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Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Introduces New Exhibition Showcasing African American Performance History From the 1920s through the 1970s

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LAS VEGAS (July 15, 2022)Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art debuted today its newest exhibition
Caldonia: Concert and Film Posters from The Ralph DeLuca Collection. Showcasing icons of American music, Caldonia features a collection of 44 vintage posters advertising performances and films featuring African American musicians and actors from the 1920s into the 1970s.

Named and curated by Serubiri Moses, Caldonia offers a window into an era of Black performance history that is slowly disappearing from public memory. This selection of promotional announcements highlights performers as wide-ranging as Otis Redding, Jackie “Moms” Maybley, Thelonius Monk and Aretha Franklin. Many of the posters exhibited are themselves rare, but their true value comes from their historical context. Taken together, they bring to life the networks of Black artists and Black-owned performing arts venues—known as the Chitlin’ Circuit—that, while not memorialized in history books, launched the careers of now-household names who shaped American music history.

Caldonia is a celebration of the extraordinary talent of African American pioneers of
20th Century music and film,” said Demecina Beehn, Curator of Special Projects and Programs for MGM Resorts Art & Culture. “These performers and actors persevered through the dangerous times of segregation to showcase their innovative sound, dance and acting. We must not forget how names like Ella Fitzgerald, Stepin’ Fetchit, Ruth Brown, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, to name a few, paved the way for American music and performance today.”

The exhibition is named after “Caldonia,” an iconic love song by Louis Jordan, released in 1945 by Decca Records, and also features film posters such as “Cabin in the Sky” (1943) featuring Ethel Waters and Lena Horne; and “St. Louis Blues” (1929), the only cinematic presentation of Bessie Smith. Originally presented in New York’s Salon 94, Caldonia features video footage and examples of the iconic music that inspired American sound.

Ralph DeLuca, owner of the collection, said, “Building this collection has taken over 20 years and was a true labor of love. I sifted through thousands of in-person and online auctions and flea markets, and placed ads throughout the country. In the case of the music posters, it meant tracking down the old printers who pressed the posters as well as the concert promoters and their families. My goal was to build one of the most important collections of pre-1970 Black music and film posters.”

Caldonia reflects MGM Resorts’ commitment to providing a platform for uplifting underrepresented voices including artists of color, women, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Caldonia: Concert and Film Posters from The Ralph DeLuca Collection is on display daily at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art July 15 – October 2 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Last admissions are sold 30 minutes prior to closing time.

Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for Nevada residents; and $15 for seniors 65 and older, students, teachers and military with a valid ID. Children 5 and younger are free.

For additional information, call (702) 693-7871 or (877) 957-9777, or visit bellagio.com/bgfa.

About Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

Located at the heart of Bellagio Resort & Casino, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is Las Vegas’ premier exhibition space. Since opening in 1998, the gallery has presented exhibitions of artworks and objects drawn from internationally acclaimed museums and private collections, including Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies; Yayoi Kusama; Primal Water: An Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Art; Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection; Town and Country: From Degas to Picasso; Yousuf Karsh: Icons of the 20th Century; Picasso: Creatures and Creativity; Fabergé Revealed; and Warhol Out West.

 

About Ralph DeLuca

Ralph DeLuca is a contemporary art advisor and collector with an affinity for vintage movie and music posters, photography and graphic design. DeLuca has collected pieces of history that retell the stories of the film and music industry as it evolved and changed throughout time. His collection, built over the span of 20 plus years, is sourced through a variety of ways including flea markets, auctions and private sales. For additional information, please visit ralphdeluca.com.

 

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