Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male

December 13 through March 10, 2019

Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male features images of Black men from the Muskegon community as photographed by artist Jerry Taliaferro.

In the artist’s words:
“[The exhibition] is both timely and relevant. Recent events point to the urgent need for conversations about the contemporary Black American male. Any effort, however humble, to foster an understanding of this largely misunderstood and often marginalized segment of the American population is of utmost importance.”

The 94 portraits in the exhibition explore how the Black American male perceives himself and how he is perceived by others. The men pictured in the exhibition were nominated from the Greater Muskegon area by a committee of their peers. The goal was to portray a wide range of ages, backgrounds, occupations, and interests to best represent the Black men of our community and to mirror the day-to-day experiences of their fellow Americans.

The men pictured are artists, musicians, barbers, doctors, lawyers, health care workers, engineers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, teachers, athletes, retired servicemen, clergy, poets, factory workers, laborers, security guards, school administrators, and coaches. They are also husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, co-workers, teammates, friends, and neighbors.

Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male is an invitation to share the experiences of the Black men in our city, to see them as individuals, hear their stories, and better understand how their lives have been impacted by a legacy of racial and social injustices. In bringing this exhibition to Muskegon, it is the hope of the Sons Committee and the staff and Board of Trustees of the Muskegon Museum of Art that we can foster an open and welcoming dialogue that leads to greater understanding, empathy, and community.



The exhibition project includes special programming, including the premier of the documentary Black Man, created by Jon Covington, in partnership with the Muskegon Museum of Art. December 17 Film Premiere  at Frauenthal Center




About the Artist Jerry Taliaferro

Jerry Taliaferro was born in the small southern town of Brownsville, Tennessee. After graduating high school in May 1972, he joined the Army. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1973 and graduated as a member of the Class of 1977. Taliaferro’s interest in photography began when he was posted to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for Special Forces training in 1981. While serving in Germany, his interest in photography continued, and in 1985 he was published for the first time when a Munich magazine purchased the rights to one of his images. After returning to the United States in the summer of 1985, Jerry began doing assignments for advertising and design firms. In July 1988, he left the military and began his pursuit of a career in commercial photography. Over the ensuing years, his interest turned more to fine art photography. This change in direction has resulted in several projects and published pieces. Women of a New Tribe, a photographic study of the spiritual and physical beauty of black women, is one of his latest projects. Jerry Taliaferro currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

Sons Committee

Special thanks to the members of our Sons Committee, without which this exhibition would not have been possible: Andrew Sims, Arthur Garner, Bernard Loudermill, Chris Dean, Dr. Dale Nesbary, Ed Garner, George Walker, J. Arthur Sanders, James Waters, Jon Covington, Justin Jennings, Kelly Richards, Marvin Nash, Rodney Walker, TJ Chappel, William Muhammad, and Jonathan Wilson.


SONS: Seeing the African American Male is underwritten by Fifth Third Bank, and co-sponsored by Arconic – Whitehall Operations and Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP. Program support is provided by the Michigan Humanities Council and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Media Partner is WGVU Public Media.

FantasMenagerie: The Sculptures of Nat Rosales

October 18 through January 13, 2019

Michael and Kay Olthoff/Thelma and Paul Wiener Gallery

Michigan artist Nat Rosales assembles fantastical vehicles and creatures from scrap metal, found and manipulated objects, and mechanical parts. Integral to his art are cast bronze and brass animal sculptures, door and drawer knobs, decorative lamp bodies, gears and drives, various housings, and a host of decorative metal, plastic, and ceramic bric-a-brac. The resulting combinations are a blend of Alice in Wonderland and H.G. Wells, an amalgam of whimsy, fantasy, and mechanics.

FantasMenagerie features over a dozen of Rosales’ recent works, a menagerie of vehicles, contraptions, and mechanical-animal hybrids. Formed from found objects and scrap, and inspired by Rosales’ life and culture, these fantastical creations invite the viewer along on a journey of magic and exploration. To see learn more about the artist and see examples of his work, enjoy the newly published E-Book, available here.

