David Ramey (American, 1939-2017), Gainsboro Road (detail), ©David Ramey

David Ramey (American, 1939-2017), Gainsboro Road (detail), ©David Ramey

David Ramey: Gainsboro Road and Beyond

SEP 01, 2023  MAR 31, 2024

The Harrison Museum of African American Culture and the Taubman Museum of Art take great pride in jointly presenting the drawings and stories of Roanoke artist David Ramey (1939-2017) in the exhibition Gainsboro Road and Beyond.

On view at each museum are approximately 100 drawings with 75 accompanying stories that record the artist’s youthful memories of Roanoke’s thriving Black communities of Gainsboro and Northeast from the mid-1940’s through the late 1960’s.

The Taubman and Harrison museums each provide unique selections of the artist’s work, and visitors are encouraged to spend time at both museums.

On view at the Harrison Museum are drawings and stories from the illustrated book that the artist self-published in 2012, The Times and Life on Henry Street, as well as a collection of drawings and stories intended for the as-yet-unpublished book Gainsboro Road and Beyond. A second complete (and possibly earlier) version of this proposed book is presented at the Taubman Museum, along with never-before-seen drawings and yet-to-be-transcribed writings entitled Gainsboro Going into North East.

This exhibition draws from among the more than 700 drawings Ramey created throughout the 1980’s through the early 2000’s to share his perspective on much of what was lost.

The memories David Ramey shares are of the Gainsboro neighborhood and beyond as it existed before national urban renewal programs. The Gainsboro History Project provides stories, connections, and the history of this community.

It is a tribute to David Ramey and the power of his artistic genius that this exhibition provides an opportunity to explore and learn about both the glories and the challenges of the past, as well as a forum to work together toward a more promising and just future.

A very special thanks to the artist’s son, David Ramey, Jr., for preserving and sharing his father’s works. Many thanks to The Gainsboro History Project for the opportunity to reference their important scholarship.

We are grateful to exhibition partners Hollins UniversityRoanoke Collegethe Roanoke Higher Education Center, and Roanoke Public Libraries for helping us celebrate and present these drawings and stories to the public.

David Ramey: Gainsboro Road and Beyond is organized by the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and the Taubman Museum of Art and is on view at both institutions September 1, 2023-March 31, 2024.

Harrison Museum of African American Culture welcomes visitors Wednesday through Saturday 10 am-3 pm.

The Taubman Museum of Art is open Friday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm and Sunday 12-5 pm, with extended hours until 9 pm on the first Friday of each month.

Admission to the exhibition at both museums is free.

All images ©David A. Ramey