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B. CONEHATTA, MISSISSIPPI, 1933

Joe Overstreet began his career in the Bay Area. He lived in the North Beach section of San Francisco, and was a fixture of the Beat scene. After moving to New York, he and his partner Corrine Jennings established Kenkeleba House, a gallery that has presented innumerable exhibitions of work by artists of color and women. Overstreet’s work of the late 1950s to the mid 1960s assimilates his interests in Abstract Expressionism, Jazz, and African-American history. Many of his paintings are direct responses to the Civil Rights movement, racism, and the history of lynchings.

By 1967, Overstreet started working with shaped canvases. He used wooden dowels shaped with a jigsaw and hand tools to make intricate stretchers, painting figures in patterns drawn  from Aztec, Benin, and Egyptian cultures. Overstreet said, “I was beginning to look at my art     in a different light, not as protest, but as a statement about people...By 1970 I had broken      free from notions that paintings had to be on the wall in rectangular shapes.”

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Joe Overstreet (b. 1933, Conehatta, MS) began his career in the Bay Area. He lived in the North Beach section of San Francisco, and was a fixture of the Beat scene. After moving to New York, he and his partner Corrine Jennings established Kenkeleba House, a gallery that has presented innumerable exhibitions of work by artists of color and women. Overstreet’s work of the late 1950s to the mid 1960s assimilates his interests in Abstract Expressionism, Jazz, and African-American history. Many of his paintings are direct responses to the Civil Rights movement, racism, and the history of lynchings.

By 1967, Overstreet started working with shaped canvases. He used wooden dowels shaped with a jigsaw and hand tools to make intricate stretchers, painting figures in patterns drawn  from Aztec, Benin, and Egyptian cultures. Overstreet said, “I was beginning to look at my art     in a different light, not as protest, but as a statement about people...By 1970 I had broken      free from notions that paintings had to be on the wall in rectangular shapes.”

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