Rosales has been drawn to sculpture since childhood, an ideal expression for his fascination with taking things apart and exploring how the resulting pieces might be reconfigured and assembled. His current body of work began in 2004, with one of his earliest creations, Hog I, appearing in the Muskegon Museum of Art’s annual juried Regional Exhibition in 2005. His Mexican and Catholic heritage combine with a life-long interest in Cubist and Modern sculpture to form the foundation of his artistic expression.

Underwritten by the Van Kampen Boyer Molinari Foundation.

Michigan Artist Sponsor: Blue Lake Public Radio

This program is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Crash Course: Gallery talk with Nat Rosales
Thursday, November 8
6:00 – 7:00 pm
Meet the artist behind the sculptures of FantasMenagerie. Free and open to the public. Cash bar.

Sculpture by Nat Rosales

Sculpture by Nat Rosales

Armand Merizon: His Life and Art

September 20 through January 6, 2019
Good Neighbors by Merizon

Alcoa Foundation/Ernest and Marjorie Cooper Gallery

Color by Armand Merizon

Armand Merizon
Color, 1992, 19 x 25 inches
Collection of Muriel and Dave Zandstra

Armand Merizon (1920-2010) was a lifelong Grand Rapids painter remembered for his detailed landscapes and brilliantly colored abstractions. A founding member of the Grand Valley Artists organization, he influenced generations of West Michigan artists and was an active and supportive presence in the community. This exhibition highlights his entire career, beginning with the precocious landscapes of his late teens and ending with the intuitive abstractions of his final years.

Raised in a conservative Dutch Calvinist household during the Great Depression, Merizon struggled to find his place, ultimately following his passion for art. With limited training, he was able to turn his natural talents for observation and rendering into complex and intricate landscapes and illustrations. Tragically, at mid-career, he began losing his vision to macular degeneration. Rather than abandon painting, he moved in an abstract direction, presenting the landscape in bold strokes and hot, vibrant colors, ultimately painting by intuition instead of sight.

Organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art, the exhibition presents over twenty paintings from West Michigan collections, including landscapes, abstractions, and several of the artist’s political works. Armand Merizon: His Life and Art is shown in conjunction with the recent release of a biography by the same name, written by his long-time friend and collector Muriel Zandstra. (Books are available to purchase in the MMA Museum Store.) After its close at the MMA, the exhibition will travel to the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, MI.


Opening Reception & Book Signing
Thursday, September 20
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Celebrate the opening of this autumn exhibition, a look into the life and work of the late West Michigan artist Armand Merizon. Muriel Zandstra, author of Armand Merizon: His Life and Art, will be on hand to sign books. Books are available to purchase in the MMA Museum Store. Refreshments and cash bar. Event is free and open to the public.

The Paintings of Armand Merizon: A Closer Look
Friends of Art Program with MMA Senior Curator Art Martin
Wednesday, October 17
10:30 am
Art Martin examines Merizon’s paintings over the course of the artist’s career. Program is free and open to the public. Paid admission is required for gallery entry.

Armand Documentary with Muriel Zandstra
Film Screening with Q&A
Thursday, October 25
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Armand tells the story of a nearly blind twentieth century American artist, Armand Merizon. Using personal interviews, historic film footage, and over 100 of his paintings, this film traces Merizon’s search for truth and his portrayal of the social, political, and enviromental issues of the twentieth century. It is also a story of perseverance as he battled macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis. But despite his ailments he vowed, “I will paint until my nose touches the canvas.” Director, Executive Producer, and close friend of Armand, Muriel Zandstra, will hold a Q&A following the film showing. Film admission is free and open to the public.


Michigan Artists Series Media Sponsor: Blue Lake Public Radio



Milk House by Merizon

Armand Merizon
Milk House, early 1970s, 17 x 21.5 inches
Collection of Muriel and Dave Zandstra


Good Neighbors by Merizon

Armand Merizon
Good Neighbors, 2003, 28.5 x 38.5 inches
Collection of Muriel and Dave Zandstra