VARNETTE HONEYWOOD ART GALLERY
Varnette Patricia Honeywood was born on Dec. 27, 1950, in Los Angeles. Her parents were elementary school teachers who had migrated from Louisiana and Mississippi.
At 12 she began studying art at the Chouinard Art Institute. She continued studying art at Spelman College in Atlanta, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1972. After earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California in 1974, she taught art and helped design multicultural arts and crafts programs for use in the public schools.
In the mid-1970s she and her sister founded Black Lifestyles, one of the first art and greeting-card companies devoted to black themes.
Her brilliantly colored collages, paintings and prints presented a warm, upbeat picture of black American life and whose paintings were prominently displayed in the living room of the Huxtable home on “The Cosby Show.” Her work also appeared in the television series “Amen,” “227” and “A Different World.”
Honeywood’s bright colors and simplified forms were strongly influenced by narrative artists like Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence and she developed a socially conscious style of genre painting that showed black Americans in familiar settings: interacting with family members, gathering at church, socializing on a front porch.
She drew inspiration in her early work from the area around McComb, Miss., where her grandparents lived. Later, assembling semi-abstract forms into complex patterns, she depicted daily life in the neighborhoods around her in Los Angeles.
Varnette Honeywood died from cancer in 2010 at the age of 59.