Alabama Contemporary Art Center


News and Press Releases

Sister Shores: From Mobile to Havana

Tuesday April 25, 2017
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

May 4 – August 10

Wednesday – Saturday 11:00 AM- 5:00 PM

Admission: Adults $5, Members Free, Children 14 and under Free, Fridays Free

LoDa ArtWalk May 12 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Join Alabama Contemporary for a glass of wine to celebrate the opening of Sister Shores: From Mobile to Havana – Lower Dauphin (LoDa) Arts District galleries, shops, and restaurants are open late, full details available at

‘Mobile, Alabama, and Havana, Cuba, have only three things in common – the past, the present and the future.’ (Southern historian Jay Higginbotham)

With less than 600 nautical miles between their ports, Havana and Mobile share a common history of economic and cultural exchange. Mobile’s historic Sister City relationship with Havana, established in 1993, was the first twinning of American and Cuban cities.

From May 4, 2017 Alabama Contemporary Art Center presents Sister Shores: From Mobile to Havana, a four month exhibition and initiative for community engagement exploring contemporary life in Cuba. The exhibition, whose opening coincides with the launch of Alabama 200, a statewide celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial, will be accompanied by a robust roster of public and educational programs for all ages. Sister Shores will also introduce the artistic practices and cultural contexts examined in depth in Back to Havana, a survey of twelve of Cuba’s foremost contemporary artists, coming in September 2017.

Taking the artist exchanges of The University of Alabama’s Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship as a model, Alabama Contemporary will facilitate the exchange of digital and multimedia works of art from their higher education courses. Students from the University of South Alabama, Mobile (Ramon Deanda, Amanda Youngblood, and Keith Wall) and Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana (Osmel Herrera, Miriannys Montes De Oca Mirabal, and Melisa Manguart González) will present works relating to five thematic sections – home and family, play and recreation, travel and transportation, communications and technology, and dreams.

Alongside this exchange interviews and photography by Lynn Oldshue, director of The Southern Rambler and Our Southern Souls, take the public into the homes of local Cubans through interviews and photography, highlighting the diversity and shared history of Mobile and Havana. A film series showcasing Cuba’s most acclaimed directors and curated by producer and director Gideon Kennedy celebrates the 2017 Alabama Bicentennial theme Discovering our Places.

Sister Shores: From Mobile to Havana is made possible through generous support from The Hearin-Chandler Foundation, The Community Foundation of South Alabama, and The Mobile County Commission. The exhibition and programs were developed in partnership with The City of Mobile, Society Mobile-La Habana, The University of South Alabama, Instituto Superior de Arte, Alabama 200, and Gulf Coast publishers The Southern Rambler and Our Southern Souls.


In September 2017, Alabama Contemporary Art Center presents Back to Havana. Curated by Amanda Solley (Director of Exhibitions and Programs) with advisory assistance from artist Aliosky García, Back to Havana features multimedia works of art from 12 Havana-based artists including Kcho, Ibrahim Miranda, Abel Barroso, Aliosky Garcia, Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo, Dania Fleites, Gustavo del Valle, Ramon Vargas Artiz, Daniel Rodriguez Garcia. The exhibition explores Cuban culture through five categories: home and family, play and recreation, travel and transportation, communications and technology, and dreams.

Back to Havana furthers Alabama Contemporary Art Center’s mission of connecting globally significant ideas, issues, and interests with the region – beginning with Mobile. The exhibition will provide an accurate, up-to-date portrayal of Havana’s citizens while strategically engaging – and forming lasting relationships – with the Mobile community as a whole. Interpretive programming will accompany the exhibit in the form of artist talks and demonstrations, classes, workshops, guided tours, films, performances, and participatory projects.

The exhibition’s six sections will act as point of reference for viewers, while bilingual didactic texts will clarify the associations between artist background, artist intent, materials, imagery, title, and meaning. Participatory zones will also be set up including a Pop-up WiFi lounge with Abel Barroso’s Third World Internet Café installation, a Response Area where visitors can leave comments, drawings, suggestions, and interpretations about the exhibition, and a Study Library, housing related periodicals and texts and a video featuring artist interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from artist’s studios presenting the development and fabrication of the works on display.


Founded in 1999, Alabama Contemporary Art Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit contemporary arts center located on Cathedral Square in the heart of Mobile’s historic downtown district. In 2016 Alabama Contemporary served 9,039 people through admissions (7,550) and Public and Educational Programs including Classes and Workshops for Adults (219), Summer Camps (400), Children and Teen Programs (410), and Public Conversations, Films, and Talks (460).

Alabama Contemporary is focused on a quest to reinvent what a contemporary arts organization can be for our time. We aim to be a pivotal force in contemporary art for the Southeast by marshaling global talent to engage all sectors of the Mobile community in ideas, issues, and interests that matter.

