"The African art collection of Gary Schulze, entitled Artists and Patrons in Traditional African Cultures,
was unveiled in April 2005 at the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery in Bayside.
"I would like this exhibit to give students and visitors a chance to understand and appreciate African
art," Schulze said, "and to see how creative people on the African continent really are."
Schulze's interest in African art increased when he joined the Peace Corps and in 1962 was among
the first group of volunteers to travel to Sierra Leone. It was there, he said, that he gained an
appreciation for diversity and began to understand the importance that art has on culture and
He has since dedicated more than 40 years to collecting the exhibit's almost 200 pieces that represent
more than 30 different cultures, spanning 15 countries. Many of the artifacts are extremely rare and
have distinguished aesthetic value. The oldest piece in the collection dates as far back as 500 B.C.
"The amount of work, thought and passion that went into planning this event is unbelievable," Schulze
said during his thank-you speech at the exhibit's opening on Saturday.
Hundreds of longtime friends, family members and colleagues studied the works as they sipped on
wine and listened to musician Yacouba Sissoko play the African Kora instrument or what he calls "the
music of peace, love and happiness."
Professor of English at CUNY's Baruch College, Dr. Tuzyline Jita Allan said he found the exhibit
stunningly beautiful with rich variety. "My favorites are the pieces from Sierra Leone but that's a
biased opinion because I'm Sierra Leonean," Allan joked.
The artifacts on display include masks, precious miniature figures, costumes, statues and a prized
collection of rings representing the different cultures of Africa.
The ambassador from Sierra Leone to the United Nations and longtime friend of Schulze, Sylvester E.
Rowe, attended the opening to support the exhibit that he says brings the people of Africa together.
"One of the most interesting things is the cultural link of some of these countries no matter of their
colonial background," Rowe said. "This gallery shows you that."
James V. Sheahan, who was Schulze's housemate in Sierra Leone in 1962, said "I really admire what
he's done. I don't know many volunteers who have dedicated so much time to something so important."
Winifred Armstrong, who worked for John F. Kennedy in 1959 when he was in charge of the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, was responsible for sending this very first group of
volunteers to Sierra Leone in 1962.
"This group has really stuck together through over 40 years," Armstrong said. "It's nice to see this art
exhibit bring them together in another manifestation."
The gallery's director, Faustino Quintanilla, said that the newly renovated building is a place for
students and visitors to experience world class art. This is the first African Art exhibition in the
Queensborough gallery and Quintanilla said he is hopeful that it will attract a new and wide ranging
The exhibition includes a catalogue which contains reproductions of some of the objects that are on
display, along with an essay by the African historian Donna Page.
The exhibit, which has been planned for five years, is now open to the students of Queensborough
Community College, as well as the public."
By Radmilla Suleymanova 05/19/2005 Times Ledger 2005
The exhibition ran from April 2005 until Sept. 30, 2005.
Some of the individual objects can be seen in the catalog and individual objects pages.
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