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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007, bulk 1960-2005 | Digitized Collection

Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007, bulk 1960-2005

Biographical Note

Reginald A. Gammon (1921-2005) was a painter and art educator who worked in New York City, Michigan, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was a member of Spiral, an African American artist's collective based in New York City, as well as a member of the New Mexico Afro-American Artist Guild. He taught in the New York public schools and at Western Michigan University.
Gammon was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1941, he received a scholarship to study art at the Philadelphia Museum College of Arts (then the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts) and the following summer worked in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard refurbishing battleships for the war effort. While working, he also attended school at night. He was drafted and served in the Navy from 1944-1946 with an African-American unit stationed in Guam. He lived in Philadelphia briefly after the war and moved to New York City in 1948. During his early years in New York City, Gammon worked at various jobs such as sorting mail for the post office and designing advertising copy. Around this time, he first met his future wife Janice Goldberger whom he married in 1972.
In 1963, Gammon was invited to join Spiral, a group of African American artists which included Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Alvin Hollingsworth, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, and Hale Woodruff. As a member of this group, Gammon participated in the 1965 exhibition First Group Showing: Works in Black and White. Spiral disbanded later that same year. In 1969, Gammon and Benny Andrews formed the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition. This politically active group of artists picketed the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art to protest the exclusion of black artists and curators.
Gammon also taught at the Saturday Academy Program for New York public schools. He set up an informal studio so that children from Harlem could work with resident artists. This position and a recommendation from Hughie Lee-Smith led to an offer from Western Michigan University for a visiting lectureship that turned into a full-time teaching position in which Gammon served until 1991, when he retired as Full Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts and Humanities.
After his retirement from Western Michigan University, Gammon and his wife moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and he became involved in the New Mexico Afro-American Artist Guild and the Albuquerque United Artists, among other civic organizations. He regularly participated in exhibitions and art fairs sponsored by the Guild and served as their treasurer from 1999 until his death. He was artist-in-residence from 1992-2005 at the Harwood Art Center where he also maintained a studio.
Gammon was also one of the founding members of the New Grounds Print Workshop, where he completed his final collection of artworks - a collection of over 100 prints of historically significant gospel singers and jazz musicians. Gammon died on November 4, 2005.
Significant portions of this biographical note were copied from a brief biographical essay written by Janet Yagoda Shagam, Ph.D. found at http://www.reggiegammon.com/index.html (2017/03/16).