Alabama Contemporary investigates themes and topics of particular relevance to the Gulf Coast, functions as a public forum, convener, and cultural broker, forming strategic alliances with other cultural, social, educational, and civic institutions. The goal of Alabama Contemporary Art Center is to apply creativity and innovation to the pressing needs of the day while creating a national model for constructive community building through the arts.
Membership is the most effective way to enjoy all of the benefits that Alabama Contemporary Art Center has to offer – by becoming a member, you make the strong statement that contemporary art matters. Members receive free gallery admission, discounts on classes and store items and reciprocal members also receive benefits at hundreds of museums nationwide. For more information, contact Allison Schaub at or (251) 208-5657.

Souls Grown Deep Featured in "The Creators Project" Blog

Monday February 22, 2016
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Alabama Contemporary Partners with Alabama Center for Architecture

Thursday January 28, 2016
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center


The Alabama Center for Architecture (ACFA), in partnership with the Mobile chapter of the American
Institute of Architects and Alabama Contemporary Art Center, is hosting the dreamArchitecture Contest, a FREE community outreach
program encouraging K – 5th grade students to think about the built environment!

The contest will be held in the Spring of 2016, and all school children in K-5th grades in Mobile County Schools are invited to


Artist Thornton Dial, an American Genius, Dies at 87

Wednesday January 27, 2016
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Artist Thornton Dial, an American Genius, Dies at 87

It has been said that when gods fall, the earth shakes.

Yesterday night, the news broke that the Alabama-based African-American artist Thornton Dial had died on Monday at his home in McCalla, just southeast of Birmingham, at the age of 87. A master of what label-loving art historians and merchants might refer to as post-Cubist assemblage or postmodern appropriation, not to mention of his own variety of unaffected expressionism and a fluid style of draftsmanship that was both lyrical and semi-abstract, Dial was an artist whose ideas and creations fit into all and none of those establishment-dictated categories at the same time. As with the most innovative, most remarkable self-taught artists of any time or place, both his worldview and the evidence of his artistic achievement were and remain unique and, ultimately, unclassifiable.

In an international art world whose mainstream institutions and market celebrate cynicism and superficiality, and are fueled by ego and hype, the bell tolls for Dial today more softly than it should. (Always quick to trumpet the new, banal, high-priced baubles of Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst, the New York Times offered no obituary this morning — for major cultural figures, such pieces are normally prepared well in advance — although the Associated Press weighed in with a brief report.) However, for those familiar with the accomplishments of this visionary American artist of the 20th and early 21st century period, the tremor they’re feeling upon the news of Dial’s death is one that rocks canonical modern-art history to its very foundation.

Dial was an art-maker who, like Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Louise Bourgeois, and Anselm Kiefer, dared to take on themes that were as big as his technical skills were refined. In his art he examined slavery, racism, the struggle of the oppressed for their rights and freedom, war, the abuse of women, nature’s inexplicable forces — and hope and beauty, too. Its maker experienced many hardships and challenges in his lifetime, from poverty to the ugly, institutionalized racism of his native region, but instead of taking a bitter, cynical turn, Dial’s art was shaped in large part by his abiding faith in the redemptive power of aspiration — of keeping hope alive — and of looking for the unsinkable good in even the darkest episodes of history or the most discouraging expressions of the human spirit.

That might have been because Dial, like many of the most singular autodidacts, made his work primarily for himself, not for any market or public. Dial instinctively aimed for something alien to and bigger than any concern of the established market: truth. Just a few years ago, in early 2011, on the occasion of an exhibition of his work opening at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Dial observed:

All truth is hard truth. We’re in the darkness now and we got to accept the hard truth to bring on the light. You can hide the truth but you can’t get rid of it. When truth come out in the light, we get the beauty of the world. (more…)

Wednesday August 19, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Selma to Montgomery: Spider Martin’s Historic  Photographs

 Opening August 26, 4:00 – 6:00 pm

The Archaeology Museum at the University of South Alabama(USA) is pleased to invite you to the opening of the exhibition Selma to Montgomery: Spider Martin’s Historic Photographs on Wednesday August 26 at 4:00 pm. 

James ‘Spider’ Martin was one of the nation’s most gifted documentary photographers, well known for his work capturing the Civil Rights Movement. A native Alabamian, he was the youngest freelance photographer from the Birmingham News when he was sent to cover the shooting of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson, whose murder by a State Trooper in Marion, Alabama, instigated the Selma marches. Over the next several weeks, Spider chronicled the day-to-day events of the Selma campaign, from church rallies to the planning sessions for the marches themselves. The exhibition showcases Martin’s images from Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) and the Selma to Montgomery March (March 21 – 25, 1965). Martin once said that he walked from Selma to Montgomery backward, as he made the journey with voting rights marchers, often a few steps ahead, in order for his camera to record the human details of the history they were making. Martin recalled that after the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Martin Luther King said to him,“Spider, we could have marched, we could have protested forever, but if it weren’t for guys like you, it would have been for nothing. The whole world saw your pictures. That’s why the Voting Rights Act passed.” 

