Irvin lives in Atlanta, GA. He first began to draw as a small boy in Baltimore, MD in his mother Rachel’s kitchen. He and his younger brothers Allen and Jerome built wagons from wood crates and found materials. They went to the local Food Fair Market and carried neighbor’s groceries home for a quarter each. This was the genesis for his love of art and of wood. With his brothers and older sister Bessie, Irvin also spent summers with relatives in the South. These experiences, reinforced by his family's love compose his earliest memories. He has also worked for many years as a cabinetmaker. Over 7 decades, both art and wood have been his constant companions.
Irvin has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions. He has illustrated three children’s books - Every Child Can Learn by Marie Greenwood, Justina’s Dream by Wallace Yvonne Tollette, and Captain D And The Spacers, also written by Irvin . He was also art advisor for the Time-Life Books Fix It Yourself Series: Furniture.
Irvin received a grant to study at Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, CO. He is currently the Artist Designer for the Black Money Exhibition (www.blackmoneyexhibit.com). Irvin’s artwork is included in many public and private collections. He is married to the lovely artist Dawn Williams Boyd, is the father of three and the grandfather of four.
I love to create beautiful things! God has blessed me with endless curiosity and the ability to see. Long before the object manifests in paint or other media, I have a clear vision of it in my mind, so it already exists - it’s my job to bring it to life. Among the subjects that interest me are the beauty of my Black people, and Nature’s glory. The dominant social order of this world is murderous, racist, selfish, greedy, nihilistic. Art is my chosen weapon to show truth, and to teach, to build new sets of thoughts/values based on a love of humankind.
I work in a broad range of media and materials including oils on canvas (probably my favorite along with wood) and drawing with various media. Recently I’ve begun to flirt with watercolor, terra-cotta ceramics, and casting forms in iron, aluminum and bronze which reconnect to an awareness and love of African metal-casting technologies. Printing on fabric is also a new form of self-expression. My primary influences are Elizabeth Catlett, and traditional African artists, particularly the superb Benin metal sculptors. Master wood carver Odeleye Oginga of Denver, CO has also been a great mentor and influence.
BLACK MONEY EXHIBIT, Atlanta, GA
September 2018 – Present
Designed and fabricated exhibition featuring “a forest of money trees” bearing over 300 beautiful, rare, obsolete, and currently circulating banknotes (paper money). This traveling exhibition illustrates 10,000 years of Black history, and is a tribute to both the Printers and the Engravers Arts.
Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta GA
Designed and created the awards presented at the First Hammonds House Honors Awards.
Chin Community Baptist Church, Stone Mtn. GA
Consultant, Designer, Fabricator
Planned and executed 10'H x 8'W x 1'D Sapele mahogany crucifix for the new church consecration.
Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
Ink drawings of Carrie Mae Weems and Elizabeth Catlett for the Spelman Museum Family Guide.
Wheeler Design, Denver CO
December 1989 to Present
Owner of an Art Services company.
Commissioned sculptures, paintings, and woodworking; Consultation.
Art services business co-owned with my wife. Restoration of African, as well as African American sculptures and other artwork. Created the Lowell Thomas Exhibit in the Atrium of the University of Denver School of Law; created the Daphne Easel, Art Carts, period oak tables and chairs (for the Jacob Lawrence exhibit), and scale models for the new contemporary gallery of the Denver Art Museum; supplied custom Daphne Easels to Nicole Gallery of Chicago IL, Howard Lorton Furniture Gallery and to H.R. Meininger Company; both of Denver CO, etc.
Denver Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) Denver, CO
Designed and painted three large-scale interior wall murals.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
"Boycott" January 2017
Southwest Art Center, Atlanta GA
“The First National Black Fine Art Show” September 2000
The Putty Building, N.Y., N.Y.
