In Our Lifetime, America’s First Black President, Barack Hussein Obama


Cuban Orisha painter
in his space, 2015

A yearlong art exhibition and celebration! Why? Who are the featured artists? How does it work? Founder of Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery, Evelyn Patricia Terry, committed to a 2016 yearlong art celebration of “America’s First Black President” through monthly exhibitions that began this past January - sharing behind-the-scene information. Focusing on 2016, the last year of President Barack Hussein Obama’s two-termed election, evolved from Terry’s decision to purchase four of Blanche Brown’s collage artworks for each of her four grandchildren as mementos for President Obama’s special historical breakthrough. Plus, Terry’s 2015 travel to Cuba via a MEDICC fellowship from Walnut Way Conservation Corps proved pivotal in her decision to celebrate President Obama’s last year in office.


In Matanzas, Cuba, Walnut Way Conservation
Corps and MEDICC Group, 2015, Photo by Rayna Andrews

Cuba’s spirited home studios, galleries and shops stirred Terry’s entrepreneurial spirit and expanded possibilities of what she could do with her home space. She enjoyed hearing Cuban vendor’s greeting, often extended to passerbys, “Looking is free.” While traveling Havana’s streets daily, open doors attracted her and other tourists, as artists painted, people prepared or cooked meals in kitchens, or groups of people conversed at tables in other rooms.  

Terry said, “In January, I opened my gallery space to increase access to Brown’s artwork and to incorporate the zeal Cuban artists convey. Della Wells, Ras Ammar Nsoroma, and Fatima Laster then began exhibiting monthly. They provide distinctively emotive “America” themed imagery, which my artists’ book constructions presently express.”

Founding the Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery evolved from a series of unfortunate incidents “turning lemons into lemonade.” Initially, Terry’s home was set ablaze by an arsonist after a series of break-ins. The “fire” call came as Terry, along with her son, Fondé Bridges, hung artwork in Wayne and Theresa Embry’s home. The Embrys, with the largest collection of Terry’s artwork spanning many years and many series, eventually hosted a fundraiser, augmenting Terry’s insurance. Self-taught folk artist George Ray McCormick Sr., Terry’s long time love interest and partner, allowed Terry to move into his home while her home was being rehabbed.

During this transition period, McCormick’s sudden death in 2009, forced Terry to move back into her vulnerable home with the assistance of her son – in – law and daughter. The first line of business was installing an alarm system, after numerous break-ins, happening even during the rehab. Her ultimate priority became creating a space to honor McCormick’s life and creativity. She decided to delegate one room to attract collectors for his drawings, welded sculptures, carvings and paintings. She knew definitely that McCormick worked hard on having his artwork valued and purchased for collections as other artists he knew of were so honored (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe3og8aY_nA). 

As Terry began moving her purchased collection of artwork into her home along with artwork she created, her abandoned ideas of replacement furniture allowed her more unencumbered wall space and the gallery idea began taking shape. Changing exhibitions were to be downstairs. Her artwork and private collection would dominate the upstairs space. Going back and forth with the gallery’s name since 2009, she finally settled this year on Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery to focus on private tours and ardent collectors after this year.


Evelyn addressing Neu-Life Tour staff and students

Terry said, “Visitors to the Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery, as they leave, often express awareness that every part of the city has the potential to contribute to wellbeing and impact Milwaukee’s vibrancy.” During the past year, the gallery hosted four very unique tour groups as follows:

1. James Godsil bused partygoers to the gallery as one of his stops during his 2015 birthday celebration: (https://portalwisconsin.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/jim-godsil-rainbow-street-party-of-100-names/.

2. Adam Carr lead Neu Life Community Development Staff and neighborhood youth participants on an area bus tour. The gallery was one of their stops.

3. On a bus tour, along with Mary Louise Schumacher, Adam Carr attracted adults from an assortment of neighborhoods. The gallery was one of their stops.

4. A book club tour, led by Katie Parent (in cars), celebrated the birthday of one of their members, toured the gallery and purchased artwork.

Tours are welcome. Up to 25 participants is great. Along with Wells, Brown, Laster and Nsoroma, Terry’s eclectic international collection exhibits an array of styles and media from artists of all ages, genders, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Bessie Sims, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, Kevin Boatright, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, Simon Sparrow, Margo Humphrey, Louis Delsarte, Jessica Poor, Laura Easy Jones, Reginald Baylor, Pat Hidson, Nancy White, Ktinsley, Prophet Blackmon, Katie Musolff and Rev. Josephus Farmer among others. The short bio information for artists displaying the two gallery themes “First Black American President: Barack Hussein and “America” are as follows:


Blanche Brown

Blanche Brown’s work, as an art activist, addresses social injustices and the psychological and psychosocial impact these issues have on undeserved and underrepresented groups. Her featured collage series for this exhibition evolved from her enthusiastic commitment to President Obama’s first election campaign. Although elated by the historical victory, she became aware of surfacing vitriolic actions as fearful Americans purchased shocking numbers of guns and ammunition. Brown’s collage series captures America’s chaos countered with her world vision and the inspiration of President Obama’s message and book “The Audacity of Hope.” 

