Purvis Young was born in Liberty City in 1943 and grew up in what was still known in his youth as "Colored Town", now called Overtown. He grew up with few prospects for achieving anything like the "American Dream" in his lifetime. He dropped out of all-black Booker T. Washington High School after 10th grade, and by age 18 was serving four years of hard time a Raiford State Prison for burglary. Prison, however, brought him back to drawing, and when he returned to the streets of Overtown in the early 1960s he was eager to express himself through art. Purvis painted and drew constantly. His work reflected the despair and injustice of the urban and immigrant poor in Miami, as well as the larger national issues of the time - the Vietnam War, urban riots, police brutality the vast influx of refugees from all parts of the world. Despite the hard times, Purvis also reflected hope and redemption in his paintings - angels, saints, freedom horses and the promise of new life. The work is simple and sometimes even brutal, but few who see it can fail to be moved.
Purvis Young's works can be seen in more than 40 public galleries and museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery. Several eminent art collectors, including Mera and Donald Rubell, William Arnett, Skot Foreman and others have acquired large numbers of Young's work.
Ken Brown co-founder of Gallery 2014 will present a talk about the collection and Purvis's life and times at 3:00pm.