This exhibition is a component of the Common Read/Common World Initiative inviting the USA community to share in reading Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America (University of Alabama Press, 2004) by USA’s writer-in-residence Frye Gaillard. The book puts a human face on the story of the African American struggle for equality in Alabama during the 1960s as do Martin’s powerful photographs.

Outsider Art from the Collection of MMofA

Monday August 03, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

The Mobile Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, Outsider Art from the Collection of MMofA, will open in conjunction with Alabama Contemporary Art Center’s exhibit, History Refused to Die. Paintings, sculpture, and furniture by self-taught artists will be on display until January 3, 2015.

Please visit their website for more information.

What It Means To Be A 'Self-Taught Genius' In Art

Sunday July 26, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

What do Albert Einstein and a folk artist have in common?

Check out this article by the Huffington Post about the oftentimes ambiguous label of “Outsider” artists.

The article examines terms such as “genius”, “self-taught”, and “outsider”, while delving into the idea that “on the deepest levels all artists teach themselves”.


Mayor Sandy Stimpson visits Alabama Contemporary

Wednesday July 01, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center


On Thursday, June 25, Mayor Sandy Stimpson, his staff, and invited guests joined us for a guided tour of History Refused to Die. We are grateful to have his support in our mission to bring internationally recognized talent to Mobile!

Poetry Walk

Wednesday July 01, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Please join Dr. Robert Gray, director of Mobile in Black and White, and an impressive lineup of Southern poets for a very special celebration of poetry during Art Walk on July 10th. Typically held during the November Art Walk, this month’s Poetry Walk is being presented in July as Dr. Robert Gray will soon be completing his move to Bergen, Norway for a new professional opportunity. The evening will kick off in the main gallery at Alabama Contemporary Art Center at 3:00, followed by readings at the Blind Mule at 5:00 and The History Museum of Mobile at 7:00.


Alabama Contemporary Art Center
301 Conti Street

Scott Wilkerson (Columbus, GA)
Bonnie Roberts (Huntsville, AL)
Theola Bright (Mobile, AL)
Stephen Schuler (Mobile, AL)
Huggy Bear Lofton (Mobile, AL)
Jennifer Horne (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Melissa Dickson Jackson (Columbus, GA)
Anna Plovanich (Mobile, AL)
Rob Gray (Bergen, Norway / Mobile, AL)
Patricia Harris (Saginaw, MI)
Chris Cooper (Montgomery, AL)
Bill Haynes (Auburn, AL)
Mickey Cleverdon (Fairhope, AL)
Jeanie Thompson (Montgomery, AL)

The Blind Mule
57 N Claiborne Street

PJ Turner (Mobile, AL)
Gurupreet Khalsa (Mobile, AL)
Doug Mitchell (Mobile, AL)
Glenda Slater (Mobile, AL)
Demetrius Semien (Mobile, AL)
Sue Brannan Walker (Mobile, AL)
Chris Cooper (Montgomery, AL)
Susan Martinello (Gulf Shores, AL)
Mary Murphy (Mobile, AL)
Scott Wilkerson (Columbus, AL)
Patricia Harris (Saginaw, MI)
Mike Odom (Fairhope, AL)
Diane Garden (Mobile, AL)
Jake Taylor (Mobile, AL)

History Museum of Mobile
111 South Royal Street

Jeanie Thompson (Montgomery, AL)
Huggy Bear Lofton (Mobile, AL)
Rob Gray (Bergen, Norway)
Roz Spencer (Mobile, AL)
KMarie Thompson (Fort Walton Beach, FL)
Bill Haynes (Auburn, AL)
Bonnie Roberts (Huntsville, AL)
Tessica Williams (Mobile, AL)
Celia Lewis (Mobile, AL)
Deborah Ferguson (Foley, AL)
Carol Case (Mobile, AL)
Eterniti Everlasting (Mobile, AL)
Vernon Fowlkes (Mobile, AL)
Celeste Razzamista (Mobile, AL)
Jessica Jones (Gulf Shores, AL)
Alfred Ward (Mobile, AL)

2015 Summer Camps

Sunday March 01, 2015
Posted by Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Let your child explore the world of contemporary art through Alabama Contemporary Art Center’s Summer Camps!

Our camps are not your average art camps…your child will enjoy classes that include a range of mediums such as painting, drawing, Papier Mâché, photography, and more. Participants also have the opportunity to interact with artwork by nationally and internationally recognized artists and designers. The Alabama Contemporary Art Center explores ideas that matter using exhibition-based curriculum taught by passionate and trained instructors. Our camps offer a variety of art-making experiences, guided tours of History Refused to Die, and field trips in downtown Mobile. Campers will draw inspiration from the works of artists such as Joe Minter, Lonnie Holley, Thornton Dial, and many more to generate ideas and ignite creativity.


To register, contact Amanda Solley at (251) 208-5658 or

Don’t forget to ask about member and multiple children discounts.   (more…)