Organizations: Judith Alexander Foundation
Judith Alexander was one of the most influential art gallerists in the South.
In 1978, she opened the Alexander Gallery, the first Atlanta gallery to display Southern folk art, which introduced the world to an array of vibrant, previously undiscovered artists. Her representation of these creatives famously went above and beyond the usual responsibilities. Appalachian artist Linda Anderson was the struggling caregiver for her disabled daughter when Alexander “literally opened up the world for me, a world I didn’t know existed” by getting her exhibits around the country.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Judith researched and found the best doctors for treatment of my type of cancer,” Anderson recalls. “Judith said I was not to worry about financial matters. I was to stay with her, and I did. She cared for me in recovery and covered all medical expenses not covered by my insurance. She was such a caretaker.”
Alexander died in 2004, and the following year her family established the Judith Alexander Foundation (JAF).
“Her generous precedent guides us,” says her cousin and foundation director Judith Alexander Augustine. “We give a platform to visual artists – painters, sculptors, photographers – who are underrecognized but have been working at it. We seek out those people.”
During the pandemic, the JAF disbursed 106 relief grants to Georgia artists. “Many of them said it was enough to keep them going,” she says.
Currently the foundation is celebrating the work of Nellie Mae Rowe, the granddaughter of an enslaved family. A documentary about her life, This World is Not My Own, recently premiered at the South by Southwest festival and will screen soon in Atlanta.