Art and literature lovers alike will converge on the Mackey Twins Art Gallery in Mount Vernon, New York, on Saturday, June 25. Attendees will gather at 4 p.m. sharp for an appearance by Evelyn Louise Crawford and Dr. MaryLouise Patterson, co editors of the powerful book Letters from Langston: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Red Scare and Beyond, a compilation of personal letters by Langston Hughes written to their families. The event will feature a performance by actor Eric Coleman reading the letters of Hughes. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view rarely seen film clips of Hughes.
The book offers a little known personal and vulnerable side of the American literary giant and Harlem Renaissance figure as he corresponded over four decades with four of his closest Black friends, couples Louise Thompson Patterson and William L. Patterson and Matt N. Crawford and Evelyn Graves Crawford. Three of the four were important leftist political figures and active members of the Communist Party who found themselves targets of the FBI. Patterson’s father, William, even became a political prisoner. The treasure trove of letters includes news of the couples’ political activism and family life and Hughes’ challenges in his writing career during a tumultuous era as they each worked to create a more equitable world.
In addition to being co editor of the book, Patterson is an avid collector of art from the gallery. “The Mackey Twins Art Gallery presents a high level of social consciousness and dedication to the preservation and promotion of our culture,” Patterson said.
It’s a mission identical twin sisters Karen Mackey Witherspoon and Sharon Mackey McGee take seriously. Since 2002 the duo has been showing the love to Black artists and other artists of color by helping develop collectors of color. The Mackey Twins Art Gallery is now the largest collection of exclusive works of artists of color in the tristate area, including works by acclaimed artists Xenobia Bailey, Betty Blayton, Stacey Brown, Wayne Bowen, Leroy Campbell, James Denmark, Essud Fungcap, Magno Laracuente, Ruth Miller, Charly Palmer and TWIN, which will be on display. Their clients and supporters include Lonette McKee, Khalil Kain, Danny Simmons,
Byron and Sylvia Lewis, Lloyd Williams and Voza Rivers, as well as many buyers for which they have helped open the door to the world of art.
“This event is different from our usual art exhibitions; however, we realize that our culture also includes literature,” said the Twins, who are also both executives at City College. “We could not pass up such a rare opportunity to present Dr. Patterson’s book—it is a gift that we wanted to share with our audience. We will continue to have special events that promote our tremendously rich culture.”