Our artistic vision entails an intergenerational curatorial practice that seeks to provide a model for emerging and established curators to innovate in curating inclusive experiences, gain practical curating expertise, and critically reflect on how their curatorial style will imprint on the Evanston community and the world.

Four exhibitions, each running two weeks, on how artists examine the state of their environment in society through themes of Racism, Spirituality, Documentation, and Art as Wellness.

A call for diverse artists (i.e., Women, People of Color, LGBTQIA, and Disabled Artists) to provide works that reflect each theme will be announced in May 2020. 

Ensuring experiences are accessible, inclusive, and educational for all people with visible/invisible disabilities. 
“Art is not a luxury as many people think – it is a necessity. It documents history – it helps educate people and stores knowledge for generations to come.” 
– Dr. Samella Lewis

We invite artists, curators, and the Evanston Art Center community to participate in a series of public dialogues. Questions we want to ask--what are some ways we, as artists, examine the state of our environment through themes of Racism, Spirituality,  Documentation, and Art as Wellness? What is the intersection of art and social justice, and how do identity and intersectionality affect our lived experiences, as seen in the practice of each artist? These questions will build as the fellowship continues.

Art Talks: one talk per exhibition/theme facilitated by Adero Knott with eight artists: four emerging artists, and four established artists, to provide an intergenerational perspective. Through a series of "Art Talks," we will explore issues of interest and concern to artists and the Evanston art community and offer young emerging artists and curators the to share points of view on verbalizing these views in their art practice.

Workshops: Join us as we record audience experiences and invite teens/children to participate in ceremonial African American Social Teas.

We look forward to making a formal announcement about this project in the coming weeks. 

Postponed: Art and Dialogue Chicago with Adrienne Edwards

"Art is Business" Postponed:

Art & Dialogue: Chicago is currently postponed and will be rescheduled.

Art & Dialogue: Chicago
April 14, 2020
Tuesday, April 14 at 4:30

SAIC, The LeRoy Neiman Center
Sharp Building
37 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 201
Chicago, IL 60603

Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at The Whitney Museum in New York City will be in conversation with Huey Copeland, Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor at Northwestern University, for a public presentation at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago on April 14, 2020. Click here learn more!