The dramatic art work of Jesse Howard will be on display in an exhibit titled “The Abyss Series: The Diminishing Black Male” from May 2 through May 30 at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street. The exhibit brings to light how the plight of African American youth is indicative of a greater social and cultural dilemma. A reception for the artist will be Saturday, May 12, from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm in the library’s art gallery. The exhibit is open seven days a week during regular library hours. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Jesse Howard was born in Chicago, IL. At an early age, he showed an interest in drawing cartoon characters and rehabbing empty garages into club spaces. He demonstrated an aptitude to create and change chaotic spaces into something livable. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Ball State University, with a major in Commercial Art and a minor in Business Administration. One of his favorite instructors, Larry Graham, encouraged him to pursue truth and spirituality in his subject matter.

Eager to continue to develop his graphic art skills, Jesse worked for a topographer in Chicago. He found this field of art too mechanical and client based. He wanted more control over his creativity. For 20 years, Jesse took a different career path into business. In the eighties, he rededicated himself to Fine Arts. He began studying sculptors, such as Richard Hunt and Martin Puryear; he felt they had a grasp of space and materials.

Since his rededication, his art work has appeared in many galleries nationwide and his career has been covered in many publications. His first major one person show in 1984 was with Zriny Gallery. He also exhibited with the Chicago Cultural Center, 5+5 In Perspectives In Black Art, just to name a few. Jesse’s themes often present images of African American males as he has seen them in Chicago urban settings. 

This year, Jesse Howard has previously mounted a solo show for the Aurora Public Art Commission, the Oak Park Area Arts Council, and Concordia University. He is an active member of the Oak Park Art League and teaches drawing at the Art League. In 2011, Howard won as cash award in the Carriage House Gallery National Juried Exhibition.

Oak Park Public Library’s Art Gallery features a local artist or group of artists each month. The gallery is open seven days a week during regular library hours. For information on upcoming exhibits visit

Each of Oak Park Public Library’s locations has unique and beautiful art in permanent collections, and quotes from literary and local figures throughout the buildings. Find more information about the library’s permanent art collection at

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