Brown became an artist thirteen years ago inspired by the unexpected loss of her stepfather, who often encouraged her to draw,  A wife and mother of adult children, she after a  career in another field, returned to college and acquired a BFA in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She plans to enroll in Mount Mary College in fall of 2016 to earn an Art Therapy Degree.  Modestly priced small dolls, cards, prints and mixed media assemblages complement her larger framed President Obama collages. Link to more about Brown’s series on her blog artbybb.com and facebook page: bbsarty.


Blanche Brown, Now is the timeBlanche Brown, Outliers_II



Della Wells, Preaching Freedom

Della Wells

Della Wells, a nationally exhibited and collected self-taught folk artist, accepted Terry’s invitation to create artwork reflecting the theme “America.”  Her often-captivating perceptive titles provide clarity to historical, psychological, social, religious and cultural mores revealed in Wells’ collages. Galleries presently representing Wells’ artwork are Red Piano Too Gallery in St. Helena Island, South Carolina; Marcia Webber Art Objects in Montgomery, Alabama; Mainstreet Art Gallery in Clayton, Georgia and her dolls are shown in Intuit Center for Outsider Art in Chicago, Illinois.

Wells’ solid long standing connection to the Kentuck (spelled correctly) Art Festival, in Northport, Alabama, resulted in her growing national reputation. This year, her artwork has been purchased for the new African American Smithsonian Institution Museum gift shop.  She offers cards, drawings, paintings and dolls centering on predominantly black female images created through her unique storytelling and aesthetic proclivity. Wells can be accessed at her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/della.wells.7


[-Ras Ammar Nsoroma

© Pat A. Robinson-]

Ras Ammar Nsoroma continues to enrich the gallery space and others with visitors sitting for gorgeous portraits at amazingly great prices - black and white charcoal renderings for $40 and color pastel renderings for $50. His personal paintings and drawings are taken from the culture and history of Black America. One aspect of his drawings and paintings culturally show the beauty of the Black woman. Historically, his paintings often reflect situations expressing feelings of life in America resulting from the American slave trade. Ammar’s interior and exterior mural commissions, seen throughout the United States, include Watts in Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois and about 25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In 2015 and 2016, his commissions include working on public arts projects for the Bronzeville and Havenwoods neighborhoods. He can be contacted on facebook.

Ras Ammar Nsoroma, Pastel portraitRas Ammar Nsoroma, Displaced & Disconnected



Fatima Laster

Fatima Laster, with a background in finance, marketing and entrepreneurship, began to paint five years ago with relentless fervor. Her meticulous penchant for displaying her artwork ties in with the physicality that defines her creative approach.  She in her own words, “messily manipulates plaster and mixed media” stepping over and around large canvases to achieve her resulting orderly neat aesthetic. Although the self – taught category fits Laster, the refined finish of her abstract non – objective paintings prove to be devoid of traditional folk art associations.

An exception to her abstract paintings, “Be My Voice” captures Laster’s observations of America’s current political and cultural climate of emotional instability fraught with inequity, brutality and internal terrorism. Actual incidents are noted in collaged images and stories of Black women brutalized by White policemen, without justifiable cause in the eyes of many. The 2015 assemblage embraces the physicality of joining several stretched canvases together enhanced by embellished surfaces of aqua blue and peach (feminist influence) colored acrylic paint, plaster and collage. Link to more images at the following facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fatima.laster


Fatima Laster, Be My Voice


Evelyn Patricia Terry
Photo by Stef Bartz. 2012

Evelyn Patricia Terry explores the theme “America” in her current creation of artists’ books. This direction surfaced after 40 - plus years of producing non-objective pastels, mixed media printmaking and collecting stuff to assemble numerous found object brooches and assemblages. Her artists’ books titled “America: Guests Who Came to Dinner (And Stayed)” and “America’s Favor” explore the theme “America” - Its foundation and its impact.

Terry, collected by more than 400 patrons, created a list, which includes 80 corporate collections, four regional museums and many private patrons.  Duke and Baylor Universities have special library collections focused on collecting unique and rare books. Discovering new markets figure into Terry’s visions to locate national homes to archive her personal artwork. Jessica Poor ushered Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, LLC. into her life and set her on the path of artists’ book production. Link to Vamp and Tramp booksellers site to view Terry’s 2016 book images and content information: http://www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/t/Evelyn-Patricia-Terry.html#america


Evelyn Patricia Terry, America’s Favor

The range of artwork varies between $3 to several thousand. Original prints, cards, paintings, drawings, brooches, carvings and garden sculptures are available. Novice collectors with questions, people who “just look” and seasoned collectors with vision, experience, fervor and discretionary income interested in expanding their personal collections are invited to visit.

Contact Person: Evelyn Patricia Terry - 414.264.6766 or terryevelyn@hotmail.com.

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Last edited by patricia obletz. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on June 16, 2016

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