While the artwork itself was striking, so was the crisp, light blue signature in the lower right corner of the painting. Pugh realized he had stumbled across an original painting and immediately searched the web for more on Keith Bankston.
According to the Georgia Digital Library, Bankston was born and raised in Macon. He was inspired to pursue a career in art during a trip to Paris shortly after graduating from high school. After attending Florida State, he would return to central Georgia to teach art in Bibb County public schools while simultaneously working to establish himself as an exhibiting artist. However, his budding artistic career was cut short when he died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 34.
Pugh also discovered that several paintings by Bankston were part of the collection of the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, an educational and cultural center that strives to enrich cultural understanding and present the highest quality art to communities. Georgian it serves. Reading about Bankston and the Tubman Museum, Pugh knew he wanted to buy the painting. But he didn’t want to keep it anymore.
“I really like it. But something like this — by a known artist in Georgia — would be most beneficial in a museum in Georgia where everyone can enjoy it,” Pugh said.
He bought Bankston’s ‘Eve in the Rose Garden’ for $125 and wasted no time contacting Jeff Bruce, the director of exhibits at the Tubman Museum, with the intention of donating the piece. The museum was delighted to learn of the existence of the painting and happy to accept his gift. The museum will add “Eve in the Rose Garden” to its permanent collection of African American art.
“Keith Bankston is a beloved figure in the Macon arts community. Her story is a sort of tragic tale of what could have been – of great potential that was never fully realized due to the AIDS epidemic. said Bruce. “His light was just beginning to shine, so we are honoring the promise of his talent by collecting and exhibiting his work, and sharing the story of his short but impactful career with young people in central Georgia, as well as with visitors from all over the country.”
The painting was carefully shipped and arrived at the Tubman Museum on Wednesday, July 20. The value of the coin has not yet been determined.
“Even though it’s worth so much more, I’ve always wanted to donate it,” Pugh said. “The Tubman Museum in Macon is the perfect place for that.”