HARLEM, Manhattan — On the eve of Harlem Week, there’s a fascinating art exhibit opening in Harlem by well-known local artist Thomas Heath at the Heath Gallery, which he and his wife co-own.
The art exhibit is called UBRolling, featuring 22 paintings by Heath, from his early years as a painter in Harlem to his most recent work created during the pandemic.
“UBRolling means we rolled through all the bad times,” Heath told PIX11 News as he pointed to his work. “This reminded me of all the care workers who came to my door with their roller bikes. I thought how hard they worked and how they helped when I couldn’t get outside.”
The Heath Gallery is celebrating 19 years in business on the first floor of this Harlem brownstone on West 120th Street on the edge of Mount Morris Park.
“When he first started painting, he looked to show his work downtown but doors weren’t opening for him,” said Saundra Heath, Thomas’s wife and the co-founder of the Heath Gallery. “We found so many other artists in the same situation. We knew we were renovating the building and we thought we could show his work and other artists work on our walls, too.”
Heath’s work sells for between $400 and $12,000 and he is probably best known for his unique, hand-painted shirts.
“I’ve been selling these shirts since 1995 and sell them worldwide,” Thomas Heath said. “I sell them in front of my house. I’ve been known in this community for these shirts.”
Visitors to the Heath Gallery call it a beacon for underserved artists and audiences.
“This is a really good space in the community for people who may not have opportunities outside of Harlem,” Sherlene Blount said.
Thomas Heath’s paintings are on display until August 28. For more information about his work or the gallery, go to Heathgalleryny.com.