For four decades Gloucester Caliman Coxe was the dean of African-American artists in Louisville, Kentucky, an art scene in the 1950s and ‘60s that included such artists as Bob Thompson, Kenneth Victor Young and Sam Gilliam.
Coxe, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, lived in Louisville from 1924 until his death in 1999. In his 40s he entered the University of Louisville to study art. He was the first African-American to receive a Hite art scholarship to the university and was the first black fine-arts graduate of the university.
Coxe, described by one writer as a “founder of significant art organizations, mentor to young artists and a daringly experimental abstract painter,” earned his living as an illustrator. He worked for local theaters and, for 20 years, at the Training Support Center at the Fort Knox Army base outside Louisville. The center created training aids including models.
Coxe exhibited at the ground-breaking Smith-Mason Gallery in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, was honored with a Governor’s Award in the Arts from the Kentucky Arts Council and received a retrospective exhibition at the University of Louisville in 1995.