Harlem art gallery focuses on coronavirus, political unrest, economy

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HARLEM, Manhattan — Welcome to the Heath Gallery of Harlem where Soho artist Patrick-Earl Barnes has a one-man show about what we’re all going through right now: the pandemic, political unrest and the economic downturn.

In one of the first paintings you see, U of Mask, hundreds look like they’re wearing masks. Visitors can try to spot the two without masks in the painting.

Other eye grabbing paintings depict two soul brothers one wearing a suit and the other a T-shirt. There’s also a series of LLCs about struggling small businesses, such as Poor Man’s Carry Out and Oui Fix Flats.

“Art is how you think,” the artist said. “All these people and all this art comes from my imagination and things I want to tell the world.”

For more than 20 years, painter Patrick-Earl Barnes has been displaying his paintings in Soho on Broome Street.

But with tourist foot traffic dwindling in SoHo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he welcomed the chance to show at Heath Gallery, created by a fellow artist and his wife on the first floor of their brownstone on West 120th Street.

Why did Thomas Heath create the gallery?

“Because I couldn’t show my work downtown,” Heath, the gallery’s co-founder, told PIX11 News. “And I always said if I owned a brownstone that I would open up my doors to artists who couldn’t show their work elsewhere.”

His wife, Saundra Heath, co-founder of the gallery, explained to PIX11 what she loved about Barnes’ art.

“I like who he is as a person and how that enters into his work,” she said. “I love that the work is bright and colorful and that his work requires you to really take a good look and think deeply and come to your own conclusions about the work.”

Other unique paintings include the shotgun house series, created from the small homes Patrick-Earl Barnes saw while growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana.

They sell for $30 apiece.

Gallery visitors loved what they saw.

“Art reflecting life, life reflecting art,” Adrianne Smith, a gallery visitor, told PIX11 News. “And some of the artwork Patrick has displayed definitely connects to the current times.”

The art exhibit at the Heath Gallery will be up until late September and then you can also find Patrick-Earl Barnes’ work online at Patrick-Earl.com and in Soho in the fall.

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