Massachusetts: Governor Healey Installs Two Paintings by Artists of Color in Governor’s Office

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Boston — Today, Governor Maura Healey announced that she has selected two paintings by artists of color to hang in the Governor's Executive Office Suite. The pieces, on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), are "Black Tie" by Robert T. Freeman and "At the Tremont Street Car Barns" by Allan Rohan Crite. This is a continuation of Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll's commitment to bringing more inclusive faces and voices to the State House.

"When people walk into the Governor's Office, I want them to feel seen, represented and empowered. An important way to do this is by hanging artwork that is representative of the diverse Massachusetts experience," said Governor Healey. "I'm proud to take this first step to update the artwork in the Governor's Office with the selection of these two beautiful pieces by Robert Freeman and Allan Rohan Crite. We appreciated the guidance of Michael Bobbitt, Makeeba McCreary, Joyce Linehan, and Susan Greendyke Lachevre in selecting these paintings. I'm grateful to the Museum of Fine Arts for our longstanding partnership to bring artwork to the Governor's Office, and we look forward to forging new partnerships as we explore how to ensure that the symbols we display reflect the vibrant diversity of our state, including pieces by Latino, AAPI and Native American artists and artists from every region of the state."

"The walls of the People's House should represent all of the people who make Massachusetts the greatest state," said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. "Seeing these two works of art as I walk into work every day will serve as a significant reminder of why we do this work and who we're doing it for. Across this administration, our primary goal is to make Massachusetts better for everyone. Not only are these paintings a beautiful addition to our halls, but in featuring them at the State House, we celebrate Massachusetts and recognize our history."

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To begin the conversation about making sure the artwork in the Governor's Office is more reflective of the entire state, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor called on Michael Bobbitt of the Mass Cultural Council, Makeeba McCreary of the New Commonwealth Fund, and Joyce Linehan of Massachusetts College of Art and Design to advise and curate. Susan Greendyke Lachevre, Curator of the State House Art Commission, assisted with the selection and installation of the pieces.

"We are honored to support Governor Healey's mission of inclusivity by lending these great paintings from our collection to the State House. To have Massachusetts artists featured so prominently is incredibly meaningful for all of us," said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. "Art truly does inspire and create new opportunities to understand the world around us, and we hope these depictions of the Black American experience resonate deeply with staff and visitors to the Governor's office."

"Michael, Joyce and I were honored to work with the Governor and her team, including Susan Greendyke Lachevre of the State House Art Commission, as well as the MFA to identify the Freeman and Crite works," said Makeeba McCreary. "Both artists hold a special place in the Commonwealth's art landscape and offer a reminder of how powerful the agency is in who tells the story and where it is told. It is wonderful to see these works on view in that hallowed space."

About the artwork:

Black Tie by Robert T. Freeman
: Robert T. Freeman created the "Black-Tie" series in 1981 to highlight the "beauty, elegance, and grace of the Black middle class." The painting that will now hang in the Executive Suite depicts a social gathering of Black people during segregation in America, when they were forced to create their own spaces. The painting is set in a ballroom with women wearing floor length gowns and men wearing tuxedos as they look directly at the viewer. The collective eye contact, with no distinguishable facial expressions, is meant to engage the viewer in a dialogue about belonging.

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Freeman began his career as the Art Director for the Weston Public Schools and later became Artist in Residence at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA where he remained for 27 years. He also taught drawing and painting at Harvard University. In 1997, he was awarded the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Visual Arts and, in 2020, was named a member of the Boston Arts Commission. He was born in Brooklyn, NY but spent much of his childhood in Ghana. He attended Howard University and Boston University's School of Visual Arts.

"Having my work shown outside the Governor's office is a great honor," said Robert Freeman. "I deeply appreciate the Governor's emphasis on diversifying the art shown in the State House."

At the Tremont Street Car Barns by Allan Rohan Crite: In 1939, Allan Rohan Crite painted "At the Tremont Street Car Barns" to depict Black Americans in their everyday life. In the foreground, there are various Black people in outercoats moving up and down the street — one woman is in a stylish A-line gray coat with a matching skirt and wide-brim hat with red stitching that is blocking her eyes from the viewer. In the background, the viewers can see a two-story brick building with a trolley train entering the scene.

Crite was raised in Roxbury and trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University Extension School. He spent most of his career as an illustrator in the Planning Department of the Boston Naval Shipyards. He received the Commonwealth Award from the Mass Cultural Council and the Harvard University Centennial Medal, among other awards. In 1986, the City of Boston dedicated the Allan Rohan Crite Park on Columbus Avenue nearby his former home.

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