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Famous South Side Art Gallery to Venture North

By Justin Breen | December 28, 2012 12:45pm

CHATHAM — Lawrence Calvin D'Antignac sees the writing on the wall — or, in his case, the paintings on the walls.

The founder and owner of the Woodshop Art Gallery, 441 E. 75th St., said many of his customers no longer travel to Chatham because of safety concerns to see his store's paintings, photographs, sculptures, frames and other woodworks.

So D'Antignac, 78, is opening a satellite gallery in Bronzeville at the St. Thomas Parish House, 3800 S. Michigan Ave.

The new locale — to be named the Radcliffe and Elliotte Hunter International Art Gallery — will feature different artists' work monthly. It's set to open February with creations from local talent Dr. Ausbra Ford.

"Bronzeville holds a higher-income population," said D'Antignac, who has run the Woodshop — which specializes in African-American, Caribbean and African works — for 38 years. "This used to be the place where all of [my customers] lived."

D'Antignac, a Chatham resident and pillar of the African arts community, named the new facility after his late first cousins. Radcliffe Walton Hunter, who died in 1998, designed and redesigned several buildings, including the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which owns the Parish House, after a fire burned down the original structure. Elliotte Hunter was a well-known painter before he died in 1969.

"This is really something Calvin is doing," said the Hunters' sister, Rochelle Hunter-Miles, 77, a Hyde Park resident. "I admire him and I think it's about time something is highlighting my brothers."

The Parish House is just steps away from the home of the late Margaret Burroughs, who founded the DuSable Museum of African American history. And the South Side Arts Center is across the street.

Ford, who will be showing about 10 paintings and sculptures based on the Candomble religion of Brazil, said he's extremely excited for the new gallery.

"Bronzeville is very, very famous for its arts history," said Ford, a South Shore resident who is a retired professor from Chicago State University. "It will allow people to see other types of art."

Woodshop event planner Manvel Robinson hopes to have at least 100 people attend the opening night.

Robinson, 33, said many of the artists who will be showcased at the Hunter gallery receive little attention in the United States.

"They're known in their native countries, but not so much here," said Robinson, a Carver Military Academy Graduate and Roseland resident.

D'Antignac said he is certain the new gallery will be a success.

"The people coming will be the ones who can support what I do," he said.