“Visions of Africa's Children” 1997
Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver CO
“Colorado '96”: A Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art 1996
Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs CO
“The Visitation” 1995
Westminster Law Library, University of Denver, Denver, CO
“ULOZI: Just Us” 1995
Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, Denver CO
“Wood is Good” 1994
Madison and Main Gallery, Greeley CO
“Preview of New Works” 1992
Nicole Gallery, Chicago IL
“NEW AFRICAN MILLENNIUM" October 21, 2022 - November 18, 2022
Southwest Art Center, City of South Fulton GA
Metropolitan State College of Denver, Denver CO
ULOZI, Inc., Denver CO, Co-Founder and Executive Director
November 1989 – June 2010
A 501-c-3 collective of Black Visual Artists, ULOZI was founded to provide mutual affirmation and support to Black artists, and to create greater opportunities to exhibit, and to sell their artwork. ULOZI also advocated for the inclusion of Black and Hispanic artists in the awarding of public art commissions. ULOZI partnered with the Denver (now Colorado) Black Arts Festival to manage and provide arts activities to several thousand children and parents at the annual three-day event.
Mayor’s Office of Art, Culture and Film, Denver CO
September 1997 – September1998
Cultural Perspectives Public Art Program Manager
Oversaw the selection process of artist Marcus Akinlana, and the creation and installation of the “Mile High and Rising” mural at Denver International Airport.
ArtReach, Inc., Denver CO, Denver Tier III
Art Program Management
After School Arts Benefitting Kids Program (ABK)
September 1997 - August 2006
Managed after school arts program for 26 Denver Public Elementary Schools (DPS) and 10 alternate service agencies annually. Scheduled visual and performing arts workshops, and performances for after school assemblies. Coordinated with DPS to schedule school buses to transport students to museum tours, and managed program payroll.
“Outsider Perspectives 2020”
African Americans for the Arts (AAFTA)
February 6 – March 30, 2020
Haugabrooks Events Center, Atlanta GA
“Black Men: Fathers, Brothers, Sons”
African Americans for the Arts (AAFTA)
September – November 2020
Callanwolde Center for the Arts, Atlanta GA
Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta GA 2011 - 2020
Evaluation, preservation, and conservation of African and Western art and artifacts from the permanent collection.
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO 1989 - 1990
Conservation Dept. Volunteer
Atlanta/Fulton County Public Library, Atlanta, GA
"Birds In My Backyard" Workshop
Provided art workshop at the Adamsville branch of APL with 20 elementary school children. We studied, observed, and drew local bird species. Then each child designed and painted their own birdhouse.
Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta GA
African Art Workshop
Workshop presenter for African art collectors on valuation and maintenance of their African art collections.
University of Denver, Denver CO
Adjunct Professor of Art History
May 1994 - August 1994
Instructor of "Art in West Africa: 1400-1900".
Denver Art Museum, Denver CO
Education Special Projects Coordinator
March 1990 - September 1997
Designed, coordinated, and implemented Arts Education Programs for visitors to exhibitions, Contract Artist. Exhibitions included The Perls Collection -Treasures From An African Kingdom: Royal Art of Benin, Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, Milt Hinton: Jazznotes, and Robert Colescott: Art and Race Matters.
Denver Black Arts Festival, Denver CO,
Children’s Pavilion Director
January 1996 - August 1999
Coordinator of arts-making educational activities for children and parents. Recruited 6-10 not for profit (501-C) organizations annually to provide a shared space for three consecutive days of hands-on arts activities for several thousand children. Employed local Black artists to assist the children, and designed large-scale art projects.
The Dean’s Art Award 2018 Georgia State University, Atlanta GA
Anderson Ranch Art Center Award 2014 Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass CO
Colorado Council on the Arts Master Apprentice Grant with Mr. Oyedele Oginga., 1996, Denver, CO
Georgia State University, Atlanta GA, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies – Magna Cum Laude graduate.
September 2016 – May 2018
Self-created program of study focused on African/African Diasporic art, history, and culture.
Awards: Presidents List, Deans List, Deans Award in Art.
Georgia State University, Atlanta GA, Bachelor of Art - Magna Cum Laude graduate
January 2013 - May 2016
Awards: Presidents List, Deans List.