Lonnie Powell Exhibit Opens at Portfolio Gallery in STL

Persistence, pastel on canvas,18×24

As an African American artist raised in Kansas City Missouri, it did not take long to see that he did not have the luxury of being just an artist. On the contrary, he had to be all things related to art and African American art. He had to be an art educator, an art critic, an art agent, a gallery operator, an art booster, a pickup and delivery man and anything else that might pop up. He humbly refers to himself as an art activist.

Lonnie has always sought to keep his art separate from his occupation so that his art was free of financial influences. This separation of art and money allowed him to steer clear of the trends, traps and compromises begrudgingly faced by many of his contemporaries. Although, this course proved to be less lucrative, the art remains true to his heart and shall remain so.

He never refers to his art as his work. His art is not work, his art is his very self and therefore, cannot be separated from the rest of his life.


Lonnie Powell graduated from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri where he studied with the late James Dallas Parks.

Lonnie’s occupations have ranged from dishwasher at the Villa Capri Restaurant to Xerox Sales Representative, but the vast majority of his career has been as an art teacher in the Kansas City Missouri School District.

Lonnie was a charter board member and past president of The Black Archives of Mid-America and a cofounder of Euphrates Gallery. He is a current member and past president of the Friends of Bruce R. Watkins Culture Heritage Center. Lonnie is also president and founder of, “The Light In The Other Room”, a collaborate of twenty-two, African American Kansas City based artists.

He has shown in and around his beloved city of Kansas City, Missouri in many venues including solo and group exhibits at: The Ethnic Art Gallery, The Central Exchange, The Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum, and The American Jazz Museum’s Changing Gallery to name a few.

Lonnie has exhibited at a number of area universities including: Park University, Parkville, Missouri, Western Missouri University, St. Joseph, Missouri, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri and Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri where he spent a year (1969-1970), as an artist in residence.

He has had art accepted in competitions at: The Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, The Atlanta Life Insurance Company’s African American National Art Competition and Exhibition, Atlanta, Georgia, The Black Arts Festival, Dayton, Ohio, The Plaza Art Fair, Kansas City, Missouri, and The St. Louis Art Fair, Clayton, Missouri. He is an award winning, Signature Member of The National Watercolor Society. His art is in numerous private collections as well as the corporate collections of Sprint Corporation, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and The American Jazz Museum.

He has art in The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s traveling exhibition, Shades Of Greatness, which is currently touring galleries and museums across the country. In 2005 his watercolor painting, South Sun, received the coveted, Donor’s Award C, from the 85th National Watercolor Society.

In the December, 2006, Watercolor Magic Magazine, named him as one of the “Ones To Watch.” In June, 2008 he received the “First Place, Patrons Choice award in the First Annual Lakewood Oaks Exhibit in Lee’s Summit, MO.

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