Brookline officials and residents will gather at Town Hall on Sunday, Jan. 27, to formally unveil a bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by the late John Wilson, a nationally renowned artist and longtime Brookline resident.
The event culminates a community initiative to preserving the memory of Wilson, who resided in Brookline for about 50 years until his death in 2015, as well as to honor King and to highlight Brookline’s commitment to racial equity.
The 3 p.m. celebration will feature music, remarks, and the unveiling of the sculpture by Wilson’s family. Brookline acquired the sculpture with funds gifted by a local committee that raised the money from more than 300 businesses, organizations, and community members, with the support of Wilson’s family and its representative, Martha Richardson Fine Art.
According to Robert Daves, co-chair of the Committee to Commemorate John Wilson, Wilson was born in Roxbury in 1922 at a time when African-Americans had little opportunity to pursue careers as professional artists. He went on to become a highly acclaimed sculptor, painter, and printmaker whose works were displayed at museums and galleries, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
The sculpture donated to Brookline was created by Wilson as a small-scale model for his portrait of King in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Buffalo, N.Y. Wilson created a different bronze bust of King that stands in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Wilson’s great work in Town Hall,” Daves said in a statement. “Over the last two years it has been a pleasure to come to know John Wilson’s family and his art and to help bring the story of his life to others.”
On March 24, the committee will offer a lecture about Wilson by Edmund Barry Gaither, executive director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists. The event, cosponsored by the Brookline Historical Society, will be held at 2 p.m. at the public library.John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.