Dr. Walter O. Evans purchased his first works of art in 1978 – a portfolio of serigraphs by Jacob Lawrence called “The John Brown Series.” This significant acquisition, as it would prove to be, was the start of Dr. Evans newfound passion – collecting art.
In the intervening 36 years, the retired Detroit surgeon has been able to amass a private collection of more than 500 objects including paintings, sculptures, and photographs spanning some 150 years.
Dr. Evans’ interest in art began as a young sailor stationed in Philadelphia when a date invited him to visit the city’s art museum. From that moment onward, wherever he went, museum-going became a vital piece of Dr. Evans’s life.
Around the time that he began collecting, Dr. Evans realized that American museums were either not collecting or not showing art by African American artists. Soon after this realization, sharing and highlighting the talent and skill of his fellow African-Americans became a very deliberate quality of his collecting habits.
Over the years, Dr. Evans’ collection has expanded to include works from such luminaries as Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim; acclaimed collagist, Romare Bearden; as well as Robert Thompson, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Alma Thomas, and more. Additionally, Evans has also become one of the foremost collectors of Jacob Lawrence’s artwork.
Delatiner, Barbara. “Interest in Black Art Just Grew and Grew.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Jan. 2000. Web. 31 May 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/30/nyregion/interest-in-black-art-just-grew-and-grew.html>.
Savannah College of Art and Design. The Walter O. Evans Foundation for Art and Literature and Dr. Walter O. Evans Donate African-American Artwork to the Savannah College of Art and Design. The Walter O. Evans Foundation for Art and Literature and Dr. Walter… N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2014. <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-walter-o-evans-foundation-for-art-and-literature-and-dr-walter-o-evans-donate-african-american-artwork-to-the-savannah-college-of-art-and-design-53150662.html>.
“Dr. Walter Evans, Art Collector.” Interview by Lala Jackson. Who Made You Great. N.p., 31 Oct. 2010. Web. 31 May 2014. <http://whomadeyougreat.com/2010/10/13/dr-walter-evans-art-collector/>.
“African American Art from the Walter O. Evans Collection.” African American Art from the Walter O. Evans Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2014. <http://www.dia.org/exhibitions/woe/preview.asp>.