AllArtWorks Viewing Studio
333 Cesar E Chavez SW
Grand Rapids, MI
AllArtWorks presents Love, Art & Redemption, exhibiting work by Joseph Whitaker.
Joseph’s life was forever changed when at the age of 19 he faced 11 years of incarceration for armed robbery. While in prison he found hope and purpose in the creation of art, which he credits with saving his life.
“I was scared, I was a small guy. While serving my sentence it was there that I discovered art and its transformative power.” - Joseph Whitaker.
He started drawing on small pieces of found paper, and his passion resulted in an older fellow inmate giving Joseph a book on modern art. He was inspired particularly by Basquiat & Pollock: “I saw his work, and then I saw a photo of Basquiat, and I just saw a look in his eyes that I thought I saw in my own, in my mugshot, I saw this was something for me, making art.”
After that he totally immersed himself in the experience. Starting with small, intense gestural abstract drawings, some on torn pieces of paper not much bigger than 2” square, over the years he moved methodically through a series of media, concepts and scale. First ink, then pencil - impossibly delicate geometric abstractions using as stencils anything he could find - then he introduced color, smudged pencil, pastel. He amassed a collection of thousands of drawings, and continued making them in the same organized and methodical way.
In 2021, 9 years into his sentence, he met a German woman through the Write-a-Prisoner program, who encouraged his pursuit while their relationship developed. “After a year of correspondence we fell in love, and the day I got out she was there waiting for me!”
“We are honored to present Joseph Whitaker, both his life and his artwork at AllArtWorks Viewing Studio. This will provide attendees a rare window into his world, and his extremely unique work and vision,” states Chris Protas, curator of the exhibit. “It’s an amazing example of the impact art can have on a person’s life. With our job of pairing art with people, Joseph’s story really resonated with us. Our job is to sell art, but in doing so we want to build a safe and respectful community that gives artists a chance to share their lives and stories with the public.”
AllArtWorks is an online art-selling platform that represents hundreds of artists from around the US and the world. Their showroom in downtown Grand Rapids, which has a thousand works of art onsite available for viewing in person, hosts regular events throughout the year.
The event will be held on August 26th, 6-9pm at AllArtWorks Viewing Studio and is free to the public.
Visitors are invited to explore, reflect and share in Joseph Whitaker’s journey of personal and artistic discovery.