Michelangelo Lovelace, an artist whose poignant sketches of people he cared for as a nursing home aide and bold paintings of urban Black life gained increasing attention and critical praise late in his life, died on April 26 at his home in Cleveland. He was 60.
His sister Janine Lovelace said the cause was pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Lovelace’s paintings, many of them distinctive cityscapes, are acrylic-on-canvas reflections of his years growing up poor in Cleveland’s housing projects. He depicted joyful everyday scenes — a carnival, a block party, a concert — but also raw representations of crime, poverty, racism and drug abuse.
In “Wheel of Poverty” (1997), contestants spin a wheel that lands on “prizes” like bankruptcy, Chapters 7, 11 and 13, and a cut in welfare benefits. “Life Trapped in a Bottle” shows tiny people crammed together in a jug labeled “Dream Killer/Drink-n-Drown 90 proof liquor.” And a brick wall in “Trigger Happy” (1998) advertises “America 2000/Inner City Shooting Range/Live Targets” as a half-dozen gunned-down people lie in pools of blood.
One of Mr. Lovelace’s most recent paintings, “Social Distancing” (2020), shows four sections of a city at night, with the doors to every club, school, restaurant and house of worship closed because of the coronavirus pandemic...