A Hollywood Alternative

Movie Posters Reveal a Parallel History of American Filmmaking

An upcoming art exhibition promises to be a fascinating look at film history and African-American history.

Art aficionados know that the small Koehnline Museum on the Des Plaines campus of Oakton Community College is a constant generator of quality shows. Curator Nathan Harpaz never ceases to amaze in his presentation of artists and angles that are often overlooked.

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The latest show at the Koehnline Museum opens February 6. It’s called Gems from the Koehnline: African-American Movie Posters. It’s an exhibit of 40 original posters recently acquired by the museum from a private donor.

The posters depict an era – from the 1930s into the 1950s – when African-Americans created an independent movie industry to counter the lily-white Hollywood star system.

The bold graphic designs on display depict an era of self-determined opportunity – a parallel history of American filmmaking filled with as much comedy and melodrama as the mainstream. The exhibition will also include clips from some of the featured movies.

Gems from the Koehnline: African-American Movie Posters opens to the public on Thursday, February 6 at 5:00 pm and runs through March 21.

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